Friday, June 1, 2012

Empire Tea Services, Earl Grey Pai Mu Tan Chinese White

This tea is the main reason I recently drove 65 miles to Empire Tea Services. I have had several of their teas and all have been exceptional. This one, like most of their offerings, was $8.00 for 3 1/2oz (100g). I have never had a white Earl Grey before so I really don’t know what to expect with this one. The Earl Green I bought last trip has an outstanding leaf base and is heavily bergamot flavored with peppery notes. The De La Crème is wonderfully chocolate and vanilla. The bergamot starts more subdued but brightens into a delicious creamy cup of Ceylon based Earl Grey.

On to this tea. Taking the leaf out of the bag I see long wiry, almost black strands (stems?), along with the traditional looking green/white fuzzy leaf. The dry leaf smells of bergamot. It is a just guess at how much leaf to use. I don’t have a scale and this is so wiry I had to judge by how it looked in the bottom of the press.

I ignored the brewing directions on the package. I have enough experience with Empire to know I like tea prepared differently than they prescribe. I used just steaming water and a two minute steep. The liquor is bright and clear with a beautiful yellow/green tint. The wet leaf is Empire’s bergamot and a fresh green leaf scent.

There are three guys at work that I rotate sharing my tea with. Today’s lucky taster’s reaction to this was, “flowers”. The bergamot is strong but not overpowering. It is not bright or tart and not perfumey. This is a white tea. You can taste the tea base. You just aren’t going to pick out melon or cucumber subtleties. That's the downside of a flavored tea. Three solid steeps. The fourth was weak until it really cooled off.

This is like earl green lite minus the pepper notes. Resteeps well. A pretty good value. I liked this a lot but was not immediately blown away. I tried it again a couple days later and learned a few things. This is better than I first thought. The first time, I had it immediately after drinking De La Creme Earl Grey. That one overpowered this one, making it seem less than it is. Second, I learned the vast majority of the stems were in the top of my tea pouch. I think I got the bottom of the bag. I could have picked them out but they really were only a visual issue. So to save time I just mixed them in with the rest of the tea.

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