Saturday, March 14, 2015

Nannuoshan, Dian Yin Zhen White Tea

Nannuoshan Description:
This tea is produced in the Yunnan province, where pu’er –the most famous dark tea– comes from. Dian in Chinese is the shorter form of the word Yunnan. The rest of the name refers to the appearance of the leaves; long buds, shaped like a needle (zhen), with a pale, silver hue (Yin).

Dian Yin Zhen is produced from a different tea plant and in a totally different environment than the more famous Yin Zhen from the Fujian province. Despite the similar shape, Dian Yin Zhen has a different aroma. It is an assertive white tea with an inimitable, mellow aroma and a lingering aftertaste.

There is something curious in the taste of all Yunnan teas. White, green, black and pu'er teas, they all have a common aromatic mark, revealing their origin.
So, although white and dark teas are poles apart, you will recognize a common natural tinge in Dian Yin Zhen and pu’er: the taste of Yunnan.

Sample provided by Nannuoshan

My Review:
We are back to our continuing white tea extravaganza! The final two offerings from Nannuoshan are Silver Needle type whites. This one is from Yunnan province in China. As I begin I'm not sure if I have ever tasted a Yunnan Silver Needle. I am certain I have loved virtually every tea I have sampled from the region. I have high hopes for this one.

My first whiff from the sample bag confirms the Yunnan roots (OK leaves) of this one. It's part leather, pepper, and hay. So familiar, yet somehow very different. It's comfortable and at the same time invites exploration.

Removing the leaf, it is again familiar but different. It is obviously all buds. It looks like Silver Needle. It also looks like Yunnan Golden Tips. It is different from both in its unusual color. Neither silver nor gold, this is like downy fur covered straw.

There was some settling of the leaf, resulting in a little dust, but it remains mostly fully intact. The feel of it is so unusual. It is very soft.

I am left in a quandry before brewing. The parameters on Nannuoshan's site call for 3 grams for gaiwan brewing. I don't have a scale. If this sample is 6 grams, I should use half, yet half the sample looks light. I'm trusting that this leaf is denser than it looks and half the sample really is 3 grams.

In the clear glass teapot it goes along with water heated to 90 C (195 F). I let this steep for 30 seconds, then realized I did not know where my strainer was located. A frantic search ensued and the pour was actually at more like 40 seconds.

As I am getting ready to sniff the liquor and the wet leaf, I start catching strong odors of salmon patties coming from the kitchen. You have got to be kidding. Oh, well, my wife and the cat love stinky salmon patties. I'll adjust. What I can catch is an amplified version of the dry scent (and cat food). LOL. My bad, I did not realize it was lunch time when I started.

The liquor seemed almost colorless in the pot, but is a grayish honey color when condensed in my cup.

The taste is everything I love about Yunnan tea. Absolutely no bitterness. It has a warm earthy flavor that lingers between leather, cave mineral, slightly mushroom, and loam. It almost has a smoky presence but I am pretty sure white tea is not fired to halt oxidation. I don't know if I would call this sweet, as other reviewers have, but it certainly isn't umami.

As I sit here enjoying my cup, I realize I have experienced a similar tea before in the form of white puerh. While this one is a white tea, the similarities really are quite apparent. Yep, my love for all teas Yunnan continues.

You can find Nannuoshan, Dian Yin Zhen White Tea here.

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