Thursday, September 10, 2009
Harney & Sons Tea Tasting: Silver Tips and Bai Mu Dan
This is the second pairing of white teas in the Harney & Sons Guide to tea. This pairing concludes the four teas of the white tea chapter. (See the other two here.)
I tasted Ceylon Silver Tips (from H&S) and Bai Mu Dan (Pai Mu Tan, from Upton). Silver Tips are on the left and Bai Mu Dan on the right in both photos. As you can see, these teas look very different. That carries through to the taste.
For the tasting, I brewed both at 175 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 minutes.
The Silver Tips aren't actually leaves, but rather the tender buds. These are a little less fuzy than other "silver" teas. The flavor is fresh, light and lightly sweet. I got a bit of spicyness in the finish. The tea left my mouth feeling clean. An interesting tidbit about this tea is that it comes from Sri Lanka (Ceylon). Most white teas of any quality come from China, so this is a lovely exception.
The Bai Mu Dan (called Pai Mu Tan from Upton) is a mixed bag, literally. Some tips and some green leaves. The brew is darker and the flavor very different than the Silver Tips. The DH described the flavor, "like chewing foxtail grass stems." The aroma, for me, had a definite roasted smell. This is likely due to being dried in an oven or over charcoal. This is a nice hybrid tea; it holds the white sweetness but leans into the essence of a green grassy flavor. According to Harney, the Bai Mu Dan is a much more common tea than the other three.