White tea with an undercover Sheng agenda
200g Cake from March 2020
- Da Ye Zhong Cultivar from Jing Mai, Yunnan
- 5g Brewed in 100ml gaiwan
- Water 99°
- Recommended portion 5g per 100ml vessel
- Price: £43
- More Info/Buy this tea here: meileaf.com/tea/flower-crane
- Buds and medium to large leaves
- 1600m Elevation
Flower Crane is possibly the most beautiful looking tea cake I’ve received this year. The large leaves are an autumnal mixture of auburn and brown with an even scattering of silver buds. I know I always say this, but once again I can hardly bring myself to break into this cake which doubles as a piece of art. The Mei Leaf website tells us:
“We wanted to use traditionally Sheng PuErh tea leaves to make a Yunnan White tea to really express the terroirs and potency of our favourite Yunnan mountains.”1
This gives the tea a truly unique profile as I found during my session.
On the dry leaf I find light floral notes. The post-rinse wet leaf offers a far more potent smell similar to that of a young sheng. There’s a ripe fruitiness leaning into a particular type of oolong bubble tea; one made with combined milk and black sugar, topped with blended fruit and tea.
First and Second Steep:
The liqour is light brown to yellow; a suitable autumnal colour. The first steep produces a creamy and sweet brew with a thicker mouthfeel than a shou mei and most other white teas I’ve tried. The herbaceous aftertaste is even more pronounced; as if small flowers and leaves from a herb garden have been left to simmer in sweet milk. By the end of the second steep my whole mouth is coated in its warming flavour.
I took a sniff of the gaiwan lid and caught a note of wet plant stems. I often don’t find much of a lingering smell on the tea ware during gong fu sessions but this one has left its mark. Even the empty gong dao bei and gong fu cups carry a scent like that of a vase that once held flowers.
I inappropriately finished this steep very quickly before I even realised what I was doing. The brew is so drinkable and would surely suit an uninitiated tea-head. There are no bitter notes to speak of. It is without vegetal or gassy notes that offend some people and is incredibly smooth in its flavours. It produces an energising body sensation similar to that of a young sheng but without the astringent introduction. This last point is something of a standout feature of this tea which we’ll see plenty more of.
Fourth to Twelfth Steep
The tea goes down effortlessly. During these steeps you can feel the tea surge throughout your body, but unlike a sheng-induced tea high it produces a more smooth-jazz euphoria.
It has proven its longevity by sustaining the flavours over several steeps. There is little variation in flavour, save for a light note of woodiness, and an easing of the herbaceousness as it ends on a light creamy note.
In the description of this tea, on Mei Leaf’s website, it reads
“The effect of this tea will be different for everyone but I personally seem to react strongly to this one – altered, meditative and slightly trippy.”1
I can definitely vouch for altered and meditative. At such a high brewing temperature you’d think the tea would threaten to knock its delicate herbaciousness into something bitter and vegetal but it stands up over multiple steeps. I have tried this tea a few times before using 80 degree water, my go to for a shou mei, and enjoyed it then.
However, brewing at the recommended temperature of 99 degrees certainly made the difference in flavour profile and body sensation. It’s like a cousin of the young shengs I’ve tried this year. It’s certainly proved the potency of the Jing Mai cultivar and why it suits sheng so well.
This sessions I had with Flower Crane is the fastest I’ve ended a session this year. Each steep was easily drank in under ten seconds, the more I drank, the more I wanted. So far it’s the 3rd best tea I’ve tried this year.
I usually find white tea best in the spring and summer, but this tea is fit to warm the soul during days of cold and times of uncertainty.
Time Out says
When it’s time for tea, this Camden shop is a pretty sweet spot
A resident of vibrant Camden Town, Mei Leaf is no ordinary teahouse. Originally opened as a modern holistic health shop, Mei Leaf now functions as a sip-happy tea shop and speciali-tea brewing bar.
With wooden shelves piled high with a selection of teas, supplements and aromatherapy oils, Mei Leaf creates unique blends and tea concoctions that you would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. Tea-lovers can also find a particularly impressive array of medicinal blends and flower and berry-filled sachets.
The tea bar offers exotic concoctions, such as tea infused with red dates and rosebuds as well as fragrant and nutty, spice-infused lattes. If you’re busy then you can take your tea to go, but if you’re in need of some sweet re-leaf there’s space to sit too. And shop. Mei Leaf sells all of the refreshment accessories you could think of: cast iron teacups and teapots, strainers, hot and cold brewers, tea towels, bamboo tweezers, matcha whisks and more.
|Address:|| 99 Camden High St |
|Transport:||Tube: Camden Town/Mornington Crescent|
meileaf.com Call Venue020 7388 6704
|Opening hours:||9am-8pm Mon-Sat; 9am-6pm Sun|
|Do you own this business?|
Re: Mei Leaf
by john.b » Nov 22nd 17 5:58 am
If you can narrow down what you want for tea it might be possible to buy versions of it more directly, to skip going through retailers who buy from wholesale distribution chains.
Mei Leaf supposedly sources a lot of their teas directly (and they probably do), but there's nothing stopping a vendor from selling you a tea for ten times what they've bought it for. With the right marketing approach (for example, using Youtube introductory videos to draw consumer attention), a vendor could potentially churn through 100% turnover of their customer base every year and still make a great profit selling teas for two to three times normal retail price.
To some extent it really depends on what you value, sourcing the highest quality teas, or buying teas at value oriented pricing, or some combination of the two. A worst-case is buying medium quality teas at very premium quality level pricing, the same kinds of teas you could get lots of places for any number of different costs, but at the highest possible price.
To me two other options tend to emerge as better cases. For the truly highest quality teas often sourcing curated versions from specialty vendors is typical, which involves paying a normal rate for better teas (on the order of a dollar a gram, let's say). You can still buy teas that are better than average quality level, better than most resale vendors access, for far less, if you can sort out more direct purchasing options. In some very rare cases both come together, and you can get very high quality teas sold more directly for mid-range pricing, but it almost never works out like that. I wrote a blog post about this subject not so long ago:
http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.co ... rcing.html
Wuyi Origin stands out as probably the vendor selling the best teas that I've mentioned there, but only for Wuyi Yancha and some other types from Wuyishan, and a few Dan Cong and related black teas. I've recently been reviewing Assam teas from Halmari, which sells directly, and their oolong is worth a look if you like the Oriental Beauty / Darjeeling second flush range of citrus heavy more oxidized oolongs or more fruity and complex black teas. Or Assam black tea, of course, but per my personal preference I really like Chinese black teas (or oolongs, or white teas, and I'm ok with pu'er and other hei cha).
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