Spotlight Tea: 2011 Spring Imperial Shou Mei White Tea

In the world of white teas, grades count. (That’s not true of some things these days.) Shou Mei is sometimes classified as third grade and sometimes as fourth grade. See the full list in our article The Basics of Chinese White Teas. Regardless, this tea is a superior example of the Shou Mei style.


This tea was featured in our Facebook
Friday Tea Quiz Round 3.

Shou Mei, also known as Longevity Eyebrow and Long Noble Life Eyebrow, is mostly grown in the Fujian Province or Guangxi Province in China. It is harvested later in the growing season than another white tea (Bai Mudan aka White Peony) and so may be darker in color, but it should still have a proportionate green color. In fact, when we posted this tea on our Facebook page during our Friday Tea Quiz, some thought this was a green tea based on the liquid color. It is produced from naturally withered upper leaves and tips of the xian bai tree.

This is a slightly fermented white tea made from one bud and two leaves combos that make multiple steepings possible, unlike some inferior white teas. The imperial Shou Mei, a highest quality version of this tea, infuses up a sweet, thick, and mellow tea liquid with a unique white tea fragrance. That fragrance is a long floral with a sweetness that will linger around your whole mouth after sipping this tea. This makes it akin to and often compared with oolongs.

This tea is purported to have a variety of health benefits, but we encourage you to consult your medical professional on that subject.

Recommended Steeping Technique

  • Do yourself a big favor and use a glass gaiwan or a glass cup. Porcelain tea wares are good, too.
  • Rinse your teacups and teapot or gaiwan with hot water.
  • Use about 2.5 to 3 grams of tea leaves for every 225 millimeters of water.
  • Use water heated to 80-90°C (176-196°F).
  • Steep for one minute for the 1st and 2nd infusions.
  • Gradually increase steeping time and temperature for subsequent infusions.

Final Note

If you haven’t yet, give this tea a try and let us know how you like it.

About Janice and Stephen Shelton

Purveyors of Premium Teas
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