Tea Trekker’s Yin Zhen is simply outrageously delicious! What a glorious taste and pure, classic style. A winner! Read on to find out why our Yin Zhen has character and finesse that doesn’t ‘just happen’ every year.
The pluck time for Yin Zhen ranges from mid- March to mid-April, putting its harvest squarely in the pre-Qing Ming plucking season some years, and in the Yu Qian season in other years. Yin Zhen is the smallest volume of the white tea crops; however, this important harvest of bud-only white tea is literally worked-in among the many other harvests of leaf that need to be plucked in the busy early-spring tea season in eastern China. Because Yin Zhen is a bud-only pluck, its early harvest time allows that ample time remains for the tea workers to get to the business of producing the later-harvest white teas that are a combination of bud and leaf.
Yin Zhen is very reliant on the early spring season’s weather conditions for the plump-ness, juicy-ness, and overall shape characteristics of the buds. This year the weather was very co-operative, starting out warm early and then cooling just enough to prevent ‘bolting’ while still encouraging steady growth. The early white tea season was quite long, and the late white tea season was cool, so the tea plants were able to grow slowly. The 2021 Yin Zhen has revealed itself in glorious, delicious flavor and aroma-packed buds. They are longer and a bit larger than most year’s, but the concentration of flavor is high. Though we sampled this year’s tea at the usual time in the spring, it has taken quite a while for the bulk of our tea order to arrive, due to the transit problems caused by the pandemic this year. We find that the buds have really ‘sweetened up’ this season.
Tea Trekker’s Yin Zhen 2021 P.Q.M. is comprised of well-formed, crescent-shaped buds that are plump and dense with aroma and full flavor. The mix of shapes is outstanding, with mostly crescents, some swords, and even a few straight buds for variety!
We find incredible depth of flavor in the buds this year due to the nearly-perfect weather during the weeks just prior to harvest.
It is wood-sy, twigg-y, outdoor-sy, very fresh-tasting, and has a mild, honey-like sweetness. The 2021 Yin Zhen is definitely as floral as any really great year for this tea, and, as with this tea last year, that component is mainly in the aroma and not the flavor. Tea Trekker’s 2021 Yin Zhen has a lovely, light showing of the effects of withering. This year there is none of the lighter, green bean-y, vegetal flavor that was a bit dominant four years ago when the buds were harvested at a much earlier time (but which is helping the 2015 harvest to age quite nicely – we should have more to report about that later!) The tea liquor has a richness and fullness that is the result of plentiful amino acids in the buds this year. White teas, because of the light oxidation they undergo, have a hint of the flavor of a mild black tea but without sharpness or astringency. This tea is exquisitely smooth, with a tease of honey in the flavor.
This year the aromatic quality of our Yin Zhen is unbelievable. Just a hint of stone fruit florals in the dry buds yields to an intense, classically pure tea aroma in the steeped buds.
Yin Zhen is distinctive in taste and appearance. These unopened, medium-to-large-sized buds are nicely shaped and have the characteristic silvery hue and a covering of white hairy down. If you look closely, you will notice that beneath their ‘down jacket’ most buds are silver/white, which is quite a feat even in a glorious weather year.
We selected a Yin Zhen that was produced under the organic standard this year. We are happy that our Yin Zhen meets this standard.
At one time Yin Zhen was the only white tea that was made in China. Today of course, other white teas incorporating both leaf and bud are made, but Yin Zhen remains the ultimate of white teas. Authentic Fujian white tea is plucked from five tea bush cultivars that grow in, and are unique to, three restricted counties of northern Fujian: Fuding, Zhenghe, and JIan Yang. Our Yin Zhen is from Fuding which is the oldest and original area for cultivation and production of Yin Zhen. It is made from the Fuding Dai Bai or ‘Big White‘ sub-variety of Camellia sinensis.
Bob prefers to drink his Yin Zhen as our Chinese colleagues do – after it has ‘rested’ and matured for several months or even a year or more; while Mary Lou tended to prefer Yin Zhen that is younger, because she liked the energy and vegetal flavor of a recently-harvested Yin Zhen.
One of the highlights of our first trip to Fujian Province many years ago was spending a few hours walking down the rows of a tea garden filled with healthy Fuding Dai Bai tea plants and watching the tea pluckers do their work. Later, in the tea ‘factory’, we visited the indoor withering racks and received a lesson on the production methods of white tea. This tea brings those memories right back into the forefront of our mind’s eye.
Because our Yin Zhen buds are dense and so full-flavored this year, we tried infusing them for a slightly longer period of time than is customary. In fact, any steeping time that you prefer, between 2-5 minutes is fine for this 2021 harvest tea. These buds will definitely show well when given a longer steep time. Re-steep as many times as you find there is still flavor. Because the number of re-steepings will depend on the amount of time of the early steeps, the quantity of tea used and the temperature at which the buds are steeped may vary. We find that this year’s Yin Zhen is quite flexible and can be steeped successfully using water that ranges from fairly cool to pretty darn hot.
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