I think this was the first tea I tried from Yunnan Sourcing and the first white tea I tried gongfu style. I think this was my first shou mei too. It was nothing like the western style steeped silver needle and white peony teas I was used to but I liked it. I liked it so much that this session is with the last ball of my first package. I have another package waiting so it doesn’t feel like a real sipdown but it’s still some sort of milestone since I seem to rarely finish off a package of tea.
The tea smells fruity. What kind of fruit? I dunno, all of them? Steeping gongfu style, the first couple steeps have some fruity flavor but it’s mostly a sweet dried grass sort of flavor. It doesn’t really taste like any kind of hay I’ve ever had the misfortune of inhaling (family used to raise horses) but it definitely seems like some kind of dried grass. The rest of the steeps are much heavier on the fruit flavors. White grape juice came to mind but it’s been years since I had white grape juice. Sweet but with some tartness, a sort of thick-ish mouthfeel, the aftertaste is sweet and sort of mouthwatering. It has that throat-coating feeling I usually get from sweet, syrupy type drinks like fruit juices and bottled sports drinks. I don’t know if it’s a great description but I sometimes describe this sort of drink as feeling gooey in my throat. Anyway, I could almost convince myself I was drinking hot white grape juice. This tea seems to handle any steeping style and isn’t too particular about steep time or temperature. It can go quite a few steeps gongfu or at least a couple steeps western. I meant to gongfu this time but a few steeps in I started reading and forgot I’d poured in the water so I just added some more water and pretended I meant to steep it western style. Oops. It still tasted good so I can’t be too upset with my distractable little self. I think when you do longer steeps like this you get more flavors mingling together instead of just fruit juice. I got fruit but also some of that dried grass flavor and a little floral.
I liked these shou mei dragon balls a lot better than the little individually wrapped shou mei squares Yunnan Sourcing also sells. I thought the squares were less fruity and I was annoyed that the packets weren’t sealed well so they weren’t great for throwing in bags or pockets. I don’t enjoy having to pick pocket fuzz off my tea before I can steep it. The aged shou mei dragon balls were okay but I think I might like these unaged ones more. I like the price more, anyway.