- Tea Knowledge
Inspired by the centuries-old practice of compressed teas like pu’er, producers have been more recently (c. 2006) applying the form to white teas. This Gong Mei, similar in appearance but of a superior grade than Shou Mei, has been pressed into a chocolate bar form—break off one of the squares, each approximately five grams, for a single infusion. With a well-rounded body, it seems to take a cue from its shape and exhibit a distinct chocolatey note, likely thanks to the oxidation undergone during processing. As each square opens, it slowly unfolds its flavours, making it an excellent choice to use for a long and relaxed gongfu cha session.
Among the six tea classes, white tea is the easiest to described, but not the least difficult to produce. The fresh leaves are withered outdoor in the shadow and indoor in rooms with good air circulation. The leaves usually air-dry naturally, although sometimes baking is required to completely remove the moisture. Especially in the Yunnan province, some white teas are sun-dried instead.
Green tea is different than white tea. Green tea is scalded right after the harvest to prevent oxidation. White tea oxidizes during withering and is not heat-treated to stop oxidation. The different processing of white tea results in a delicate liquor, with none of the astringency and grassy undertones typical of green tea.