Living Leaf Tea’s Gong Mei White Tea

Gong Mei White Tea by Living Leaf Tea
White Tea / Straight
$14.95USD for 30g

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Living Leaf Tea has provided me with Gong Mei White Tea for the purposes of providing an honest review. I received this product at no charge to me and received no other compensation.

First Impressions

Gong Mei White Tea is possibly one of the most minimally processed teas that I’ve ever had the pleasure of steeping. This tea came to me in a resealable white bag with a simple label. “100% Organic High Mountain Tea” is printed just under the Living Leaf Tea name and I just know it’s going to be good. This Gong Mei White Tea is a straight white tea from Yunnan, China.

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The dry leaf is beautiful. Unlike other teas that I’ve tried in the past, this one has these beautiful unrolled leaves. I can see fuzzy feathering on the leaves, and several pieces are two leaves and a bud – the ideal tea leaves. This tea is hand picked, and I believe it given the care with each piece. The dry leaf has a very mild fragrance to it – it has a natural sweetness to it that reminds me of apples.

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Preparation

There were no steeping instruction in either the packaging or the product page on the Living Leaf Tea website, so I opted to follow the steeping guidelines for white teas from the Tea Association of Canada. I steeped this beautiful straight white tea in 80°C (185°F) for an initial steep of 2 minutes.

First Taste

After a short two minute steep, Gong Mei White Tea looks like a barely tinted water. The colouring is so pale that I almost thought I forgot to actually steep leaves! Luckily, what it lacked in colour was greatly made up for in taste. This white tea has a light sweetness to it, and a fruity flavour. It reminds me greatly of apples still, which is lovely because I do like apples. The tea itself is very light and has a very clean taste to it. I found there was no bitterness, no astringency, just a sweet and light liquor.

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A Second Cup?

I resteeped Gong Mei White Tea fourteen times (so fifteen steeps total). The tea gets consistently darker and more golden until about the eighth steep, after that it starts getting paler. The tea has a lovely sweetness to the apple flavour that holds well until the fifteenth steep. The tea develops a thickened mouthfeel to it by the sixth steep, which paired well with the honey sweetness of the apple flavours in this straight white tea. Near the end, I was pouring excess tea from my teapot into a pitcher to put into the fridge for iced tea (spoiler alert: it makes an excellent iced tea).

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My Overall Impression

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I loved Living Leaf Tea’s Gong Mei White Tea. It’s rare that I come across a tea that is such high quality and holds up so well to many resteeps, let alone a total of 15 steeps of the same leaves. This tea was a joy to have over a morning (and an afternoon). For the price of the tea, I do think that you get much more value than what you pay for. The flavour of Gong Mei White Tea is lovely, the colouring is beautiful. I really like teas that can be steeped and resteeped again, especially when the texture and flavours subtly change – and this tea really delivers on that. While I really enjoyed Gong Mei White Tea as a hot tea, it also did very well iced, so if you’re finding that you don’t want to (or are just unable to…) have more than a dozen steeps of this tea in a day, you can always steep some to save for later.

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DavidsTea’s Tea the North

Tea the North by DavidsTea
White Tea / Flavoured
$10.98 for 50g

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First Impressions

I was at my local DavidsTea and I asked my friendly neighbourhood tea pusher what the new tea was and he told me that it was Tea the North. Now, I know DavidsTea already has a maple syrup tea called Oh Canada! so I wasn’t really expecting something similar, but still was expected something with some maple influences, or something else that screamed ‘Canada’ to me. What I smelled instead was a lot of coconut and pineapple. Instant recoil from the container holding the sample that I was just smelling because it just did not make sense.

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Tea the North consists of: melon, pineapple, coconut, white tea, hibiscus, sweet blackberry leaves, apple, rose petals, rhubarb, safflower blossoms, and natural flavouring. He had rattled off the list of ingredients to me and I must have looked confused because then he told me that most of the ingredients were white or red. Oh. I suppose that makes sense? But coconut and pineapple does not scream Canada to me – it makes me think of pina coladas (and getting caught in the rain). Nevertheless, I wanted to try a bit of this white tea blend because I’m a bleeding heart (and Canada Day is one of my upmost favourite holidays).

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Preparation

DavidsTea recommends steeping Tea the North in hot water for 4 to 7 minutes. For those interested, “hot water” is defined on the product page as being 167-176°F or 75-80°C. I did an initial steep of 5 minutes in 175°F water.

First Taste

Tea the North steeps to a bright red – which did not surprise me given the fact that the blend includes hibiscus, rhubarb, and safflower blossoms. The taste of this tea is… interesting? There’s sweetness to it that comes from the fruit (melon, pineapple, apple), and a touch of tartness (from the hibiscus and possibly the rhubarb). I think I would describe this as being primarily coconut and artificial flavouring. The coconut flavour is heavy in this white tea blend, and there’s just something about it that lingers on my tongue that I just do not like. I’m not sure if it is the flavouring in this tea, or maybe just the combination of flavours, but coconut takes center stage and all the other ingredients (aside from adding a touch of sweetness or tartness) stay in the background – the far, far background.

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A Second Cup?

I didn’t really want to, but I did resteep Tea the North. The second time around was not an improvement on the first, I’m afraid. Is it possible for coconut to strengthen in flavour? Because that’s what it seemed to do here. The mix of sweet and tart was incredibly muted this time around, and I felt like it was just coconut again, with an odd aftertaste that seemed sour to me.

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My Overall Impression

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I didn’t like DavidsTea’s Tea the North. I wanted to at least love this tea blend, because I’m a sucker for all things Canada and with the impending 150th birthday (tomorrow/July 1st), I really wanted to love this tea. I think it’s cute that they did a blend of primarily red and white ingredients instead of doing maple (again), but I feel like it really missed its mark. The aroma of coconut and pineapple don’t make me think of Canada at all, and the tea itself was a bit of fail in the flavor department.

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Citizen Tea’s White Cranberry

White Cranberry by Citizen Tea
White Tea / Flavoured
$11.00 for 50g

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Citizen Tea has provided me with White Cranberry for the purposes of providing an honest review. I received this product at no charge to me and received no other compensation.

First Impressions

This is the first of a few reviews from Citizen Tea, which I was really excited to receive in the mail. White Cranberry was the first I tried because I was feeling like having something light – which I typically find white teas to be light. This white tea blend consists of: white tea, bamboo leaves, snow white tea, pomegranate leaves, and flavouring.

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The description of this tea on Citizen Tea’s website states that there are cranberry blossoms in it somewhere (perhaps that is in the flavouring?). This tea smells amazing, I’m not going to lie. It has a very bright, fruity smell to it. The smell reminds me exactly of dried sweetened cranberries – do you know what craisins smell like? It’s just like that, and I love craisins so it’s a great smell to me.

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Preparation

Citizen Tea recommends steeping this white tea blend in 80°C (176°F) water for 2-3 minutes. The initial steep I did of White Cranberry was for 2 minutes in 175°F water, because that is the white tea setting on my Breville IQ Kettle.

First Taste

White Cranberry steeps to a lovely yellow colour, it smells strongly of cranberries. On first taste, the flavour of the tea is muted compared to the fragrance of the steeped tea. I find that the tea has a mild sweetness, even though it does smell a lot steeper than it actually is. The white tea base isn’t overpowered by the fruity taste. I do think it tastes like cranberries, with a hint of something else that reminds me a bit of raspberries. I find the tea itself to be smooth and free of bitterness. It’s enjoyable, and two minutes was a good length of tea time.

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A Second Cup?

I steeped White Cranberry a second time (for 2 minutes 30 seconds) and I found the colour was signficiantly lighter. The taste of this white tea blend was considerably more tea base and less cranberry. The base itself is delicious – it has a very mild sweetness with light vegetal taste to it. I was a bit disappointed by the lack of berry flavours the second time around, but it was a bit of a treat to be exposed to the white tea base in this blend.

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My Overall Impression

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I liked Citizen Tea’s White Cranberry. I really liked it during the first steep – the fruity taste of the cranberries in this white tea blend is delicious. I think it smells really good (both dry leaf and steeped), but I do wish that it resteeped a little bit better. That said, the price of this tea quite reasonable for a white tea blend. I find white teas are generally more expensive, and the price point of this tea (and others) on the Citizen Tea website are quite competitive. I think White Cranberry works really well for the first steep, if you’re in love with the fruity taste. The second steep is a good experience with the white tea, I just wish that the cranberry taste carried over better – but both steeps are good.

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DavidsTea’s Moonlight White

Moonlight White by DavidsTea
White and Pu-erh Tea / Straight
$24.98 for 50g

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First Impressions

This tea has me a bit confused. I initially purchased it because it was one of the new straight teas at DavidsTea and the salesperson at my local DavidsTea waxed poetic about it. When I bought it back in April, it was categorized as a white tea. At the time of writing this, it’s categorized as a pu-erh tea on the DavidsTea website. To be fair, the description of the tea has it as a “white pu’erh tea”. The combination of the two has me intrigued, and I nearly forgot that I had even bought this tea because it fell between a couple bags. (No jokes about how I have too much tea, please!) But for the tea enthusiasts out there, Yue Guang Bai is another name for Moonlight White (and another literal tea name translation) in case you wanted to source out other Moonlight White teas.

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Moonlight White is actually a really beautiful dry leaf. There’s the white, feathery down on the leaves, and then there’s the darker part of the leaf that provides such a stark contrast. It is a fairly airy tea, so you wind up with a fairly bulky bag because the tea leaves take up so much room. The dry leaf has what I would describe as a honeyed smell, it smells light and sweet to me.

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Preparation

DavidsTea recommends steeping Moonlight White in near-boiling water for 4-7 minutes. The temperature range for this tea (as per their website) is 194-203°F (90-95°C). As my Breville IQ Kettle has a white tea setting (185°F/85°C), I opted to use that as I didn’t want to burn the leaves. My initial steep was for 4 minutes.

First Taste

Moonlight White steeps to a pale yellow initially. It has a lovely honeyed smell to it, it smells sweet to me with a touch of vegetation. There’s an overall smoothness to this tea, no bitterness or astringency to note. I found it had a pleasant mouthfeel and it goes down easy. My water that I use is fairly tasteless, I live in an area with soft water. I found that this tea had a bit of a mineral water flavour to it, which was surprising (given that I live in an area with soft water…). It isn’t off-putting, it was just surprising. I greatly enjoyed the honeyed taste to this white/pu-erh tea, and I don’t think it needs additional sweetener as it’s sweet enough.

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A Second Cup?

As Moonlight White is a straight tea, I was eager to steep the leaves a few times. I ended up steeping the same leaves for seven times. I found that the tea leaves held up well. The colour of the liquor became a deeper and deeper golden yellow as I went through the steeps (becoming the darkest for resteep 3). The flavour of this tea didn’t really change, although the honey and mineral notes did become stronger, but remained at the same flavour balance as the initial steep. I found that the leaves did really well, and it took to the seventh overall steep to really find the flavour lacking.

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My Overall Impression

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I loved DavidsTea’s Moonlight White. This tea is a curious combination for me – white and pu-erh. I found that the tea tasted great and the leaves held up incredibly well to resteeping. I think that tea is delicious and would probably pair well with some sweets or desserts. The one thing that I’m not completely in love with is the price tag. $25 for 50g is fairly steep and it makes me hesitant to really want to fall head-over-heels in love with this tea (because I just know that I’ll want a tin… or two). Overall, I think the tea is great and if you can afford this tasty tea, I would definitely recommend it. The nice thing is that the tea is of a good quality so it can be resteeped (better value!), and you don’t need a lot of the tea to steep a teapot (and then steep it again and again), so a little bit of this tea goes a long way. It’s definitely something that I really love, but don’t want to get into the habit of keeping in my tea stash because of the price. Hopefully there are cheaper Moonlight White alternatives out there, or else I’ll be getting into some trouble soon!

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Arbor Teas’ Silver Needle

Silver Needle by Arbor Teas
White Tea / Straight
$21.00USD for 2oz

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Arbor Teas has provided me with Silver Needle for the purposes of providing an honest review. I received this product at no charge to me and received no other compensation.

First Impressions

Silver Needle came to me from Arbor Teas in a sealed plastic packet. The text on the packaging told me that it was all biodegradable to be environmentally friendly, which I think is really neat. The nice thing about tea is that it is biodegradable, so it is really encouraging when the packaging is as well. Arbor Teas states on their website that they are certified organic.

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Silver Needle is an organic Chinese white tea, with no additional ingredients. The leaves themselves are long and skinny, with the white feathery down on the leaves. They’re quite beautiful to look at. Because of the shape and size of the leaves, it’s quite a bulky amount of tea in this package! There’s a sweet honeyed smell to the dry leaf that’s quite inviting.

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Preparation

Arbor Teas recommends steeping Silver Needle in 180F water for 2-3 minutes. My initial steep of Silver Needle was for 2 minutes.

First Taste

Silver Needle steeps to a very pale yellow that you can almost miss, if you don’t have the best light. The tea itself has a light scent to it, floral and honey is the best way for me to describe it. My first sips were so enjoyable. There’s a lightness to this tea that is the opposite of ‘heavier’ teas (black teas, I’m looking at you!). There is zero astringency, absolutely no bitterness. Silver Needle has a beautiful honeyed flavouring to it that balances well with this light floral flavour. The lightness of this tea makes it easy to drink.

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A Second Cup?

Silver Needle gets darker with each resteep until it gets to be a bright, golden yellow. I resteeped Arbor Teas’ Silver Needle a total of six times (seven steeps overall), adding an additional 30 seconds per steep. The tea gets almost thicker in texture, with an increase in floral-honey taste. Silver Needle is still light and very much enjoyable, despite getting thicker as it gets darker. I found my last steep got to be a little bit lacking in flavour, but I was able to get five resteeps that were a complete joy for the taste buds.

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My Overall Impression

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I loved Arbor Teas’ Silver Needle. Such a beautiful tea from the dry leaf to the first (and last) cup. The honey floral flavour of this white tea are delicious, and the capability of this tea to handle steep after steep is a testament to the quality of the young leaves. In a way, this Silver Needle got a little bit more complex in flavour with each steep because it got darker and thicker and just more delicious. I think it would be great as a post-meal tea if you’re looking for something a little sweet, or as a tea to pair up with an afternoon tea that is skewed more heavily to the sweets and pastries over savoury food options.

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