It has the sweetness of the spring buds, containing natural sugars long stored over winter, but married to a complex depth with subtle notes of tropical fruit, violets, honeysuckle and burnt toffee. Dark caramels lie behind bright fragrance. There is a strong character hidden behind an elegant impression. The flavour is intense yet extremely complex and faceted. Layer after layer of flavour is revealed through many infusions.
The first infusion gently wakes up the leaf revealing the first notes of burnt toffee and a wondrously silky mouth feel.
The second infusion opens up the tropical fruits - gentle but bright notes of pineapple.
The third and fourth infusions reveals violets.
By the fifth you may note kumquats and cape gooseberries.
At six and seven the burnt sugar is softening to rich caramel.
At eight the tropical fruit returns - but softening.
Nine and ten are soft and sweet like the drops of nectar in the base of a nasturtium flower.
By eleven and twelve the leaf are becoming exhausted and may need a longer infusion - but we enjoy them best cold infused in 200ml of water overnight - so that the next morning you might savour the last precious drops and the memory of the previous days delights.
To truly experience this leaf, we recommend quick, small infusions - 3g of tea for 70ml of water.
Use water at 95°C (203°F) - hotter than you might expect - but the infusions will be very quick.
Infuse for about 20 seconds - and strain to the last golden drop.
You can infuse this tea at least six times, often more if doing multiple small infusions. With each careful infusion, different subtleties of flavour are revealed.
Cost Per Cup
£2.00 per cup based on 3g of tea per 150ml of water and 6 infusions.
Origin & Craft
This tea comes from deep in the forests of the Wuyishan Nature Reserve, in Fujian Province, Eastern China.
It is one of the most precious and rare teas in the world - a black tea made only from tiny spring buds. Like silver tip white tea it is made entirely from these tender spring buds - no open leaf. The buds are painstakingly plucked before they unfurl to the first flush of spring leaves. The varietal used yields only tiny slender buds, unlike the Big White of silver tip. These extremely tender, delicate leaf-buds are then delicately hand rolled. This Jin Jun Mei was rolled by Mr Wen, one of only three masters who roll Jin Jun Mei tea of this grade. He needs over 100,000 buds for each kilo. The tiny tea gardens allowed within the Nature Reserve can not produce more. So this is it.
"I was incredibly privileged to get the chance to meet Mr Wen and be able to purchase a little of his most precious craft. I was offered a great deal of money for this tea in Beijing, but I brought it home. I wanted you to have the chance to taste it. If I'm ever going to see my revolution take place - where people in the West once again appreciate tea like wine - and buy and drink it for quality over price - we need access to the very best. This tea has true value - it's utterly delicious."
We suggest pouring each infusion into a jug and then sharing it in small tasting cups or your finest wine glass. In this way each sip, and the intense aroma can be savoured.
Mr Wen made the tea 12 times in a row - the same leaf infused over and over again. Infusions 3-7 were the most exquisite.