Review: De Vos Tea Virgin White

Ceylon Tea, De Vos Tea, Single Estate Tea, White Tea Add comments
Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"I would almost say this was the most perfect white tea I've ever tasted...if it weren't for the one problem."
Geoff’s Teaview: 9/10
Other Teaviews: Melanie gave it 10/10, Vanessa gave it 9/10, Katie gave it 8.4/10, Sophie gave it 8.8/10
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Legend has it that during the Tsong and/or Tsang dynasties in China, the emperor made a curious request regarding the tribute teas he drank. The white tea leaves had to be cut by virgins with golden scissors; thus ensuring their purity, never being touched by hand. The practice fell by the wayside but was picked up centuries later (present day) by tea maker Malinga Guratne of the Handunugoda Tea Estate in the Ceylon district of Galle. He doesn't require that his tea pickers be virgins, but they are required to wear special gloves, cut with gold-plated scissors, and organically sort. This Ceylon white has a global price tag of $1,500 a kilo. De Vos Tea only sells it by the 5g sample.

Far be it from me to turn down an opportunity to try a different type of white tea. My exposure to Ceylon whites up to this point had been very positive. Okay, granted, I've only had one experience with a Ceylon Silver Tip, but it was superb. The leaves for this Virgin White were tightly rolled needles of pure green fuzz. They resembled their Silver Tipped sibling in appearance but were smaller by the cut - more like a yellow tea. Their wilderness-like scent was also far more understated, almost nonexistent.

Brewing instructions on the De Vos site were slightly odd. Understandably, they said the drinker shouldn't touch the tea. That would ruin the entire experience. What got me were the methods of infusing themselves. They recommended bringing water to a boil and steeping 3g for five minutes. This didn't sound right by any measure. Silver Tips worked best in a controlled brew of 165F water, steeped for three minutes. I went with 1 tsp in 8oz and did just that.

I do have one unfortunate thing to report, though. While diligently trying to pull the leaves out without touching them, I came in contact with human hair - a long, curly strand of black hair, no less. No one with black hair lives at my house (last I checked), and it came from within the bag. I'm sure this was a unique fluke with the sample I got - not a trait of the product in general - but still. Whatever "virginal" effect this tea was supposed to convey was instantly lost with that discovery. One demerit.

The liquor brewed up quite clear. There was a faint yellow presence in the cup but barely detectable. One would've assumed it was hot water by appearance alone. The mouthpiece aroma conveyed its true gifts, a wonderful - if fluffy - floral delivery. The taste was the true show; it was sweet, honey-ish, lotus-like buttery, and fruity all at the same time. It was certainly subtle in its presentation, but once sipped I couldn't help but marvel at it.

A second infusion at an undetermined time yielded a slightly deeper yellow cup with a stronger floral nose, close to chrysanthemum. The flavor didn't diminish at all; in fact, it strengthened. No vegetal profile to speak of either.

I would almost say this was the most perfect white tea I've ever tasted...if it weren't for the one problem. While it does have the honor of never touching human skin, finding a human hair in the sample drops it a point. Sure, things are found in tea all the time. (I found a Gummi Bear in a fruit blend once - no joke.) But for a tea touted as being "Virgin", the added...uh...ingredient takes away from the mystique. That complaint aside, it was quite wonderful.

— To purchase De Vos Tea Virgin White, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Geoff Geoff Reviewer
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