Review: White August Silver Threads

Bai Hao Tea, White August Tea Co., White Tea Add comments
Raven’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Just as dainty as the leaves, these threads spin a light-hearted brew that isn’t as sweet as some with touches of fennel seeds to the scent. "
Raven’s Teaview: 7/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 8.5/10, Chantal gave it 8.5/10, Katie gave it 6.4/10
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For some reason, Silver Threads sounds more like a clever euphemism for what one might call their first sighting of grey hair or an unraveling zoot suit. But regardless of the name, as my first introduction to White August Tea Company, a white tea seemed cheesily fitting and their Silver Threads easily caught my eye. With an inviting website that has a friendly charm, White August also offers a variety of teas from all types with cute monikers to tempt one further.

Upon seeing the tea, the name gains new meaning as it seems quite apt. The whole buds and leaf pieces are ever so dainty, thinly playful and rather sleek. They aren’t that downy but still lightly fuzzy in their mix of cool grayish sage green hues that are only about one third the creamier, ivory green. Not so thin to be threads but certainly leaner. The base leaves of the buds tousle through the leaves that range from about quarter of an inch to three quarters with some larger needles that still have some long stems attached that are a bit more thread-like. Sewing resemblances aside, it was time to spin up these threads.

Fortunately, a seamstress has no worry for White August has the pattern at the ready with recommendations for brewing on their website. As I unraveled two teaspoons of tea from the package’s spool, the light to medium bouquet of the dry leaves has a delightfully intriguing twist to the white tea glide. Weaving notes of fennel seeds through the potpourri notes of the usual white tea stitch, the velveted scent has a hint of curry powder, seeming a bit more earthy than fruity or floral in its herbaceousness and thus not as sweet or dewy. Yet, there is still some sweetness to the herbal notes which also have a flicker of lift or brightness, a bit like dry basil and pommelo, against a more prevalent, fuzzier, potpourri character of milk pods and pussy willows.

Armed with the kettle rather than a Singer, I steeped the tea as suggested with 175°F water for three minutes to put these threads into action, much faster than if I had to actually sew something. While steeping, the leaves float on the water’s surface with a woolly resilience that it was hard to resist not lifting their cover to dunk them. Yet miraculously, they still did their magic, filling the cup with a pale sterling yellow of a medium hue with a light to medium fragrance. The scent is drier, imbued with more seed spices than juicy, leafy notes. However, still slightly sweet, florist greens or clover ripples through adding a downiness or tenderness to the fennel seed aroma. Laced with a medium body, the light flavour opens with a fringe of clover and milkpods lining a mineral, starchier fabric through the bulk of the sip. The starchiness is almost flour like, having a refined, smoothed grain, elemental neutrality with a button of near saltiness, like saltine crackers, that is more relaxed than the aroma. Although there is a sense of starch, it comes through more simply as a taste of warmth or husks and the feel, rather than having a nutty or hearty enough character to really seem grain-like. While slightly dry, a light astringency also hems each sip as a faint almost metallic needles the tip of one’s tongue but it is still pleasing. Folding into a light finish without any aftertaste, the tea doesn’t have much to hold onto, while feeling more dry in one's throat than refreshing.

Yet after the first steeping, the leaves barely look wet so I was hopeful the tea may not yet have truly come alive. Another tousle of the leaves reveals a similar champagne yellow as the first, only a touch lighter. The tea has only a faint, fuzzy scent, still charmed with a bit of sweet fennel and down. The flavour seems slightly more pronounced without much more distinction, knit with a subtle herbaceousness that takes more cues from starchy flavours like wheat hulls and soy flour. Seeming on the verge of feeling salty, it suggests butter to the starchiness while the astringency adds a dryness or rawness to the flavours while also feeling a touch tinny on the tongue. Although it seems to move somewhat slow into a short finish, still without any aftertaste, it is still easy to drink. A third steeping of the leaves is lighter as some fir like notes surface in the tea's bouquet. The flavour isn't much different from the prior cup with a flavour like seed hulls or shells while the dryness and astringency remain light and not to overbearing.

Overall, White August’s Silver threads laces up a pleasant brew. Without much flourish in aroma or flavour, it isn’t really a stand out but it is an easy going cup that would seem best for afternoon sipping. It isn’t perhaps the shiniest thread in the sewing box or the sweetest but with its flutter of spice and herbs, it could surely sew a silver lining into a cloudy day.

— To purchase White August Silver Threads, 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.

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