Red Peony from Floating Leaves Tea

I frequent Floating Leaves Tea quite often and I didn’t know she carried this tea until I was at the Seattle Tea Festival. I can’t remember how it went, it must of been on sample, and I was super tea drunk. Red Peony is a Ruby 18 cultivar, which is usually made into black tea, but is processed like a bai mu dan white tea. WHAT IS THIS SORCERY?! I haven’t even heard anyone do that to a Ruby 18, even then Ruby 18 is a newer tea that you don’t see that often to begin with as people seem to zone in on the popular High Mountain oolongs.

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That said, I went over on a sleepy Sunday to Floating Leaves Tea and bought an ounce. I drank it twice grandpa style. It was so good I ordered 5oz on Black Friday, with evil plans to age this white tea. Pretty sure Floating Leaves thinks I’m nuts buying that much white tea. I almost drank through an ounce and flipped out as I don’t drink a single tea like that. I ordered more online when Steep Stories spilled the beans. After I secured what I comfortably sitting in an excess of Red Peony for my own needs, I can finally write about this tea. Sorry guys, I might of left you the dregs. I learned early in tea blogging – if you find something you LOVE you buy as much as possible before you tell everyone it is good.

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Dry Leaf

The leave is spacious and beautiful, similar appearance to bai mu dan – gorgeous big green leaves, some black ones, with the odd silver tips and olive. The scent is very strong with heavy perfumed notes with that background of staleness.

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Steeping Parameters

For the steeping today I used 1gram of leaf to 18ml of vessel, infusing with boiling water. I wouldn’t leaf harder than that as you physically cannot shove more tea into your vessel without ape crushing the leaves. I found going a little lighter on the leaf works fine too, around the 1 gram to 22ml mark.

I used a gaiwan here, but I found excellent results with using teapots or clay.

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Tasting of Floating Leaves Tea’s Red Peony

Pale gold colour to start, with a warm floral scent.

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First and Second Infusion: Sips in thick and heavy like cream. The texture here is very good for you texture lovers. The flavor is softly sweet, slight malt and floral. There is an aftertaste of floral. And all the tea is gone, I drank all these rounds faster than I could articulate it. The floral buzzes in the mouth similar to the way jasmine does, but doesn’t taste like jasmine.

Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: The colour darkens to a orange gold.

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Good medium heavy flavor intensity here. This isn’t no wimpy delicate white here! The notes are sweet malt, like a black tea, with a clean tasting sip, hint of melon fruityness, and a slight bitter floral. The texture is heavy, with an interesting juicy mouth watery effect in the mouth after each sip. I think I overleafed it here due to the bitterness, so I am back to thinking 1 gram to 20ml I did prior was best. The fragrance after each sip is a rolling peachy linen floral.

Alright, this is the part I need to admit. This tea is a lot into feeling. There is a big conflict here you can tell with some bloggers and tea sellers – ones who can describe feeling and ones who can describe taste. Feeling is a hard one to get through on more western influenced drinkers, in which we can go into a whole essay about some other time. But in regards to Red Peony, I can feel more than I can taste. The tea jams in my throat and flushes my cheeks. So damn snuggly! I feel like I want to go bear crush things. It is the fuzzy bear of teas!

This fuzzy bear – cute but this Pokemon is a friggin scary fighting tank.


Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Infusion:

The flavor is bright here, the texture is a bit lighter and coarse. The flavor is crisp, bright, sweet – kind of like late late steepings of a ruby 18, yet soft and juicy like a white tea. The aftertaste is a sweet peachy floral that is addicting. The tea interestingly lost that bitter floral as it lightened up, so it is super easy to drink here and soft. I inhaled these steepings, dreaming of crocheting giant cuddly owl bears and rolling with my cute pokemon team. I am feeling a lot of energy too – something you do not get often with white teas – I feel like I can chase all the cute fuzzy owls in the cold and win.

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Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Infusion: Flavor is slipping, but what I got is sweet, juicy, and clean notes and linen. The malt is gone but the leaves look quite pretty. I’m feeling hyped up and full of squee. My husband caught wind of the cute screeching and he is now hiding in the garage.

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Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Infusion: Long steeps here with 30 minutes being the last one. The flavor slips into a mineral, super sweet, with a hint of linen and floral. The texture is oily here and the flavor is light. Only slight dryness, but overall an easy drink.

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Other Steeping Considerations

Grandpa Style – Red Peony does excellently grandpa style. I use about 3-4grams for a 300ml vessel. It doesn’t get very bitter, and resteeps well even if you take your time to drink. The malty heavy honey notes come through well with longer steeps, but there is less body. I found I got more of the refreshing mint vibe more off grandpa style.

Tumbler – Similar to Grandpa style, Red Peony is nearly bombproof provided you don’t overleaf it. I leaf about 5-8grams in a tumbler, 200F water temperature, and I got an excellent balance of honey black and white tea floral all day.

Clay Teapot Gongfu – This is where Red Peony shines. I didn’t do the review in yixing because I am in the minority that has a yixing seasoned to aged whites tea because I am flipping crazy. I had to run this tea a little lighter, around 1g to 22ml due to space, but it goes more body and sweet in yixing, without any bitterness.


Red Peony is unique – a Ruby 18 White! This is a white tea I point to for not being light, its got plenty of strong flavor, and a durability for boiling water with long infusions. This breaks the school of thought to steep whites in glass in 175f – this tea is meant to be boiled to show off that heavy slicky body and interesting malt notes. If you like late infusions of black teas and aged white, or that fragrance and body of an oolong – Red Peony is a treat!

Red Peony is snuggle crack. I love this tea. On a personal level it checks all the boxes I love in tea – heavy cream body, sweet kissy florals, strong flavor, practically bombproof, and extreme feels. I would describe Red Peony as my “Hitting it hard with a Hammer” tea. I would tong this tea to the ceiling if it came in cake form. I wish it came in cake form – it would take up less space! I could honestly retire from blogging now, as at this time I found MY TEA, and I can just drink Red Peony until the end of time. Might find me on the streets of Ballard twitching on my crawl back to Floating Leaves Tea to buy more.

Either way, if this tea sounds good to you buy some before I buy it all. Or not buy any and let me buy it all.

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  • gatmcm

    Hey, great review, it sounds very similar to a production, both visually and in tasting notes, Im very fond of, azores white tea (not from gorreana estate) also processed as a bai mu dan sold at a local store here in lisbon. May I ask how do you age this tea, I’ve experimented with pressing it into a small single session ball and have a ton in loose form, is humidity desired or not? Will probably try to store some with my pu in a crock and some of it airtight.

    • Oh nice – I’ve had azores green and it was quite wonderful. I will need to be on the lookout for the white!

      I’ve heard mostly people store airtight for aging, similar to oolong, but I have heard you can accelerate white tea aging with humid. I have a similar experiment going but with white tea pressed into cakes – one is airtight, the other is crocked alone, and one with my sheng puer.

  • northernteaist

    Something a bit similar – What-cha do a ball-tea made with pu-erh material processed a la Oolong, their Jingmai ‘Unroasted’ Oolong. Very interesting…

    Good point about the “feeling V taste” thing. I’ve noticed that for many casual Western style tea drinkers the very concept of getting tea drunk can be deeply troubling… 🙂

  • I had made a mental note to try this tea after reading Geoff’s post and then promptly forgot all about it. As a Ruby 18 obsessive, this is a tea I definitely need to get my hands on. Thanks for the reminder!