In the past, I have reviewed several black teas, green teas, and maybe one white tea from Nepal. However, today will be my first experience with a silver needle white tea from this up and coming tea producing nation. This review will focus on the Silver Needle White Tea from Fikkal Tea Garden, located in the Ilam District of eastern Nepal. This sample was provided by Surajmukhi Tea.
Sadly, I was not able to find much information on the Fikkal Tea Garden. I was able to determine that it must be closely positioned to Kanyam Tea Estate and Factory, just a few kilometers away from the India border and the Darjeeling region of India.
The sample packet has been opened, and a unique earthy aroma is being emitted from this Silver Needle tea. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have the standard colors for a silver needle tea, consisting of some dark greenish brown stems, and buds covered in downy-like silver hairs. Most of the buds are whole and unbroken, but there is a notable amount of fragments and crumbs. There are also some bare stems in the mix. The buds have a very soft, fuzzy texture. The buds are fluffy, crisp, and delicate, cracking easily. The buds are the standard needle shape, and are thin compared to those produced in China. The aroma is quite unique, with scents of hay, barnyard, animal hyde, light flowers, and light grapes.
Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 185°F (85°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.
To best enjoy this tea at home, use 3 grams of dry leaves for every six ounces (180 ml) of water to be used. The leaves are quite light and fluffy, so use 2-3 teaspoons to reach the 3 gram amount. Heat water to 175°F to 185°F (75°C to 85°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 minutes. These leaves may be reused at least three to four times.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, pale, golden-yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of hay, light green grape, valley flowers, light honey, and light vanilla. The body is light-medium, with a velvety and clean texture, and a refreshing energy. The taste has notes of hay, light green grape, valley flowers, light vanilla, light honey, and light apricot. The aftertaste leans to the hay and honey notes, with an essence left on the breath that carries the hay and valley flower notes. There is a very mild astringency, and no bitterness whatsoever.
The infused leaves vary in color from the dark brown stems to light brownish-green buds. About half of the buds are whole or unbroken, while the other half are bud fragments. There are a few bare stems in the mix, and a notable amount of small fragments and crumbs. The buds have an average length of just under one inch (25 mm). The buds are fairly thin. Some plucks have a very fine leaf enveloping a smaller bud. The aroma has scents of hay, green grapes, light barnyard, light valley flowers, light honey, and light animal hyde.
Although I cannot say that I am overly impressed by the appearance of the Fikkal Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2014 White Tea, either in the dry or infused state, I was highly impressed by the characteristics of the infusion in the cup. The color of the liquor was bright and uplifting, the body and texture were refreshing and clean, the taste was sweet and well layered. I am currently on the third infusion of the same leaves, and this tea maintains these positive characteristics quite well from infusion to infusion. I was slightly concerned about how this tea would turn out in the cup, given the earthy and animal scents that I was picking up in the dry leaf, but neither of those descriptions ended up in the cup. With a little more attention paid to the pluck and processing of these buds in order to improve their appearance, this tea could easily compete with it’s competitors from India, Sri Lanka, and even China.
Thanks again to Ankit Lochan at Surajmukhi Tea for providing this interesting sample of Fikkal Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2014 Nepal White Tea! Cheers!