White Tea From Araksa Tea Garden in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Today’s review will focus on the White Tea from Araksa Tea Garden. Learn more about Araksa by visiting my Company Spotlight post.

This white tea is a silver needle or silver tips style, consisting only of tea buds hand harvested from Camellia Sinensis Assamica bushes. The leaves are sun withered and dried in order to maintain as much natural character of the tea buds as possible. This is the first white tea that I have had that was grown and manufactured in Thailand.

Let’s get to the review…

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Araksa White Tea – Dry Buds

The dry buds have a uniform pale forest green color, and are covered in the silver-white fuzz that is common among this style of white tea. The mix consists of all whole, unbroken buds. There are no bud fragments, no leaves or leaf fragments, and no bare stems. The buds have the common sickle shape, and some are quite large. In fact, a few of these buds are the largest (in length) that I have witnessed from any silver needle style white tea from any origin. The longest dry bud measured just over two inches (50 mm) long. The longer buds can be attributed to the Assamica bushes that they are harvested from, known to have larger features than the Sinensis bushes that most other white teas on the market are harvested from. The buds are long and narrow, coming to a point at the tips. The buds have a soft, smooth texture. The aroma is delicate, with light scents of sweet hay, vanilla, dried tulips, and a touch of buttery popcorn.

Four grams of dry buds were placed in a 7.1 ounce (210 mL) bizen-ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 185°F (85°C) water for 3:00 minutes. Four quality infusions were extracted from this serving of buds.

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Araksa White Tea – Liquid

The tea liquid has a light, pale yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma is quite delicate, with light scents of tulip, hay, and a touch of butter. The body is light, with a silky texture. There is no bitterness or astringency. The liquid has a refreshing, calming energy. The taste is also delicate, with notes of tulip, hay, and a touch of butter. The aftertaste carries the delicate floral character.

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Araksa White Tea – Infused Buds

The infused buds have a uniform fresh, forest green color, with a few buds showing reddish-brown spots along the midribs. This is due to a small amount of oxidation that can occur during the natural withering and drying process that the buds go through. The buds are long and narrow, coming to a point at the tips. They have a smooth, soft, delicate texture. Some of the buds are very long, and when closer examined, have three layers of buds. The largest bud envelopes a younger bud which then envelopes a very young bud (see the photo below). These buds are a pleasure to examine. The aroma again is quite delicate, with scents of light flowers and hay.

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Araksa White Tea – Single Specimen

The White Tea from Araksa Tea Garden is a gentle, easy drinking silver needle tea that boasts a refreshing floral bouquet, and a comforting, silky smooth texture. The buds themselves are a pleasure to examine and play with. They feel as if they were just plucked off the bush yesterday. I was curious to see if these buds, plucked from Assamica bushes, would have a bolder taste than those harvested from Sinensis bushes, since the Assamica teas generally have a stronger tasting quality. I found that these buds did not share that robust character. This tea is surprisingly delicate.

Thanks again to the management at Araksa Tea Garden for providing this sample of White Tea. Have a good weekend, everyone.

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Virgin White Tea From Herman Teas and Handunugoda Tea Estate

Today, I will be reviewing the flagship product of Herman Teas and Handunugoda Tea Estate. This is the Virgin White Tea. At this time, this product is offered in the pyramid teabag format or loose form for USD $36.50. Check it out here.

According to the Herman Teas website, the tea buds used in this product are not touched by human hand during production. The pickers wear gloves, and cut the buds from the tea bushes using scissors, which are gold in color to conform with tradition. The buds are then dried using filtered sunlight. That is all there is to production of this Virgin White Tea.

Herman Teas had a lab analysis at SGS in Switzerland completed on this tea, and the lab results show that this product has an antioxidant content of 10.11%. This tea is offered only at one tea salon, the Mariage Freres in central Paris.

Generally speaking, I find Sri Lankan silver needle (silver tips) teas to be notably lighter and more delicate than their better known Chinese counterparts. However, since Handunugoda is in the lower elevation Ruhuna region (Southern Province) of Sri Lanka, known for the stronger, bolder teas coming from the island, I am interested to see how this product will compare to those I have had from the Uva region, which is a mid elevation region with a vastly different climatic system, and produces more aromatic Ceylon teas.

Let’s get to the review…

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Virgin White Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry buds have a pale yellow color, and are covered in fine downy-like silver fuzz, with the areas nearing the stems having a charcoal gray-black color. The buds are very smooth, long, and of a medium plumpness, coming to a point at the tip. These buds are fairly similar in appearance to others I have seen from Sri Lanka and India, and still not as thick as the high quality silver needle teas from Fujian Province, China. There are no leaves or bare stems whatsoever in the mix, just whole, unbroken buds with some bud fragments. The buds are cleanly cut at the stem, evidence of the use of scissors to detach the buds from the bush, rather than hand plucking. The size of the buds is relatively uniform, with an average length of about 1.25 inches (32 mm). The aroma is interesting and light, and I find it unusually earthy, with scents of fresh white button mushrooms, hay, and touches of vanilla and coconut flesh.

Five grams of dry buds were placed in a six ounce (180 mL) porcelain gaiwan, and infused with 185°F (85°C) water for 3:00 minutes. An additional minute was added to each subsequent infusion, and a total of five infusions were prepared. The color changed rather dramatically between the first and fifth infusion, as you can see in the photos below.

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Virgin White Tea – First Infusion
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Virgin White Tea – Fifth Infusion

The first infusion has a pale, light yellow color, clear and transparent. The later infusions become darker, having a deep gold-yellow color. The aroma has scents of honey, hay, delicate flowers, and vanilla. The body is medium, with a velvety, delicate texture to the first infusion, which becomes richer in later infusions. There is no bitterness or astringency to this tea. The taste has notes of honey, vanilla, delicate flowers, and hay. The earthy hay aroma and taste dissipate with each infusion, leaving the honey, vanilla, and delicate flowers as the dominant qualities. The aftertaste carries a delicate honey and flowers character, with a clean, refreshing finish.

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Virgin White Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused buds have a pale, dark forest green color, with darker brown areas near the pluck site. The buds have a soft, smooth texture. The majority appear to consist of a mature bud enveloping a younger bud. There are no leaves or bare stems in the mix. Most of the buds are whole and unbroken, but there are some bud fragments in the mix. The buds are long and fairly slender when compared to plumper Chinese silver needle teas. The aroma carries the scents of honey, vanilla, and delicate flowers.

The Virgin White Tea from Herman Teas is certainly a high quality white tea, with impressive aroma and taste. Offering a wonderful balance of honey, vanilla, and delicate floral qualities wrapped in a velvety texture, it’s difficult to imagine a tea enthusiast not loving this product. Although difficult to say with 100% certainty when not physically tasting this tea next to a silver tips tea from Uva, I do believe that this tea from Handunugoda Tea Estate does have a slightly stronger, fuller character than that of the Uva white teas, especially in the later infusions. When compared to a Fujian Chinese silver needle white tea, this Virgin White Tea is still quite delicate. I need a few fresh silver needle samples from China, India, Kenya, and Uva (Sri Lanka) to do a side by side comparison. Any vendors offering fresh white teas from those areas care to be featured in a future post? Email me, if yes.

Thank you to the management of Herman Teas and Handunugoda Tea Estate for providing this sample of Virgin White Tea! Cheers!

White Prakash Organic White Tea From Nepal Tea

Today, I will be focusing my attention to the White Prakash Organic White Tea from Nepal Tea, sourced from the Kanchanjangha Tea Estate in Nepal. You can purchase 50 grams of this tea for $12.99 USD from the Nepal Tea website.

I have provided many details of Kanchanjangha Tea Estate and Nepal Tea in my previous reviews of the Kanchanjangha Noir Black Tea and the Silver Yeti White Tea. Check out those reviews to learn more about the estate, and the good works being done in that community.

Let’s get to the review…

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White Prakash Organic White Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color widely, from pale, light green to red-brown to nearly black. There is a generous portion of fuzzy, silver-white buds in the mix. The leaves appear to consist of unbroken leaves and buds still attached to the stem, as well as some detached whole leaves and buds, and some large sized leaf and bud fragments. The pluck appears to be mostly one leaf and a fairly mature bud, or a single mature bud with no leaf. The leaves are lightly rolled, and are rather light and fluffy. The leaves have gone through the standard white tea processing method of being naturally withered, then dried, with no roasting or firing of any kind. The aroma has fresh scents of vanilla, raw pastry dough, cream, and a touch of dried wild flowers. The aroma has a luxurious character.

Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 ml) cast-iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 185°F (85°C) water for 3:00 minutes. an additional minute was added to the time on the second infusion.

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White Prakash Organic White Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, gold-yellow color. The aroma has scents of spring flowers, vanilla, and lighter touches of hay and cream or butter. The body is medium, with a smooth, layered texture, and a calming, revitalizing energy. There is no bitterness or astringency whatsoever. The taste has notes of spring flowers, vanilla, and touches of sweet hay and butter. The aftertaste carries a light floral and vanilla character. This light floral and sweet aftertaste has a very nice linger time on the breath.

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White Prakash Organic White Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves vary in color from pale forest green dark forest green to copper-brown. The copper brown areas of the leaves reflect the natural oxidation that occurs in the leaves during withering. The leaves are fairly young and tender, with the larger leaves measuring just over one inch (25 mm) in length. There is a generous amount of fairly mature buds, mostly unbroken and whole, but some large fragments. There are no bare stems. The leaves are about half unbroken and whole, and half medium to large fragments. Again, the pluck shows a one leaf and bud pluck, or bud only pluck, and some leaves are detached from stems. After two infusions, the leaves are rather delicate, and very smooth to the touch. The aroma has scents of spring flowers and vanilla.

The White Prakash Organic White Tea is a beautiful example of this style of tea. The presence of leaves and buds, rather than the silver needle (silver tips) styles of white tea, gives this style of white tea a more rounded, fuller taste than the fairly mild and delicate character of the silver needle style. I really enjoyed the dominant scents and flavors of spring flowers and vanilla in the liquid. The aroma of the dry leaves was also incredible, with a unique scent of raw pastry dough, which gave it a nicely balanced sweetness, and complimented the vanilla scent very effectively. Although the leaves felt rather delicate after two infusions, there was much aroma and taste in the second infusion. I am confident that they could easily give a good quality third infusion, and perhaps a decent fourth infusion. The number of infusions always has a direct relationship with perceiving  how worthy of the price tag a tea is. This tea is worth the price tag.

Thanks again to the management at Nepal Tea and Kanchanjangha Tea Estate for providing this sample of White Prakash Organic White Tea. Cheers!

Organic Silver Yeti White Tea From Nepal Tea

A Christmas miracle arrived at my office a few days ago, and few things can lift my excitement to such a level as this. A package from a relatively new tea company named Nepal Tea. As you can probably guess from the company name, Nepal Tea specializes in offering organic teas from Nepal. Today’s review will be focusing on the Silver Yeti White Tea, which can currently be purchased from Nepal Tea for USD $14.99 and includes one ounce of the tea.

It has been a few years since I had a nice assortment of various styles of tea from Nepal, and this sample package definitely offers an interesting assortment. Upon further research, I found out that these teas are actually sourced from one of the tea estates in Nepal that I was offering through my online tea shop. The estate is Kanchanjangha Tea Estate (KTE). KTE was the first organic certified estate in Nepal, and is the only tea estate in Nepal certified as Free Trade.

Nestled in the foothills of Mount Kanchenjunga, with an elevation ranging from 1,300 meters to 1,800 meters (4,200 feet to 5,900 feet) above sea level, Kanchanjangha Tea Estate consists of about 94 hectares of land under tea cultivation. It is located in Ranitar, Panchthar District, Nepal. The map below shows the location of Ranitar.

Kanchanjangha Tea Estate does more than just produce excellent quality Nepal teas. It is also a great partner for the estate workers. I will provide more details on that partnership in my next Nepal Tea product review.

For now, let’s get to the review…

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Silver Yeti White Tea – Dry Leaves (or buds, to be more accurate)

The dry leaves have a uniform pale light green color to the buds, with a fine silver downy-like fuzz covering them, and dark brown to black stems. The buds are long and thin, with no additional shaping given during production. The more mature buds have a younger bud enveloped inside. There are no leaves, and no bare stems in the mix, only buds. The mix consists mostly of unbroken, fully intact buds, with some medium to large bud fragments. The appearance of these buds is definitely similar to those found in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Kenya (to name a few). They are noticeably thinner than the plump Silver Needle teas found in the Fujian province of China, which uses the Fuding Da Bai tea bush (among others), known for producing large, plump buds. Getting back on track, these buds are dried naturally, and simply processed. The aroma has scents of dry rosebuds and dandelions, fresh hay, and light touches of vanilla and honey.

Five grams of dry buds were placed in a six ounce (180 ml) porcelain gaiwan, and infused with 185°F (85°C) water for 3:00 minutes.

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Silver Yeti White Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a full golden yellow color. The aroma has scents of rosebuds, dandelion, hay, and lighter scents of vanilla and honey. The body is light-medium, with a pillowy, airy texture. That is not a description I use often (or maybe ever), but this liquid feels like it levitates off the tongue, and just hovers in the mouth. Admittedly, I spent a lot more time than usual just observing the mouthfeel of this tea, trying to think of an appropriate description to record. There is no bitterness or astringency. The taste has notes of rosebuds, dandelions, hay, lighter touches of vanilla and honey, and a barely noticeable hint of licorice. The aftertaste carries the notes of sweet hay and vanilla, and leaves a pleasantly light floral essence on the breath.

As a quick sidenote, the third and fourth infusions are easily the most aromatic and flavorful infusions.

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Silver Yeti White Tea – Infused Buds

The majority of the infused buds have a light forest green color, with some being brown-red, with dark brown stems. The majority of the buds are unbroken and fully intact, with a bud only pluck, and some larger buds enveloping younger buds. There are some medium to large bud fragments. There are no leaves or bare stems in the mix. The buds are long and narrow. The aroma, especially as the buds get cooler, is intoxicating with strong scents of honey, vanilla, licorice, rosebuds, and a touch of hay.

The Silver Yeti White Tea from Nepal Tea is a beautiful reminder of the high quality products hailing from the Nepalese foothills of the Himalayas. And these products are not just Darjeeling style black teas, but teas of all styles. This white tea boasts a subtle yet sophisticated character, with a great combination of floral, sweet, spicy, and earthy scents and flavors. The texture of the liquid was a true highlight for me, just observing a texture that I do not recall experiencing before. My best description was pillowy, as the liquid felt soft and gentle on the tongue and roof of the mouth, and more dense in between. These buds have many infusions of pleasure to offer, so considering the cost, be sure to pull every last drop of goodness out of these buds before disposing of them.

Many thanks to Nepal Tea for their generosity in providing this sample of Silver Yeti White Tea. There will be plenty of other reviews, and more information about the good works being done by the good people at Nepal Tea and Kanchanjangha Tea Estate, in the near future. Cheers!

Silver Tips White Tea From Greenwood Tea Estate

Today, I will be focusing on the Silver Tips White Tea from the Greenwood Tea Estate, located in the Kandy region of Sri Lanka. For more information on the Greenwood Tea Estate, please see my earlier review of their FBOPF EXSP Black Tea.

A fresh white tea from Sri Lanka is not a pleasure I have experienced since 2014. That silver tips white tea was from the Uva Halpewatte Estate in the Uva region of Sri Lanka. It will be interesting to compare today’s tea from the Kandy region with my memory of the one from Uva.

Silver tips white tea from Sri Lanka is a labor and time intensive product to create, and very limited in production, so it tends to fetch higher prices in the market, and can be difficult to come by in the U.S. However, if a fresh batch can be found, it is definitely worth tasting.

Let’s get to the review.

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Greenwood Silver Tips White Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform appearance of silver-white with a charcoal black undertone. The buds are covered in fine silver hairs. There are no bare leaves, or bare stems, just mature buds that envelope a younger bud beneath. The buds are long and narrow, when compared to the more well-known silver needle teas from the Fujian province of China, which are thicker and plumper. The buds have a sickle shape, and a smooth, soft texture. The aroma has scents of honey, orchid, honeydew melon, and sweet dry hay.

4 grams of dry buds were placed in a 150 ml porcelain gaiwan, and infused with 185°F water for 3:00 minutes.

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Greenwood Silver Tips White Tea – Liquid

The tea liquid had a pale, clean, light yellow color. The aroma had scents of honey, orchid, honeydew melon, sweet hay, vanilla, and a touch of fresh coconut water. The body is medium, with a velvety, luxurious texture. There is no bitterness or astringency. The taste has notes of honey, vanilla, honeydew melon, sweet hay, and lighter notes of orchid, fresh coconut water, and apples. The aftertaste is sweet and comforting, and lingers on the tongue for a pleasant time span.

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Greenwood Silver Tips White Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused buds have a uniform appearance of pale forest green and dark brown along the shoot and midrib. The mature buds envelope a single younger bud. There are no bare stems or leaves in the mix, all mature and young buds. There are a few broken buds, but the vast majority are whole. The aroma has soothing, sweet scents of honey, vanilla, ripe honeydew melon, and orchid.

The Silver Tips White Tea from Greenwood Tea Estate warrants high praise. This tea is comforting, soothing, and warming, providing an excellent aroma, texture, and taste. This tea, as with the other Sri Lanka silver tips products that I have tried, has a more delicate character than its Fujian cousins, which, in my opinion, provides a very high end and luxurious experience. I can truly feel the time and effort that was put into this product. This tea can be steeped again and again, and still give a great experience with each infusion. In the world of white teas, this product can stand with the best.

Thanks again to Greenwood Tea Estate for providing this sample of Silver Tips White Tea. Cheers!

Taiwanese Pekoe White Tea from Fong Mong Tea

Today, I will be reviewing a white tea from Taiwan. Many thanks again to Fong Mong Tea for providing this sample. I have never had a white tea from Taiwan before, so I am quite excited for the new experience.

This white tea is first harvested from wild mountain tea bushes (Wild Shan Cha) in Nantou county (see map below) in the spring and winter seasons. The altitude of the tea garden is about 5,900 feet (1,800 meters) above sea level. The tea leaves are not bruised, rolled, or altered in any way, permitting them to naturally oxidize to light degree before being fired. The leaves are unroasted, and not shaped in any way prior to packaging, leaving them light, fluffy, crisp, and natural looking, as if they fell off the tea bush and dried on the ground.

Below are some beautiful images provided by Fong Mong Tea of the tea gardens, bushes, leaves, and the local insects that live happily among the bushes.

The photos with the butterflies and lady bug are awesome. As a weak attempt to spare myself some masculinity, I want you all to know that I play ice hockey and football regularly! And yes, I do take tea as my beverage in an insulated travel water bottle when I play! And yes, my teammates do know that I have tea in the water bottle! No, they do not make fun of me for it (usually)!

Don’t forget to check out Fong Mong Tea on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

You can purchase 30 grams of this tea at the Fong Mong Tea website for USD $21.99. This price includes shipping costs.

Anyway … Let’s get to the review.

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Taiwanese Pekoe White Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from light forest green to very dark (almost black) green, to light reddish brown, and some silver on the buds. There is much to appreciate about the visual qualities of this tea. Its appearance is most comparable to the more common Chinese white peony teas. The oxidation is easy to observe in the leaves, as well as the delicate handling during processing. The pluck is mostly one or two leaves and a mature bud, but there are a few with three leaves and a mature bud. The mix consists of many unbroken leaves and buds, and large fragments. There are no bare stems in the mix. The leaves are very fluffy, crisp, and delicate, breaking easily into small fragments and crumbs. The aroma is truly incredible, among one of the most attractive aromas I have ever smelled in a tea. There are scents of dried papaya, dried apricots, vanilla beans, orange blossoms, wild honey, and dried autumn leaves. It is one of the fruitiest smelling teas I have experienced. I cannot pull my nose away from the cup holding these leaves.

The dry leaves were placed in a porcelain gaiwan and infused with 185°F water for 1:00 minutes. Ten seconds were added to each subsequent infusion time.

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Taiwanese Pekoe White Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, inviting, honey-like yellow color. The aroma again is remarkable, with scents of papaya, apricot, peach, orange blossom, vanilla, wild honey, and autumn leaves. The body is medium, with a lush, juicy, luxurious texture. The taste continues to highly impress, with the same notes of apricot, peach, papaya, orange blossom, wild honey, autumn leaves, vanilla, and a touch of wet stones for a nice mineral note. Undoubtedly the fruitiest tasting tea I have ever experienced. The aftertaste continues the fruity, floral, and light mineral notes, and lingers on the breath patiently.

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Taiwanese Pekoe White Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a blend of color including fresh, pale forest green and reddish brown. Many of the leaves are unbroken, and the remaining leaves are large fragments. They have a fairly thick, hearty texture. There is a generous portion of mature buds, and some younger buds, and no bare stems. The oxidation levels of the leaves varies greatly, a consequence of the natural and unadulterated oxidation process. I enjoyed observing these leaves so much, that I took several additional photos, included below. The aroma continues to amaze, with the sweet scents of papaya, apricot, peach, orange blosson, autumn leaves, and wild honey.

I am not sure where to even begin my concluding statements on the Taiwanese Pekoe White Tea. It was fantastic, delicious, amazing, jaw-dropping … place any of your best descriptive words here … from the dry leaves to the liquid to the wet leaves. There was no aspect of this tea that was anything less than the highest quality. With the dry leaves, I could not stop smelling them. With the liquid, I could not stop infusing the leaves and drinking that nectar. These poor leaves did not know what they were in for when they got packaged and shipped to me. With the wet leaves, I could not stop playing with them and taking photos. I think the hardest part of my day today will be eventually disposing of these leaves. I may just have to show them the highest respect, put them in a container, take them home and lay them to rest in my vegetable patch. They are too good for the trash can.

The dominantly fruity, sweet aroma and taste of this tea is beyond words. The texture of the liquid is truly luxurious. The aftertaste is beautiful, like most Taiwanese teas boast. I give a standing ovation to the tea master that created this tea. Bravo!

At the request of Fong Mong Tea, I have returned to posting reviews on Steepster. Click here to see my review of the Taiwanese Pekoe White Tea.

The sincerest thank you to Fong Mong Tea for including this sample of Pekoe White Tea! What an awesome, amazing tea experience. I hope the rest of the long weekend goes as well as my Friday morning did because of this tea. Many cheers!

Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2017 White Tea from Lochan Tea and Doke Tea Estate

There are many instances in life that leave you wishing that each day held more hours. If given an extra four hours a day, I am not one of those people who would allocate any of that additional time to my insurance career. Rather, I would spend that time with my son and wife. If that was not possible, then a good portion of those four hours would likely be spent slowly enjoying a good tea session. Few things in my life are as unfortunate as having to rush through the tea making and drinking experience, especially when I realize that I rushed through a sample of a type of tea that I really wanted to quietly focus on and appreciate.

Luckily, today is not going to be one of those days. I have my work completed, the phones are fairly quiet, and I have some time to appreciate a tea worthy of my full attention. The Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2017 White Tea not only deserves such time and attention, but demands it because of the subtlety of the character that this style of tea generally embodies. To rush through a silver needle white tea session is to essentially miss out on the best parts of these teas, the subtle aromas and tastes. To rush through a tea session that involves any product from Doke Tea Estate is to rob yourself of a rare and uncommon treat, and that to me is incredibly foolish.

You can purchase 50 grams of this Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2017 White Tea for USD $10.00 plus shipping from the Lochan Tea website.

Let’s get to the review…

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Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2017 White Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry buds have the standard brownish color, and are covered in fine, silver, downy-like fuzz. The mixture contains mostly large bud fragments and unbroken buds, with a few shoot stems also. The buds are smooth and fuzzy to the touch, and crack easily into larger fragments. The buds are quite long and slender, as opposed to some better known Chinese silver needle teas that consist of plump, thicker buds. The aroma has scents of sweet hay, daisies, vanilla, sweet cream, and dried apricot. The aroma is very potent for a white tea, indicating how fresh it is.

The dry leaves were placed in a porcelain gaiwan, then infused in 185°F water for 3:00 minutes.

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Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2017 White Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, pale yellow-gold color. The aroma has scents of hay, daisies, apricot, light vanilla, and even a touch of honey and peach. The body is surprisingly fuller, with a silky, incredibly smooth texture. The taste has notes of hay, daisies, apricot, and a touch of vanilla, honey, and peach. The aftertaste is very refreshing, and carries the notes of hay, daisies, and vanilla.

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Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2017 White Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform light forest green on the buds, and brownish shoot stems. The mixture consists of large bud fragments, unbroken buds, and shoot stems. Some shoots show a one leaf and bud pluck, while others show a two leaf and bud pluck. There are no leaves in the mixture, only buds and shoot stems. The buds have a very smooth, soft texture, and are quite durable even after five infusions. The aroma has scents of hay, daisies, peach, and a light touch of vanilla and honey.

Although quite different than the better known silver needle teas of the Fujian Province of China, the Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2017 White Tea is incredibly refreshing and satisfying, and is of the same higher quality as it’s Chinese counterparts. This is a perfect summer time tea when served hot. The light and refreshing character seems to regulate the body temperature efficiently (it is hot in Pittsburgh today, so I can feel this effect quite clearly). These buds have survived through five or six infusions so far, and there is still plenty of taste in the cup. I expect this portion of leaves to get me through my work day.

Thank you to the Lochan family for their time and efforts in creating this excellent white tea, and for their generosity in providing the sample. Cheers!

Kenya Silver Needle White Tea from What-Cha

Today’s review will focus on the Kenya Silver Needle White Tea from What-Cha. The Kenya Silver Needle White Tea is sourced from the southern slopes of Mount Kenya. You may view and purchase this tea at the What-Cha website by clicking here.

I have covered the Mount Kenya growing region in some detail in previous postings, specifically the Kangaita Factory, which is among the best known factories in Kenya for producing a variety of high quality orthodox teas. Up until recently, Kenya was known for mass-produced, commodity tea intended for use in teabags. In recent years, some of the small scale farmers, with the assistance of the Kenya Tea Development Agency, have been learning how to make their harvests more profitable by growing better quality tea, and the factories that they sell to (like Kangaita) are learning how to transform these better quality tea leaves into high quality finished teas intended for the specialty tea market. Given the unique terroir of Kenya, it is exciting to watch the focus on specialty tea become more prevalent. I have had some excellent green and black teas from Kangaita Factory, and I look forward to the specialty products that other Kenyan factories will be offering in the future.

The sample packet has been opened, and a very unique, unexpectedly sweet scent is accompanying the beautiful long, slender buds. Let the journey begin…

Kenya Silver Needle White Tea Dry Leaves
Kenya Silver Needle White Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform light brownish-yellow color, with a few green leaves in the mix. The pluck is one fine unopened leaf enveloping a younger bud. The leaves and buds are covered in downy-like silver hairs. The leaves are mostly unbroken and fully intact, with a few fragments and crumbs in the mix. There are no bare stems, and a few standalone buds. The leaves have an incredibly smooth, soft texture. The leaves and buds are long and quite narrow compared to Chinese silver needle teas, and have a sickle-like shape. The average length is about 1.25 inches (31 mm). The smell is incredible, with scents of fresh morning hay, fresh baked sweet dough (almost like a sesame donut), vanilla, and a touch of honeysuckle. I can honestly say that I have never experienced a silver needle tea with a smell like this. it is very impressive.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 185°F (85°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 175°F (80°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 minutes. Expect four quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves. Add 30 seconds to each subsequent infusion steep time.

Kenya Silver Needle White Tea Liquor
Kenya Silver Needle White Tea Liquor

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, light pale yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma is incredible, with scents of sweet dough, honeysuckle, vanilla, maca powder, almond milk, and maybe a touch of ripe peach. The body is light and refreshing, with a silky, clean texture. There is a very mild astringency, almost undetectable. The taste has notes of sweet dough, vanilla, maca powder, honeysuckle, light hay, light sweet butter, and light ripe peach. The aftertaste is gentle, and carries the sweet and floral qualities. The essence left on the breath is lightly peachy and floral.

Kenya Silver Needle White Tea Infused Leaves
Kenya Silver Needle White Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fairly uniform fresh forest green color, with the veins and stems being light brown. The leaves and buds are mostly unbroken and fully intact, with a few fragments and crumbs in the mix. The buds have swollen some, but are still narrow compared to Chinese silver needle teas. The expanded leaves average length is about 1.5 inches (37 mm). The leaves and buds are very soft and smooth.The smell has scents of honeysuckle, sweet dough, vanilla, and light hay.

There are quite a few descriptions that I used in this review that I have never used before, especially for a white tea, and that is most certainly a positive in this case. The Kenya Silver Needle White Tea is simply phenomenal in every aspect. The dominantly sweet aroma and taste blend perfectly with the floral notes, the touch of nutty sweetness, which I described as maca powder, and the clean, refreshing body are an incredible combination. There are sweet tastes and aromas in this tea that I cannot identify, but they are awesome. This is a white tea that can become an instant favorite with many tea drinkers. The price is not bad. I am currently working on my fourth infusion, and I am confident there is another good infusion left in these leaves. I have enough time today to extract every last molecule of pleasure out of these leaves, and I plan to do so. I cannot say enough good things about this tea!

Many thanks to the management at What-Cha for providing this incredible sample of Kenya Silver Needle White Tea. Cheers!

Nepal First Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea from What-Cha

After a week of discomfort and inconvenience due to an unexpectedly intense treatment at the dermatologist, this week is ending with a happy note. I arrived at my office today to find a box of samples from a company that I have recently come across, What-Cha. I have seen a few other tea bloggers review some teas from What-Cha, and decided to reach out to them to see for myself what interesting products were being offered. While checking out their website, which you may visit here, I noticed quite a few unique products that I was eager to try. The Nepal First Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea was one of those which caught my attention.

The Nepal First Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea was sourced from the Greenland Organic Farm, located in the foothills of Mount Kanchenjunga in eastern Nepal. My research found that the altitude of the Greenland Organic Farm reaches 2,200 meters (7,200 feet)! I also found information stating altitudes of 3,000 meter (9,840 feet). Regardless of which number is more accurate, it is an impressive altitude. Along with high quality Chinese clonal tea bushes, the Greenland Organic Farm also grows arabica coffee beans, and produces my favorite specialty type of coffee known as peaberry. I do not drink much coffee, but I have been trained to recognize and appreciate good quality. At home, I have a medium roast Papua New Guinea Peaberry from Kiva Han Coffee. It is amazing.

Now, let’s see what Greenland Organic Farm and What-Cha are all about. The sample packet has been opened, and a fresh and potent scent is escaping the packet. Let the journey begin…

Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from pale forest green to yellowish-brown to dark brown. There is a generous portion of buds covered in fine silver hairs. Even some of the leaves have the silver hairs covering them. The pluck is easy to identify as two leaves and a bud, some of which are fully intact on the stem. There are no bare stems in the mix. The leaves appear to be hand-rolled, as they are quite light and fluffy, with some variance in the size and shape. There is certainly some light oxidation that occurred in the leaves, but this tea also has many characteristics of a white tea. The smell carries scents of fresh hay, dry oranges, light vanilla, light barnyard, and light spring flowers. The smell is quite potent and impressive. Below is a photo that was taken a little closer to the leaves, and shows the abundance of silver hairs on buds and leaves.

Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Dry Leaves Close-Up
Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Dry Leaves Close-Up

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 185°F (85°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 175°F (80°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 to 4:00 minutes. Expect at least three quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves, with minimal loss of character between the first, second, and third infusions. Add 30 seconds to each subsequent infusion steep time.

Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Infusion
Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, pale yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of hay, honey, orange blossoms, and vanilla. The body is light, with a clean, silky texture, and a purifying, refreshing energy. The taste has notes of citrus (lemon and orange), hay, honey, vanilla, orange blossom, and light hyacinth. There is almost no astringency whatsoever. The aftertaste carries the hay and floral characters, and a pleasant, lingering floral essence is left on the breath.

Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a very fresh, light forest green color, with some leaves having slightly reddish edges, indicating the light level of oxidation. The pluck is clearly two leaves and a bud. There is a generous portion of buds in the mix. Many of the leaves are whole and unbroken, and the remainder are large fragments. The leaves have a smooth, delicate texture. These are beautifully produced leaves. The smell has carries scents of hay, vanilla, oranges, orange blossoms, and other fresh spring flowers.

My first impressions of What-Cha and Greenland Organic Farm are very positive! I just finished the third infusion of this Nepal First Flush 2014 Silver Oolong tea, and even using the higher temperatures and longer steep times, this tea has barely lost any of its character. The aroma continues to be potent and fresh, and the taste and mouth feel are very high quality. The leaves in both dry and wet forms appear to have been very carefully produced. This is an excellent crossover tea between the oolong and white types. Having thoroughly enjoyed this first product from What-Cha, I am very excited to work my way through the remaining samples.

Thank you to What-Cha for providing this sample of Nepal First Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea from Greenland Organic Farm. Cheers!

Hand-Tied White Tea Stars from Amba Estate in Uva Province, Sri Lanka

Yesterday, I opened the nicely made gift box from Amba Estate in Uva Province, Sri Lanka. Today, I am trying the second hand-made artisanal tea product that the gift box contains, the Champagne White Tea Stars.

Considering that I just reviewed another Amba Estate tea yesterday, I will spare you the monotony of covering that information again. There are two interesting things about the Champagne White Tea Stars, however. First of all, white tea from Sri Lanka is a specialty product to begin with. When comparing Ceylon silver needle white tea to Chinese silver needle or white teas from others terroirs, I prefer the sweet and delicate character of the Ceylon silver needle. Ceylon silver needle teas are generally quite expensive. The Tea Journeyman Shop has Ceylon Silver Tips White Tea from the Uva Greenland Estate. Click Here to check it out!

Secondly, these tea stars are hand tied. I tried to take some clear close-ups of the tea stars to show the precision that is required to create this unique design. I imagine that only the most skilled workers at Amba are tasked with tying these stars, since the silver tips are quite prized, and not something that management would want being damaged and thrown away.

So, let’s see if these Champagne White Tea Stars smell and taste as interesting as they look. Let the journey begin…

Amba White Tea Star Dry Leaves
Amba White Tea Star Dry Leaves

The dry leaves are quite unique, with some of the buds appearing almost black, and the others the usual silver color, all covered with fine downy-like hairs. The buds are long and narrow, with a sickle shape. Needless to say that this star is comprised entirely of unopened tea buds, with no opened leafs or stems at all. The buds are tied together with very thin, fine black threading. Each star only weighs about half a gram.The tea buds have a smooth, fine texture. The smell of the stars are quite delicate, yet sweet, with scents of honey, toffee, papaya, and what I would describe as an orange marmalade. There are also very light scents of flowers and hay, but they are almost unrecognizable.

Despite the light weight of each star, I used two tea stars (about one gram) in a five ounce (150 ml) glass gaiwan, in order to appreciate the stars once they expand. Purified water was heated to 185°F (85°C). The tea stars were infused for 5:00 minutes.

For at home preparation, I suggest following the same parameters as above. Expect three to four light, yet good quality, infusions from the same serving of tea stars. Add one minute to every subsequent infusion.

Here is a photo of the two tea stars infusing in the glass gaiwan.

Amba White Tea Stars Infusing in Gaiwan
Amba White Tea Stars Infusing in Gaiwan
Amba White Tea Star Infusion
Amba White Tea Star Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a pale, light golden yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma is delicate, yet very sweet and floral, with scents of honey, toffee, fresh valley flowers, papaya, light black licorice, and light orange marmalade. The aroma is impressive given the light weight of leaves used. The body is light, with a refreshing and gentle texture. Despite the long infusion time of 5:00 minutes, there is not a touch of astringency or bitterness in the taste. The taste has notes of honey, valley flowers, papaya, black licorice, toffee, and very light hay. The aftertaste is light and sweet, with gentle notes of honey, papaya, and black licorice. This tea has a very relaxing and refreshing energy to it. Perhaps I am just not used to light teas anymore (I tend to go heavy on the amount of leaves that I use).

Amba White Tea Star Infused Leaves
Amba White Tea Star Infused Leaves

The infused buds have a uniform light copper brown color. It is easy to identify the fine black thread used to tie the buds together. Again, there are no opened buds or leaves, and no stems used. The buds have a soft, smooth texture. The smell of the infused buds is incredibly sweet and welcoming, with strong scents of papaya, flowers, honey, toffee, and orange marmalade. Amba Estate, can you make a candle scented like this? I will put one in each room of my house and office.

The White Tea Stars are another impressive hand made product from Amba Estate. Although you will not be able to enjoy these daily, as they are fairly expensive, difficult to find in North America, and very light in character, this is a perfect tea to enjoy on a special occasion, or to impress and fascinate a very small group of friends. The aroma and taste are incredible, and yet delicate, refreshing, and relaxing. You definitely want to steep these stars in a glass pot or gaiwan to appreciate how they open up and expand once wet. At this time, I unfortunately do not know of any retailers in North America who carry the White Tea Stars from Amba Estate. I only have two left myself, so they will stay in an airtight canister until a special occasion comes around.

Thanks to all of the workers and management at Amba Estate for the hard work and dedication in making such artisanal products. I am proud to have had an opportunity to try the White Tea Stars from Amba Estate. Cheers!