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…

20170718_094216_Richtone(HDR)
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.

20170718_100856_Richtone(HDR)
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.

20170718_101327_Richtone(HDR)
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!

Advertisements

Super Fine Silver Needle White Tea from Heritage Tea Assam Company

Today, I have an opportunity to review a tea that is in the top three most expensive teas that I have had, thanks to the Heritage Tea Assam Company in India. This review will focus on their Super Fine grade Silver Needle white tea. To view more information on the Heritage Tea Assam Company, please click here.

The Heritage Tea Assam Company produces silver needle white tea only during the second flush harvest of each year. This tea is produced in very limited quantities, thus the high market value. Such fine white teas originating from the Assam region are also quite rare. If you are able to find this tea, be prepared for a high price tag. If you are a white tea enthusiast, however, then certainly you will want to try such a specialty product.

The sample packet has been opened, and the sight of such fine, fairly short and slender buds is intriguing me. Let the journey begin…

Super Fine Silver Needle White Tea Dry Leaves
Super Fine Silver Needle White Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a light yellowish-green color, with delicate downy-like hairs covering them. The leaves have the typical sickle shape. The pluck is one fine leaf and unopened bud. The buds are fairly short and slender, with the average bud measuring 0.5 to 0.75 inches (12 – 19 mm). There leaves have a smooth, soft texture. Most buds are whole and unbroken. The aroma of the leaves is quite unique, with scents of cocoa, sweet hay, and light dried fruit.

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.

Super Fine Silver Needle White Tea 1st Infusion
Super Fine Silver Needle White Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light pale golden-yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of flowers, sweet hay, and light spice. The body is light-medium, with a gentle texture. The taste is fairly delicate, and has notes of flowers, sweet hay, and light spice. The aftertaste has hay and floral notes, and there seems to be slight touch of cocoa that develops.

Super Fine Silver Needle White Tea 2nd Infusion
Super Fine Silver Needle White Tea 2nd Infusion
Super Fine Silver Needle White Tea 3rd Infusion
Super Fine Silver Needle White Tea 3rd Infusion

The second and third infusions were definitely stronger in aroma, body, and taste than the first infusion. The same general characteristics of flowers, sweet hay, and light spice were present.

Super Fine Silver Needle White Tea Infused Leaves
Super Fine Silver Needle White Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fresh light forest green to light brown color. The pluck is one fine leaf with bud. The leaves are mostly unbroken, but there are some fragments. Although the buds have expanded in the water, they are still shorter and thinner than Chinese silver needle teas. The aroma has scents of flowers, hay, and a light touch sweet red wine.

The Super Fine Silver Needle White Tea from Heritage Tea Assam Company is certainly a unique product coming from the Assam region, which is more commonly known for the robust black teas produced there. This white tea is quite the opposite, with a fairly delicate aroma and taste. The leaves produced three quality infusions, and I am confident that a fourth and maybe even fifth will still product quality infusions. I did have some difficulty in picking out the flavors in this white tea, as I found the undertones of the taste to be very delicate.

If you think that the only good teas coming from Assam are of the black variety, then try this tea! If the Super Fine price tag is too high, then there is also a Fine grade. One way or another, you will discover that the Heritage Tea Assam Company is forging a new path for Assam tea growers, introducing Assam grown teas that are more delicate and attractive to fine tea enthusiasts. As their experience and skill increase, I expect the Heritage Tea Assam Company to gain more popularity among tea enthusiasts around the world.

Thank you to the Heritage Tea Assam Company for providing this incredible high end white tea! Cheers!

Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2014 White Tea from Doke Tea Estate

I have reviewed maybe four of the high quality teas being produced at the Doke Tea Estate, but I must say that I was very happy to find a sample of their Silver Needle white tea in the most recent package of samples from Lochan Tea. Since deciding to import some fairly expensive silver tips white tea from Sri Lanka, I am always interested to try other silver needle products for comparison purposes. Thankfully, I am still happy with the silver tips from Sri Lanka, even though the price tag is about 150% some other good silver needle products from India, Nepal, and Malawi. However, I have much respect for the products coming from the Doke Tea Estate, as well as the Lochan family in general, and I am excited to see how their Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2014 White Tea compares to the others.

The Doke Tea Estate is located in Bihar, India, and is situated southwest of the Darjeeling region, and on the south-east border of Nepal. Please click here to see the Doke Tea Estate website. You may also find the Lochan Tea website by clicking here.

The sample packet has been opened, and a sweet grape and hay fragrance is instantly detected. Let the journey begin…

Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2014 White Tea Dry Leaves
Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2014 White Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform light pale yellow color, and are covered in fine silver hairs. A few of the leaves have developed a brownish color. The pluck is one fine leaf and unopened bud. The buds are long and fairly slender. The leaves have a soft, downy-like texture. There are some leaf fragments, and no bare stems in the mix. The aroma has scents of sweet hay and light grape, giving it a distinct second flush character.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) ceramic infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.

My at home steeping suggestions are to use three grams of dry leaves for each six ounces (180 ml) of water to be used. Heat the water to 175°F to 185°F (80°C to 85°C). Infuse the leaves for 3:00 to 4:00 minutes. Leaves may be reused two or more times.

Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2014 White Tea Infusion
Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2014 White Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light honey-like color, light pale golden-yellow, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of grapes, sweet hay, light honey, and light flowers. The body is medium, with a round texture. The taste has notes of roses, grapes, and sweet hay. The aftertaste is a blend of roses and hay, and a similar essence lingers on the breath.

Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2014 White Tea Infused Leaves
Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2014 White Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh light forest green color, with few leaves showing light brown mostly along the stems. The pluck is mostly one fine leaf enveloping the unopened bud, and a few have the second leaf. There are some leaf fragments, and no bare stems. The buds are long and slender, and have a smooth texture. The aroma is sweet and floral, with hints of grape, light rose, and light hay.

Of the silver needle white teas that I have had from India, I will say that this Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2014 White Tea from Doke Tea Estate holds one of the top two positions. The grape hints in the aroma and taste was different than any other silver needle white tea that I have had, and fits the second flush character that Darjeeling and nearby tea producing regions are known for. The Lochan family focuses on producing teas with a level of quality that are unmatched in India, and this Silver Needle White Tea upholds that reputation perfectly.

Thank you to the Lochan family for their dedication to producing very high quality teas, as well as their work in the tea communities of India and Nepal, and of course for providing these samples! Cheers!

Shining Arrows White Tea from Teaneer

Yesterday, I received a package of samples from Teaneer’s Vijayalakshmi Natural Farm in the Nilgiri district of southern India. I previously reviewed the Teaneer Flow Green Tea, and since then have been interested in trying their other products. For more information on Teaneer, please visit the grower profile on the Tealet Teas website by clicking here.

I decided to start with the Shining Arrows white tea. Not only is that a catchy name for a silver tips style of tea, but I am always impressed with the silver tips from India and Sri Lanka. I have had silver tips from the Darjeeling district of northern India and from the Uva district of Sri Lanka, but this Shining Arrows will be my first silver tips from south India. It’s always interesting to note how the climate of the growing region affects the character of otherwise similar styles of tea.

The sample package is open, and I see fairly large tips with plenty of downy looking hairs. Let the journey begin…

Shining Arrows Dry Leaves
Shining Arrows Dry Leaves

The dry leaves, or tips, have colors ranging from white/silver to pale green to a purplish-brown. All tips are covered in soft, downy-like hairs. The tips have a fairly uniform length of around one inch (20 – 30 mm). All tips have the slightly bent, pointed shape. Most are unbroken, full tips, but there are some fragments and the occasional bare stem. The tips have a scent of delicate and dry sweet hay.

Five grams of dry tips were placed in an 8.5 ounce (240 ml) kyusu teapot. Filtered tap water was heated to 185°F (85°C). The tips were infused for four minutes.

Shining Arrows 1st Infusion
Shining Arrows 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light, pale yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma had delicate scents of hay, dandelion, and light honey. The body was light, with a silky, round feel. The taste had delicate notes of sweet hay, dandelion, and very light honey. There was a very mild astringency. Perhaps the infusion time was thirty seconds too long. The aftertaste was delicate, and a nice mix of sweet and floral.

Shining Arrows 2nd Infusion
Shining Arrows 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with darker shade of pale yellow with a gold tint. The aroma and taste retained the same general notes, but at a slightly stronger intensity. The body was slightly heavier than the first infusion. The very mild astringency of the first infusion was non-existent in the second infusion. Overall, I liked this infusion better than the first.

Shining Arrows 3rd Infusion
Shining Arrows 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced an even darker shade of yellow-gold than the second infusion. The aroma and taste were nearly identical to the second infusion in terms of notes, but more similar to the first infusion in terms of intensity. The difference between this third infusion and the first infusion is that the third lacked some of the freshness and delicate character of the first infusion. I am not sure if this will properly explain the difference, but while the first infusion had a freshness to it, this third infusion had a soggy character, which makes sense.

I infused the tips a total of five times, and was pleased with the taste and aroma of even the fifth infusion. Despite the longer infusion times, these tips held up very well to five infusions.

Shining Arrows Infused Leaves
Shining Arrows Infused Leaves

The infused leaves had two primary colors, either light brown or fresh pale green. The length of the tips after infusion extended by about a quarter of an inch (5 – 8 mm). The shape remains slightly curved and pointed. There are some broken tips, but mostly unbroken. The aroma is mostly sweet, with a floral bouquet existing in a lighter intensity.

These Shining Arrows from Teaneer definitely fit the mold of a good quality silver tips white tea. It was delicate, fresh, and natural tasting. It also had a refreshing effect to it. I will be interested to do a side by side by side comparison in the coming months between silver tip teas from different regions. It is difficult to say how this one differed from the others that I had reviewed with putting them all in front of me at the same time. With the new year comes new harvests, and hopefully new packages of samples.

Thank you very much to Suresh at Teaneer and Vijayalakshmi Natural Farm for providing these excellent samples. I look forward to progressing through the other products. Cheers!