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!

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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!

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!

Silver Tips White Tea from Eranga’s Farm

On the evening of October 14th, my journey through the world of tea tasting returned me to the Uva region of Sri Lanka. Though this time it is not the famous black teas of the region that bring me here, it is a Silver Tips white tea from the farm of a man that is both a business contact and what I consider to be my friend.

I am waiting for additional information on the farm and location. Once I have that information, I will update this post.

The sample pack has been opened, and the look of this tea screams high quality. Silver buds, silver buds, and more silver buds. Let the journey begin…

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The dry leaves of this Silver Tips white tea are not leaves at all, it is 100% silver buds. Perfectly uniform size of about 1 inch (25 mm) and needle shape. Almost zero breakage and no crumbs whatsoever. Buds are covered with downy-like hairs. The aroma of these buds is sweet, delicate, and honey like. These buds are honestly pristine.

The standard method of preparation was used for this sampling. Filtered tap water was heated to 175ºF (80ºC). Fifteen grams of dry tea was placed in a 32 ounce (950 ml) glass teapot. The tea buds were infused for 2 minutes. The liquor was strained into a separate decantor.

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The first infusion produced a liquor that was a brilliant, perfectly clean and transparent, pale light yellow in color. The aroma is delicate and lightly floral (honeysuckle?). The body is light and delicate, with a very unique texture. The taste is delicate, with notes of floral (honeysuckle) honeydew melon. The aftertaste is also delicate and floral, and within a few seconds develops a slight honeydew taste. This tea is how white tea should be. Very impressive.

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The second infusion produced a liquor that was slightly darker than the first infusion, maintaining a brilliant, bright, clean, pale light yellow in color. The aroma is slightly stronger than the first infusion, having a delicate floral scent. The taste and body are nearly identical to the first infusion, remaining delicate with floral and honeydew notes. Aftertaste remains light and floral. No diminishment in quality whatsoever.

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The third infusion produced a liquor that was slightly darker than the second infusion, maintaining a bright, clean, pale light yellow color. The aroma is slightly lighter than the second infusion, but remains delicate and floral. The taste is very slightly lighter than the second infusion, but still full of taste. The taste remains delicate, floral, and slightly fruity (honeydew). The aftertaste remains light and floral. Very good quality liquor for a third infusion of a white tea. I expect a fourth and maybe even a fifth infusion to produce an acceptable flavor.

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The infused buds of this Silver Tips white tea are dull green turning to brown in color. The buds are fairly uniform in size and length, averaging just over one inch (25 mm) in length. There is very little breakage, and 99% of the tea is fully intact buds. The smell of the buds is sweet (honey), and very pleasant. The buds feel quite durable, suggesting that an additional infusion or two is possible. Based on the taste of the third infusion, I can see a fifth infusion as a real possibility.

All things considered, this is a truly phenomenal white tea. Much care and effort was put into this tea’s production, and it shows in each sip. As I believe I said earlier, this tea is everything that a white tea should be. Delicate, clean, revitalizing. The production of this tea is very limited due to the size of the tea farm that it is grown on. I am very fortunate for having been given the chance to taste this exquisite tea. Many thanks to my friend, Eranga, for providing me with this sample. This tea is an instant favorite of mine.

Thank you for taking your time to read this review. Please leave a comment and start a discussion.