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!

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!

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!

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!

Fikkal Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2014 Nepal White Tea From Surajmukhi Tea

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…

Fikkal Silver Needle White Tea Dry Leaves
Fikkal Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2014 Nepal White Tea Dry Leaves

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.

Fikkal Silver Needle White Tea Infusion
Fikkal Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2014 Nepal White Tea Infusion

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.

Fikkal Silver Needle White Tea Infused Leaves
Fikkal Silver Needle White Tea Infused Leaves

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!

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!

White Tea from Mount Kanchenjunga in Nepal

I have heard and read that Nepal teas have some traits similar to Darjeeling teas. Thanks to the generosity of Niru Trading, I have an opportunity to try samples of white, green, black, and oolong teas from the foothills of Mount Kanchenjunga in Nepal. These will be my first experiences with Nepalese teas, so needless to say that I am quite excited to try them out and compare them with teas that I am more familiar with.

Niru Trading is certified organic by the USDA, NASAA (Australia), and JAS (Japan). The tea bushes are grown on pollution free land. It is said that one can taste the freshness of the Himalayas in each sip of the teas from this region. Mount Kanchenjunga is located in the eastern-most border of Nepal, in the north corner, with China to the north, and the Sikkim state of India to the east.

The sample that this review will focus on is the White Tea from the Mount Kanchenjunga foothills. The packet has been opened, and this white tea looks very fresh. Let the journey begin…

Mount Kanchenjunga White Tea Dry Leaves
Mount Kanchenjunga White Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a fresh, bright green to forest green color, with plenty of silver tips. The leaves and tips are covered in delicate downy-like white hairs. Leaves appear to be all medium fragments, with many whole tips. There are no bare stems in the mix. The aroma has scents of sweet hay, light brown sugar, and light flowers.

Five grams were placed in a 9.4 ounce (280 ml) Tokoname kyusu teapot. Filtered tap water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were infused for three minutes.

Mount Kanchenjunga White Tea 1st Infusion
Mount Kanchenjunga White Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a very light, pale yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of sweet hay, flowers (light jasmine and rose), and very light honey. The body is light, with a refreshing smooth texture. The taste has fresh notes of sweet hay, light floral (jasmine & rose), very light pear. The sweet hay continues in the aftertaste, and a flowery essence is left on the breath.

Mount Kanchenjunga White Tea 2nd Infusion
Mount Kanchenjunga White Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly darker shade of light, pale yellow color. The aroma has more dominance on the floral (jasmine, rose) scents, and a light honey scent. The sweet hay scent has lightened. The aroma is quite different from the first infusion. The body remains light, and the texture refreshing and smooth. The taste has evolved significantly from the first infusion. The notes of jasmine and rose are dominant, while the sweet hay note has diminished. The taste is dominated by floral notes, which reminds me of some Darjeeling first flush teas. The aftertaste and essence are both dominantly floral.

Mount Kanchenjunga White Tea 3rd Infusion
Mount Kanchenjunga White Tea 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with a nearly identical color to the second infusion. The aroma remains dominantly floral, with some lighter sweet scents. The body and texture remain light and refreshing. The taste has lightened some, but is still dominated by floral (more rose, less jasmine) notes, and some light sweet (honey) notes. It is interesting that the taste has changed yet again, with the rose being the dominant taste, and the jasmine lightening some. There is much taste and aroma in this third infusion, and I have really enjoyed the evolution of both from infusion to infusion.

Mount Kanchenjunga White Tea Infused Leaves
Mount Kanchenjunga White Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fresh, light green color. The leaves are all medium sized fragments, with many whole tips. Stems display a two leaf and generous bud pluck. The leaves have a silky feel, but are not delicate. I believe an additional one or two infusions are possible. The aroma is incredibly floral, with dominant scents of jasmine and roses, and a lighter scent of sweet hay. The aroma of these leaves is incredibly fresh and clean.

My honest opinion of the first infusion was one of being underwhelmed. I thought the aroma and taste of the first infusion were fresh, clean, but very basic. However, that all changed with the second infusion, which had a completely different aroma and taste than the first infusion. Suddenly, the aroma and taste of the second infusion could compete with the first infusions of some good quality Darjeeling first flush teas. I was shocked in the difference between the first and second infusions. The third infusion continued the floral bouquet in aroma and taste, which I very much enjoy. Had the characteristics of the first infusion been maintained in the succeeding infusions, my personal rating of this tea would have been average. By the end of this review, however, I gave this tea a high mark. The evolution of the aromas and tastes from infusion to infusion was very pleasing, and the aroma and freshness of the infused leaves was truly invigorating.

My first experience with Nepalese tea was incredibly positive. This tea put my emotions to the test, evolving from the initial feeling of slight disappointment to the final conclusion of being highly impressed. Many thanks to Niru Trading for providing this opportunity to try the teas of Mount Kanchenjunga. Cheers!