White Tea Week, Day 2: “The Whites of Nepal’s Eyes”
Back in June, again at World Tea Expo, I had the pleasure of meeting the proprietors of the new company, Nepali Tea Traders.
I first sought them out when I noticed they had Nepalese oolongs and a Nepalese pu-erh among their wares. I found both iterations of old Chinese tea formulas beyond acceptable. Particularly the Wild Yeti oolong…because…YETI!!!
A brief recap: Nepali Tea Traders is a U.S.-based outfit that specializes in importing teas from Nepal. (Obvious enough.) However, their particular focus is on Nepal’s Ilam region, specifically the farming collective-owned tea factory – Sandakphu. Teas purchased through NTT help benefit the workers and their families in the region.
I think I got that right.
Nepalese white teas weren’t exactly new ground for me. I covered a couple of ’em HERE (in a fictional vein). But there was one experiment I wanted to try with the Himalayan variants that I didn’t have the opportunity to before. Drinking them all side-by-side.
One night in the Fall, I decided to do just that. These were the results:
Ama Dablam White Tea
On first impression, I noticed the very pretty, light green, downy-fur-covered leaves. I was instantly reminded of the Darjeeling estate Arya’s Pearl white tea. The aroma was like olive leaf with a hint of spice.
The liquor infused extremely pale – like, Silver Needle pale – with a subtle aroma of melons and herbs. Taste-wise, it was like a White Peony by way of a jalapeno popper. The latter metaphoric comparison was due to the spice and fruit I detected – as well as the grape-like finish. A very beguiling liquor.
Sandakphu White Tea
This one had a VERY muscatel, spicy smell with a hint of wildness, similar to a Yunnan province Chinese white. The overall sensory experience, though, I likened to the Darjeeling estate Risheehat’s Silver Tips white tea.
The infusion brewed to the darkest liquor of the three, a very obvious yellow. Not much of an aroma to speak of. On taste? It was woody, nutty, and an alternating flavor of lemons and sage on the finish.
Dhulagiri White Tea
Appearance-wise, this looked like a White Peony/Silver Needle hybrid. However, the smell (and look) was that of a green tea – particularly reminiscent of Mao Feng, except the shape of the leaf-rolling was definitely Himalayan. It also gave off a very grassy fragrance with a trail-whiff of artichoke hearts.
A three-minute infusion resulted in greener liquor as opposed to the usual white tea yellow. The aroma was still very green tea-ish, a lot like a Chinese Clouds and Mist green – one I despise. The taste, however, was a relieving sensation of butter, cooked veggies, and an undefinable sweetness on the end.
While I liked all of them, my clear favorite was the Ama Dablam. For some reason, it was the most white tea-ish to me. Aside from the spice, everything about it screamed, “Pay attention to my subtleties!” Like a mystery woman with a name you can’t pronounce. So glad I had the opportunity to do this. Brings an old tear to the whites of my eyes.