White Tea Week, Day 2: “The Whites of Nepal’s Eyes”
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:
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.
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.
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.