Wednesday, April 29, 2015

TETE, White Tea

TETE Description:
In ancient China, there was a beverage that was so rare that it was reserved solely for royalty. And aptly so. For its leaves were so delicate that the rough hands of the subjects would damage it. For it smell was so intoxicating that it incurred the danger of corrupting less-traveled minds. For its taste was so subtle that only the nuanced taste buds of the aristocracy could appreciate it.

This beverage could only be made by leaves plucked at the end of winter, when the bushes woke up from their hibernation, or at the onset of winter, when the bushes prepared to sleep. It required the most delicate of fingers to spend an entire day plucking a leaf and a bud, which would yield a meager hundred grams of tea. And yet this labor of love was the tea-maker’s prize. He would look forward to stealing some for his own consumption to end of his hard day.

TÊTÊ White Tea is a specimen of that rare refreshment. It is grown and made by utmost care by farmers living at 6,000 metres. The garden where it is grown is magical. It hosts flora whose seeds make birds drunk. We anticipate that once you have a sip of this, you won’t fare much better.

Sample provided by TETE

My Review:
This Himalayan white tea is sourced from a small farm in Nepal. I am terrible at geography, and can only hope the devastation from the earthquake is minimal in the tea farm areas.

TETE has a philosophy of the need to simplify tea. They sell three teas - black, green, and this white tea. They have sourced these to be non-fussy to prepare. There are brewing instructions clearly printed on the back label, however TETE claims if you don't follow the instructions all that closely, you will still get a good cup of tea to enjoy.

The resealable packaging is simple and clearly labeled. One point of complaint is the text is so light in color it is a bit difficult for me to read.

Opening the bag I catch all the wonderful scents I expect from a premium white tea. It is sweet hay, along with fruit and floral notes. I thought I even detected a hint of malt. It scent is very nice.

The leaf itself looks really fresh. It has the silvery buds and a green leaf. Looking at it, you can imagine that it was just plucked. It hardly looks withered at all.

I used my freshly washed clear glass teapot. Along with the leaf, I added filtered water heated to 200 F per instructions. The steep time was 5 minutes. I am used to Chinese parameters that usually call for two minute steep times or something similar so I had to resist pouring early.

During the steep the leaf clung to the surface at the beginning. I was typing and not watching, so I was pretty amazed at the size of the leaf when went back to the pot to pour. The leaf is now spring green and very plump.

You can see in the center of the leaf picture a clear example of the classic two leaves and a bud.

The liquor is golden yellow and clear. Well, there is a little fine downy particles from the white tea buds floating around but that is to be expected and besides they settle quickly.

Finally getting to taste. It is definitely white tea, so the flavors are subtle. According to TETE's description, the fact that I enjoy it must make me part of the aristocracy... or a farmer. I am getting sweet hay notes. There are hints of melon and grape. I am still  catching a touch of malt. It is very light, but it is there. The aftertaste is lightly grassy and sweet like honey.

My son popped in for a visit and wanted to try this. I am more than happy to oblige. My youngest son 'hates' tea, though in reality I can't even get him to try it. To him, tea is that nasty stuff they sell at the restaurant where he works. Oh well, give him time. But I digress, back to my oldest - he took one sip and said, "It kind of tastes like lemon grass." In doesn't but I get what he means. Take out the strong lemon and keep the subtle grassy qualities and you get the basic idea.

He tasted again and said. "I bet this would be good iced." So we made another cup. The problem with that idea is the second cup is far less subtle and far more green tasting. It is good but enough different that it is not what he was wanting.

In the meantime, my cup (the first one) has reached room temperature. It is delicious. So he is most likely correct. The first cup would make an excellent iced tea. I'm not telling him though, as he would just steal my cup.

You can find TETE White Tea here


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