Wednesday, April 8, 2015

What-Cha, Assam Silver Needle White Tea

What-Cha Description:
A great tasting Silver Needle with a delicate sweet taste and no detectable astringency.

Assam Tea is world famous for the strong malty character of its black teas. However, the green and white teas produced in Assam are virtually unknown. The reason for this is the prior lack of investment into tea in the Assam region, which has meant that tea producers have lacked the knowledge and tools required to produce good quality loose leaf tea outside of blacks. The recently founded company Heritage Tea has sought to address these issues by setting up a modern factory for tea processing. The new factory, combined with the knowledge and expertise of Rajen Baruah (a professional tea planter with 30 years of experience) has resulted in great quality loose leaf teas previously not found in Assam.

Sample provided by What-Cha Tea Redefined

My Review:
Continuing with my white tea extravaganza theme, we are going to the Assam region of India for today's review. White tea from Assam - who knew, right? With almost all tea grown in India being crushed, torn, and mangled into little paper bags, until recently better quality loose leaf has been hard to find. Even then, it is generally black tea. So I have no idea what I am in for here, but What-Cha knows how to pick 'em so I look forward to the experience.

Opening the resealable sample I catch a familiar fresh grassy hay scent but there is also an abundant presence of malt. Very nice aroma.

The leaf certainly shouts white tea with its white downy covered buds. It also says, but more quietly, silver needle. With silver needle we are all accustomed to the big plump buds from China. These are more needle shaped with darker colored ends. They seem more brittle as well. Don't take this description as negative. It is a very nice looking leaf, just different.

I used about 3 g in my clear glass teapot along with water heated to 80 C (176 F). The steep time was 2 1/2 minutes. I noticed as it steeped, the leaf remained at the top of the water but hung vertically. There was little movement but I was entertained just the same.

The liquor is very light in coloring, looking a lot like white grape juice. Of course with our silly hard water it wasn't long before it looked more like beer. It is very clear and bright, with the exception of some downy hair typical of white tea.

The wet leaf has a lot of green in it. It plumped nicely and kind of resembles snap pea pods.

The taste is very much to my liking. It is sweet and wonderfully malty. This is very smooth with no rough edges or bitterness. I notice some fresh field hay with just a touch of melon. There is another note present that I seldom mention. This has a honeysuckle floral that pops in and out.

I seldom use this description because honeysuckle grows in all the fence rows around here in the summer. It is a scent I know well. The taste of the liquid found in a single tiny drop inside the flower has a wonderful honey like floral taste. That reality is almost never replicated for me when tasting tea. It is here.  Love.

OK, because this is a white tea, and like most white tea the flavors are gentle and quiet. Do not go in to this expecting your normal breakfast Assam smack down. If on the other hand you, like me, love the deep but quiet flavors of white tea, then this is a beautiful one that you should try.

You can find What-Cha, Assam Silver Needle White Tea here.

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