Thursday, August 14, 2014

What-Cha, Nepal First Flush 2014 Spring Buds White Tea

Nepal White Tea Sample
What-Cha Description:
Another great White Tea from Nepal, Spring Buds has a higher bud count while still having some large leaves. This results in a more subtle yet complex tea. Spring Buds is not to be missed.

We are proud to source all our Nepali teas direct from Greenland Organic Farm, who is very much at the forefront of a burgeoning Nepali tea industry dedicated to producing high quality artisanal teas. Greenland Organic Farm is a completely pesticide and chemical free farm dedicated to producing tea in an ethical and fair manner. Greenland Organic Farm is located in East Nepal in the shadows of Mt. Kancghenjunga at an altitude of 3,000m.

Sample provided by What-Cha.

My Review:
I am in the mood for a subtle white tea. To my knowledge, every white tea I ever had have been Chinese in origin. This one is from Nepal, which is located between India to the South and China to the North. I have had Nepalese black tea before and enjoyed it immensely. I am curious to see how this white tea fares.

Dry Leaf
As now expected, What-Cha provides the sample in a resealable aluminum pouch that is clearly labeled with basic information including brewing recommendations. Upon opening and even before having the chance to get the leaf close to my nose, I am met with a sweet grassy/melon medley of scents that is fresh and wonderful.

I removed about a third of the sample leaf (about 3 g) and placed it on a review plate. The appearance reminds me of White Peony with its silvery hairy buds and large green leaf.

The recommended brewing instructions are 1-2 tsp in 175 F water for 3 minutes. I opted to begin instead by using a gaiwan. The 3 g went in the gaiwan along with about 3 ounces (90 ml) of water heated to 175 F. I steeped for 15 seconds.

A Gaiwan Full Of Leaf
The leaf came alive, swelling, and looking fresher and greener. The liquor is nearly clear with only the faintest yellow tint.

If you are more accustomed to bold black teas then I can understand how white tea might seem too subtle. To me the depth of the flavors more than makes up for it. Where breakfast type teas are meant to shock you into a conscious state, white tea is for moments when you want (or need) to be carried away. Save it for a time when you can be quiet with your cup and enjoy it slowly.

My first sip does take me on a journey where the world shuts down around me leaving just me, the moment, and the tea. I am catching notes of melon and cucumber, fresh grass, and a certain amount of savory like umami. The umami is a taste. The other notes are more part of the scent, but the interesting thing is your mind pulls it all together in a way that you perceive it as a whole. Or at least that is the way it works for me.

Wet Leaf
The second cup was prepared the same as the first with equally excellent results.

With the third cup, I moved the leaf to the glass press, added 6 oz of 175F water and steeped according to the directions on the sample label (3 minutes).

Now the brew is darker, looking more honey like. The taste is stronger, with a drying woodsy or possibly nuttiness. I am not getting the melon or cucumber notes of the first cups but in fairness of disclosure my wife has been laying material samples in front of me the last several minutes, for a project she is working on. I tried to help, but I am almost useless in such matters. Now the tea is nearly room temperature and may have simply lost the subtle nuances because of it.

The First cup Is Quite Delicate Looking
Fourth and final steep at 4 minutes. Just me and the cup for this one. :) I was careful to note the nose of this one has a definite apricot fruitiness. The color is lighter than the previous cup. The taste while hot does still retain the melon and cucumber. A mineral note and a cooling sensation are also present. The inside of my cheeks are tingling. A good finish to a satisfying tea session.

Here is the bottom line: This tea is easily comparable to Bai Mu Dan, more commonly known as White Peony. It is similarly made of silvery buds and leaves. The flavor of this one is excellent. The price is reasonable. I love white tea and found this one most enjoyable.    

You can find What-Cha, Nepal First Flush 2014 Spring Buds White Tea here.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for another lovely review Kevin. I'm eager to read how you get on with the other Nepali teas