Monday, October 27, 2014

What-Cha, Kenya Silver Needle White Tea

Resealable and clearly labeled
What-Cha Description:
Our Kenyan Silver Needles hits the usual notes usually associated with good quality Silver Needles while having its own unique characteristics not usually found in other Silver Needles. Kenyan Silver Needles is on the fuller side of the Silver Needle scale and features lovely soft tannins, making it perfect for those who find the more traditional Silver Needles too subtle and overly delicate. Our Kenyan Silver Needles represents a chance to try one of the great Chinese teas grown in the unique terroir of Kenya.

Sample provided by What-Cha Tea Redefined

My Review:
I started my reviews of the What-Cha samples by an obsession with purple varietals. As I have worked my way through the box, I have developed a similar curiosity and thirst for their white teas. All so different and all so good.

Today is a Kenya white terroir that bares more than a striking resemblance to Chinese Silver Needle. Removing a large scoop of leaf, this is unmistakably a silver needle. It is my favorite type of white, yet What-Cha promises the growing area of Kenya adds some unique tastes of its own. Awesome. Let's get to brewing.

I'm pretty sure I have closer to 4 g of leaf than the 3 I intended, but it's on the plate so let's live crazy. The silver fuzzy leaf looks just like it should, comprised of whole buds. There are a few green leaf in the mix as well. I did not notice them until I looked at the picture.

The scent is fresh dried hay. I used my press with charcoal filtered water heated to 175 F. The steep was 2 1/2 minutes. The leaf clung to the surface for the entire steep. The brew is nearly colorless with only a light honey tint. It does turn a little more golden as it cools.

The wet leaf has a baked aroma. The buds have turned green and lush. They have fattened up but not a lot. Silver needle is so light and fluffy to start with that I didn't expect otherwise.

Waiting for tea to cool enough to sip is always the hardest part of any session for me.

Finally, I get to lift my mug. My first thought was, ah this is much like the Nepali 1st flush I recently reviewed - immediately likable. Then I decided, no, it is much different. Where as the Nepal tea had a woodsy taste, this is more corn like. It is much more naturally sweet. It turns somewhat floral late in the sip along with a stronger fruit note. It doesn't really make me think peach. Than again I understand when you are tasting an unflavored tea any such notes are generally very light.

I am surprised by how different this tastes from Chinese grown silver needle. While this lacks the melon and cucumber notes of the Chinese version, it replaces them with corn and fruit. The natural sweetness and stronger flavor might make this more appealing to those who find white tea to be colored water. This is still white tea so don't expect the throat grabbing assault of a breakfast black. It is a subtle tea.

I get zero bitterness. I am noticing very little in the way of dryness. The aftertaste lingers long after sipping. The longer it goes the more I am tasting sweet hay and, oh wow, even some of the melon notes I did not think were in the cup. Very neat.

You can find Kenya Silver Needle White Tea here.

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