White Tea from Mount Kanchenjunga in Nepal
I have heard and read that Nepal teas have some traits similar to Darjeeling teas. Thanks to the generosity of Niru Trading, I have an opportunity to try samples of white, green, black, and oolong teas from the foothills of Mount Kanchenjunga in Nepal. These will be my first experiences with Nepalese teas, so needless to say that I am quite excited to try them out and compare them with teas that I am more familiar with.
Niru Trading is certified organic by the USDA, NASAA (Australia), and JAS (Japan). The tea bushes are grown on pollution free land. It is said that one can taste the freshness of the Himalayas in each sip of the teas from this region. Mount Kanchenjunga is located in the eastern-most border of Nepal, in the north corner, with China to the north, and the Sikkim state of India to the east.
The sample that this review will focus on is the White Tea from the Mount Kanchenjunga foothills. The packet has been opened, and this white tea looks very fresh. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have a fresh, bright green to forest green color, with plenty of silver tips. The leaves and tips are covered in delicate downy-like white hairs. Leaves appear to be all medium fragments, with many whole tips. There are no bare stems in the mix. The aroma has scents of sweet hay, light brown sugar, and light flowers.
Five grams were placed in a 9.4 ounce (280 ml) Tokoname kyusu teapot. Filtered tap water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were infused for three minutes.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a very light, pale yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of sweet hay, flowers (light jasmine and rose), and very light honey. The body is light, with a refreshing smooth texture. The taste has fresh notes of sweet hay, light floral (jasmine & rose), very light pear. The sweet hay continues in the aftertaste, and a flowery essence is left on the breath.
The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly darker shade of light, pale yellow color. The aroma has more dominance on the floral (jasmine, rose) scents, and a light honey scent. The sweet hay scent has lightened. The aroma is quite different from the first infusion. The body remains light, and the texture refreshing and smooth. The taste has evolved significantly from the first infusion. The notes of jasmine and rose are dominant, while the sweet hay note has diminished. The taste is dominated by floral notes, which reminds me of some Darjeeling first flush teas. The aftertaste and essence are both dominantly floral.
The third infusion produced a liquor with a nearly identical color to the second infusion. The aroma remains dominantly floral, with some lighter sweet scents. The body and texture remain light and refreshing. The taste has lightened some, but is still dominated by floral (more rose, less jasmine) notes, and some light sweet (honey) notes. It is interesting that the taste has changed yet again, with the rose being the dominant taste, and the jasmine lightening some. There is much taste and aroma in this third infusion, and I have really enjoyed the evolution of both from infusion to infusion.
The infused leaves have a fresh, light green color. The leaves are all medium sized fragments, with many whole tips. Stems display a two leaf and generous bud pluck. The leaves have a silky feel, but are not delicate. I believe an additional one or two infusions are possible. The aroma is incredibly floral, with dominant scents of jasmine and roses, and a lighter scent of sweet hay. The aroma of these leaves is incredibly fresh and clean.
My honest opinion of the first infusion was one of being underwhelmed. I thought the aroma and taste of the first infusion were fresh, clean, but very basic. However, that all changed with the second infusion, which had a completely different aroma and taste than the first infusion. Suddenly, the aroma and taste of the second infusion could compete with the first infusions of some good quality Darjeeling first flush teas. I was shocked in the difference between the first and second infusions. The third infusion continued the floral bouquet in aroma and taste, which I very much enjoy. Had the characteristics of the first infusion been maintained in the succeeding infusions, my personal rating of this tea would have been average. By the end of this review, however, I gave this tea a high mark. The evolution of the aromas and tastes from infusion to infusion was very pleasing, and the aroma and freshness of the infused leaves was truly invigorating.
My first experience with Nepalese tea was incredibly positive. This tea put my emotions to the test, evolving from the initial feeling of slight disappointment to the final conclusion of being highly impressed. Many thanks to Niru Trading for providing this opportunity to try the teas of Mount Kanchenjunga. Cheers!