I reviewed a green jasmine blend from Nepali Tea Traders a while back. When they saw my post, they were so appreciative that they offered to send more tea my way — how could I say no to that? Since it’s summer, I asked if they could send me some tea that would hold up well to being iced.
And they delivered! Within a few weeks, this amazing package showed up, full of eight teas to try.
There were four white teas, two black teas, a green and an oolong. Today I’m going to talk about three of the white teas, plus a black tea I bought previously from them that’s the same cultivar as one of the white teas.
Ama Dablam White Tea
Named after a beautiful peak in Eastern Nepal, which means “mother’s necklace,” this white autumnal tea is grown and processed in the style of the prized Bai Mudans from China. It is made from a bud with one leaf shoot from a specially cultivated plant. The tea is dried naturally, fired and then cured for more than a month so the flavor profile develops to the optimum level. The liquor is very pale golden, has a mild floral aroma and a soothing sweet finish, devoid of astringency, and grassy flavors.
The leaves on this tea are a pale spring green with some white fuzzy tips. Overall, they’re beautiful, picture-perfect spring buds. The aroma is sweet but vegetal, like spring peas — somewhat nutty, like a very light dragonwell tea, but also somewhat floral.
I took the entire packet and cold steeped it in 2 litres of water in the fridge for 2 days. The resulting brew was a pale clear yellow, lighter than straw, and very refreshing: it tasted nutty, like the aroma of the dry leaf, but there was also a vegetal note underneath. It was very soft and clean in my mouth, and went down smoothly — no astringency or strong aftertaste.
Dhulagiri White Tea
Named for Nepal’s “dazzling, white beautiful mountain,” this delightful first flush white tea releases all of the purity and freshness of our Himalayan highlands. One leaf and a bud are hand-plucked and left overnight in the cool spring air for the mildest form of natural oxidation, then gently hand-rolled. The result is a beautiful medley of forest green and pale, silvery green leaves. The tea’s fragrance and flavor reflect the native wild flowers and tender spring vegetables balanced with a slightly nutty finish.
The Dhulagiri tea was my next choice. The leaves here had a very soft texture, and were a medium sage green colour with the occasional white fuzzy tip. Unlike the Ama Dablam tea, which looked like perfect little leaves in miniature, here the dry leaf looked closer to grass clippings: tangled, curly, piled up.
The aroma is what really sets this tea apart: it smelled very much like a Bai Mu Dan tea, with notes of flowers, peach, and pears. There was a slight mustiness underneath, but that just enhanced things.
This time, I used the full packet of dry leaf but brewed it with only 1 litre of cold water rather than 2. I noticed when I made the Ama Dablam tea that it tasted really light, so I figured that decreasing the ratio of water to tea leaf would be a good call.
And it definitely was! This was by far the sweetest and most delectable of all of the teas reviewed in this post. Floral, soft, and mouth-coating. This one is a winner.
Sandakphu Silver White Tea
A classic Nepali white tea, the barely exposed young leaves reveal down-like white hairs. One leaf and a bud are plucked during the spring harvest. Because Nepal’s teas havea long period of dormancy, they have been shown to be higher in antioxidants than teas from other countries Once hand-plucked, the tea is swithered in a trough and dried in the moonlight. Sandakphu Silver has a fresh, fruity aroma. Its flavor balances subtle notes of stone fruit with a satisfying, nutty finish.
The Sandakphu white tea looked very similar to that of the Dhulagiri — curled, tangly leaves with a mix of green and white tips. However, I also noticed some brown twigginess. It smelled mild and nutty just like the Ama Dablam. However, for some reason I just wasn’t a fan of the nuttiness of this tea once it was brewed. I used only 1 L of water to make the flavour stronger, but I think that wasn’t the best strategy here.
Sandakphu Hand Rolled Black Tea
This top-rated Orthodox black tea evokes the warm days and crisp nights on the slopes of Sandakphu. During the summer harvest, pluckers carefully select two leaves and a bud. The tea is then taken to the withering trough, where it is exposed to cold air, which pulls moisture out. After stabilizing the temperature, the tea is hand-rolled in the trough, which gently bruises the leaves, accelerating oxidation. The tea is then carefully fire-dried. This exquisite tea has a mellow, flowery aroma of Nepalese orchids and wild flowers. The cup has a lovely golden infusion, with the sweet notes of wildflower honey and a lingering apricot finish.
This tea is the odd one out of the bunch. I bought it last year as part of Amoda Tea’s Black Friday sale. It was sitting in my cupboard all winter. When I saw that Nepali Tea Traders sent me a white Sandakphu tea, I thought it would make sense to review them at the same time.
However, that plan didn’t come to pass very well — I finished the white tea before I had a chance to drink the black, so I couldn’t do a side-by-side comparison. However, I will say that the texture of the two leaves appears very similar, with that piled, tangled look.
The dry leaf here smelled sweet and woody, kind of like cherries. I decided to have this one hot rather than cold, so I brewed a heaping spoonful with boiling water for 3.5 minutes. Brewed, the flavour was fruity, woody, and somewhat haylike. I also got a sensation of malt and cola, I think.
The profile here was fairly similar to other Nepalese black teas I’ve had in the past, with a faint sour note underneath the wood. I don’t remember detecting such a sour note in the white tea, which is interesting.