Nepali Tea Traders’ generosity continues. I still have some teas they gave me to review. Today’s pick is their Everest First Flush Black Tea.

Here’s how they describe it on their site:

Our Everest First Flush tea is hand-picked in April from the tender buds of the tea plants that emerge after several months of dormancy as the days turned crisp, sunny, and bright.  This unique, artisan tea is a vibrant expression of the fresh Himalayan spring….The tea’s gentle, aromatic profile features floral and lilac notes. The first sip reveals a smooth, sweet tea, with refreshing spring astringency. This tea finishes with crisp vegetal notes and hints of roasted corn. Like Nepal’s famed peak, this is the pinnacle of our first flush teas.

The very first thing I noticed about Everest First Flush Black Tea is that it doesn’t look like a black tea all. Look at these leaves, with their greyish cast, soft coating of white fuzz, and large surface area:

Looking at this photo, I would swear it’s a white tea if I didn’t know better. The length of the leaves, the fact that they’re so fluffy and take up so much space, the parts that look pale spring green and silver instead of golden-black — these are generally the hallmarks of white tea.

Hell, it even smells like white tea, too — sweet, fruity, grassy, but also with a hint of sharpness underneath like pine. From past experience with Nepali Tea Traders’ blends, I have the feeling that this will have a muscat quality similar to Darjeeling teas.

I took a big heaping teaspoon of tea and brewed it in 8 oz of 85°C water for 2.5 minutes – I decided to aim straight for the middle of the steeping time recommended on the tea package.

The resulting brew was a very pale amber colour, like straw or gold. It smelled like grapes, but it also had a hint of something richer and berry-ish alongside: cherry, perhaps? Beyond that, there was a subtle, floral top-note that I had a hard time putting my finger on. My best guess is gardenia.

The first sip was extremely mild: clear, gentle, quickly receding across my tongue with no lingering aftertaste. While there’s a sweetness and grassiness to the flavour, overall, it’s subtle and unpretentious, and there’s absolutely no astringency. This tea is extremely clean and fresh-tasting — it would be a great introduction for people who want to learn more about black tea, but who think that all black tea tastes like orange pekoe sadness.

You can buy Everest First Flush Black Tea here.