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Tag: Nepal

Nepali Tea Traders Everest First Flush Black Tea

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.

30 Days of Reviews: Pokhara Green Tea from Nepali Tea Traders

Today’s tea is Pokhara Green Tea from Nepali Tea Traders, a company that by now is becoming a pretty familiar presence here on Books & Tea.

pokhara_green_tea_package

This tea is already familiar to me because it’s the base for Jestha Jasmine Green Tea, which I reviewed in May. However, unlike that blend, which I purchased, this sample was given to me for free to review.

The dry leaf is a rich green, bordering between olive, forest and sage. The leaves are long, whole, curled, and somewhat gnarly. Dry, it smells slightly smoky and vegetal, with a green freshness underneath like tree sap.

pokhara_green_tea_leaf

Since the leaves were large, fluffy, and hard to measure, I steeped 2 teaspoons a big 12-ounce mug for 3 minutes. The resulting brew was a deep greenish yellow, and the leaves turned from olive-sage to bright emerald. Look!

pokhara_green_tea_brew

It tasted mild and vegetal, with a slight bitterness at the back of my tongue that reminded me of cooked spinach. However, it’s not astringent. I remember that the Jestha Jasmine tea tasted sweet and powdery, and I wondered how much of that was due to using Pokhara Green Tea as a base. It turns out that the base tea, while gentle and smooth, is not similarly sweet. So I guess the sweetness from the Jestha Jasmine came either from the jasmine buds or from the ginger.

Overall, this is a very smooth, easy tea for sipping.

You can buy Pokhara Green Tea from Nepali Tea Traders here.

PS: Happy Thanksgiving, American readers! I’m in Canada, which means we had our celebration about 6 weeks ago. I hope you’re having a restful, food-filled day. If you want to see what I’m thankful for, I usually talk about positivity and gratitude every night on Twitter, so feel free to follow me.

Tea Festival and What-Cha Nepal Golden Tips Black Tea

It’s near the end of January, and in Toronto, that can mean only one thing….

The Toronto Tea Festival is coming!

Yes, that’s right, the 4th annual Toronto Tea Festival is just around the corner — next weekend in fact. I’ll be attending, of course; how could I stay away? Even better, I’ll be doing a short write-up about the event and some of its seminars for World of Tea, the online tea resource run by Tony Gebely of American Tea Room. I’m pretty excited about that.

An even bigger cherry on the sundae is that I’ll be meeting up with a bunch of my Steepster friends to swap tea and chat. If you just so happen to be in the Toronto area, why not come along yourself and see if we run into each other?

However, although the festival runs for two days — both the 30th and the 31st of January — I plan to attend only on the 30th. Two days in a row would just be exhausting, I think. So if you are in Toronto and want to meet up, go on Saturday.

Now, onto today’s tea.

Nepal Golden Tips Black Tea from What-Cha

I got this as a free sample from a group order from What-Cha back in 2015. (I’ll review the rest of the teas that came with the order in good time, don’t you worry.)

The dry leaf is thick, twisted and golden — when you look at it close up, it looks sort of like yarn. The smell is sweet, bready, and thick, like sweet potato.

What-Cha_Nepal_Golden_Tip_dry2

I took the entire sample — about 6 grams — and brewed it in a small teapot (remember this one?) with 85°C water for 1 minute. I could have done it in the gaiwan like shown in the picture, but eh, I was lazy.

The brewed tea was dark brown and had a cool undertone to it. It smelled sweet, malty, and slightly sour. Overall, the whole thing reminded me of wet hay.

Down the hatch, I got a similar taste of wet hay, sweet potato, and something sour I couldn’t quite put my finger on. As the tea cooled, a bitter undertone developed underneath. It wasn’t sharp, but I still didn’t like it, because it wasn’t a pleasant bitterness,  but one that felt kind of old and reminiscent of plastic.

The second steep, also for 1 minute, was very similar. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t feeling it and had trouble finishing the second steep.

This tea session with the Nepal Golden Tips Black Tea was kind of a bust. There was promise there, though; I think if I had tried it with my gaiwan it would have been a more pleasant experience.

Jun Chiyabari Second Flush Nepal black tea in a spoon

Tea Review: Jun Chiyabari Second Flush Nepal by Single Origin Teas

About This Tea

Jun Chiyabari Second Flush NepalTea type: black, loose-leaf, grown in Nepal

How I got it: This another sample I purchased from fellow tea reviewer Oolong Owl. She sent me 8 g of it through the mail.

Where you can get it: Jun Chiyabari Second Flush Nepal is available from Single Origin Teas online.

Jun Chiyabari, a neighbor to the famous Darjeeling tea province, offers truly excellent tea. Notes of maple and floral undertones of rose bring a unique touch. One of the smaller tea estates at around 123 acres, and one of the youngest – planted in 2002! – Jun Chiyabari offers a delicious tea that highlights how high altitude growing can bring out delightful flavors if processed correctly.

Produced in hand-rolled batches with an exemplary level of care, the leaves are nicely curled, and provide a prime example of how high quality tea is not limited to the Darjeeling gardens.

How I Brewed It

Jun Chiyabari Second Flush Nepal black tea in a spoonSince Jun Chiyabari Second Flush tea is grown in Nepal close to India’s Darjeeling region, it makes sense that it looks similar to a Darjeeling — lovely little spindly leaves with flecks of green, brown, and white. It also smells fairly similar to a Darjeeling, with notes of sweetness, hay, and perhaps wood and caramel.

The rule of thumb for brewing tea Western-style is 1 teaspoon of dry leaf for 1 cup (8 oz) of liquid. Since my teapot held about 3 cups, I took a heaping spoonful of dry leaf (about 3 teaspoons) and steeped it for just over 3 minutes in 90°C water. Darjeelings need to be treated more gently than other black teas; it’s best not to steep them in boiling or near-boiling water. Otherwise, they can taste harsh and metallic.

How Does It Taste?

Jun Chiyabari Second Flush Nepal

As it brewed, I smelled that grapelike smell that I assume must be what Darjeeling afficionadoes call “muscatel.” However, I’m fairly new to Darjeelings and I rarely drink wine, so this is something I need to research a bit more.

The brewed tea is a golden brown colour slightly darker than amber, and very clear. The flavour in the cup is light, sweet, and mild. I’m getting notes of hay, wood, and grapes.

Although Jun Chiyabari Second Flush was picked in the summer, it reminds me of an autumn flush Darjeeling that I used to have. My understanding is that authentic Darjeelings have a second flush that’s characterized by strong fruit flavour and a bit of sparkle. This tea, in contrast, is more muted. As it cools, the fruit flavours disappear and it becomes more haylike, with a touch of bitterness on the sides of my tongue.

A Special Note

Single Origin Teas is currently doing a fundraiser to support the development of their own tea estate in Florida. You can choose whether you want white, black, or green tea; how much leaf should be plucked from the bush; and even how thoroughly the dry tea is rolled. If you love the idea of trying tea from unusual places AND want to experience having it prepared to your specific parameters, this is a rare opportunity.

Himalayan Full-Leaf White Tea by TETE

Tea Review: Himalayan Full-Leaf White Tea by TETE

About This Tea

Himalayan Full-Leaf White Tea by TETETea type: White, loose-leaf, grown in Nepal

How I got it: I purchased a sample of this from fellow tea reviewer Oolong Owl. She sent me 7g of it through the mail.

Where you can get it: Himalayan Full-Leaf White Tea by TETE is available online — the cost is $14.90 for 40g of dry leaf.

TÊTÊ White Tea… is grown and made by utmost care by farmers living at 6,000 metres. The garden where it is grown is magical. It hosts flora whose seeds make birds drunk. We anticipate that once you have a sip of this, you won’t fare much better.

How I Brewed It

After reading The Tea Lover’s Way to Make the Best Cold Brew Iced Tea, I decided to make this in my iced tea pitcher. (It just seemed too perfect that the author’s recommended white tea for cold brewing happened to arrive in my mailbox just a few days before.) I used 7g of leaf and 8 cups of cold water, and let it sit in the fridge for a day.

How Does It Taste?

The resulting brew from the fridge was delightful. It was crisp, slightly vegetal, and lemony — so much so that if I hadn’t made it myself, I wouldn’t have believed there was no lemon added to the mix. The liquid was a beautiful pale colour, like fresh straw. What’s more amazing is that my husband, who generally thinks that tea is “too watery” for him, enjoyed this and had more than one glass.

In fact, it was so good that I decided to resteep it! So I added another 8 cups of cold water to the pitcher and let it sit again for a day.

Unfortunately, the second steep was much less flavourful and much more astringent. It was also nearly colourless. However, I did manage to take some photos:

A glass of iced white tea from @handrolledinhimalayas. Very crisp. #tea

I also got a good look at the fully expanded tea leaves, and they appeared and smelled very fresh and lemony:

And here’s the wet white tea leaf from @handrolledinhimalayas after it was steeped twice for iced #tea.

Have you ever had green-tea-scented products (soap, bath salts, body lotion, etc) that smell really fresh and herbal, only to find that actual green tea rarely smells this way? I’m happy to report that Himalayan Full-Leaf White Tea by TETE, does, in fact, smell like what a lot of beauty companies think green tea should smell like. This was unexpected, but a nice surprise! The leaf maintained that fresh, astringent smell even after two steeps.

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