Sandakphu Silver White Tea – Nepali Tea Traders
Dry: Wild, sweet, vegetal-floral aroma, roasted potato and oceanic
Wet: spicy, hints of fresh cut green beans, toasted and dried pumpkin seeds, dried sunflowers in the field
Leaf: Gnarled and twisted leaves, bud tips ghostly hued with stains of bronze, leaves peppered with red and umber hinting at oxidation, bai mudan-esque pluck with leaves, buds, stems and thin twists of leaf that look almost as if they are writhing.
Cup: Pale, clear, luminescent grapefruit flesh yellow hued liquor. Tea gives an initial impression of weight, evolving into a sweet, soft honey accent that transforms into a texture of floral. Spicy flavors of Mexican oregano slip about, yet the impression of subtly renders these accents as a regional distinction and the nature of the white tea and its craft comes through. Very smooth, blushing sweet mid-note that crisply fades with floral honey in its rippling wake. There is perhaps a orange pith or zest hint, but it is more akin to the lingering flavor after you have bit into a blood orange and the flavor stains your lips from the contact.
Directions: Brewed 3g of leaves in 11oz of 190 degree water, pre –extracted in a 1 oz of cold water for 1 minute and then steeped for 3 minutes and strained. Glass wear and held back leaves with titanium spoon.
Notes: I hesitate to use the word ‘animalist’ to pair in a aroma description, but the combination and complexity of this tea’s aroma is akin to something feral and wild, living and animal and almost resembles the scent of horses. There is a hint of something akin to breaded trout frying or the banks of a river, wet slate, cat-tails…it’s a complex merging of scent and memory that is cloudy and mercurial, making it difficult to find specifics definitions that are ‘food’ related.
The cup is surprising. From the style of leaf and the appearance, it looks very much like many other of the teas from NTT and so I didn’t really expect it to be a balance of subtly that is usually associated with white tea. The balanced nature of this cup is really wonderful and I think it is distinct enough to warrant seeking the others out, just to note the range of what can come from these teas and this region. I will also mention that the orange-esqe flavor does materialize as a ghostly remnant lingering on the palate long after the cup has been finished and this is a wonderful surprise of the cup.
\As it so happens I also happen to have a small remaining amount of the Sandakphu Nepalese White Orange that won in the North American Tea Championship in 2012 in the hot white tea division. In direct comparison in aroma the Rare Tea Republic tea has a much more distinct citrus/orange zest floral note and from appearance seems to have plumper buds and a higher overall bud presence, where the NTT seems to have a smaller bud and stronger leaf presence. Both have a very similar overall hue and texturally look very similar with the RTR having a ‘brighter’ more silvery look mostly due to the visibility of buds. The aroma of the NTT is more conjuring and elusive to define, while the RTR is more distinct.
I had wanted to include a photo of the two teas side by side for visual comparison, but I didn’t have the image uploaded to share.