White teas from Darjeeling are relatively rare in any given year. This year, due to a trade embargo, they are even more scarce than usual. Our Arya Pearl First Flush Organic White Darjeeling is one of the few to have arrived for sale in the U.S., and we think it’s the best white tea of the region’s limited crop for 2011. As sole U.S. importer, we were rationed a mere three kilograms — just enough for about 30 lucky customers to taste this exceptional (and exceptionally rare) tea.
Arya Pearl’s dry leaves are needle-like in shape and vibrant sage in color. Their aroma is profoundly fresh and savory-sweet; it features abundant and exotic notes of white pepper, sakura, yuzu, juniper, toasted hazelnuts and sharp parmesan cheese. Its savory-sweet balance continues through the hazy infusion, which bears delicate, sweet flavors of cherry blossoms, baked vanilla pastries, green cardamom and freshly grated nutmeg, as well as savory notes of alfalfa hay and fresh clover. In contrast to its light flavor, the mouthfeel is surprisingly heavy… viscous, even. Hints of daffodil, milk chocolate and toasted almonds emerge in the finish. The second infusion is milder, sweeter and more floral, and nutmeg replaces clover as the dominant flavor note.
A rarity like Organic Arya Pearl is best enjoyed on its own. However, if you want to pair it with food, try it with something understated, like sourdough bread brushed with extra virgin olive oil or just-ripe d’Anjou pears.