Wild Orchid Pearl Oolong ~ Nepali Tea Traders
Dry: Toasted, malty, tomato, floral-spicy
Wet: mussels-sweet ocean brine, peachy-stone fruit
Leaf: Carefully twisted golden and umber leaves, crafted in spirals and knots, dark against light, with reddish-sienna leaf hints. Pale golden pollen clings to the leaves and the bag. Almost a ‘temple of heaven’ –like look but with a darker and more complex appearance, laced with fuzzy gold and straw-hued threads.
Cup: Rose-brassy-orange hued liquor. Bright and sweet, light bodied, with dancing mineral notes, hints of roasted squash, walnut, and marigold. As the tea cools, hints of vegetal and spicy-floral notes deepen and emerge. Summery and crisp this tea is flavorful and dynamic.
2nd extraction added hints of lime zest and deepened the body as the leaves unfurled further. Sparkling and bright with a developing herbaceous and toasted bread aspect and continued floral and spicy canvas.
3rd extraction is extremely smooth and rich with a clean, sweet muscatel and slightly dry, spicy wine-like finish. The body develops and orchid fleshy weight that is supported by the vegetal and floral balance.
Directions: used 5g in 8oz of 200 degree water, in glass pot and decanted into glass cha hai to aerate, and then poured into ceramic cup. All tea ware was heated prior to use. First extraction was 2 minutes, second was 4 minutes, and third was 3 minutes; 4th extraction was thin in color and character and was not included.
Notes: The brightness and hue of the liquor is captivating and has a deeply reflective and powerfully light catching radiance that is worth being mindful of steeping, just to capture it. The ‘orchid’ in the name is interesting, as I was able to understand it a bit more as I explored the extraction and steeps, finding that it did indeed carry a orchid ‘fleshy’ leaf mouth feel/flavor that was woven into is at various temperatures and extractions.
My experiences with the ocean and at the edges of the sea are occasionally triggered by some teas and this was one of those rare moments. The cleaned, ocean-brine scent of a cleaned mussel shell finds itself in the still steaming leaves of the just poured 1st extraction. It was not a aroma I would have expected nor the hint of earth or barn that also weave into it as the leaves cool.
The crisp and brightness of the tea is extremely refreshing when ‘drink-ably hot’ and becomes clean and smooth bodied as it cools. The spicy floral finish is akin to a Darjeeling 2nd flush but more subtle and tickling.
I would easily rate this as one of the best offerings I have had from Nepali Tea Traders and while very different from the Ama Dablam White tea, I would say its an easy second for its color, range, crisp flavor and the discovery of orchid notes in the cup.
Nepali Tea Traders had this to say: This distinctive tea is plucked just before Nepal’s tea plants go dormant in mid-November. The beautiful pearls produce a subtle flavor with an amber infusion. This exquisite, complex oolong produces aromas of wild orchids. The flavor is soothingly fruity, characteristic of the finest of the autumnal teas from the Jasbirey foothills of Sandakphu.