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Recent Tasting Notes
This is the record holder for most expensive tea ever sold on the Indian tea market in Calcutta (Kolkata). I was fortunate enough to visit Makaibari estate last Spring, and this tea cost me $20 for 50g, from the source! In India, that is quite expensive, especially considering there is no middle-man.
Nonetheless, it was worth every penny. I shared this tea with people for many months, around Europe and home. The reaction on their faces confirmed that even a casual tea drinker can recognize when a tea is incredible. I think I have one serving left.
This tea is remarkable. It’s delicate, and powerful. It’s light and crisp, yet full and lingers. It’s everything. It’s manna from heaven in beverage form. It is as beautiful and special as the region and plantation it comes from.
Brewed for 2 minutes (3 minutes is recommended, but I felt the tannins had won over the taste by that stage). Could this be a Darjeeling I actually like? The aroma is quite leafy, and the taste is indescribable. Very strange, and – I know this word is bandied about a lot with Darjeelings and always sounds like a load of waffle to me – complex! There is so much going on with each mouthful, and I think its one of the reasons I enjoyed it!
The last of this, and thereby also the last of three different Darjeeling teas I once received as a gift from a friend I met elsewhere on the internet. She lives, or lived at the time as she appears to have disappeared from the internet, in Darjeeling and from what I understood bought her tea more or less directly from the estate. Cool, eh? She sent me this white tea, a first flush and a muscatel. I finished off the latter two long ago.
I had this on the to-be-finished pile, but I was finally inspired to finish off the rest of it now when I watched a program on Viasat History with Victoria Wood travelling around the Commonwealth and visiting the former British colonies and specifically places that were named after Queen Victoria, as she were. Naturally she also came to Darjeeling and was presented with the idea of ‘white tea’, supposedly for the first time. “Everybody knows tea is brown. Two sugars. And milk. Indian tea. From China.” or some such I believe her bemused quote was.
Anyway, she visited an organic tea plantation, the owner of which was called Rajah. I remembered that Makaibari is organic and I thought I remembered having heard that the owner was called Rajah, but they didn’t say anything about estate name or even family names, so I wasn’t sure until they gave her a cup of white Darjeeling tea called Silver Tips Imperial, which had fetched a record-high price making it the most expensive tea in the world at the time. Then I was sure. It was this one.
Victoria Wood found that she liked it and that it was quite subtle in flavour. Rajah told her that it had four ‘layers’ or ‘levels’ or some such of flavour, but unfortunately didn’t go further into the subject. Or if he did, they didn’t show it. My tongue isn’t really developed enough to discern whether or not it does and I’m not experienced enough with Darjeelings in general either, but seeing as the Estate has been owned by his family for generations I trust the man to know what he’s talking about.
I can only find a nutty basic flavour with a flowery note on top. Maybe a hint of grass. Rather nice but not overwhelming for anything else than it being so unusual.
I do wish I knew what those four levels Rajah mentioned were. Like having a cheat-sheet to tea.
I have been challenged by a fellow Wrimo to get to 25K before midnight on my NaNoWriMo novel. That means I have currently a little less than three hours to get three thousand more words down. That should be doable IF I can find some discipline to do it and don’t give up and go to bed. Now, I’ve just got to the bit where the actual plot really starts, so it’s turned a bit more difficult. (And why is it all my posts here must have a setting?)
Obviously tea is required for this little project, and I turned to the only proper white one (meaning one of good quality and/or without additives) that I’ve got. I don’t know why, really, it just struck me, when I was looking in the cupboard as a creative type tea. I am also going to put on some creative type music and write, write, write.
For some reason this also inspired me to bring my first yixing pot back into use. It’s been dormant for a while. It just seemed proper somehow. Every time I scald this, I regret that I didn’t have as many pots back when I bought it as I do now so that it’s not seasoned to one particular kind of tea. I’ve got it to the point now where you pour clean boiling water in it to warm it up before brewing and then it has visibly changed colour when you pour it away.
Obviously, I’m not going to get a ‘clean’ taste of this particular tea out of this pot, but I’m not good enough at tasting the differences that it’s generally a problem. Just an aesthetic sort of little complaint. At least it has never been used for anything other than greens and whites, so at least it’s not going to take on a side note of Lapsang Souchong or some such. Obviously, I desperately need a new yixing pot. Or several. grin
I can’t say anything about the proporties really because I don’t know if they’re really the REAL proporties, but it’s sort of a light yellowy colour. The smell has a note of chamomile (which I’m 98% sure has never been made in this pot), and underneath a nicely sweet smell. Thankfully, I’m not getting any chamomile flavour, but the pot has definitely affected the flavour. It tastes more green than white, but with a light astringency and a sweet grassy flavour, I’m not really going to complain about it.
This was really more a review of my pot than it was of my tea, wasn’t it? If you’re curious, you can go and check out what I said about this tea earlier and compare. :)
I fought long and hard against this tea. I’d just had the raspberry oolong and I knew that one more pot of tea so quickly after would result in over-active kidneys. But you can’t stop inspiration, can you?
This tea was given to me as a gift along with two other teas from this estate. They’re organically grown and bought (I think) directly from the estate and then sent to me from India. Which of course meant I had to pay blood in taxes and customs and fees and what not (and let’s not even get started on the problem with the courier company and the half package number!!!)
The white leaves are big and gorgeous to look at. If you were to ask me how I make it, how many leaves I use to a pot, I’d have to just say, “Plenty.” My tea scoop was so not made for this size leaves! A scoop could be a decent amount of leave or it could be just a couple lying on the wrong angle of the scoop. No pot is ever the same when it comes to this.
It makes a very nice tea, though. Depending on how much it is steeped it’s got a good strong flavour. It’s not one of those white teas where you sit and search desperately for just a smidge of taste. This has got almost as much as an average green tea.
It coats the tongue quite nicely although it doesn’t really linger. There is some small aftertaste that seems to go on forever, but it’s not very strong.
It’s surprisingly suitable for the season. I would never in a million years have thought that a white tea could be anything but spring-y!
ETA: Do not under any circumstances allow it to oversteep. If you brew like I do, with the leaves loose in the pot, decant or drink quickly because it does get quite bitter.