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Kris Grey Black Tea from Ette Tea

Kris_GreyTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Ette Tea

Tea Description:

Shaded as the quintessential earl grey, Kris Grey (Blend no. 050) is a western classic brew fortified with south east asian ingredients.

Kris Grey is a blend of black tea, javanese vanilla beans, blue corn flower, bluepea flower, bergamot oil & edible silver dust.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

My second blend from Ette Tea!

So, I’m not the biggest Earl Grey fan; not that I dislike it, but I just don’t crave it often either. Under normal circumstances I probably wouldn’t have gone for this one – but who can resist sample sizes and the idea of sparkly silver tea? And really, the dry leaf is stunning! It’s covered in this really fine, gorgeous silver dust. So pretty!

Steeped up I’m not going to lie; I’m a little disappointed. The tea is still gorgeous and sparkly, but it’s not as dramatic as I’d have thought given the amount of noticeable glimmer in the dry leaf. Maybe about the same amount of sparkle as DT’s Gitter & Gold blend that people like to ooh and aah over.

The taste is solid though; it’s a good EG with a medium level of citrusy bergamot and silky smooth black base. I feel like a little bit more of vanilla would have really sent this one sky rocketing though. As it stands I can hardly taste the vanilla at all, but as is it’s just fine too. People who really love EG should definitely take a closer look at this because while it isn’t mind blowing, it’s got a really taditional taste with that fun sparkly element that makes it different from the average EG you can get at any store.

So for me, it’s a step down from Pandan Chiffon (which set the bar very high) but still not a flop! Definitely excited to try my next tea from this company!

Organic Okayti Silver Needle Second Flush Darjeeling White Tea from Golden Tips

okayti-whiteTea Information:

Leaf Type:  White (Darjeeling)

Where to Buy:  Golden Tips

Tea Description:

Handpicked from the most delicate and tender portions of the tea bush, early morning and just before sunrise, this Okayti White is a class apart. The fluffy silver needles are manufactured to perfection and display an opulence only found in certain select White teas. The nose to the infusion is superb with a delicate character combined with grassy notes which follow sweet hints of honey. The liquor is pale and almost colourless. The flowery character in the flavor is extremely complex and perfectly fruity. With no grassiness at all, the flavor keeps on developing in the mouth once you keep rolling it for a few seconds till it peaks and flushes your mouth with a unique sweetness. If you love white tea, you should not miss this.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Oh, this is a lovely white Darjeeling!  It seems like the Darjeeling region focuses primarily on their black tea production, but I find that the white, green and Oolong offerings that I’ve tried to be just as delightful – if not more so! – as the black teas and so when I do discover a white Darjeeling like this one from Golden Tips, I’m a very happy sipper!

To brew this tea, I used my 2 cup teapot (it’s a little ceramic teapot) and I ‘eyeballed’ a measurement of leaves that is approximately 2 bamboo scoops.  (These leaves are very fluffy and difficult to measure with an actual bamboo scoop.  So I must imagine that my hand is the bamboo scoop.)  Then I poured water heated to 170°F into the teapot, put the lid on the teapot and let the tea steep for 3 1/2 minutes.  Then I strained the tea into my brand new mug that my daughter gave me for Christmas.

And ah!  This is truly a delight to sip.

The flavor is delicate – it is a white tea! – but not as delicate as you might expect!  This has a stronger, more assertive flavor than a Chinese Silver Needle, but it’s certainly not as assertive as another leaf type.

It’s sweet with a very pleasant, thick texture.  The description above suggests floral notes, and I am tasting those, but I’m also tasting delicious notes of melon and sweet grape.  The sweetness comes not only from these fruit notes but also a honey-esque sweetness.  There is an enjoyable balance between the fruity notes, floral tones and honeyed sweetness and I like how these play on the palate.

And this is a white tea!  That means multiple infusions!

The second cup is darker in color.  The first cup was quite light, almost colorless!  This time there’s more of a light yellow-amber color to the cup.  The flavor is stronger too, but I’m finding that balance between the fruit, floral and honey notes to remain.  Each of those flavors is stronger with the second infusion but the flavors are still balanced.   The texture seems a little thinner than the first cup and the best way I can think of to describe this difference is that the first cup was almost “creamy” in the consistency although it didn’t taste creamy.  The texture of this cup isn’t as creamy.

With later infusions, I noticed the flavors change a little.  The honey notes softened somewhat and I started to pick up on distant nutty tones.  The tea is still sweet, just not as honey-like.  I started to pick up on orchid notes.  I could taste floral notes throughout, but I couldn’t really distinguish the flower I was tasting and as I continued to steep these leaves I began to taste more defined notes of orchid and maybe even a hint of honeysuckle.

The grape notes started to become more wine-like to me, too.  Like a gentle white wine, but not such a dry or astringent finish as I’d experience from a white wine.  Quite lovely!

If you’re one who tends to avoid white teas because you find that they taste too delicate for you, try a Darjeeling white tea like this Okayti Silver Needle.  I think you’ll find the flavor more pronounced and much more satisfying!

Kenya Silver Needle White Tea from What-Cha Tea

KenyaSilverNeedleTea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  What-Cha Tea

Tea Description:

Our Kenyan Silver Needles hits the usual notes usually associated with good quality Silver Needles while having its own unique characteristics not usually found in other Silver Needles. Kenyan Silver Needles is on the fuller side of the Silver Needle scale and features lovely soft tannins, making it perfect for those who find the more traditional Silver Needles too subtle and overly delicate. Our Kenyan Silver Needles represents a chance to try one of the great Chinese teas grown in the unique terroir of Kenya.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Most Silver Needle teas tend to be on the delicate side and this Silver Needle would be considered “delicate” if it were being compared to a green or black tea, but it’s much stronger in flavor than many other Silver Needle teas I’ve had.

But I brewed it the same way I’d brew a Silver Needle:  I used my gaiwan and heated the water to 170°F.  After a 15 second rinse, I steeped the first infusion for 2 minutes.  I added 15 seconds onto each subsequent infusion.  And one thing you’ll find with white teas – they’re ready to keep on steeping!  You’ll easily get five or six infusions out of this tea – perhaps more!

KenyaSilverNeedle1The first infusion was sweet and hay-like.  I also got some lovely melon notes as well as a crisp, floral note.  And even though the approach of a white tea tends to be subtle, I find so many wonderful layers of flavor.  I think that’s why I enjoy them so much.  True, they’re not the type of tea that will get in your face with the flavor.  Instead, it offers its love sweetly and gently.

The second infusion was even sweeter than the first.  A little less like hay and a little more like a sweet, juicy melon!  Lovely!  I am noticing very little to no astringency with this cup.  I did notice a wee bit of astringency with the first infusion … not much, but some.  Now, not so much.

The third infusion was very much like the second – sweet, melon-like, very little astringency and very few vegetal/hay-like tones.  Later infusions slowly started to become less fruit-like and I started picking up on more of the hay-like flavors again as well as hints of an airy floral quality.  Imagine the “taste” of the air when you’re walking through a field of flowers.  Something like that.  Really beautiful and wonderful to experience as those tastes washed over the palate.  I started to notice a loss in flavor by the fifth infusion.  It still had a lot of flavor but not as quite as much as the four that preceded it.

This is a fantastic Silver Needle.  If you’re one who tends to avoid Silver Needle White teas because you find them to be too soft in flavor … don’t give up on Silver Needle teas completely – just widen your search to include this Kenyan Silver Needle!  I think you’ll find it much more flavorful!

Assam 2nd Flush 2014 Silver Needle White Tea from What-Cha Tea

AssamSilverNeedleTea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  What-Cha Tea

Tea Description:

A great tasting Silver Needle with a delicate sweet taste and no detectable astringency.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Assam 2nd Flush Silver Needle White Tea is quite unlike any other Silver Needle White tea I’ve tried to date.   So to brew it, I decided to follow the purveyor’s suggested parameters and heat the water to 175°F (OK, the parameters suggest 176°F, but my Breville heats water at 5 degree intervals, and I figured 1° wasn’t going to make or break the tea.)  I measured two pinches of tea into the bowl of my gaiwan and steeped the tea for 1 1/2 minutes for the first infusion, adding 15 seconds onto each subsequent infusion.

Note:  The steep time and the measurements that I used were my own, not the purveyor’s suggested parameters.  I only used their temperature suggestions.  What-Cha suggested 2 minutes steep time and 1 teaspoon per cup.  But because I was using my gaiwan, I went with slightly more tea and slightly less time.

As I said, this tea is quite unlike any other Silver Needle Tea that I’ve experienced until now.  Yes, there are some similarities to the Silver Needle teas I’ve had in the past.  First of all, the leaves look very much like a silver needle, except that these are probably a little darker green than the silvery pale green that I’m used to seeing with a Silver Needle.

AssamSilverNeedle1And there is a distinct hay-like aroma and flavor to this Assam Silver Needle, and that’s something that I typically experience with other Silver Needle teas.  But the hay-like aroma here, especially in the dry leaf, is intense!  It smells like the air of the countryside after a field of hay has been cut.  Like within the hour of the hay cutting!  It’s a strong scent.  The fragrance softens when the tea is brewed, but there are still some strong hay-like notes to the cup.

And to the flavor!  The hay notes are strong in the taste as well.  It’s sweet and delicate – like a Silver Needle – but those sweet and hay-like flavors are stronger than in a typical Silver Needle.

If compared to a Silver Needle tea, this Assam Silver Needle would not be considered a delicate tea.  But if compared to an Assam Black, then yes, this is definitely delicate in comparison.

Interestingly enough, I think that it’s appropriate to compare this Assam white tea to an Assam black because there are some similarities to the “more familiar” black tea from the Assam region.  For example, I can taste notes of malt to this.  I didn’t expect to.  Sure, it’s an Assam tea, but, it’s a white tea … and I figured this Silver Needle would be far too delicate to detect the malty flavors.  But no!  There is a lovely malty sweetness to this cup.

It’s a smooth, calming drink.  As the above description suggests, there is no astringency to this.  It starts out sweet.  The texture is silky.  The aftertaste offers a delicate sweetness.  I also pick up on a subtle citrus note in the aftertaste.

In later infusions, I began to notice the hay-like flavors begin to soften somewhat, not really waning, but instead, melding with the other flavors and allowing those other notes to come into focus.  I started to pick up on gentle fruit notes and a lovely floral note.

A really delightful, deliciously different Silver Needle!   This is another MUST TRY from What-Cha Tea.  They are becoming THE source for some very unusual marvels of the tea world!

Kenya Silver Needle Purple Varietal White Tea from What-Cha Tea

SilverNeedlePurpleWhiteTea Information:

Leaf Type:  White (Purple)

Where to Buy:  What-Cha Tea

Tea Description:

A delicate tea with sweet hints and a gentle taste of peony flower.

A completely new tea which has just been released to the world; Kenyan purple varietal silver needle white tea represents the latest development in purple varietal tea from Kenya. It is a very subtle and delicate tea which requires the greatest of care and experimentation to unlock its full potential.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

These leaves are beautiful.  They are so long that they almost look like pine needles (they don’t smell like pine needles though!)  They are darker in color than the typical “Silver Needle” – they have more of a purple-ish hue than a pale green or silvery color.  If I look closely, I can see very fine, short hairs on the leaves.  The aroma is soft with notes of flower and a hint of vegetation.

To brew this tea, I grabbed my glass tea cup.  I added 2 pinches of tea to the cup (these leaves are much too long to be measuring with a scoop!) and then added the water, heated to 175°F.  I steeped the first cup for 3 minutes and added 30 seconds onto each subsequent infusion.

I don’t often use this cup except for the times that I brew a “blooming” tea or other tea that I want to watch steep, and this was one that I thought would be interesting to watch because the “silver” (they look more purple than silver!) needles are so long and elegant looking, I thought that their dance would be something cool to watch.  Unfortunately, they didn’t really dance much.  But they still produced a delicious drink!

SilverNeedlePurple1The liquid is very pale.  It almost looks “white” – not an opaque white but a very clear, transparent, slightly off-white, almost yellowish colored liquid.  It almost looks like water, it’s so pale!  I’m happy to say that it doesn’t taste like water!

The flavor is quite delicate though, especially in this first cup.  It is sweet and floral.  The floral notes hint at sharpness, but don’t quite get there because the overall tone of the beverage is so delicate.  It’s quite lovely and soft.  It’s one of those types of teas that you want to take some time to drink so that you can allow it to take you on a journey.  So many layers of flavor.  A soft, pleasant mouthfeel.  No astringency noted in this first cup.

My second cup was much stronger in flavor than the first.  Still a rather delicate tea, I am picking up on more flavor this time around.  The floral notes are less sharp and have melded with the other flavors.  I’m noticing a sweet, creamy flavor this time.  Still sweet and floral, but the creaminess softens any of the floral sharp notes.  At the tail, I pick up on a light fruity note that tastes of peach and orange.

A third cup?  Sure!  These leaves just keep on going.  This cup seemed less creamy than the previous one.  I could pick up on some nutty tones this time.  The sweet floral tones are still there.  I’m picking up more fruity flavor this time but it’s less distinct.  In the second cup, I tasted distinct notes of peach and orange but this time it’s more like an indistinguishable fruit.

As I sipped on this tea, I tried to compare it to other Silver Needle teas I’ve had.  This has less of a “hay like” quality to it, and the fruit notes are different.  Usually, I get like a delicate melon-like flavor from a Silver Needle – but here this is more like peaches and citrus.  I don’t get so much of that “fresh, airy” refreshing quality from this tea, instead, I taste more of a creamy, sweet, nutty flavor.

Sure, it’s different.  But that’s what makes it so good!  I love it when I discover a new tea like this!