I wanted to start by thanking Yatra Tea Company for the amazing opportunity to try all of these great teas. They specialize in South Asian teas, predominantly from India but also from Nepal.
If you would like to try some of their teas, they have a great offer called the “Yatra 2018 Sampler” where you can try 9 of their best teas at once. This is great if you aren’t quite sure what type of tea is your favorite. https://www.yatrateacompany.com/shop/yatra-2018-sampler
This tea is the only tea that I will be tasting that is not from India. It is actually grown in Nepal, on the Sakhira estate. Although they do not have the reputation of Indian teas, Nepali teas can be very high quality and the few that I've tried have been extraordinary!
As soon as I opened up the package of tea, I was pleasantly surprised at the color of the leaves. I thought they were going to be a dark brown just like all the others I had tried, but they were, in fact, a vibrant green. To me this made them seem fresh and full of life. I was so excited to try them out, but first I couldn’t help but give these leaves a quick smell. The leaves seemed to give out an aroma almost identical to that of chocolate. I sometimes notice this chocolaty aroma with black teas, but only the ones of supreme quality. I couldn’t really notice much else about the aroma of these leaves because the smell of chocolate was so powerful.
The aroma of the brewed tea isn’t quite as powerful as the leaves themselves, but it is still warm and refreshing nonetheless. I notice a pretty strong floral note to the tea, as well as some fresh cut grass. I was really excited for the first sip.
This tea is definitely the sweetest of the ones I have tried. When I say “sweet” I don’t mean like a sugary sweet, I mean it more in terms of the tea vocabulary. Sweet is more of a feeling than a taste. It feels very soothing on the tongue. I also notice that there is a nice, fresh component to this tea. The aftertaste is similar to that of mint, creating almost a cooling sensation on the roof of your mouth.
The tasting I did earlier today made me feel very calm and relaxed. “Focused” would be the word I would use to describe this feeling. I feel little bit of energy, but it is not a jittery caffeine feeling, more a heightening of the senses. This tea is so good, it is easy to identify all the different subtle notes. The floral note, the subtle astringency, the sweetness and the freshness, all coming at me at different times and I can identify all of them. First the sweetness, then the astringency, then the floral note and then finally the freshness in the aftertaste. This tea is so beautifully crafted.
I finished the tea so quickly and was ready to take a second steeping. I set the kettle to boil and pulled it off just before to make sure it was around 200 degrees. I added the water to the wet leaves and allowed them to soak for an additional 5 minutes. I was a little bit concerned that because this tea is a little bit lighter, it would lose a lot of the flavor after the first steeping. Indeed, the tea did lose a little of its original flavor but it still had a lot to give. The taste was quite mellow and I noticed a little bitterness towards the back of the tongue. The aftertaste was quite pleasant and it lasted a few seconds. Although the aftertaste didn't linger nearly as long as that of the first steeping, it was quite enjoyable.
This tea was incredible. It easily became my favorite of the ones I have tried. Of course, this made it necessary to revise my ranking:
#1 Nepali First Flush from the Sakhira Estate
#2: Second Flush Darjeeling from Marangi Estate
#3: First Flush Darjeeling from Puttabong Estate
#4: Darjeeling Oolong from Castleton Estate
#5: First Flush Darjeeling from Goomtee Estate