We know that many of you who are fans of this glorious tea have been waiting patiently to have a taste of the finished tea from this, the current year’s harvest (2020) of our popular tea from them – the High Himalaya Hand-Rolled Tips. Patience does not always pay off in life, but we have found that regarding tea manufacture ‘batches’ from our friends at Jun Chiyabari Tea Estate in Nepal, the wait is always worth it, and this season is no exception. One of the silver linings of the so-totally-weird year 2020 has been that is has offered many incredible teas for us all to drink. We enjoy every season’s HHHRT batch, but this year’s is one that we just ‘had to have’ when we tasted it for the first time. It is a ‘vintage’ year, for certain.
We are thrilled to now offer this late-season 2020 harvest of our best-selling and incredibly delicious High Himalaya Hand-Rolled Tips black tea from Jun Chiyabari Tea Garden in Nepal. Fans of this elegant and tasty tea already know that the most recent offering that we had of this leaf was a ‘second helping’ of the incredible 2018 year’s spring harvest because it was so good. Well, this year’s harvest is REALLY GOOD – another ‘vintage’ year, for sure.
We like to source this, the Himalaya green teas, the Dark Heart (and even some of the oolongs that come to us from these gardens high in the Himalaya) during the height of the season, or even in the autumn. Our friends the tea masters at Jun Chiyabari are particularly proud of the teas that they produce in the spring, as they are masterful examples of a style that is similar but uniquely different to the style of leaf produced nearby in Darjeeling. However, we have found over the years that our clientele responds to many of their later efforts, which is terrific, because that style of tea is what we enjoyed in our tastings when we first encountered these delicious teas many years ago!
The weather is often a variable at this, one of the highest altitudes that tea will reliably grow, and then in 2020 there was the added challenge of transport, which interestingly played right into our hands in allowing the tea that we love to ‘rest’ even a tad longer than we usually like to do. Because we could not receive it due to transportation difficulties, the decision was made to rest it in Nepal while the shipping hassles due to the pandemic were sorted. So while we often just simply cannot wait as long as we would like to release these delicious teas, this year we were forced to, and the tea is better for it. ‘You are gonna love it’! as they say in the movies…
In many instances the early pluckings, in addition to retaining some of their traditional elusive and lighter characteristics, are also able to show that they will develop much of the heft and smoothness that are the hallmark of the later-harvested tea of most years (which is the tea that we usually source). And other years it is clear right away that the early teas will simply not be able to develop the heft and depth that we prefer. So, this year, on our educated hunches, we waited to purchase many of our Himalaya teas until the season had progressed a little, and then they were forced to remain in the country until much later than even we would normally ship them out to ourselves! The result? unbelievable character and depth of flavor.
Therefore, what we needed to pay close attention to was the phenomenon that we in the tea trade refer to as “resting“. This is the sum-total of the influence of the chemical changes that the components of the leaf undergo during the first several months following harvest, manufacture, and final drying. Similar to ‘ageing‘ (but different than it), “resting” is a complex aspect of leaf tea awareness that is sometimes reliably predictable and other times wholly spontaneous and wildly variable.
Thanks to an abundance of necessary tannins (similar to those required to help a ‘keeper’ red wine mature into something glorious, this year’s HHHRT black tea is both drinking well now and will continue to for more than a year (or even more!).
This gorgeous Nepal black tea is from the Jun Chiyabari Tea Garden, a small & exclusive single estate located in the Himalaya hills of middle-eastern Nepal. Jun Chiyabari’s tea gardens are located at 6,000 to 6,500 feet in the ‘hills’ around Hile, a typical Himalaya hill-town, about 15 km west of Ilam (the major tea-producing region of eastern Nepal) not far from Sikkim and Darjeeling to the east, and Sagarmatha (Mt Everest) to the north.
What we are offering now (2021)
Tea Trekker’s 2020 Nepal High Himalaya Hand-Rolled Tips is a late-season-plucked tea. In Nepal, Spring tea is some of the best black tea from the region – ever so slightly astringent but primarily sweet, brisk and full of flavor. The fresh leaf is large and juicy, especially these ‘later’ pluckings that we love here at Tea Trekker. This leaf is perfect for hand-rolling the tea throughout the entirety of the tea’s processing. The 2020 year’s production has nuances of toasted brioche and brisk fruitiness in its aroma. We found it to have as big an aroma as any of the Nepal black teas that we have sampled for some time. The flavor is appealing and broad – everything from a yeasty toasti-ness to a cherry-pip-clean brightness. The aroma is outstanding, and while not so noticeable in the dry leaf, once water is applied you won’t believe the aromatic quality that this tea offers.
The golden color of the tea liquor is quite unique and shows how well-fired this leaf was during the finishing phase of manufacture. All-in-all, this is an extremely well-made tea that does not challenge the palate but leaves it completely satisfied with layers of flavor that linger well after the pot of tea has been consumed.
High Himalaya Hand-Rolled Tips is comprised of large, well-shaped leaf. The tea is as beautiful to look at as it is delicious to drink. The leaf is large, quite open, plump, and lofty. As the garden’s tea director says: “Hand-rolling is a laborious and time consuming task that requires patience, a tender touch, and a passion for creation from the person rolling the leaves to ensure that everything is perfect. Only women are selected for this delicate task”.
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