This white tea, Super Moon Dance, is quite simply one of the finest teas that Jun Chiyabari Tea Estate has offered us to sample and potentially source.
This tea has it all – a skillful pluck, careful manufacture and an impressive and very long-lasting taste and aroma in the cup. White teas are often quite simple in style, and rightfully so, as they are among the least manufactured of the various types of tea. However, Tea Trekker’s 2021 White Super MoonDance is neither simple nor timid…it bursts with incredible flavor and depth of character. It is truly a rare find!
The color of this tea is buff/stone/green, and so, on first glance, one might assume that this is an early spring green tea. But this batch of fresh leaf was processed in the tea factory into a white tea. For those unfamiliar with white tea, the processing begins with a withering step, either indoors or outdoors, which introduces a small amount of oxidation to the leaf. The oxidation tempers the astringency of the fresh leaf and, in this case, gives the tea a smooth, floral style with a slight taste of a mild black tea. In fact, depending on the criteria that one chooses to use, this tea could arguably ‘technically’ be classified as a black tea, as well as a white tea, because it truly does fall right on the dividing line between the two categories.
Our Nepal Himalaya Super Moon Dance, when steeped, has a very high fragrance of various melons and assorted tropical florals. In the cup the tea is smooth, with a very rich mouth feel. The tea has a delightful, long-lasting flavor and aroma throughout multiple steepings. We often find that high fragrance teas do not correlate to abundant flavor in the cup, but that is not the case with this tea. The high fragrance is just an introduction to the bountiful flavor that follows in the cup.
This phenomenon represents an enthusiastic trend for some tea gardens, which is to focus on high-end, exclusive micro batches of tea. The quality of leaf in early spring is very high and just right to turn young, juicy leaf with an abundance of flavor and vigorous aroma into delicious tea that deserves to be maintained as a separate ‘lot’ and sold as such. Production of teas such as this occurs during the short time between bud break and when the main harvest begins. So the window of time for these early spring teas is very short and the quantities made are very small. Of course not all tea gardens are able to isolate and market these small lots of leaf. But this is one of the aspects of tea manufacture that the experts at Jun Chiyabari excel at, and we support their efforts by tasting and sourcing these exquisite teas as much as we can every season and throughout the year. We love working directly with Jun Chiyabari Tea Garden for the teas that we offer from their gardens.
Is this tea expensive? Yes. Is it worth the price? Yes. In fact, we like it so much that we purchased as much of the entire batch as we could, allowing for a few kilos that went to a fine tea shop in Germany! Because this leaf can be re-steeped 2-4 times, it is actually less expensive to drink than many other teas that have a lower retail price per pound but do not yield as much drinkable liquid tea. Plus this leaf will store well for many years – probably well into 2024 as fresh leaf. Or it can be aged, in which case it would be put aside, kept carefully until 2031 +/-, and then drunk from 2032 until 2040 or later (at which time it would also be very valuable!).
You will find that this tea has a flexible steeping time – and will yield more re-steepings than most white tea. Himalaya Super Moon Dance will re-steep numerous times (short steeps) or you can leave the leaf in the water for a long time (we recommend slightly cooler water for this method) and enjoy an incredibly rich, deeply-flavored tea (perfect for iced tea). It is a very user-friendly tea that will delight the eye, the nose, and the palate.
Jun Chiyabari Tea Garden is a small & exclusive single estate tea garden located in the Himalayan hills of mid-eastern Nepal. These 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.
As the garden’s tea director says: “Hand-rolling is a laborious and time consuming task that requires patience, tender touch and a passion for creation from the person rolling the leaves to ensure that everything is perfect. This is why only women are selected for this delicate task”. Tea Trekker’s Super Moon Dance tea is barely rolled – the tea maker refers to the level as ‘Ghost Rolling’, but it does its job in dispersing the oxidation evenly on the juicy leaf.
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