Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Tea Shelf: Billimalai Nilgiri White, A Tea Review

Outside is ominous as all get out, serious, it is so ominous that we are under a tornado watch, first one of the season...well unless there was one during that crazy storming bought a week or so ago that I slept through. I am hearing the sweet music of thunder getting closer, the wind is bringing in a definite chill, and the radar looks bonkers. I think that this storm might actually hit us full force instead of fall apart on the heat island, which could mean massive hail and power outages. Oddly, we have only had one power outage from a storm in my time living in the Midwest...of course by saying that I totally jinxed myself...oops.

Today my education in Nilgiri teas continues with The Tea Shelf's Billimalai Nilgiri White! Hailing from the Coonoor region of Southern India, the Billimalai Tea Estate sits 6,400ft about sea level in the Blue Mountains (fun fact, Nilgiri means Blue Mountains) Terrain, and looking at pictures of the area, it is absolutely beautiful. The leaves look like a mixture between a green tea and a white tea, blending vibrantly green leaves with fuzzy silver leaves, I spent quite a bit of time enjoying the different textures and colors presented in these leaves. The aroma was quite the surprise, no sweet at all, but instead rich savory and smoky notes! I picked up notes of lettuce, tomato leaf, vegetable broth, and a slight sauteed mushroom almost sausage meatiness at the smoky finish.

Ok, storms, you are a disappointment to the skies that spawned you! They totally fell apart and then reformed about half an hour north, ugh. If storms were a sentence where I live would be the comma, this always happens. Anyways, I decided to gongfu this intriguing tea, and after the first steep the aroma of the leaves is a fun blend of vegetal notes and savory tones. Hello okra, green beans, tomato leaves, dried tomatoes, and smoky vegetable broth! The notes are making me a bit on the hungry side, but that tends to happen with savory teas. The liquid is a blend of okra, lettuce, sweet flower nectar and a bit of honey at the finish.

First steeping is like drinking a book, not because it tastes like paper or books, but because it has some many different stories! At the first sip it tastes like a field of wildflowers complete with a bit of hay and grass, then it moves on to distant wildfires, next it is sesame seeds and green beans. The finish is honey and flowers, this is a peculiar tea, but it is a tasty peculiar tea.

The second steep has a strong smoky aroma mixed with wildflowers and okra, more teas need the note of okra, I love that stuff. The taste is a dead even mix of wildflowers, smoke, citrus, and sesame seeds. I was surprised how balanced and blended the notes were this steep, last steep they were very distinct. I found this tea fascinating, it blends different notes that I do not usually associate with white teas, so I appreciated the mouth adventure.

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