At long last I have received my shipment of Arya Pearl Darjeeling white tea! If you have ever wanted to try a Darjeeling white tea, this is the one! I have been trying for the last couple of years to acquire this incredible, rare tea but it was always sold out. This year I placed my order well in advance of production, and am I ever glad that I did! Production is very limited and once it's gone, it's gone!
White tea as we know it today was first produced in China's Fuding Province in 1857 and shortly thereafter in Zhenghe Province using a large leaf Dai Bai cultivar. There are two types of white tea: White Peony and Silver Needle. White Peony uses the top two leaves and a bud whereas Silver Needle uses only the bud. Over the years there have been several variations of white tea using similar production methods with different varieties and from different locations within China, but it is only recently that other countries have ventured into the production of white tea with varied success. Most of the white tea from these other countries is of the Silver Needle type. Arya Pearl Darjeeling White Tea, on the other hand, uses the top two leaves and a bud or just one leaf and a bud.
Located in the foothills of the Himalayas of northeastern India, Darjeeling is renowned for producing the "Champagne of Black Teas". It is one of the four main tea growing regions in India and, at 6,000 feet, the highest in elevation. The Arya Estate (which means “respectable” or “best” in the Indian language) is a relatively small historic tea garden that was established in the eighteenth century by a group of Buddhist monks, whose original dwelling is preserved on the property to this day. It is fully certified organic and is strongly committed to environmental sustainability. The Estate actually has the distinction of having the first private hydro-power generator in Asia! As a small organic tea garden, Arya’s focus has always been on producing artisan teas of exceptional quality.
Arya Pearl is 100% hand crafted using carefully selected clonal tea bushes--and only in the third week of March. The care with which this tea is plucked, produced and handled is evident at first glance. The leaf sets are beautifully intact with very little breakage, which is incredible given that the leaves themselves are very light weight and delicate. The overall color of the dry leaf is a medium olive green with an abundance of downy silver tips. The aroma is fresh and faintly floral. The infused leaf serves to reinforce the care with which this tea was handled from the moment it was plucked. The leaves gracefully unfurl in the water completely intact and flawless, presenting a delicate floral bouquet.
Pearl's infusion is bright, lively and aromatic. It has a delicate floral aroma and a wonderfully sweet taste with only a bare hint of astringency. Most first flush teas have a tendency to become bitter if left to steep too long. Not so Arya Pearl. As a matter of fact, I was called away while brewing this tea and it sat for at least 10 minutes, if not more, before I could remove the infuser. I almost threw it out thinking it would be ruined, but decided to taste it first. Was I ever surprised! There was absolutely no trace of bitterness. It was very sweet and seemed to just get sweeter by the minute. To get the most of this wonderful Darjeeling white tea I would recommend using a higher leaf to water ratio and to steep it for 4 minutes at about 178 to 185 degrees. Arya Pearl can be infused at least three times. Increase the time and temperature slightly with each subsequent infusion.