- Arya Pearl Background
- Arya Pearl Preparation
This year's Arya Pearl is so much more than a white tea. It is a work of art! Pearl is always beautiful, but this year when I opened the bag it took my breath away! I know I've said this before, I don't remember it ever being quite this aromatic in past years. If you have ever wanted to try a Darjeeling white tea, this is the one! This is the first tea that Arya produces each year and despite below average temperatures and drought conditions--it still maintains its standing as the "creme de la creme" of all Darjeeling white teas. As usual, I placed my order well in advance of production. Pearl is a limited production tea and once it's gone, it's gone!
Arya Pearl is 100% hand crafted using carefully selected clonal tea bushes--and only in the third week of March. The least processed and most natural of all teas Pearl is carefully dried in the sun after having withered under normal ceiling fans for a short period of time. The care with which this tea is plucked, produced and handled is evident at first glance. The leaf sets of two leaves and a bud 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 especially green this year--much more so than in previous years--with an abundance of elongated downy silver tips. Actually, the downy fuzz are very evident on the undersides of the leaves as well as the tips. The aroma is fresh, sweet, vegetal 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. The leaf color is a vibrant green.
Pearl's infusion is bright, lively, aromatic and pale butter yellow. 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 recommend using a higher leaf to water ratio (I use up to 5 grams per 6 oz. water) and steep for up to 2-4 minutes at 175--185 degrees. There is absolutely no trace of bitterness whatsoever. It is said that white teas are better in their second and third year as they improve with age. That being the case, we can expect this 2017 Arya Pearl to mature into a spectacular tea!
Origin: Darjeeling, India
Ingredients: Artisan white tea
Darjeeling is nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas. Even in a good year there is little rain in winter, so the few showers that do occur in January are crucial for the first flush. However, this winter there was almost no rain from October onward. In addition, the cold temperatures of winter persisted through the middle of March when most of the premium first flush teas are manufactured. As a result production was down between 30% - 50% compared to previous years and many tea gardens reported that quality suffered as a result of the dry conditions and cold temperatures. With first flush tea in such short supply many buyers went away empty handed. Those that did manage to get their hands on some tea had to pay extremely high prices. We were fortunate enough to place our order for all of our 2014 Arya Estate Darjeeling teas just after the first of the year, thereby ensuring our supply of these excellent teas. The Estate did experience a shortage of approximately 30%, however they contend that the quality of their tea has improved over previous years. I wholeheartedly agree, and I'm sure you will too.
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 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.
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.
Water Temperature: 178-185 degrees
Water Quality: Best with Spring Water
Amount of Leaf (per 6 fl oz water): 1/3 cup (rounded) (3.5 to 4 grams)
Steep Time: 3-4 minutes
Number of Infusions: 3
Our Arya Pearl may be prepared in a standard teapot, or in your favorite mug or lidded gaiwan. For best results, we recommend that you pre-warm your vessel, and place 3-4 grams of leaf per 6 oz of liquid, before infusing with 175-185 degree water for up to 4 minutes. (To get the most of this wonderful Darjeeling white tea I would recommend using a higher leaf to water ratio than you usually do and to steep it longer.) Arya Pearl can be infused at least three times. Increase the time and temperature slightly with each subsequent infusion. Experimenting with your own temperatures and steeping times is encouraged, especially with such a forgiving tea. Cooler temperatures and shorter times yield more mellow, fruity elements, while hotter water and longer times produce more floral and full-bodied complexities. Always use the best-tasting water you can find, and adjust steeping times, quantity of leaves, and water temperature to your personal preferences.
We highly recommend brewing your tea in a teapot or mug with a removable infuser so that you can remove the leaves at the end of the steeping time. Whole leaf teas of this quality need room to unfurl and expand in the water in order to perform their "magic." If you don't have a removable infuser, you can brew the loose leaves directly in the pot. At the end of the steeping time, pour all of the tea into a warm serving pitcher or pot.