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Review of English Tea Store Darjeeling White Tips

Basically there are two types of white tea leaves available to the consumer: the kind with long, thin silvery (sometimes downy) leaves, and the kind with leaves of varied sizes and colours, sort of like what you might find on a forest floor. The catalogue photo for this tea depicts the former, while these Darjeeling white tips are definitely in the “forest floor” category. So I was somewhat confused.

As a matter of fact, I thought perhaps they had sent me a pai mu tan (or bai mudan if you prefer) tea, which generally has this “forest floor” appearance. I asked my esteemed editor to verify that the tea sent to me for review was indeed the Darjeeling, which she did.

White Darjeeling tea leaves after steeping
White Darjeeling tea leaves after steeping

Now, it’s not that I didn’t believe her or The English Tea Store, it’s just that in my experience there are some teas that look a certain way and others that look another way. Turns out my experience was a tad limited, and in searching for references for both Darjeeling white and pai mu tan teas I found evidence that either one can look like the other, depending on the processing technique. Another tea lesson learned. (As this is a tea review, not a discourse on tea processing, I’ll let the details go for another time.)

When I prepare white tea, I use very low temperature water: I bring it to a boil, then let it cool in the kettle with the lid off for about five minutes. If it still seems too hot, I pour it from about a foot above the leaves to cool it even more. The temperature I want it to reach is about 140 to 150 degrees F. Then I steep the tea for at least five or six minutes, and often for as long as twelve to fifteen minutes. This low temperature/long steep coaxes out the subtle fragrance and taste of white teas. (If you’ve been drinking white teas at the often-recommended two-to-three-minute steep and can’t figure out why everyone loves the stuff, give this technique a try.)

White Darjeeling tea steeping in a glass gaiwan
White Darjeeling tea steeping in a glass gaiwan

I sampled the white tips in a six-cup and a two-cup teapot, and then in a gaiwan, trying to discern any hint of the typical Darjeeling muscatel taste or aroma. Sorry to say, I didn’t find it. What did come through was a nutlike quality in both the nose and the cup, seguing into the gentle floral sweetness that renders white teas so enjoyable. And that heretofore I had considered typical of a pai mu tan tea.

Bottom line is that while this tea did not look the way I expected, and didn’t exhibit the taste or aroma I expected, it did produce an enjoyable, respectable cup, and at a very reasonable price. Although the photos show it steeping in a gaiwan, I recommend using a teapot and staying on the short end of the steep, as this tea starts to get bitter after five or six minutes.

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4 responses to “Review of English Tea Store Darjeeling White Tips”

  1. Well, as far as I understand Darjeeling, Estate & its elevation carries extra value. Why not check the same with your vendor.


    1. Yes, the estate and elevation can effect the price. In this instance, it doesn’t really matter. The writer’s purpose was to share her personal experience with blog readers. Thanks! 🙂

  2. Which Tea Estate tea is this?

    1. Hi, Abhi, the estate is not specified by the vendor. 🙂

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