2008 Darjeeling Makaibari Silver Tips

Memories of Makaibari

After a couple of months of writing posts, it seems I have neglected to write about anything other than puer. Time to set the record straight; I do actually drink other tea.

Darjeeling White Tea
Dry “Silver Tips Imperial” from Makaibari

The following is what I am going to somewhat dubiously call an “aged white tea”. It probably doesn’t deserve such a title, as its aging and storage have occurred in a drawer over the past 4 years, after I bought it in Darjeeling at the Makaibari tea estate. I am not sure that treating a tea with the amount of neglect usually reserved for unpaired gym socks discarded behind a sofa counts as “aging”, but for the purposes of this article, let us pretend it does.

White tea is intentionally aged. Several years ago, I purchased one such aged white Fujian tea at the Shanghai tea expo. They brewed up a reddish color, sweet and full of cinnamon. I must have purchased it in 2008  because I distinctly remember drinking it as I watched Dwight Howard missing a baffling amount of free throws in the 2009 NBA Finals, handing Kobe another championship. How can you play basketball for a living and shoot a worse free throw percentage than a scrub tea blogger? ANSWER ME, DWIGHT! Anyhow, that was my introduction to aged white tea.

It was Marshaln who recently alerted me to a couple of vendors in the far corners of Maliandao [a Beijing tea market] that were selling aged white puer teas, or what looks to me to be furry white silver needle teas, some pressed, and some loose. It was a trip to that vendor that triggered my memory of this tea, which I had squirreled away after a trip to Darjeeling in 2008, and all but forgotten about.

Makaibari Darjeeling
Steeping in a brand new white ceramic gaiwan

I was not taking notes on teas back in 2008, but from what I remember of this tea, it was exceptionally light. A bit of food or non-water beverage would destroy most of its subtly. Other than that, most of my memories revolved around the crisp weather of Darjeeling and drinking red teas from the surrounding areas. In fact, this was probably the only white (or non-fermentation processed) tea I had on the trip.

Darjeeling Makaibari Silver Tips Imperial
The reddish soup

The tea has undergone a thorough transformation since I last drank it.  It has become even lighter than I remember it, with fleeting flavors of Cinnamon that flit over the tongue. A gentle way to drift through a sunny afternoon, what a shame that I only have enough for one more session. Or maybe that is my hint that I need to return to India.

White gaiwan with white tea
White gaiwan with white tea