The Tea Shelf sent me a bunch of different Indian teas and I saw this as a great opportunity to compare the two white teas they carry at this time. The similarities are they are both white, Indian nilgiri and 2015 winter flush teas.
First and on the left of all photos is Billimalai Nilgiri White. This tea is from the Billimalai tea estate. The dry leaf is more colorful with a range of olives and golds with an almost smokey scent.
Second, and on the right is Chamraj Nilgiri White, from the largest Nilgiri tea factory Chamraj. The dry leaf looks quite different as they are more uniform in colour of silver. The leaf also looks pretty downy fuzzy with a sweet scent. Another thing I noticed was this leaf was a little heavier than the Billimalai.
For both teas I went with 175F water temperature and a 3 minute infusion. For each tea I used 2.5 grams.
Right away during steeping I noticed even more differences between the teas. Billimalai is more yellow and wider of a leaf, whereas Chamraj is dainty and more vibrant green.
Steeped up, Billimalai is the paler hue of the two cups. Billimalai has a smokey vegetal scent, whereas Chamraj smells like sweet hay.
Tasting of The Tea Shelf’s Billimalai and Chamraj Nilgiri White Teas
Billimalai Nilgiri White sips in sweet and smooth with a creamy feeling. I’m getting notes of straw, cream, and corn stalks. The finish goes lighter and with a clean leafy taste that is ultra fresh. The Billimalai is nicely refreshing and light, like taking a morning dip in the lake. I also think of this as the flavor prototype I’d describe for a good white tea.
Chamraj Nilgiri White, in contrast, is stronger in flavor and thicker in texture. The texture is silky. The flavor is a bouquet of floral dripping with honey. This white is also sweeter with a bit of an aftertaste of more floral. The floral is the main flavor, but not perfumey, so a 4/10 on the Floral meter. I find the more you sip the Chamraj white, they more you pick up a bit of dryness 2/10 Astringency, which is a little dryness on the tongue. I feel like I’m in a field of fat bees and flowers while eating a Crunchie honeycomb bar.
Both the Billimalai Nilgiri White and Chamraj Nilgiri White from The Tea Shelf are really good as well as different in taste – shows how much tea can be different from different tea estates! My personal preference would be the Chamraj Nilgiri White for the lovely floral notes.
I ordered the teas this way for alphabetical order, but post tasting I noticed that Chamraj is almost twice the price as the Billimalai. Thankfully, The Tea Shelf has sampler sets so you can try before you dive in to 100 gram sizes.