Machapuchare First Flush is a highly oxidised First Flush tea from a small tea garden located in the foothills of the towering Machapuchare mountain. The garden is located at an altitude of around 1,500m near Pokhara in Gandaki Province of Nepal. The garden was planted with various clonal trees about 10 years ago and the family produces less than 200kg of tea a year. This lot is from the Spring 2022 First Flush. Unlike typical First Flush teas, this one is more oxidised and is closer to a classic black tea than a lightly oxidised Darjeeling.
We source this tea via a small specialist wholesaler partner who specialises in working with smaller estates and farmers in Nepal, India and Sri Lanka. The main tea growing regions in Nepal are concentrated in the east of the country, where in 1982 five districts (Jhapa, Ilam, Panchthar, Dhankuta and Terhathum – all located within Province No. 1) were declared the Tea Zones of Nepal by a royal decree. Other areas, such as Pokhara in Gandaki Province are much more recent additions to the tea producing regions of the country. With many more areas growing tea in Nepal, it is starting to become a more intriguing location as various terroirs bring along interesting differences in flavours and style of processing.
Nepali tea was always more along the lines of lightly oxidised First Flush Darjeeling teas. The demand for Darjeeling tea meant that there was a demand for Nepali tea that was very similar in style in nature as it was being sold as Darjeeling instead. While some would name the tea as Darjeeling (origin Nepal) others would simply sell Nepali tea (that was reasonably unknown at the time) as the much more expensive and famous Darjeeling. More recently, as people are becoming more aware of origin and terroir, Nepali tea is gaining good traction with some estates gaining recognition similar to that of the famous Darjeeling ones. As always, this can only be a good thing as this means better price for the tea makers and better wages and living conditions for those working in the tea industry.
This Machapuchare First Flush is a spring black tea. But rather than following the fashion of lightly oxidised First Flush teas, this one has its own unique character as it undergoes higher levels of oxidation. It consists of darker leaves that are quite tippy. It produces a dark amber liquor with a fruity profile and a balanced taste. The flavours are light and have notes that are a touch smoky, woody, lightly earthy and stony. There is a malty and sugared aspect that nicely evens out the flavours. The aftertaste is clean and this tea delivers little in terms of astringency or tannins. This is definitely an unusual tea that will appeal to fans of bolder Darjeeling teas or even lighter Assam types.
Machapuchare First Flush is best brewed at 90°C for around 3-4 minutes and can be brewed 2+ times. This is definitely one of the teas from the region that we would encourage you to experimenting with gong fu brewing.