The yeti – or Abominable Snowman – is a possibly mythical, ape-like beast native to Nepal and Tibet. The name “Yeti” derives from a Tibetan compound word that loosely translates to “manbear from the rocky place”…or something like that. “Abominable Snowman” was coined by a British lieutenant-colonel on a Mount Everest expedition. They located some tracks that their Sherpa associated with the illusive snowbeast.
My first “exposure” to the legend – or at least, the one that I remember – was from Disney’s Matterhorn ride. Along the rollercoaster’s path, you encounter a rather lifelike animatronic yeti on one of the many twisty turns. To a five-year-old, it was piss-your-pants scary. Beyond that moment, I never paid the mythical man-bear-ape-thing much heed.
Until I saw an oolong named after it; an oolong from a country I didn’t know did oolongs.
I’ve had plenty of teas from Nepal. Not sure what region they came from, since I suck at geography, but I can run off the names of tea estates forever. Many of them had he word “Ilam” in their names. Still not sure what that means; too lazy to google it. What I didn’t know was that there was an actual region in Nepal called Ilam.
Nepali Tea Traders is a company based in Colorado founded by Maggie Le Beau. They are the first (as far as I know) company specializing in sourcing teas directly from private farmers in Nepal. I know plenty of vendors that source from tea estates, but not from actual farmers. The company first came to my attention when I saw mention of a Nepalese pu-erh. That sent me a-buzzing, and while perusing their site, I ran across their oolong selections. One had the word “Yeti” in it. By manly mandate, I had to try it.
The leaves were black and gold with a curly, hand-rolled appearance – similar to a Darjeeling or Assamese oolong. It differed from these in scent, however, bestowing a toasty and slightly fruity aroma to the nose. Tearing myself away from the bag was a chore; I could’ve whiffed it all day.
Typically with any type of oolong, I like to try it both Western-style and gongfu-style to see what the differences are. But a tea with a name like “Wild Yeti”, there was only one way to go : Go big or go home. I brewed this in a pint-sized filter mug for the full three minutes using boiled water. Screw nuance, I wanted to see what kind of punch it delivered.
The liquor brewed up as ruby dark as any black tea I’ve ever had. The aroma from the steam was like…plumbs dipped in cocao batter by way of…lava? Unusual but enjoyable. Flavor-wise, I was in for a surprise. This actually tasted like a full-on mid-roasted oolong from Taiwan, very much like an autumn Dong Ding without the graphite lean.
Most Himalayan oolongs maintain a bit of their muscatel nature, regardless of the oxidization. While this was still very pekoe-ish, it gave me more of an oolong impression than those of similar processing from Darjeeling. That and there was a very smooth, wine-like finish. I like wine; and I like…uh…finishes? Wait, that came out wrong.
Point being!…I love me some knew tea-ish experiences, especially good ones. This was mostly definitely a good one, and one that I’m hopped up on while writing this. Wow, this has a caffeinated kick. I could really wrestle a yeti now. And lose horribly.
For more information – or to buy – this beast, go HERE.
Sidenote: Nepali Tea Traders has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help further their business model. Their goal is to expand their merchandise selection by buying some of the Ilam region’s first flush 2013 teas directly. This is a Kickstarter campaign I have NO problem throwing my hat in for. As per their business model, because they’re purchasing these teas from the private growers directly, more money goes to them and their families.