One of the things I will forever be grateful for as a tea writer is having the privilege of trying some of the world’s rarest teas. Nepal Tea Collective generously shared their Rose Label Reserve black tea with me last year. It was a truly memorable experience and that made me even more excited to try this year’s offering. In this post, I’ll be taking a deeper dive into Rose Label Reserve, where it comes from, and what it tastes like.
Nepal Tea Collective is a company that I have been eagerly following since they first started back in 2016. I have always enjoyed Nepali teas and it was so exciting to see them getting some of the spotlight. Several of Nepal Tea Collective’s teas have been reviewed here on the blog including one of my all-time favorites, Kumari Gold.
Thank you to Nepal Tea Collective for sponsoring this blog post! Sponsored posts like this one help me to cover hosting fees and other expenses for keeping Tea for Me Please running.
All About Rose Label Reserve
Nepal Tea Collective’s Rose Label Reserve is a black tea from Nepal that has natural notes of rose without any sort of perfumes or scenting being added. It comes from the rare Bannockburn #157 Motherbush. It is an extremely limited edition, with just 100 units being available for sale.
It came packaged in a beautiful wooden box, showing a rose motif to match the tea. Inside was a card explaining a bit about the tea along with some literature about Nepal Tea Collective and their mission. If you are interested in trying this tea I suggest jumping on it quickly as well as signing up for their newsletter so that you’ll be the first to know when next year’s offering becomes available.
Steeping Up Collaboration
One of my favorite things about being involved in the tea industry is how collaborative it is. This tea is a prime example of that. Tea maker Nikesh Gurung first noticed the unique aroma in a tea that turned into the Rose Label Reserve. Tea experts who tasted the tea, like Starbucks’s tea development lead Chris MacNitt, were stuck by the unique roseate quality.
Chandra Bhattarai is a relatively young tea maker. He joined the Kanchanjangha Tea Estate and Research Center when his older brother found work as an assistant to the tea maker. As one of Nepal’s youngest tea makers, he is already becoming known as an expert tea processor.
Nalin Modha, a manufacturing consultant and a veteran teamaker from Darjeeling, was consulted to shape this tea into everything that it can be. The card that came in the box perfectly describes their goal with a quote from Nepal Tea Collective founder Nishchal Banskota.
It’s not just the quality and rarity of this tea that commands its premium pricing. It’s also to incentivize the tea farmers and young tea producers of eastern Nepal to dream big and experiment generously to produce more exotic teas like Rose Label Reserve.Nischal Banskota, founder of Nepal Tea Collective
How can tea smell like roses?
The Bannockburn #157 cultivar was developed by the Tea Research Association’s Tockai Research Center. It contains higher levels of compounds like linalool and 2-phenylethanol. These are also the dominant aroma compounds found in roses. I tested this tea against my Scents of Tea aroma kit and it was a dead-on for #21, Tea Rose.
Where is it from?
The Rose Label Reserve comes from the Kanchanjangha Tea Estate and Research Center (KTE) located in eastern Nepal. Established in 1984 by Deepak Prakash Baskota, the father of Nepal Tea Collective’s founder. It is the first certified organic tea garden in the country. KTE is a cooperative of 100 farmers who have pooled their small holdings to make up the 95-acre estate.
What does it taste like?
The dry leaf of this tea was dark and slightly twisted with golden tips scattered throughout. Add a few drops of water to them before brewing and you’ll immediately pick up the distinct aroma of rose. Rose Label Reserve brewed up a beautiful amber liquor.
I first prepared it in a glass teapot using Nepal Tea Collective’s recommended parameters, 2g of tea in fully boiling water for 4-5 minutes. Afterward, I found that I preferred 3g in 195℉ water for 3-4 minutes which was a suggestion I found listed in an article on Tea Journey.
The taste was malty and floral with a crisp minerality. Notes of rose and honey rounded out into a subtle grape-like fruitiness. The rose aroma seemed to come even more to the forefront as the tea cooled. There was some astringency but it never became bitter or unpleasant. My second infusion was sweeter with slightly less intense yet still enjoyable aromatics.
This is a tea that you will want to drink all on its own so that the rose notes it is named for don’t get buried. I am seriously impressed by the quality. I have had quite a lot of Nepali teas and none of them were anything quite like this.
Some may balk at the price tag of this tea. Nepal Tea Collective even marketed it as Nepal’s most expensive tea, but I don’t think it is expensive at all if you think about it. For $100 you get 100g of a very special tea in a beautiful keepsake box. High-end puerh and oolongs regularly sell for well over $2 per gram. Why shouldn’t exceptional Nepali tea also be recognized and celebrated?
Have you tried Nepal Tea Collective’s Rose Label Reserve? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments below!
This post was sponsored by Nepal Tea Collective. Opinions are my own.