Alistair of What-cha renown has a habit of getting hold of interesting teas that simply beg to be sampled, and this one is no exception. A tea from Malawi, processed along the lines of a shou Pu-erh? Don’t mind if I do…
Once I had the packet open, my first impression was that the tea both looked and smelled pretty much as you would expect loose leaf shou Pu-erh to. Given that, I decided to steep it Gong-fu style.
|Weight of dry leaf:||6 grams|
|Infusion style:||Gong-fu / Asian|
|Steeping vessel:||150 ml porcelain gaiwan|
|No. & duration:||a flash rinse, then a 1st. infusion @ 5 seconds, then @ +5 seconds until 20 seconds, then @ 30, 40, 60, 90, and finally 120 seconds for a total of 9 infusions|
Post rinse the leaves smelled typically shou-like, but with a very interesting burnt caramel note on top.
This tea started to deliver the goods right from the get-go. That first infusion sported a beautiful deep mahogany colour, with a clean, classic shou Pu-erh flavour profile, but with accents on fresh new paper and that tantalising sweet, dark, burnt sugar thing.
In his tasting notes Alistair primed us to expect a light to medium bodied soup. By the second infusion, however, the broth had beefed up into a lip-smacking, creamy Orc blood affair, which left deliciously gloopy dark trails all over my teaware. I’m guessing that this was down to my choosing Gong-fu infusion over western style.
There was also a spicy, almost medicinal feel to the tea, too. I’d been slightly under the weather for a few days prior to this session, and this tea induced a tickly, warming sensation in the upper chest that was most appreciated.
By the fourth infusion the tea was starting to slip a bit, so I upped the steeping times accordingly, and this meant that I was able to get another 5 good rounds out of the leaves before I thought that they’d given me their best. Still, from my perspective 9 steepings puts this tea above average in terms of yield.
In his notes Alistair talks about this tea having the “unique Satemwa twist“, and I see what he means. That mix of spice and the burnt sugar note really gives this tea a character all of its own, and helps it to stand out from the crowd when compared to other shous. It would be interesting to dig a little deeper, and see how much is down to the African terroir, and how much can be attributed to the actual processing involved. I’d love to find out how the methods used both resemble and differ from the ones used in traditional shou processing in China.
Alistair also informs us that not only are Satemwa “…dedicated to pushing the boundaries of great tea production…” but they do so while at the same time “…caring for the local environment, providing their employees a fair wage and contributing to the local community.”
In conclusion, then – this is an interesting tea made by a company that seems to have both its heart and its head in the right place. This tea has placed the Satemwa estate firmly on my radar. Looking at their website I noticed that they also make black, green, white and Oolong teas. Given how much I’ve enjoyed this tea, I think I’m going to have to get my hands on some of their other stuff, too.
Watch this space, etc…