This is the fourth and penultimate post about the teas from Malawi that I recently bought from Rare Tea Company.
Like the other teas that made up that order, this one is also a product of the Satemwa tea estate, which is located at Thyolo in the Shire highlands in the Southern part of the country.
The Rare Tea Company website didn’t have much more to say about the tea other than…
“The tea varietal is particularly rich in antioxidants and theanine. To extract the best flavours the leaf is harvested with great care over a few short months from selected fields. It is transported in crates rather than sacks to prevent bruising. This delicate handling reveals elegant complexity.”
As with the other Rare Tea Company teas I’ve recently steeped, I opted for a Western style approach. Looking at the size of the leaves I decided to try initially for 3 infusions, and to play it by ear after that.
The dry leaf smelled of cacao nibs and dark tree bark.
Rare Tea Company suggested steeping the tea with water at 80°C, which felt a little on the low side, although they did hint at a slightly higher 90°C if you were going to use milk. I ended up going with this higher temperature despite a lack of dairy produce…
|Water Used:||Filtered tap water|
|Weight of dry leaf:||3 grams|
|Steeping vessel:||200 ml ceramic teapot|
|No. & duration:||4 infusions of 1, 1½, 2, and 5 minutes duration|
Before tasting the first steeping I had my customary sniff of the warm, wet leaves. I was pleasantly surprised to find a quite distinct sweet floral aroma coming out of the pot. Even though I am profoundly colourblind and most definitely not a flower kind of a person whatsoever I got a powerful impression of a small, pale blue bloom with white splashes on its leaves. From the same place that answers to tricky trivia questions unexpectedly pop into your head when you’re quizzing the words “lavender” and “primrose” came to me. Go, as they say, figure.
The first infusion’s liquor was slick, smooth and sweet. There was a nice caramel note balanced by a light background astringent flick, but this first round was kind of dominated sensation wise by the body and mouthfeel. This went beyond being a lip sticker, and was last seen heading in the general direction of mouth gluer!
The second steeping saw the floral thing report for duty in the cup, as well as a small increase in astringency. Quite unexpectedly I found myself starting to sweat profusely, a true upper body mini sauna job.
The third infusion saw the tea slip somewhat, but it still felt as though there was enough left in the tank for one last hurrah, namely a five minute long fourth infusion. That round was clearly a case of game over for the leaves, but they still managed to go out with a bang, drenching me in yet more perspiration.
That had been a jolly interesting session, and no mistake. The flowery character and ability to make me sweat like an overworked mule on a hot summer’s day set this tea apart and made the session a truly memorable one.
I never like to read a suppliers tasting notes until after I’ve sampled a tea for the first time, and on doing so after this session noticed that Rare Tea Company describe the floral bouquet I picked up as “honey blossom“.
This tea came my way as a slightly larger 30 gram cargo, and so I might just be tempted to set aside enough for an experimental session with water at Rare Tea Company’s recommended 80°C. When it comes to tea, I’m very open to having my mind changed, especially if more of the good stuff ends up in my teacup.
Watch this space, etc…