Malawi Mountain Moto Smoked Black Tea

Malawi moto smoked - dry leaf

This is the fifth and final 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 in the Shire highlands in the Southern part of the country.

Rare Tea Company inform us that this tea is…

“An extraordinary hand-rolled black tea, smoked in the Thyolo Mountains of Malawi, over guava leaf. It’s unique to this innovative tea-garden – making use of the rich biodiversity of the lush African Estate.”

“Sweet and aromatic, it has softer, less resinous notes than a Chinese pine smoked Lapsang Souchong.”

The dry leaf had, unsurprisingly, a smoky character, but this was no old tyres on a bonfire nasal assault, rather something significantly more subtle. The weird thing was that I found it quite tricky to describe how that smokiness differed from others I’d experienced in the past.

Once the pot had been warmed up, I dropped the leaf in and gave it a few seconds in there before having another sniff. Biscuits and fireworks greeted me – Bourbon creams, and the smoky aftermath left hanging once your rockets and firecrackers have shot skywards and/or otherwise detonated.

Steeping method
Water Used: Filtered tap water
Weight of dry leaf: 3 grams
Infusion style: Western
Steeping vessel: 150 ml ceramic teapot
Water temperature: 90°C
No. & duration: 4 infusions of 1, 1½, 3, and 5 minutes duration

Before I sampled the first infusion I had a sniff of the warm, wet leaf. The smokiness kind of dominated the aromas coming out of the pot, and I hoped that whatever awaited me in my cup wasn’t going to be overwhelmed by that one single characteristic.

Malawi moto smoked - a cup of

I needn’t have worried. The liquor was every bit as luscious and tasty as the subject of my previous post, the Malawi Huntingdon Hand Rolled Black, but with that elusive, subtle smoky note layered on top.

Not only did this tea induce the same ferocious upper body sweating as the Huntingdon Hand Rolled, but it also conjured up an almost pu-like high, complete with an appearance from Radio Sheng. As regular readers might recall, this is the name I give to the phenomenon whereby a particular tea triggers a memory of a piece of music, which then has a tendency to declare squatter’s rights and stick in my consciousness, limpet like, playing on a constant loop. The song in question this time was “My Love Life,” by Morrissey. Explain that, and a Nobel prize is as good as yours…

The second round left me with the feeling that the third should be based on a slightly longer infusion time, and that one in turn had me strongly suspecting that an even longer fourth would probably mark the end of the session, as indeed it did.

Malawi moto smoked - used leaves

Final Thoughts

This tea came across very much like a smoked version of Malawi Huntingdon Hand Rolled Black – it would be interesting to find out if this is in fact the case or not. Either way, this tea gave the impression of being an interesting twist on something that was itself an intriguing variation on a theme. It would be fascinating to see how others describe that smokiness imparted by the guava leaf.

I was stood on our balcony early this morning, and although it was sunny and clear it was also a rather bracing -2°C. I couldn’t help but think that this tea would be a perfect way to start the day after a night under canvas on such a morning.

As I said about the Huntingdon Hand Rolled, I’m open to the possibility of setting a few grams aside for a session with water at Rare Tea Company’s recommended 80°C, just to see how well the leaves get on with cooler water.

All in all this was a nice way to conclude my first look at these five teas from Malawi. None of them could be considered “steep, sip, and forget” teas – they’ve all asked the kind of questions that demand follow up sessions, a bit of experimentation.

If in the future I feel as though I’m in a bit of a rut tea wise, these thought provoking teas are certainly capable of shaking things up a bit, assuming, of course, I haven’t drunk them all by then, which is always a danger with leaves this tasty.

Good stuff.

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