Last month I’ve done something different and I’ve ordered some tea samples that were produced at Satemwa Tea Estate in Malawi. To be honest up until a year ago I was not even aware of the existence of such a country. Now I’ve had the pleasure to drink some of their exquisite teas. Malawi is a small country in southeast Africa with an estimated population of almost 16 million people. It’s the second largest tea producer in Africa following Kenya. In this post and following post I’ll review two white teas produced at Satemwa Tea Estate: Satemwa Antlers white tea and Zomba Pearls white tea. They were both ordered from What-Cha Teas.
First I start with Satemwa Antlers white tea which is a very unique, one of a kind tea. It’s nothing like other white teas I’ve tried so far. There are teas you like, teas you really like, teas you fall in love with and teas that vow you. The Antlers is the perfect example of the last category. What makes this tea stand out among other white teas is the fact that it’s hundred percent composed of stems which is generally looked down by tea lovers.
I brewed it as it’s instructed at What-Cha website by steeping 3-4 grams of tea at 80°C in a small teapot for 3-4 minutes. I did only two steeps since it’s fully composed of stems. Yet if you’re okay with fading flavor and aroma you can go for more infusions.
As soon as you take your first sip it hits you with its honey-like sweetness and lychee notes. It’s got no astringency or bitterness at all. It’s a soft and smooth tea which makes it very ideal for afternoons and evenings.
The lesson I learnt from drinking this tea is that I should never underestimate the value of stems. So far I kinda believe that it’s not possible to get a good quality of tea out of too much stems. With the Antlers I’ve been wronged.
In a nutshell, if you’re looking for new and exciting teas, this tea is just for you. In the upcoming post, I’ll review Satemwa Tea Estate’s Zomba Pearls white tea which is even more exciting than the Antlers. Stay tuned!
This week I’ve got a very special tea to review: First white tea ever produced by Çaykur. Its astronomical price already has eclipsed other features of this tea. If you’re willing to get a hold of it you have to pay 1500 USD per kilo which is way above other great silver needle white teas I’ve tried so far from China. Please correct me if I’m wrong but it’s most likely the most expensive silver needle white tea so far. Packaging is kind of extravagant as well, it’s delivered in a glass jar and wooden box which probably crafted for debut of this tea.
Çaykur bought 1531 kg of raw tea buds from tea farmers last year and produced 370 kg silver needle white tea out of it. This is first time Çaykur have produced any white tea; as you know well Çaykur mostly produce black teas as per high demand on black tea in Turkey.
Dry tea leaves are comprised of uniform and fresh tea buds. They’re short and thin compared to other silver needles I’ve tried so far. As usual they have the appearance of needles and covered with downy hairs.
To be honest I was not expecting this tea to be that good when I took my first sip out of cup. The aroma is very floral; the flavor is very smooth and sweet with beautiful lingering aftertaste.
In a nutshell Çaykur have done a great job by producing this tea, it’s long overdue. Furhermore I believe this is the first tea produced by Çaykur that can have a place at high-end tea market quality-wise.
This week’s tea is first for me both seller-wise and tea-wise. It’s coming from Guildford, UK based online tea retailer Green Tea Guru. Green Tea Guru sells loose teas from both China and Taiwan yet focusing mostly on green teas. I bought a few sample packages of their tea selection and I have decided to go for Tian Shan green tea for this week’s review. It’s produced at Lao Fu tea farm in Fujian, China.
Dark green tea leaves are uniform and smell grassy. They are also very fresh and tender. The liquor is light green. Dominant flavor and aroma in this tea is grassiness. It reminded me of steamed Japanese green teas. Alongside with its vegetable taste it’s got also some sweetness in it. That’s said you can also get a tad astringency but a welcomed one.
In a nutshell, this tea by Green Tea Guru is a nice addition to your tea cupboard for everyday use. It’s light and refreshing with sweet aftertaste.
As you know Puerh tea is classified under the category of dark tea which is one of the six types of tea. Some even suggest Puerh tea should be considered as a different category of tea rather than a type of dark tea. This tea takes its name after the town of Pu er in Yunnan province. There are two types of Puerh tea: Sheng (raw) Puerh which is naturally fermented and Shou (cooked) Puerh which is artificially fermented. By artificial What I mean is that the fermentation is accelerated through heat and moisture unlike Sheng Puerh tea. Although Sheng Puerh can be traced back to Tang Dynasty (618-907), Shou only dates back to 1970s. Sheng Puerh requires a very long time to be fermented, from 10 to 50 years, Shou Puerh only takes around 60 days to be ready.
Previously I reviewed two other Puerh teas from Global Tea Hut: King of the Forest (Sheng Puerh Tea) and Old Man Camphor (Shou Puerh Tea). Although they were both great teas, I liked Sheng Puerh more which was a way richer experience.
Global Tea Hut sent its subscribers another Shou Puerh tea in February. It was produced in 2007 like the ‘Old Man Camphor’ they delivered a few months back. It’s named as ‘Inner Path’ and comes from Mengku, Lincang. Dry tea leaves are very dark and compressed. The smell of dry tea leaves are mostly reminiscent of woods. The taste of the liquor is very earthy and woody as well. It’s not a strong tea, to the contrary mild and smooth one. You may also come across some chocolaty notes. The lingering aftertaste is quite persistent too.
In a nutshell ‘Inner Path’ is another great tea by Global Tea Hut. I’m quite new to Puerh teas and thanks to them I feel like I’m getting a grasp of Puerh tea basics finally.
Twisted tea leaves have both floral and fruity notes. When it’s brewed; first thing it strikes you is its sweetness, no astringency at all. There maybe a slight astringency but a welcomed one.
The liquor is rounded, full-bodied and persistent. The crystal clear liquor is between red and brown. Mi Xian means ‘honey aroma‘ which is given by bites of small leaf hoppers. This fact I guess explains the unique character of this tea.
I always advocate that spent tea leaves tell more about tea than dry tea leaves. And if you take a closer look at the picture below you’ll see what I mean. This week’s tea is made up of sturdy whole tea leaves.
In a nutshell, Baguashan Mi Xian black tea from Taiwan Tea Crafts is a perfect example of high quality Taiwanese black teas. One more reason to pay more attention to this beautiful island.
Dry Tea Leaves: Mix of roasted brown rice and bancha tea leaves Aroma: Nutty alongside with roasted rice Flavor: Very dominant buttery flavor with little bit of saltiness Region: Kyoto, Japan Brewing: 5 gr tea brewed four times at 90° for 20-25 seconds Liquor: Between yellow and green. Crystal clear
According to the legend that goes back to 15th century; a samurai who was planning an attack on enemy ordered his servant, named Genmai, a cup of tea. While preparing tea Genmai accidentally dropped a few grains of rice into tea bowl which made the Samurai very angry and as a result servant lost his head. However when the Samurai took his first sip of the tea prepared by Genmai, he was filled with remorse and named the tea ‘Genmaicha‘ to honor his servant.
There are probably more practical reasons on the origin of Genmaicha yet it’s kinda heart-warming to hear this sort of stories now and then. Genmaicha (aka Popcorn tea) today is one of the most popular teas of Japan. Personally I haven’t been much of a fan of this tea since the blend of rice and tea felt like an awkward combination to me. If you’re well into tea world you know that there is this group of teas you could name ‘love it or hate it’ teas. Lapsang Souchong or Smoked Tea is one of these teas and I love it. Genmaicha is another tea you can put in this ‘love it or hate it’ category and you can guess which side of the scale I am inclined. However I know there are great admirers of this tea out there and I respect them. I believe Genmaicha has a character and very unique tea just like Lapsang Souchong. Furthermore some teas are like great novels you’ve got to put some effort into it and show some patience in order to cherish it.
This week’s tea coming from Obubu Tea Farm in Kyoto, Japan. Previously I reviewed their Kabuse Sencha green tea. I bought a lot of samples from them and it’s kinda hard to choose this week’s tea. For some reason I went for their Genmaicha tea. As soon as you get the hold of tea leaves you can easily understand the freshness of it. Both bancha tea leaves and brown rice have very vibrant colors .It’s full of roasted brown rice which surface up as soon as you pour water into teapot. Bancha tea leaves that are used in this tea are quite fresh as well. The sweetness of this tea comes from roasted brown rice which is combined with somewhat astringency of bancha tea leaves. As a result they made a very special tea to drink even for those who’re not into Genmaicha tea.
If you’re already fan of Genmaicha tea then I highly recommend this tea. If you’re somewhat aloof and want to give it a shot then again Obubu’s Genmaicha is among the right options.
Country : Pinglin, Taiwan Dry tea leaves: Ball-shaped tea leaves with nutty and floral aroma. Liquor: Crystal clear, golden yellow liquor with floral and fruity aroma.
Another good oolong tea from Global Tea Hut. This month’s tea, Buddha’s Palm (aka Fo Shou), coming from Pinglin, Taiwan. It’s a ball-shaped, highly roasted oolong tea. It’s roasted and donated to Global Tea Hut by a tea master named Master Lü Li Zhen who is also featured in this month’s magazine by Global Tea Hut.
When you smell dry tea leaves you get the feeling that it’s gonna be a bitter tea due to aroma of tea leaves, however it’s quite contrary. The liquor is very sweet and floral alongside with its crystal clear appearance.