Tea Review: What-Cha Malawi Zomba Pearls White Tea

What-Cha Zomba Pearls White Tea

  • Estate: Satemwa Tea Estate, Malawi
  • Year: Spring 2014
  • Dry Tea Leaves: Tightly rolled pearl-shaped tea leaves
  • Liquor: Golden-colored
  • Price: £8 for 50 Gr

Previously I reviewed Satemwa Antlers white tea from What-Cha Tea which is an extraordinary tea. In this post I’ll review another great white tea, Zomba Pearls, from Satemwa Tea Estate. Simliar to Satemwa Antlers this one is also very unique tea and it’s a must-try for tea lovers.

First thing you will like about this tea is its pearl-shaped tea leaves. Particularly those who like Chinese Jasmine pearls will fall in love with this one. It’s not as tightly rolled as Jasmine pearls yet it takes more than a few infusions to get tea leaves unfurl. For this reason I suggest you to use a glass teapot in order to enjoy the dance of tea leaves as they unfurl. You are gonna love it!

I brewed it as it’s instructed at What-Cha website by steeping 3 grams of tea at 80°C in a small teapot for 3-4 minutes. I did four brews until tea leaves unfurl almost fully. You can easily get more than four infusions although both flavor and aroma started to fade away in third and fourth infusions.

It tastes sweet as you expect from any good quality white tea. What distinguishes this tea from other white teas it’s tangy cucumber taste which is not something I’ve come across in other white teas I’ve tried so far. It’s very sweet tea with no astringency. The lingering after taste is smooth and delicate as well.

What-Cha Zomba Pearls White Tea
The liquor of Satemwa Zomba Pearls
What-Cha Zomba Pearls White Tea
The spent tea leaves of Satemwa Zomba Pearls

 

Tea Review: What-Cha Satemwa Antlers White Tea


What-Cha Satemwa Antlers White Tea

  • Estate: Satemwa Tea Estate, Malawi
  • Year: Spring 2014
  • Dry Tea Leaves: Dark and light brown tea stems
  • Liquor: Crystal clear and dark golden
  • Price: £10 for 50 Gr

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!

What-Cha Satemwa Antlers White Tea
The liquor is crystal clear
What-Cha Satemwa Antlers White Tea
Watching it brew is a sight for sore eyes
What-Cha Satemwa Antlers White Tea
Spent tea leaves

 

Tea Review: Çaykur Silver Needle White Tea

Silver Needle White Tea by Çaykur

  • Region: Rize, Turkey
  • Dry tea leaves: Short, needle-like tea buds
  • Year: May 2014
  • Price: 30 USD for 20 Gr
  • Liquor: Pale yellow
  • Brewing: Western style in a glass teapot

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.

Silver Needle White Tea by Çaykur Silver Needle White Tea by Çaykur Silver Needle White Tea by Çaykur Silver Needle White Tea by Çaykur

Doke Silver Needle White Tea by Lochan Tea

Doke Silver Needle White Tea

Country : Bihar, India
Estate: Doke
Leaf Appearance: Young buds covered with white down.
Steeping: 3 gr of tea with 200 ml water at 80-85 Celsius degrees about 3 minutes.
Flush: Second Flush 2014

So far I’ve reviewed Doke Black Fusion and Hattiali Golden Paw from Lochan Tea. Similiar to Doke Black Fusion, Doke Silver Needle coming from Doke garden in Bihar, India. For those of you who do not know Lochan family at all, Rajiv Lochan started Doke tea garden in 1998. And as of today it’s turned out to be a great success for Lochan family.

As tea lovers we’re used to drink great black teas from India, particularly from Lochan Tea. However recently Lochan family have come up with other types of tea as well including white, green and oolong teas. This week I’ve had the chance to try their handmade Silver Needle White Tea produced in Doke.

To tell you the truth I had not expected this tea to be that good before I took my first sip.It comprises this year’s second flush fresh buds covered with white downs. I brewed it for 3 minutes at about 80-85  Celsius degrees by using 3 grams of tea for 200 ml water. When it’s brewed it produces golden yellow liquor. It’s a full-bodied tea with sweet and fruity notes.

For someone who is used to drink really good quality silver needle from Fujian, it’s not easy to accept the idea of drinking silver needle coming from other tea producing countries. Particularly from a country which is so much identified with the production of black teas. In a nutshell, this Silver Needle by Lochan Tea definitely as good as their black teas and won’t let you down. 

Doke Silver Needle White Tea

Doke Silver Needle White Tea

 

Six Things You Should Know About Brewing Tea

Brewing Chinese Tea - Photo courtesy of Kevin Jaako
Brewing Chinese Tea – Photo courtesy of Kevin Jaako

1) Not every tea is created equal. Therefore use good quality loose tea as much as possible. Avoid tea bags!
2) Each type of tea requires different brewing method. So there is no room for one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to brewing tea. For instance water should be around 90 degrees Celsius for most oolong teas; but it’s around 60 degrees Celsius for some Japanese green teas.
3) You can go either with Western Style brewing or Chinese Style. While Chinese Style is based on multiple short infusions by using yixing teapot or gaiwan; Western Style uses large teapots or mugs and allows one or two infusions. Go for Chinese Style (aka Gongfu Style) whenever you have the chance, you won’t regret it. Particularly when you brew oolong tea.

Gongfu Style Tea Brewing- Photo courtesy of Jonathan Lobel
Gongfu Style Tea Brewing- Photo courtesy of Jonathan Lobel

4) We’re all creatures of habit. It’s normal that you’ve got some favorites. For some it’s famous Earl Grey, for others it’s nice cup of Silver Needle white tea. However there’re thousands of tea out there waiting to be explored. If you do not have any idea where to start, I suggest you try some oolong tea. Break your habits today!

Tieguanyin Oolong Tea - Photo courtesy of Serena
Tieguanyin Oolong Tea – Photo courtesy of Serena

5) We all spend more time at work than home. Nothing is like a great tea break at work! So get some accessories to brew loose tea at work. Teavana’s Tea Maker and Adagio Teas’ IngenuiTEA are great tools to make nice cup of tea at work.
6) Last but not least, share your tea! Tea is best when it’s accompanied by a nice conversation.

What the heck’s white tea?

Silver Needle White Tea- Photo courtesy of chadao
Silver Needle White Tea- Photo courtesy of chadao

That’s the reaction I usually get when I offer white tea to a friend. It’s quite normal since it’s not as popular as black or green tea. It comes from Camellia Sinensis plant, so do not confuse it with herbal teas.

If you think it’s time to change your drinking habits or add some novelty in it then  I can not think of a better tea than white tea. Particularly one type of white tea that is Silver Needle (aka Bai Hao Yin Zhen). It’s smooth and mildly sweet, perfect companion for afternoons and evenings. Rich enough in flavor and aroma for those who like to sniff their tea and show off!

I have to remind you though, you might find Silver Needle tad expensive compared to other types of tea. That’s simply because it’s made of only fresh tea buds. These tea buds are limited in supply and therefore making white tea is more expensive.

Among other types of white tea are Bai Mudan (aka White Peony), Shou Mei and Ging Mei which are produced mostly by including more tea leaves rather than tea buds in order to make white tea more affordable.

Did I mention it’s rich in antioxidants? Since it’s minimally processed after harvesting, white tea is an important source of antioxidants.