I received a package of samples today that is unique from all of the other packages I have received prior to this. This is the first package of tea samples from any estate in the African continent. My experience with African teas is limited to the two or three samples that were included in the certification courses I have completed. I have read in limited amounts about Africa and its teas in books and certification materials. Once I opened this package, I gained confidence that my experience with African tea was about to develop exponentially.
The Satemwa Tea Estates are located in the Shire Highlands of Malawi. Malawi has been referred to as the “warm heart of Africa.” These estates boast many certifications, from Fair Trade to Rainforest Alliance to the Ethical Tea Partnership. They produce specialty teas of all kinds, including puer and oolong (cannot wait to open those samples soon). Satemwa also takes pride in cultivating what they refer to as superior cultivars. To read more about the Satemwa Tea Estates, please visit their website here.
The Zomba Pearls white tea (107) first caught my attention tonight. The sample packet has been opened, and I cannot decide if I am more intrigued by the shape of the hand-tied leaves or the fruity smell. Enough talk, let the journey begin…
The dry leaves vary in color from pale light green to reddish-brown. The leaves are skillfully hand-tied into somewhat of a capsule shape. These leaves are unbroken, fully intact leaves still attached to their stems. It is difficult to tell the pluck, but based on the size and shape of the tied leaves, I am assuming a two leaf and bud pluck. The aroma is fruity, lightly floral, and very slight hay.
Four grams of dry leaves were placed in a 8.5 ounce (240 ml) kyusu teapot. Filtered tap water was heated to 185ºF (85ºC). Leaves were infused for one minute thirty seconds on the first infusion, then two minutes on the second and third infusions.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a lively pale yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent. The appearance has a very pure, clean effect to it. The aroma is delicate, but sweet (light honey) and fruity, and very slight floral. The body is light-medium, with a silky, almost creamy or juicy feel. The taste is very clean and delicate, with subtle notes of light honey, tropical fruit, and earth (minerals). I may have even picked up a slight black licorice note. There is no astringency whatsoever. The aftertaste is also delicate, but sweet and floral. I have never experienced a tea that was delicate and light bodied, yet this creamy. The pure, clean feel of this tea is truly amazing.
The second infusion produced a liquor with a very slightly darker shade of pale yellow color. The aroma remains delicate, with fruity, light honey, and slightly floral. The body remains light-medium, and the silky, creamy feel has been retained. The taste is slightly stronger, and holds the notes of light honey and mineral, but the fruity taste is slightly different, perhaps papaya? The aftertaste is fruity and floral. I may be up all night drinking this tea until the taste is completely gone. It should be noted that this tea has a very bright and uplifting energy to it. It is incredible.
The third infusion produced a liquor with an identical color to the second infusion. The aroma remains fruity with light honey and floral scents. The body is light-medium, and the feel just as silky and creamy as the first infusion. The taste has become more fruity (papaya), with notes of light honey and mineral, and slight floral and black licorice. The aftertaste remains fruity and floral. This third infusion is honestly as good as the first and second. The photos of the liquor will stop at the three, but the number of infusions will increase until these leaves are exhausted. I will not be wasting any of this taste.
The infused leaves are mostly fresh forest green color, with many leaves having light brown to brown areas. There are several pluckings tied together to create each capsule. The pluck is mostly two leaves and a bud, but some are three leaves and a bud. All leaves are unbroken, and fully intact with the stem. There are some quite large leaves measuring well over two inches (50 mm) in length. The aroma is fragrant and fruity, with scents of papaya and honey. This aroma is unbelievable.
I am completely blown away by these Zomba white tea Pearls. Occasionally I come across a tea that smells and tastes so good that I have a hard time imagining that it is completely natural and unflavored. Although I know this tea is unflavored and all natural, it is just hard to believe that nature can create such sensations in the form of a seemingly simple leaf. This tea is a work of art in every aspect. I was excited to try some better quality teas from Africa, but I never expected to be this impressed. Thank you very much to Satemwa Tea Estates for providing these samples. Words cannot describe how much I enjoyed this first review. If it was not nearly midnight already, I would dive in to a second sample. Tomorrow morning cannot come soon enough. Many cheers to Satemwa Tea Estates!
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