Alright, a weekends worth of insurance work has been completed, and now I can finally get to the next sample from Satemwa Tea Estates. As I mentioned in my previous post on the Zomba white tea Pearls, Satemwa is located in the Shire Highlands in the “warm heart of Africa”, Malawi. Please take a moment to read my post on the Zomba Pearls to learn more about Satemwa, or visit their website here.
Sifting through the variety of samples, I see many attractive green and black teas, an oolong, and a puer. However, the Handmade Treasure Variety black tea sounds too good to ignore for any longer of a time. The sample packet has been opened, and the smell of bakey malt and appearance of long, finely twisted tea leaves has me very excited. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have a brown to black color, with some spots of orange-gold. The leaves are long, wiry, and hand-twisted. The longer leaves measure well over two inches (50 mm). Many of the leaves appear to be unbroken, and the ones that are broken are very large fragments. The aroma is very sweet and malty, with lesser scents of light brown sugar and spice.
Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) ceramic tasting infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 205°F (96°C). Leaves were infused for three minutes on the first infusion, three minutes thirty seconds on the second, and four minutes on the third.
The first infusion produced a very bright, lively, golden-orange color, perfectly clear and transparent. The lively color and appearance certainly suggest that the tea bushes used for this product are grown at high elevations. The aroma is succulent, with strong scents of ripe, sweet oranges and honey, with a slight floral hint. The body is medium, and the feel is very smooth, almost delicate. The taste has strong notes of ripe, sweet oranges, honey, and lesser notes of fruit blossom and mineral. The aftertaste is sweet, like light honey, and persistent.
The second infusion produced a lighter shade of golden-orange color. The aroma remains sweet and fruity, with light floral hints. The body remains medium, with a smooth feel. The taste retains the ripe, sweet orange and honey flavors, while the floral and mineral notes have become more potent in this infusion. The aftertaste remains sweet and persistent.
The third infusion produced a lighter color liquor, with a golden-yellow glow. The aroma has lightened, but remains sweet, fruity, and floral. The body has also lightened. The taste has lightened considerably, and balanced on the orange and honey flavors, making the floral and mineral flavors about equally as potent. Despite the lighter character, still a very enjoyable infusion. A fourth infusion may be pushing the limits of these leaves.
The infused leaves are a light brownish-green to copper color. These leaves do not appear to be as heavily oxidized as most other black teas. The leaves are quite large, most measuring well over one inch (25 mm), some over two inches (50 mm). There are some large buds attached to the two leaf and bud pluck. Nearly all leaves are unbroken, some attached to the stem. The appearance is impressive. The aroma is sweet and floral, with scents of light honey and orange blossoms. I added an additional photo of the two best specimens pulled from the infusion cup. These are beautiful leaves.
There are a few companies and/or estates that any time I choose a sample of theirs to review, I know it is going to be a great experience. So far, I have one company from Taiwan, one from Sri Lanka, one from China, one from India, and now I have one from Malawi, that always exceeds my expectations. This Handmade Treasure black tea was another amazing experience. Every aspect was impressive. The appearance, aroma, and taste were packed with bright, lively energy. Despite the below freezing temperatures in Pittsburgh, I feel warm after drinking this tea. The warmth and energy from the Shire Highlands in Malawi can be truly felt in each sip. Another success from Satemwa Tea Estates! Cheers to all of the people there that make tea like this possible!