Today’s review will focus on the Dark Leaf Pu-erh Tea (518) from Satemwa Tea Estate. This is a ripe (shu) pu’er which comes in a loose leaf form. This is the first pu’er tea that I have tried from anywhere on the African continent, so it should be interesting to see how this compares to the loose leaf shu pu’ers that I have tried from China.
To view more information on the Satemwa Tea Estate, located in Thyolo, Malawi, please click here.
The sample packet has been opened, and a strong earthy aroma is filling the air. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have a uniform faded black color. The leaves are small to medium sized leaf fragments. The leaves are rolled. There is a considerable amount of bare stems in the mix, some being the size of small match sticks. The leaves have a very dry, slightly rigid texture. The feel of the leaves is not grainy, like some loose shu pu’ers that I have had, which gives these leaves a comparatively clean appearance. The aroma is dominantly earthy, with scents of fresh soil, moss, raw cocoa, and light raw spinach. Do not be confused by the description, this aroma is quite clean and energizing.
The clean appearance of the leaves has inspired me to do two separate infusions, one cup that will have leaves which will receive a ten second rinse, and the leaves in the second cup will not be rinsed at all. This tea appears to be processed in such a way that the rinse is unnecessary.
Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.
My suggestion for brewing this tea at home is to use three grams of dry leaves for each six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 205°F (96°C). Steep the leaves for 2:00 to 3:00 minutes. The same leaves may be reused at least three to four times. Once I compare the rinsed infusion to the non-rinsed infusion, I will suggest whether the rinse is needed or not.
The infusion (both rinsed and non-rinsed) produced a liquor with an orange-brown color, perfectly clear and transparent. The non-rinsed infusion is just as clear as the rinsed infusion, may be a very slight shade darker, and has very little particulate. The rinsed infusion had even less particulate, but neither cup had much at all. The aroma had dominant scents of moist soil, dried prunes, moss, and wood. The non-rinsed infusion had a very slightly stronger aroma than the rinsed, but both had the same general characteristics. The body is medium-full, with a smooth, clean texture for both infusions. The rinsed infusion did not have any cleaner of a taste or texture than the non-rinsed. The taste had notes of mineral rich soil, moss, light raw cocoa, and light raw root vegetable. The taste is very complex, earthy, and invigorating. The non-rinsed had a slightly stronger taste, but the general characteristics were the same as the rinsed. The aftertaste is sweetly earthy, almost mossy, which is certainly not a description that I remember using before with regard to aftertaste. A mossy essence is left on the breath.
All things considered, I do not believe that a rinse is entirely necessary for this tea. I found very little difference between the rinsed and non-rinsed infusions. However, if you are new to pu’er tea, or generally prefer lighter taste, then I suppose a rinse will not deduct any of the important characteristics of this tea. On the other hand, if earthy pu’er is your preference, then skip the rinse.
The infused leaves have a uniform tar-black, almost glossy color. The leaves are all small to medium sized fragments, and there is a considerable amount of bare stems in the mix. The leaves have a rough feel, suggesting that multiple additional infusions will produce quality liquors. The aroma has the scent of moist, nutrient rich soil. It is an incredibly clean, fresh, and natural aroma. It makes me want to get out of this office and go do some gardening.
What an incredible experience this Dark Leaf Pu-erh Tea turned out to be! To be honest, the heavy earthy soil aroma will certainly put some doubt in the mind of those who do not drink ripe (shu) pu’er tea often. Please, do not judge this tea by the aroma of the dry leaves alone. Once my taste and perception of this tea adapted to the unique character, I could not put the cup down. As I finish this review, I am brewing up the third infusion, and it just keeps getting better. The taste is amazingly clean, uplifting, and natural. To this point, I have not found a loose shu pu’er that I have liked enough to consider keeping in my personal collection, but that ends here! The Dark Leaf Pu-erh from Satemwa Tea Estate deserves much respect! Between the white teas, black teas, and now pu’er teas that are just phenomenal from Satemwa, they are an oolong tea away from producing great tea products of all types. I still have a few green teas from Satemwa to try also.
Thank you to the management of Satemwa Tea Estate for providing this amazing sample! Cheers!