Kenya Silver Needle White Tea from What-Cha

Today’s review will focus on the Kenya Silver Needle White Tea from What-Cha. The Kenya Silver Needle White Tea is sourced from the southern slopes of Mount Kenya. You may view and purchase this tea at the What-Cha website by clicking here.

I have covered the Mount Kenya growing region in some detail in previous postings, specifically the Kangaita Factory, which is among the best known factories in Kenya for producing a variety of high quality orthodox teas. Up until recently, Kenya was known for mass-produced, commodity tea intended for use in teabags. In recent years, some of the small scale farmers, with the assistance of the Kenya Tea Development Agency, have been learning how to make their harvests more profitable by growing better quality tea, and the factories that they sell to (like Kangaita) are learning how to transform these better quality tea leaves into high quality finished teas intended for the specialty tea market. Given the unique terroir of Kenya, it is exciting to watch the focus on specialty tea become more prevalent. I have had some excellent green and black teas from Kangaita Factory, and I look forward to the specialty products that other Kenyan factories will be offering in the future.

The sample packet has been opened, and a very unique, unexpectedly sweet scent is accompanying the beautiful long, slender buds. Let the journey begin…

Kenya Silver Needle White Tea Dry Leaves
Kenya Silver Needle White Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform light brownish-yellow color, with a few green leaves in the mix. The pluck is one fine unopened leaf enveloping a younger bud. The leaves and buds are covered in downy-like silver hairs. The leaves are mostly unbroken and fully intact, with a few fragments and crumbs in the mix. There are no bare stems, and a few standalone buds. The leaves have an incredibly smooth, soft texture. The leaves and buds are long and quite narrow compared to Chinese silver needle teas, and have a sickle-like shape. The average length is about 1.25 inches (31 mm). The smell is incredible, with scents of fresh morning hay, fresh baked sweet dough (almost like a sesame donut), vanilla, and a touch of honeysuckle. I can honestly say that I have never experienced a silver needle tea with a smell like this. it is very impressive.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 185°F (85°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 175°F (80°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 minutes. Expect four quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves. Add 30 seconds to each subsequent infusion steep time.

Kenya Silver Needle White Tea Liquor
Kenya Silver Needle White Tea Liquor

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, light pale yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma is incredible, with scents of sweet dough, honeysuckle, vanilla, maca powder, almond milk, and maybe a touch of ripe peach. The body is light and refreshing, with a silky, clean texture. There is a very mild astringency, almost undetectable. The taste has notes of sweet dough, vanilla, maca powder, honeysuckle, light hay, light sweet butter, and light ripe peach. The aftertaste is gentle, and carries the sweet and floral qualities. The essence left on the breath is lightly peachy and floral.

Kenya Silver Needle White Tea Infused Leaves
Kenya Silver Needle White Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fairly uniform fresh forest green color, with the veins and stems being light brown. The leaves and buds are mostly unbroken and fully intact, with a few fragments and crumbs in the mix. The buds have swollen some, but are still narrow compared to Chinese silver needle teas. The expanded leaves average length is about 1.5 inches (37 mm). The leaves and buds are very soft and smooth.The smell has scents of honeysuckle, sweet dough, vanilla, and light hay.

There are quite a few descriptions that I used in this review that I have never used before, especially for a white tea, and that is most certainly a positive in this case. The Kenya Silver Needle White Tea is simply phenomenal in every aspect. The dominantly sweet aroma and taste blend perfectly with the floral notes, the touch of nutty sweetness, which I described as maca powder, and the clean, refreshing body are an incredible combination. There are sweet tastes and aromas in this tea that I cannot identify, but they are awesome. This is a white tea that can become an instant favorite with many tea drinkers. The price is not bad. I am currently working on my fourth infusion, and I am confident there is another good infusion left in these leaves. I have enough time today to extract every last molecule of pleasure out of these leaves, and I plan to do so. I cannot say enough good things about this tea!

Many thanks to the management at What-Cha for providing this incredible sample of Kenya Silver Needle White Tea. Cheers!

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Satemwa Needles White Tea from Satemwa Tea Estates

I was in the mood for a good white tea last evening, and thankfully I still have some samples left from Satemwa Tea Estate. Among those samples, I found the Satemwa Needles. My search quickly ended for the subject of last evening’s review.

To learn more about Satemwa Tea Estates, located in the Shire Highlands of Malawi, check out their website here.

The sample packet has been opened, and the look of these needles have me excited. Let the journey begin…

Satemwa Needles White Tea Dry Leaves
Satemwa Needles White Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a pale green to dark pale green color, with a generous portion of silver tips. The leaves are long, narrow, and some are slightly twisted. There are some bare tips, but most appear to be a fine leaf with the tip. There are fine silver hairs covering all leaves and tips. The aroma has scents of hay, and light sweet wood.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in a 9.4 ounce (280 ml) Tokoname kyusu teapot. Filtered tap water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were infused for three minutes, with thirty seconds added to subsequent infusions.

Satemwa Needles White Tea 1st Infusion
Satemwa Needles White Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, light golden-yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of sweet hay, light papaya, and light spice (black licorice). The body is light-medium, with a delicate, soft, easy sipping texture. The taste has notes of sweet hay, light papaya, very light honey, and very light black licorice. The aftertaste is delicate, with notes of sweet hay. The essence left on the breath also resembles sweet hay.

Satemwa Needles White Tea 2nd Infusion
Satemwa Needles White Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly darker golden-yellow color. The aroma is stronger on the papaya and black licorice scents, and lighter on the sweet hay. A citrus marmalade scent is also evolving. The body remains light-medium. The taste has also lightened on sweet hay notes, with the papaya, black licorice, light honey, and a touch of citrus marmalade taking the place of the sweet hay. The aftertaste and essence retain the delicate sweet hay note.

Satemwa Needles White Tea 3rd Infusion
Satemwa Needles White Tea 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with an identical color as the second infusion. The aroma remains fruity and sweet, with a light spice. The citrus marmalade and papaya scents are most dominant. The taste is also dominated by notes of papaya and citrus marmalade, with lighter notes of sweet hay, light honey, and black licorice. The third infusion had plenty of aroma and taste. It was nearly as good as the second infusion.

Satemwa Needles White Tea Infused Leaves
Satemwa Needles White Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a light forest green to light brown to brown color. Leaves consist of mostly a one fine leaf and generous bud pluck. The mature buds have a curved spear shape. The leaves and buds have a strong structural feel, and can easily produce another infusion or two of acceptable aroma and flavor. The buds average 0.5″ (13 mm) to 1″ (25.4 mm). The aroma is phenomenal, with scents of papaya, black licorice, and citrus marmalade.

The Satemwa Needles white tea definitely satisfied my desire for a white tea with a soothing aroma and relaxing texture. This tea blended the classic sweet hay aromas and tastes of Chinese silver needle tea with the citrus marmalade and papaya tastes that I have become familiar with in the white teas from Satemwa Tea Estates. This is a very good quality tea, and is a nice alternative to classic Chinese silver needle teas. Producing three strong infusion, with more to give, will assure you that this white tea will keep you company through the evening, or through a few hours sharing with friends.

Thank you again, Satemwa Tea Estates. Cheers!

Bvumbwe Peony White Tea from Satemwa Tea Estates

UPDATE: The Bvumbwe Peony White Tea is now available for purchase at The Tea Journeyman Shop! Click Here to view and purchase this beautiful looking and fruity tasting white tea from Malawi!

Every time I find a few moments to do a review, I feel something drawing my attention to the box of samples from Satemwa Tea Estates. The teas from Satemwa, for the most part, have truly been outstanding and unique. I have this philosophy of being fair to everyone who sends samples to me, and trying to mix the reviews up to avoid redundancy. To be honest, though, Satemwa’s products constantly tempt me to break that cycle and just do a week’s worth of their teas.

So here is one that the moment I opened the sample package, the stress of trying to decide which sample was next on the review agenda immediately vanished. Imagine fresh tea bush pluckings being placed on a drying tray in the sun, then put directly into a sample bag. That is exactly what this tea looks like. Simple, sun dried, no shaping whatsoever. Plucked, dried, bagged.

Let the journey begin…

Bvumbwe Peony White Tea Dry Leaves
Bvumbwe Peony White Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a wide range of colors, from light to dark green, red, and light to dark brown. The leaves are whole and attached to the stems. The pluck is three leaves and a generous bud. The leaves are not rolled or shaped in any way. To repeat, plucked, dried, and bagged. The aroma is delicate, with light scents of sweet hay and flowers. I absolutely love the way this product looks in it’s dry state. I am already impressed.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) ceramic infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were infused for three minutes.

Bvumbwe Peony White Tea 1st Infusion
Bvumbwe Peony White Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a bright, pale yellow colored liquor, clear and transparent. The aroma is delicate, with scents of light sweet hay, flowers, light honey, and light stone fruit (apricot). The body is medium, with a lively feel and smooth, velvety texture. The taste is delicate, refreshing, uplifting, with notes of sweet hay, light honey, flowers, and light apricots. The aftertaste is refreshing, with sweet hay and floral notes.

Bvumbwe Peony White Tea 2nd Infusion
Bvumbwe Peony White Tea 2nd Infusion

 

The second infusion produced a bolder, bright pale yellow color. The scent of light honey is stronger in the aroma, with the light sweet hay, flowers, and light apricot scents being retained. The body remains medium, but the texture is thicker and very smooth. The taste is stronger and retains the notes of sweet hay, light honey, flowers, and light apricot. The aftertaste is slightly sweeter than the first infusion, with a flowery essence being left on the breath. I enjoyed this second infusion more than the first due to the thicker texture, the sweeter scent, and the stronger taste. This was an excellent infusion.

Bvumbwe Peony White Tea 3rd Infusion
Bvumbwe Peony White Tea 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with a very similar, perhaps slightly darker, color to the second infusion. The scent has lightened some, but remains sweet and floral. The sweet scent seems to be more of a marmalade scent than honey in this infusion. The body and texture have lightened slightly from the second infusion. The taste has also lightened some, but retains the same general characteristics of the second infusion. Despite the lighter aroma, body, and taste, this third infusion was very high quality.

Bvumbwe Peony White Tea Infused Leaves (3)
Bvumbwe Peony White Tea Infused Leaves (3)
Bvumbwe Peony White Tea Infused Leaves (1)
Bvumbwe Peony White Tea Infused Leaves (1)

 

Bvumbwe Peony White Tea Infused Leaves (2)
Bvumbwe Peony White Tea Infused Leaves (2)

The infused leaves are mostly light to dark brown in color, with some leaves being partially to mostly light grass green. The leaves are 99.9% whole and unbroken, still attached to the stem. Stems show a pluck of anywhere from one leaf and generous bud to three leaves and generous bud. I had to add a few extra photos of some of the nicer leaf specimens. The leaves have a thin leathery feel, and should be able to provide at least one to two additional infusions, which I certainly plan to take advantage of. The aroma is incredibly sweet, with a blend of honey, sweet hay, and fruit (marmalade).

It is products like this Bvumbwe Peony that is the cause of me wanting to spend vast amounts of time reviewing the teas from Satemwa Tea Estates. And once I run out of new samples from them, not a problem, going back to experience them all again is sure to be as high of a pleasure. This tea displayed the beauty of tea in it’s dried form, bright liquor, and fully intact infused appearance. The aroma was sweet. The taste was incredible, consistent, and evolved nicely from the second to third infusion, changing the character of the sweetness. Satemwa truly has a strong grasp on producing amazing quality white teas. Thankfully, I think I still have two samples of white teas to experience.

Another stellar grade for a product from Satemwa Tea Estates. Cheers, and thanks again!

Bvumbwe BSP White Tea from Satemwa Tea Estates

A quiet night at home this evening with my wife at class and my son in bed early. It is a perfect evening to focus my attention on a lighter, more subtle tea. Perusing my white tea samples, I came across the Bvumbwe BSP white tea (106) sample from Satemwa Tea Estates in Malawi. For more information on Satemwa Tea Estates, please click here.

The sample pack has been opened, and a unique, sweet wood, hay, and flowery aroma is escaping the packet. Let the journey begin…

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Bvumbwe BSP White Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from light to dark green, and light to dark brown. The leaves are all medium sized fragments, and do not appear to have a defined or standardized shape. The shape of the leaves appears to have occurred naturally with the sun withering process. The pluck is difficult to determine, as the few stems that do exist in the mix are not whole. The aroma has scents of sweet wood, hay, and dry flowers. The appearance of this white tea is unlike anything I have seen from Asia, and is more similar to the few white teas of Hawaii that I have tried.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in a 9.4 ounce (280 ml) Tokoname teapot. Filtered tap water was heated to 175ºF (75ºC). The leaves were infused for three minutes on the first infusion, three minutes thirty seconds on the second infusion, and four minutes on the third infusion.

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Bvumbwe BSP White Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a surprisingly dark yellowish gold, almost orange color, clear and transparent. The aroma is floral, sweet (light honey and hay), and a light hint of ripe tropical fruit. The body is medium, with a lively, yet smooth texture. The taste has notes of flowers, wood, sweet hay, light citrus, and very light honey. The aftertaste starts as floral, but develops into a fruity (prunes or raisin) essence.

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Bvumbwe BSP White Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a similar, but very slightly darker shade of yellowish gold, orange color. The aroma remained floral and sweet. The body remained medium, with a smooth texture. The taste remained floral, with notes of sweet hay, wood, and very light honey. The aftertaste remains floral, with a fruity essence.

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Bvumbwe BSP White Tea 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with a color that is lighter than the first two infusions, but still a dark yellow-gold-orange color. The aroma remains floral, with a more recognizable fruity hint. The body remains medium. The taste remains dominantly floral, with light citrus and honey notes. The aftertaste remains floral, sweet, and very pleasant.

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Bvumbwe BSP White Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves displayed a range of colors from bright to dark green, and light to dark brown. Many of the green leaves had substantial brown spotting on them. The leaves were all medium sized fragments, with an occasional well-developed tip in the mix. The stems displayed a two leaf pluck. The leaves had a thin leathery feel to them, and I believe they could produce another one to two infusions with good aroma and taste. The aroma of the infused leaves was quite floral, with a fruity sweetness, and hints of wood.

I enjoyed the Bvumbwe BSP White Tea very much. It was very unique and distinct from it’s Asian white tea counterparts, and I found the taste and aroma better than the Hawaiian white teas that have a more similar appearance. This white tea was not quite as light and delicate as many others are, yet the taste is very welcoming, lively, and uplifting. This is a perfect white tea to taste next to a Chinese Bai Mu Dan and a silver needle from India or Sri Lanka, for the distinction between the three would be very easy to feel, and all three would be a true pleasure to experience.

Thank you to Satemwa Tea Estates for providing yet another phenomenal tea sample in the Bvumbwe BSP White Tea. Cheers!

Thank you for taking your time to read this review. Please leave a comment and start a discussion.

Satemwa Antlers White Tea from Satemwa Tea Estates

UPDATE: This product is now available for purchase at The Tea Journeyman Shop! Click here to purchase!

Here’s a tea who’s name has been catching my attention as I flip through my sample list, the Satemwa Antlers white tea. Satemwa Tea Estates has already surprised me with the high quality of the Zomba Pearls white tea, so I am interested to see how this Satemwa Antlers will compare. To read more about Satemwa Tea Estates, please click here.

The sample pack has been opened, and the appearance truly resembles deer antlers. Interesting, there are no leaves, only stems. Let the journey begin…

Satemwa Antlers White Tea Dry Stems
Satemwa Antlers White Tea Dry Stems

The dry stems vary in color from fresh green to brown and dark brown, with some silver tips in the mix. This product consists entirely of stems. There is one tip in the five grams used for this sampling. There are no leaf fragments whatsoever. The stems are between two to three inches (50 to 77 mm). There are short, soft silver hairs covering the stems. The stems show a two or three leaf with bud pluck. The aroma is very delicate, with scents of hay and wood.

Five grams of dry stems were placed in a 9.4 ounce (280 ml) Tokoname teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 185°F (85°C). The stems were infused for two minutes and thirty seconds.

Satemwa Antlers White Tea 1st Infusion
Satemwa Antlers White Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a lively pale yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma was sweet, with scents of honey and lychee fruit. The body was medium, with a smooth, silky, satisfying feel. The taste was quite complex, with notes of lychee fruit, honey, and sweet wood. The aftertaste is sweet also. Very interesting. Excellent taste and texture.

Satemwa Antlers White Tea 2nd Infusion
Satemwa Antlers White Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a very slightly lighter shade of pale yellow than the first infusion. The aroma remains very sweet. The body remains medium and smooth. The taste has lightened on the sweet wood, and the lychee fruit note has become more prominent. The honey note remains, as well. I enjoyed this second infusion more than the first.

Satemwa Antlers White Tea 3rd Infusio
Satemwa Antlers White Tea 3rd Infusio

The third infusion produced a liquor with a very similar color to the first infusion. The aroma has lightened, but remains sweet. The taste has lightened overall, but retains the same general description. I am amazed with how good this third infusion tastes.

Satemwa Antlers White Tea Infused Stems
Satemwa Antlers White Tea Infused Stems

The infused stems have a greenish-brown color. Some stems show a two leaves and bud pluck, others show three leaves and bud pluck. One tip was found in the mix. There are no other leaves whatsoever. The aroma is very sweet, with hints of lychee fruit and sweet wood. The aroma of these stems is truly incredible. Certainly among the best aromas I have come across.

Every aspect of the Satemwa Antlers White Tea surprised me in very positive ways. The presence of only stems, with no leaves, was the first surprise. The amazingly sweet aroma and taste were unexpected. The texture was smooth and very satisfying. It was a thick, yet smooth sweetness. It was incredible, and unlike anything that I have tasted in other teas.

This product has lived up to the high expectations that I have developed for Satemwa Tea Estates. This was truly a pleasure to experience, and every tea drinker should give this product a try, if they can find it. Cheers!

Zomba Pearls White Tea from Satemwa Tea Estates in Malawi

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…

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Zomba Pearls Dry Leaves

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.

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Zomba Pearls 1st Infusion

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.

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Zomba Pearls 2nd Infusion

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.

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Zomba Pearls 3rd Infusion

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.

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Zomba Pearls Infused Leaves

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!

Thank you for taking your time to read this review. Please leave a comment and start a discussion.