Friday, April 3, 2015

What-Cha, Malawi Bvumbwe Peony White Tea

What-Cha Description:
A huge leaf tea with a smooth and sweet honeyed taste with apricot notes. Another great white tea from Satemwa which makes a great 'everyday' white tea.

Sourced direct from Satemwa Tea Estate in Malawi who are dedicated to pushing the boundaries of great tea production while caring for the local environment, providing their employees a fair wage and contributing to the local community.

Sample provided by What-Cha Tea Redefined

My Review:
It has been a couple weeks since my last post. My lungs have been giving me fits to the point that even making tea was hard work. I think the doctors have me well on the road to feeling human, and I NEED tea.

So far in the white tea extravaganza, I have not drifted too far off the beaten trail. We did see a unique Yunnan silver needle and a snow bud that is often considered a green tea. The other three were excellent examples of the traditional take on white tea.

Well, hold on, as we are about to go way off the rails with this one. I cannot even pronounce Malawi Bvumbwe with any degree of certainty. It hails direct from the farm in Africa. My first clue this is different is the overstuffed size of the 10 gram sample bag. I've had 100 gram bags that were comparable in size.

Opening the resealable bag I am at first reminded of a barn full of new hay. The longer I sniff the more I catch a fruity malty mixture.

Measuring out the 3-4 tsps listed on the label is pretty much impossible. Instead I eyeball 1/3 of the sample bag (just over 3 grams) for my 10 ounce cup. The leaf is huge. It is not curled or twisted. It is just big leaves.

Further, this doesn't look like any white tea I've ever seen. The leaves are mostly brown with some green hiding away if you look for it.

Upon closer inspection, I notice the silvery buds. I admit to not seeing them until I asked questions. The leaf is so unusually large and brown that the buds don't jump out at you, but they are in the mix.

Today, I used my clear glass teapot to steep this leaf. Filtered water was heated to 175 F and poured over the leaf. The steep time was 3 1/2 minutes.

Looking at the steeping leaf in the teapot, it reminds me of some of the purple varietals I've sampled. White tea is produced by plucking the leaf and bud, and withering. The leaves are generally not fired to halt oxidation. So, whether the leaf is dark to begin with (as in a purple varietal) or have darkened due to oxidation, we may never know. I am pretty sure the plantation is not telling. No matter, it remains some beautiful and fascinating leaf.  

The brew is beer colored. It is even darker in later steeps. The taste is apricots drenched in fresh mountain streams. It is slightly malty. I catch lovely floral notes of peonies. It is so mellow and lightly sweet.

I sense more resemblance to a light black tea than to a white. Now, stout black tea lovers will most likely never make that connection because it is such a subtle tea. The cooler it got the more I loved the taste. It had almost a wine like bouquet with the floral notes. The trouble I had with it was, at room temperature, it becomes a gulping tea, as I found it that refreshing.

With the second cup, I add plums to the taste along with the previous apricots and peonies. While it remains smooth, it has just enough bite trying to peek through that it is interesting. This is almost like sipping a Nepalese tea.

If you enjoy a mild meditative tea, this one from Africa should not be missed. While I am not feeling entirely back in the swing of things, I really enjoyed this one. A great welcome back tea.

You can find What-Cha, Malawi Bvumbwe Peony White Tea here

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