REVIEW: What-Cha – A trio of white teas from Malawi

What-Cha - Malawi trio

Teas and origins: Three white teas from the Satemwa Tea Estate, Malawi
Twitter: @What_Cha_Tea
Facebook: What-Cha

Today I’ll be tasting three wildly different looking white teas from the Satemwa Tea Estate available for purchase at What-Cha. Founded in 1923, Satemwa is a family-run estate that produces green, white, oolong, black and dark teas. The African tea scene really has some exciting things going on, and it appears Satemwa is one of the leading innovators. Read on to find out what I think about these three white teas.

Malawi Zomba Pearls

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Dry leaf: The dry leaf consists of tightly wound leaves that have a pine cone shape. Each rolled leaf ranges in length between a half and one centimetre long. It has a light,  crisp, almost citrusy, aroma

Infused tea: The tea cups out a golden-coloured liquor with a moderate amount of aroma. I would liken both the aroma and the flavour of the liquor to boiled green beans. In the first three infusions, I detected subtle sweet undertones in the finish, but this disappears in the fourth infusion. It is a medium-bodied liquor with only a small hint of astringency

Infusion tips: Infuse this tea with 85C water for three to four minutes. The tightly wound leaves take five to seven infusions to fully unravel

Conclusions: The vegetal flavour of this tea took me by surprise. While the first three infusions had some sweet notes, a green bean flavour dominated the liquor. This tea is probably miles away from what many people think of as white tea – especially if they are just familiar with Chinese white teas – but its complex flavour profile is something that could really appeal to avid white tea and green tea drinkers

Link to Zomba Pearls

Retail price: 10 grams for £1.93 / 50 grams for £7.00 / 100 grams for £13.16

Malawi Satemwa Antlers
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Dry leaf: The dry leaf is made of stems that range from a half to two centimetres in length. It has a light, woody-sweet aroma

Infused tea: The tea cups out a dark golden liquor (similar to a heavily roasted oolong) that has a subtle sweet aroma. It is a medium-bodied tea, although on the lighter side of medium, and it has almost no astringency. The liquor is sweet, and undoubtedly has lychee notes. There are also some plum-like undertones in the finish

Infusion tips: Infuse this tea three to four minutes with 80 to 85C water. Try infusing this tea four to six times

Conclusions: I’ve seen this tea a few different places and have been wanting to try it for some time. Every description I’ve read talked about its lychee flavour, and I can say that description is spot on. I was really blown away by the lychee flavour in this tea, and I think all tea drinkers (connoisseur or not) would appreciate the uniqueness of this tea

Link to Satemwa Antlers

Retail price: 10 grams for £2.34 / 50 grams for £8.50 / 100 grams for £15.98

Malawi Bvumbwe Peony
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Dry leaf: The dry leaf consists of full leaves that range in colour from a rusty red to tan to green. It has a light sweet aroma

Infused tea: The tea cups out a light golden liquor that has a very subtle aroma. It is a light-bodied tea that has a sweet, apricot-like flavour. The tea has almost no astringency

Infusion tips: To draw as much flavour as possible out of this tea, I would suggest steeping it for seven to eight minutes with 80 to 85C water. Try infusing this tea three times

Conclusions: I personally need a tea with more body and stronger flavour. While I will knock off a few points for it being so delicate, I have to say that the apricot notes are amazing. Play around with the water temperature and steeping time to get the best out of this tea

Link to Bvumbwe Peony

Retail price: 10 grams for £1.38 / 25 grams for £2.75 / 50 grams for £5.00 / 100 grams for £9.40

Conclusions

I feel very fortunate to have tasted these three teas. Thank you very much, What-Cha! I found the diversity amongst the teas to be very interesting. Not only does the dry leaf for each tea appear vastly different, but they all cupped out unique liquors. I most enjoyed the Zomba and the Antlers. The green bean notes in the Zomba and the lychee notes in the Antlers really intrigued me and got my inner tea blood stirring. I think the Bvumbwe Peony would have made a bigger impression on me if it cupped out a liquor with more flavour and body. It is a good tea, but I don’t think it has the extra special characteristics found in the Zomba and the Antlers.

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About teaxplorer

I grew up in the Midwest of the US and was introduced to tea at a very young age - unsweetened iced tea, that is! It was not until my early 20s, when I was seeking a lighter alternative to coffee, that I took tea drinking to a new level. I still remember my mother suggesting that I try putting milk in a cup of black tea (something that actually sounded a bit repulsive at the time, but I gave it a go). I quickly became tired of supermarket tea and started ordering teas from shops and companies all over the US. Throughout my 20s and now into my early 30s, pursuits in higher education studies, work opportunities and marriage have given me opportunities to live in the UK, Canada and Germany and travel around the world, which has sparked an even greater interest in tea and the culture of tea. This blog is my outlet to discuss my love of tea and show off some of my photos. All images and opinions on this blog are my own, unless stated otherwise. I retain copyright on all photographs, but please do not hesitate to contact me at teaxplorer@gmail.com if you wish to reproduce any of my images. Likewise, if you would like me to review and photograph any teas for you, please get in touch. I would be happy to hear from you. Thank you for stopping by my blog, and I hope you return many times! Happy drinking! Drew B (@teaxplorer)
This entry was posted in Malawi, What-Cha, White tea and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to REVIEW: What-Cha – A trio of white teas from Malawi

  1. akismet-88fbb99ee9959d205ced393619a248e0 says:

    Thanks for these 3 reviews Drew! I’ve only had the opportunity to try the White Antlers at World Tea Expo this year (Satemwa Estate had a booth) and I loved it. So interesting to hear about their other whites. I wonder if the Peony might have improved with a higher temp as it looks to have a bit more oxidation? – Linda

    • teaxplorer says:

      Thanks for the comment, Linda! I tried the Peony with a higher water temperature, but perhaps I need to go even higher. I will let you know how it turns ou. Thanks for the tip. I do think you should try the Zomba if you get a chance!

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