Malawi 2014 Leafy Dark Tea: What-Cha

TIFF 40

TIFF 40

Last night I met some lovely friends and saw two films at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The dinner was good, the company was grand, and the films… Well, films at TIFF are like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get. One was very good, and the other was “interesting”. All part of the deal. The weather, however, was cold, windy, and drizzly.  I had to put on long pants, shoes, socks, and a jacket for the first time in months. The TIFF and the first socks of the season are signs that Fall has finally, truly arrived, and today’s grey sky only confirms that summer has flown the coop!

I’ve chosen this “Malawi 2014 Leafy Dark Tea” by What-Cha because it sounds like a “Fall” tea to me! Described as “earthy clean tasting”, I’m thinking of fallen leaves, dark skies, and the woody, leafy, earthy smells of a fall day. All that just from the name… and I haven’t even opened the package yet! Let’s do that!

Malawi 2014 Leafy Dark Tea by What-Cha

Malawi 2014 Leafy Dark Tea by What-Cha

Opening the packet, the aroma is fresh, dark, earthy… dark fruits like currants and blackberries… a little bit of malt, and faint hints of tobacco. The leaves are small brown twisty pieces. Hm… I think I was expecting a more ‘leafy’ appearance.

I steep one teaspoon for about 35 seconds at just under boiling. The tea is a clear amber colour with a surprising, and gorgeous rosy pink hue which the camera cannot capture!

Malawi 2014 Leafy Dark Tea in Grandma's teacup - First steep

Malawi 2014 Leafy Dark Tea in Grandma’s teacup – First steep

The first sip is very very mild… too mild to taste. Maybe I should have gone with the package instructions calling for a steep of 2-3 minutes. I never steep things that long, as I think it makes the tea bitter… but in this case, oops! I think it needs a longer steep than 35 seconds!

Darker! Second cup

Darker! Second cup

Second try: I steep this one for about 2:30 min. It is now a very dark rosy brown. It smells very strong and I’m worried about the tannins. The first sip is surprisingly NOT bitter, and in fact tastes like burnt caramel more than anything. The “burnt”, and the “caramel” are predominant, but if you sip with a little air, then there are hints of raisins too. I’m surprised that there is no bitterness or astringency. It’s dark and earthy, but clean, with an aftertaste of roasted wood. I’m wondering what kind of tea this is, so checking the What-Cha website, I find it described as “comparable to a shou pu-erh, but with the unique Satemwa twist.”  Now I’m not a fan of pu-erh; all of the ones I’ve tried either smell like fish, or taste like rotten cardboard. I just can’t wrap my tastebuds around it! Happily, this tea has none of those, and is in fact quite clean tasting! That must be the “unique Satemwa twist”. Since I’m not well-versed in pu-erh, I can only say it reminds me of a dark, roasted oolong. I can’t say that this is one of my favourites, but it is a pleasant, dark, earthy tea which goes well with this cool fall day.

I purchased this tea as part of What-Cha’s “Discover Malawi” collection. Check out my other Malawi reviews here: Antlers White, Zomba Pearls White, Handmade Black, Peony White.

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