Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What-Cha: Malawi 2014 Leafy Dark Tea, A Tea Review

I am so close to being done with my Scourge that resisting rushing through these last steps is soooo hard!! If I rush I end up having my hand slip and that one misstep means I have to go back and redo a section, which I am sure you all know is bloody infuriating. But, I have my Reaver Gunship more or less finished (I need to use anti-shine on the bones since I want them not as shiny as the rest of the chitinous model) and I am going to have a nice photo of the beastie at the end of the blog. Plus, ugh, I think I need a break because my hands are shaky, this is not the time for shaky hands (or shaky cam for that matter!)

So, it is Wednesday, meaning What-Cha time! However it is also Dark Tea week, so I get to unveil a tea I was so hype to review: Malawi 2014 Leafy Dark Tea. Oh yeah, I finally get to have my elephant yixing really shine by drinking a dark tea from Africa! Yeah I giggled in excitement when I saw this sample stuffed in my recent (by recent I mean it was my Christmas gift to myself) order, I am still giggling a little bit, this is just one of those teas that is so cool. Made in the style of a Shou and it certainly smells like one. The aroma of this tea actually, no lies, made me cry a little, ok I like Sheng I really do, but my heart will always belong to Shou, and the reason why is because it smells like a forest floor after a summer rain, it has the smell of wet wood, mushrooms, loam, that delightful steamy aroma that a forest gets on a hot day after rain. It smells like the heavily piney forest that I spent A LOT of my time in as a teenager. That forest has been turned into an apartment complex now and I am getting maudlin, but the smell of a good clean Shou (not one that smells like a Chinese market) takes me home, and this tea is no exception. It has a weightiness to it, like I am sinking into loam and pine needles. This tea is heavenly, I want to hug it.

Into the elephant it goes! I gave it a rinse and a short steep, the aroma of the wet leaves is ecstasy, well if you are into laying face first in a forest floor, and we all know that is my idea of a perfect day. It is so rich with notes of loam, wet pine wood, and a touch of sweet cocoa at the end. The liquid smells loamy and sweet, blending pine sap and wet wood with forest floor.

The first steep starts out pretty subtle and slightly creamy in texture, and by the time it hids the midtaste there is an explosion of rich loam, pine forest and cocoa! It is so good, it manages to be rich while not being overpowering, and that cocoa note goes really well with the natural pinesap sweetness. The aftertaste is sweet cocoa and loam, and it lingers for a while.

The aroma is intensely loamy and earthy, like clean forest soil and wet wood. There is also a distinct mineral note, again it reminds me of a forest after the rain where it has that steamy aroma in the air. The taste is pretty much identical to the first steep but much stronger. The cocoa note is a little diminished, it is all earthy pine forest floor. The finish has a tiny hint of raw honey and has a great salivary effect.

So, I forgot to take a photo of the third steep, or any of the other steeps, I found myself getting tea drunk very early and just getting lost in the memories that this tea evoked, each sip took me to a forest and I was in no hurry to leave. The tea stayed strong and delicious until the 6th steep, and was done by steep 8. I did notice that even though this tea was strong and wonderfully tasty, it did not change much, it felt like I was drinking the same steep, this was fascinating and surprisingly not boring, I think because it was so evocative of something very pleasant for me. So your mileage may vary with that one, but who cares, it is a Dark Tea from Africa and that is still really awesome.


  1. This absolutely fascinates me. What-Cha carries so many interesting teas. I definitely like the "piney" quality when I encounter it in shou Pu-erh, and I find I don't encounter it that often. I also have spent a lot of time in pine forests, and I love the way they smell. I think it's so awesome to see the sort of innovation and experimentation represented by this tea! I've tried so many amazing teas to come out of Africa, most out of Kenya, and I'm excited to see Malawi is also producing some really fascinating ones too.

    1. What-Cha is always an adventure, I love how many really random and hard to find teas! And I agree, Kenya and Malawi has been producing some amazing teas!

  2. I ordered this with my latest order and decided on this tea for my morning (and whole day, possibly) tea sipping today.

    It's really great. My first impression (I've only had 2 pretty cheap Puerhs so far) "It's like a BETTER puerh!" which, in hindsight, it actually is haha. I even drank the 'rinse' because it tasted fine and didn't have any dusty thing (visible at least). I'm on to my second cup now, but I can see this becoming a weekly tea, at the very least :D