Malawi is a country I associate with the score upon score of colorful fish that fill up its eponymous rift lake. Lake Malawi is a precious jewel to those studying vertebrate evolution— those fish are geologically young species, and relatively closely related, yet incredibly diverse in form and favor, and still radiating at a rapid clip. It was this image of Malawi— Malawi, place of adaption— that I sat down to make this tea.
Firstly, if you taste with your eyes, you’ll love this one. Verdigris, ocher, and sable splay across big, furling things. The leaves look great in the bag and even more enticing in the pot.
One of the reasons I picked this tea out was those striking leaves. The other is that I have not had tea grown in Africa before and think it’s interesting to compare teas grown in the plant’s native range to those outside of it. This is certainly unlike any white tea produced in China; it has changed in its new country (perhaps not surprising, given that African growers have had since the late 1800s to apply artificial selection to their bushes). It shares with its kin a sweet and floral, almost rosy nose, but on the tongue is another animal. It is almost bracing, with a sturdy heart of tea and velvety peach skin, and a long finish that plays out on the palate in sequence. First comes grass and autumn leaves— it reminds me of how the air smells after mowing the lawn for the last few times— then peach resurfaces, skinned this time, and it’s an unusual peach in that it’s not accompanied by nectar-sweetness. It’s an assertive, just-picked peach, still firm and almost sour. Then comes grass, fresh at first, which dries and dies along with the flavor. For this transformation alone it is worth drinking. I grabbed this expecting something simple and easy to follow along while I worked on a drawing, but wound up stopping briefly just to take note of that finish.
I quite enjoyed this taste of Malawi and will likely double down my efforts to try more African tea as a result.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Cut grass, Dry Grass, Floral, Peach, Rose, Sweet, Tea