Calling all fans of “grand cru” teas! You now have access to the best selection of teas in the world. This is the optimum time of year to try the finest teas in existence. All are extremely fresh, newly delivered by air. There are first-flush and second-flush Darjeelings, new-season Chinese teas, and Japanese Ichibanchas harvested in May, alongside teas from Nepal, Taiwan and South Korea.
For tea-lovers, the start of the summer is a pure pleasure!
The existence of very good teas in Malawi is down to Alex. He is the only one to produce them. All the plantations in this country produce tea industrially, and harvest it with shears, but this was not right for Alex. He loves tea. He was born in Malawi, grew up on his grandfather’s plantation, and tea has been his whole life. So he researches, he documents the methods of making dark teas, green teas, semi-oxidised teas, white teas. He seeks out particular tools needed to produce them, from China or Taiwan. He makes teas in his own way, in his own style, with his terroir, his cultivars.
From Alex, I have chosen his Satemwa Dark, his Zomba Green and his Small Holders Black tea – produced through his association formed with small producers, and currently the best black tea from Africa. I recommend it wholeheartedly.
The first step in tasting consists of looking at the leaves. You pour a small amount out onto a neutral surface, like a sheet of card, and you examine the quality of the plucking, the colour of the leaves, their size, evenness, etc. This already gives you a good idea of what you’re about to taste.
In Malawi, tea grows in the south. We are here at the southern end of the Great Rift Valley, at the foot of Mount Mulanje. They say the views are incredible from the top; I can well imagine it, and intend to make the journey one day. In the meantime, I think the view from the bottom isn’t bad either, both vegetal and mineral. This expanse of green relaxes the eyes. It’s quite an idyllic place to work.