Malawi Satemwa Antlers White Tea

Tea type
White Tea
White Tea
Astringent, Floral, Licorice, Mineral, Vanilla, Alcohol, Autumn Leaf Pile, Brown Sugar, Butter, Caramel, Dark Wood, Fruity, Honey, Lychee, Peach, Roasted, Rosehips, Sawdust, Sour, Spicy, Sweet, Wet Earth, Wood, Cinnamon, Hay, Melon, Plum, Sake, Sweet, Warm Grass, Spices, Earth, Stems
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Loose Leaf
Fair Trade
Edit tea info Last updated by derk
Average preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 15 sec 4 g 71 oz / 2110 ml

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From What-Cha

A truly unique tea which is composed almost exclusively of stems, it produces an incredibly smooth and sweet taste composed of lychees and honey. An incredible tea which is completely unlike any other tea produced in both material used to produce it and taste.

Satemwa Antlers throws out the rule book on what is the best part of the tea plant to use to produce the best tea. It has been thought that the buds followed by the top leaves were the best part of the plant to use and that any tea which contained stems is of low quality. Satemwa Antlers being composed purely of stems turns this thinking upside down and once more proves that there are no definitives in the tea world.

Sourced direct from Satemwa Tea Estate in Malawi who are dedicated to pushing the boundaries of great tea production while caring for the local environment, providing their employees a fair wage and contributing to the local community.

Tasting Notes:
- Very smooth texture
- Incredible lychee nose
- No astringency or bitterness
- Brilliant taste of lychee and honey
Origin: Satemwa Tea Estate, Malawi, Africa
Brewing Advice:
- Heat water to roughly 80°C/176°F
- Use 3-4 tsps per cup/small teapot
- Brew for 3-4 minutes
- Always remove the leaves from the water once the tea has brewed
- Re-use the leaves multiple times and increase steeping time with each subsequent infusion
- Best without milk

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10 Tasting Notes

389 tasting notes

This tea feels a little bizarre. I just read through all the reviews and it seems like everyone gets something different from these little sticks. First session, the first note I picked up, I swear to god, was pickles. Maybe this is what everyone else is calling sake, but I got pickles. Followed straightaway by vanilla…I’m sorry, what? But then, everything is so subtle I start wondering if I’m making things up. Bizarre.

Minerals then, and a kind of florality that I couldn’t really place — a taste I associate with white tea, for sure. Maybe this is the lychee others are describing, though it didn’t scream fruit or even sweet to me — more floral. Licorice crept in and my tongue tingled a bit. I was glad to see I wasn’t the only one who experienced and tried to describe this sensation. Around steep 5 or 6, things got quite astringent, with a pronounced drying effect after swallowing.

I thought I’d erred a little soft on the ratio for my first session; I doubled it for the second — about 2g tea:1oz water. I did get some honey and a more fruity, lychee-esque flavor in this session — but bitterness and astringency were also more pronounced, which maybe stripped some of the more nuanced flavors out for me. I’m not certain at this point which ratio I prefer or would recommend.

I’ll be going back to this tea to explore and dig around. At this point, it feels more like a fun experiment than a straight-up enjoyable experience, but I’m not opposed to a good diversion. I may not invite white antlers over again, but I’m not sad they’re in town for now.

Flavors: Astringent, Floral, Licorice, Mineral, Vanilla


This seems like a really interesting tea!

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934 tasting notes

The tea has a unique dry stalk aroma that is very woody. This is the first time I am trying it out so the brewing parameters are very much an experiment. I used 5g of stalks in a glazed clay gaiwan.

steep #1: 80°C, 1 min, 80ml
The smell of wet twigs is also quite robust, main notes being decaying leaves, wet earth, forest, peach and brown sugar. A very unusual and interesting combination. The liquor has medium body and is less robust. There is no bitterness or astringency. It is actually decently fruity and sweet, with roasted butter flavour emerging in the aftertaste. Empty cup smells of compost and beeswax.

steep #2: 80°C, 30 s, 80ml
Similar, but slightly weaker smell. The taste is now more woody and sour in the finish and the texture is a bit lighter. The aftertaste has some spiciness to it too, which is nice since there is no astringency as I mentioned.

steep #3: 80°C, 1 min, 80ml
Ever more fruity smelling, I can now notice the lychee mentioned in the description. Also, alcohol tones appear, especially once the twigs have cooled down. Mouthfeel is again slightly on the thin side, but has a nice mouth-watering effect and cooling aftertaste. Also, for the first time a little drying in the finish. Not much sourness in this infusion, there is more of subtly bitter and vegetal notes.

steep #4: 90°C, 90 s, 80ml
Colour is darker now, more on the orange side rahter than yellow. However, it seems that the taste profile is flatter and again more sour, even though still really pleasant to drink. The aftertaste has some really nice fluctuating roastiness and woody aspects too.

steep #5: 90°C, 150 s, 80ml
Finally, some hints of astringency appear. Taste is more fruity, sweet (honey) with drying, citrusy finish and cooling, alcohol-like afteraste.

steep #6: 100°C, 3 min, 80ml
The darkest, almost brown, infusion yet. The taste is somewhat vegetal and reminiscent of later infusions of a Taiwanese amber GABA oolong. I think it’s time for the last steep over the flame.

steep #7: simmering, 10 min, 150ml
Smells of honey, caramel, rosehip and brioche. Colour is somewhere between dark red and brown. Taste is not extraordinary to be honest, but better than infusion 6. It’s definitely more bitter and quite sweet. It also has a similar quality to it as bug-bitten teas. A nice way to finish the session in any case.

Due to the high price, I don’t think I will be buying this tea again too soon, but I would recommend experienced drinkers in particular to try it out at least for the novelty of experience. It definitely isn’t bland, which is what I would normally expect from such a tea. Just a bit more on the subtler side, but the complexity is there. In any case, I will try different brewing methods the next few sessions I have left with this and see if my opinion changes.

Flavors: Alcohol, Autumn Leaf Pile, Brown Sugar, Butter, Caramel, Dark Wood, Fruity, Honey, Lychee, Peach, Roasted, Rosehips, Sawdust, Sour, Spicy, Sweet, Wet Earth, Wood

180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 80 ML

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1429 tasting notes

Once upon a time I drank a green-ish Darjeeling. The first cup was very sour, near unpalatable to me, reminiscent of my first time trying wine (didn’t like it). Second cup mellowed out into a floral-sweet muscatel brew, which dazzled my tongue with its complexities and “can’t exactly put my finger on what it reminds me of” notes.

Drinking the first cup of this reminds me of that epiphany of a second cup of Darjeeling. I haven’t had a good Darjeeling like that in a few years though, so I don’t know why I’m talking about that. This is just such a different tea. It makes me realize I haven’t gotten out of my tea comfort zone in a while. I wish I had more to play with and temper myself to!

Notes that remind me of my experiences with white tea: hay, sweet grass, honey, melon.

Notes that throw me off: plum (sweet and a little tart), a smooth, alcoholic-grain note like sake (anyone ever get the chance to try those limited-edition sake Kit Kats? It’s a little like that), lychee, and an undistinguished dusting of brown spice that tickles my throat (nutmeg? cinnamon?).

Steep Count: 4

(2016 spring harvest)

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Cinnamon, Floral, Hay, Honey, Lychee, Melon, Plum, Sake, Sweet, Warm Grass

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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836 tasting notes

A very unique savoury white tea with notes of spices.

Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Melon, Spices

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 400 OZ / 11829 ML

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1704 tasting notes

My dear friend gave a very generous portion of this tea. I’ve wanted to try it, but wow, this amount is insane.

Anyway, this tea works Gong Fu and I’ve yet to do it Western. It is a very dry tea-so dry that I remember this tea is literally made of twigs. ‘Autumn leaf pile’ is right and I get a very fall feel though it’s not bad now in winter. There is a little bit of a fruit quality that I associate with white in the background-lychee is close, maybe honey, but it’s buried beneath the leaves in taste. A bit smoky too. Yeah, it’s on the complex side.

I’m not sure if I like it or not though I thought I would. Maybe a few more tries might get me to change my mind. It’s dry overall.

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333 tasting notes

Definitely one of the most interesting-looking and -sounding teas I’ve tried! The dry stems have a sweet, honey-like aroma. I let the stems steep freely in a cup, and many of them stood up straight like a little forest of tea. The flavor of the tea is initially mild and subtle, with a some honey sweetness and a touch of earthiness. After some steeping, an intense floral-sweet aroma starts getting released. Just leaning in close to take a sip is like taking a deep breath of a summer garden full of flowers after a rain. The flavor feels more complex at this point as well. Very different from other white teas out there, and a highly sensory experience.

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28 tasting notes

Light with lots of sweet, fruity flavor and a distinct honey aroma. Specifically honey, not a generic sweetness but the complexity and depth of real honey, perhaps more vividly than in any other unflavored tea I’ve tasted. The fruit in this tea has often been described as lychee, which I didn’t note specifically, though the type of fruitiness did lean that direction, a tropical juiciness with a touch of exotic floral.

This tea continued to be enjoyable over many infusions. Even the honey aroma stuck around, gradually lightening but still present through many cups. In later steeps, a taste that I think of as characteristic to many white teas came to the forefront, though a more delicate version here.

I used 2.8g in a little glass teapot, around 6oz of 175°F water, with steeps starting at 2min.

Thank you, Zennenn, for the opportunity to try this tea!

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 3 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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306 tasting notes

This is my 200th review! Rawr!

So, as with all my other milestone reviews, I want to review something rather special. Here goes.

Okay, so… I love the imagery this tea evokes. I love stags. They are beautiful animals and generally just give me an impression of quiet oneness with nature, of freedom and exploration, and tranquility. I am excited about this tea. Straight out of the bag, the twigs smell like cinnamon and spices, even some fruit. It reminds me of the scent of hardened gingerbread that some of the ornaments on the Christmas tree were made out of when I was a kid. And hey, the twigs do in fact look like antlers. So cool!

I’m a little crazy, so I’m going to be gongfu brewing this similar to how I’d brew silver needle white tea, but with longer infusion times like I use with Ya Bao. Why not? I default to gongfu style even with teas that aren’t particularly made for it.

So, into my gaiwan they go, and I’m not even breaking them up. They barely fit in there with the lid on, they’re so long. They’re in there for 1 minute and back out. This is the longest I ever do an initial infusion with Gongfu style and I only do it with Ya Bao, which are very thick, dense buds, and require a lot of soaking to saturate. I figured since these stems are hard and woody i’d do the same with them. The stems smell a bit fruity and floral after the first infusion. I’m not getting lychee so much like the packaging says, but I can see where that’s coming from, since lychee is both fruity and floral. To me this is more of a plum scent mixed with the scent of a good Japanese sake.

Surprisingly, the infusion is a rich medium yellow after just that short amount of time. The brewed tea smells like sweet cinnamon roll dough, pecan pie, a bit of fig or plum and some other fun decadent things.

Oh wow, the taste comes on really sweet. It’s kind of plum like with a hint of floral and a lingering sweetness. It has hints of cinnamon and spice flavors just like the scent. The sweetness really lingers after drinking, as well as a slight cooling sensation on the tongue. The flavor of this tea has some qualities in common with white peony teas I’ve tried before. There’s a bit of autumn leaf taste and scent that both teas share.

I’m really impressed by the quality of this tea’s flavor and aroma. It’s very delicate but very flavorful, has a really definite presence, and is easy to drink like most white teas are. I could drink this tea daily. I’m feeling a bit of an interesting lightheadedness right now, which could be an effect of this tea, or the effect of this being the third tea I’ve reviewed within a few hours.

Second infusion: okay, lychee. I’m gettin’ it now. The wet twigs definitely have that aroma, but still reminds me of plum wine or a really nice sake as well, and the spice notes are ever-present. The second infusion doesn’t seem to have quite as strong of a taste as the first, but is similar and still really nice. It leans towards a more floral nectar kind of taste, not quite as sweet as before. If you roll it on your tongue there’s a hint of metal in the taste as well. As the tea cools, that note is not detectable anymore and the overall flavor is much more like lychee, with a slight aftertaste of spices. There is no bitterness in this tea at all.

I agree with Alistair of What-Cha, this tea is a game-changer. Who knew that such delicious flavor could come from just the stems of tea? I’ve had Japanese kukicha “stem tea” before, and it was nothing like this, nothing to write home about. This, on the other hand, is something I’ll be after to keep in my collection for years to come. I hope for the continued success of the estate that produces this tea! I’d like to take a moment to say, if you haven’t tried many teas from lesser-known growing regions, you really should give them a chance. What-Cha seems to have a real knack for offering many of those, so it’s a great place to start.

My third infusion of the little tea antlers came out a really deep yellow. This time the flavor tastes a little more green, like young white tea, subtle hints of cucumber in the mix. Overall, the taste is waning a bit, but still nice. Four infusions in, the flavor is still really nice and has gotten more generous again. I could see this one going for many, many infusions before running out of delicious flavor.

For timing, I brewed for 1 minute, adding 15 seconds each time. It worked really well with the amount of tea I used. I ignored the recommendation of 176F water for a slightly hotter 185F, which is what I default to for white teas, and this perfomed just great.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Cinnamon, Lychee, Plum, Sake, Spices

185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 0 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

Congrats on your 200th review! Sounds like you picked a winner for that review.


Way to go. You have great notes, I wish my writing skills were as good.


Thank you. :3

Roswell Strange

Congrats on 200!

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894 tasting notes

I was really excited to try this, because it’s something different, and I’ve been so impressed with What-cha’s offerings. The package directions recommend 3-4 teaspoons per cup, but this tea is long, spindly sticks, some pieces 10cm or longer, so not really well suited to being measured in teaspoons. I got out my scale and measured out 3g of tea for my cup, just pulling the sticks out of the bag with my fingers (a fork might have worked too – this is no job for a spoon.)

The dry leaf just smells like tea – that distinctive but unnuanced smell of tea bags. Steeped, the leaf is quite pungent, with notes of fruit, peony and wet wood.

The liquor is a rich gold and very clear. Flavour-wise, this is less complex and exciting than I was hoping for. Lots of hay, a kind of generic fruitiness, floral, some earth, and a note that I can only describe as lipstick. The mouthfeel is pretty smooth, but I’m getting a slight throat scratchiness from this.

The second cup was much the same as the first.

Interesting tea. I’m not wild about it, but I’m glad I tried it.

Flavors: Earth, Floral, Fruity, Hay

175 °F / 79 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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921 tasting notes

My mother and I did one of our patented ‘things’ today, we re-arranged the house. We have this compulsion to re-arrange our stuff every month or so on the quest for perfection (see also: control, order, chi flow) and organization. See we both have more stuff than our current space can really hold, and since we do not want to get rid of it, we go to Tetris levels of efficient stacking and sorting, that way it is organized and accessible. My mom and I, well, we are very silly, but at least with have fun with our obsessions.

And speaking of obsessions, it is time for What-Cha Wednesday! I recently placed an order and received a bunch of samples along with the teas I ordered, so What-Cha Wednesdays will be continuing for quite a while, which is fine by me! Today’s tea is Malawi Satemwa Antlers White Tea, a tea made entirely from slightly velvety (it is where the antler part of the name comes from) sticks! Other than hearing about the Satemwa Tea Estate randomly when looking at tea, I do not know much about them, which means it was time for a bit of research. The Satemwa Tea Estate, a family owned estate created in the 20s, was the first tea estate in Malawi to become fair trade certified, combine that with other certifications and some unique and experimental teas, you have yourself a fascinating tea company. And this is a fascinating tea, it is not often that you see a tea that is made entirely of the stems, even Kukicha, Japan’s stem tea, does not seem as ‘stick-like’ as this tea. The aroma is rather rich yet subtle, with sweet notes of plum, a touch of nuts, and of course sticks. It smells like plant matter, freshly broken sticks while walking in a forest, this tea smells like nature and reminds me of walks in the forest.

I found myself at a bit of a confused point on how to brew this tea, do I do Western Style or Gongfu Style, and I decided to go with my gaiwan, simply because I wanted to use the new gaiwan I got as a birthday present. The aroma of the now soggy sticks is really sweet and fruity! There are note of lychee, fresh juicy plums, and raisins, this transitions into rich earthiness and fresh wet wood. The liquid’s aroma has a real richness to it, blending fruity lychee and plums with raw honey and freshly broken leaves.

Whoa! That first steep is sweet! The mouthfeel is light on the tongue, but really well rounded, it sensation of this tea fills my mouth, much like biting into a sweet, juicy, fruit. And speaking of fruit, the fruity notes are present, there are notes of lychee and plums, it starts like fresh fruit and transitions into stewed fruits with a tiny bit of smoke at the finish. The aftertaste is one of lingering plums.

For the second steep, the aroma is still quite rich, sweet, and fruity, much like the first. The taste is much richer this time around, just like the darkening of the color, the flavor becomes more intense. There are notes of stewed stone fruit and a touch of lychees, this transitions to fresh hay and raw honey, the finish is a delicate floral and freshly broken stick note.

Third time’s the charm, though this tea already had me charmed from the moment I opened the pouch, what can I say, sticks are endearing. Even though the color is darker, the aroma is lighter, there are notes of honey and plum, and that is about it. The taste is much milder, like the first and second steep, the sensation of the tea is very filling, I love the way this tea coats my mouth. There are notes of honey, fresh hay, and a nice finish of plums that linger. I find this tea fascinating and want to experiment with it, next time I go out and about I will put these sticks into my travel infuser and see how they ‘long steep’ and maybe I will even try cold steeping it (though we are getting to the chilly part of the year and cold drinks are not as fun) the Satemwa Estate website even recommends steeping them in sparkling water all day long in a tall champagne glass!

For blog and photos:

Flavors: Hay, Honey, Lychee, Plum, Stems

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