A friend of mine brought me a box of Chombe Tea when he took a trip to Malawi to visit some missionary groups. I was skeptical of it right off the bat. It was in bags, not loose leaf. The bags didn’t look particularly well made. On the box it said “export grade”, which made me think tourist trap. It looked like a typical CTC black tea dust that might have been found in any grocery store in the world. Then I made a cup. Wow! Not bad! In fact, for a bag tea, it actually had a nice bright color, a delightful earthy/nutty taste, and it took milk and sugar really well. One of the best bag teas I’ve drank. I’ve since learned that Malawi has been growing tea for over 100 years from plants imported from China, so they’ve had a lot of time to develop their product.
Chombe Tea Company
Chombe Tea is a musty, robust tea at first, presenting earthy base notes and a significant amount of tannins. But it is noted for a distinct, unique finish, said to be a result of the high altitude of its plantations, which punctuates the tea with a zesty, sweet-and-sour high note, creating a subtle aftertaste vaguely reminiscent of pineapple. This bright finish complements sweetening and/or milk beautifully, so most Chombe is exported to be used in tea-blending for breakfast teas; on its own, rounding out with milk or sugar creates a warm, smooth tea with a perky finish, excellent as a wake-up tea.
Recommended: boiling water; 4 minutes steep; with milk and sugar.