CHEF REVIEWS/ East African Food/ Freda's Reviews/ Restaurant Review/ Travel

An Afternoon with Muthaiga Tea Company

An afternoon with Muthaiga Tea Company

I recently spent an afternoon with Muthaiga Tea Company and it was such a treat in every way. A friend gifted a group of us to the tea tasting session, hosted by Tee or Tehmeenah.

About Muthaiga Tea Company (MTC)

If you hop over to their website you will find that MTC prides itself in offering the following,

African artistry in every cup through hand crafted, loose leaf, orthodox teas from small holder farmers, blended with uniquely African ingredients.

Muthaiga Tea Company

Woah! That’s my kinda place. They also state through their website that they “would like to take you on a journey, to experience the uniqueness of the African terroir wrapped within a tea leaf, …” They had me at terroir.

How We Came To Meet

Honestly, I am pretty sure I had heard about MTC in conversation several times over, however, when I saw them in action at a Girl’s Scouts Mother and Daughter tea, that made a lasting impression. From the cutely sophisticated delicately fashioned glass teapots to their boxes of uniquely blended teas, MTC drew me in right from the start. They served up Swahili Oolong tea, a chai version of the same, a purple tea, and white tea if my memory serves me well.

An afternoon with Muthaiga Tea Company: Tea Tasting Experience

Tee has partnered with a number of chefs to bring about a special afternoon of tea tastings and food pairings. This is something I have never experienced before. However, as a food writer, I have been on food tastings, product launches, and even honey tasting sessions. So yes, this was right up my alley. Tee partnered with Embark and sous chef Sophia called all the stops. It was an afternoon tea to remember.

The Tea

First up I had a green tea. I am not a fan of green tea at all. It is my natural aversion to bitterness as a flavour. But I get it. I have a theory that it is a part of nature’s way of preserving life. I am naturally a low low blood pressure person so anything that could reduce it is something I should have sparingly. Having said that it was mildly flavoured and easy to sip.

The Food Parings

I have got to give it to Chef Sophia. The food was simple, beautifully presented, and ticked all the current kinds of vegan or gluten-free boxes you could ask for.

Tee’s Tea Intro

As we ate and drank, Tee shared a bit more about her work and training with the Tea Research Institute in Kericho. She also explained that all tea in Africa comes from the same plant, that is, camellia assamica (Assam tea). The variety of tea depends on how it is processed, so Swahili oolong, purple tea, white, yellow, green, dark, and black tea all come from the same plant. That information just blew me away.

Swahili Oolong with Butternut Tea Scones

First up we had Swahili Oolong tea paired with butternut tea scones with an orange glaze and black sesame seeds. A side of a dollop or two of coffee leaf matcha cream was served as well.

Moonlight Needle/White Tea

Picked at 4 am with the moonlight shining through, the first two shoots of the tea plant are meticulously harvested and carefully processed for white tea. I am sure you can tell from the description, that this is the most expensive type of tea you can get.

Coco Zambarau with Coconut Cookie

Ok. You may want to know what this is all about. From my understanding it is also Assam, however, the purple comes from a genetic mutation. Purple tea was originally found as a wild mutation however some clever people have found a way to harness this at scale, in the Nandi Hills region of Kenya.

Tee has made her unique blend by combining the tea with cacao nibs and a hint of coconut. Zambarau is the Swahili word for purple, but it is also the name of a deeply purple-coloured berry or plum. As we analyzed the flavours Tee mentioned an alternative purple tea with hibiscus called Purple Haze, which offers similar benefits. She also recommended mixing up purple tea as a base for gin & tonic. I like the sound of that. I love the sound of trying a sugar-free version with soda water and gin. Now that would be fun.

Rwanda Noir with Eggplant Caviar Sandwich

That sandwich was a work of art. It was made with gluten-free bread. It was both beautiful to look at and to eat. Muthaiga Tea paired it with Rwanda Noir, a black tea with star anise and licorice notes. Why Rwanda Noir? You guessed right!

The tea comes from Rwanda and I must admit it was the smoothest cup of black tea I have ever had. It went down well. The sandwich consisted of eggplant caviar, shiro… as in shiro wat chickpea flour shiro, and beetroot puree topped with an edible flower that was plucked right out of Tee’s garden.

After a cool two hours, our afternoon with Muthaiga Tea Company came to an end. The food pairings were just enough to tie me over till dinner time so if you want to go, have a light breakfast. Many thanks to my wonderful friend Ka for providing this treat and thank you to Tee, for such a memorable tea tasting experience.

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