Soft and elegant with remarkable flavours of peach and apricot.
One of the most remarkable things about Antlers is that they get better and better with each infusion. The water penetrates deeper into the stems and the flavour changes with each steep. The apricots remain, but a deeper, woody, umami taste gently reveals itself behind the soft, sweet fruit. It truly becomes more and more divine.
For the first infusion, use 3g per cup and add 150ml boiling water to soften the stems and steep for two minutes. But don’t worry if you overdo it. The woody stems take time and don’t contain much tannin, so leaving them for five minutes or longer won’t be at all disastrous.
You don’t need to re-boil the kettle between each infusion. Each cup will be cooler, but the stems will be softer. You may need to lengthen the infusion times as the stems start to exhaust, and reheat the water if it cools too much, but don’t give up on them. I’ve made eleven infusions from the same pot.
Our antlers come from a varietal growing in a specific field of Satemwa. This was the first field to ever produce Antlers and it has a lovely story.
This is an extract from Infused - Adventures In Tea. By our Rare Tea Lady - Henrietta Lovell.
"Some years ago, working in one field Alex, the farmer, noticed an incredible aroma during plucking. As each two leaves and new bud were snapped from the bush, the sap of the fresh leaf scented the air with ripe stone fruit: apricots and peaches. Try as he might, Alexander couldn’t capture the aromas of the fresh leaf in the finished tea. He tried to make green tea, black tea and oolong tea, and he tried simply drying the leaf as a white tea, but it was no good. There were hints of the fruit aromas in the teas but never a deep flavour.
You can imagine the frustration of identifying one tiny patch of land and one unique varietal that in combination could produce something truly extraordinary and yet not being able to capture it in the tea. Over a decade he experimented with that one field. The answer, however, revealed itself not in the factory but in his kitchen. He was cooking tomatoes, pulling the fruit from the vine, when he suddenly realised where the aroma came from. We buy tomatoes on the vine not just because they look pretty but because they smell better. It is not the fruit of the tomato plant that smells so strongly of tomatoes, it’s the hairy stem. Chefs know this, supermarkets know this, and we are aware perhaps only that we will pay more because somehow vine tomatoes are more 'tomatoey'.
I can’t reveal, nor do I know the exact production method of the Malawi Antlers. But I can tell you that it is a white tea made from the tender growing stem and not the leaf. It is called an Antler because the shape resembles the new horns of a young deer. It is a very specific harvest and years later, in full production, this one field can only produce around sixty kilograms of finished Antlers a year."
Malawi to Claridges
Antlers also express the farm's wonderful obsession with quality and innovation. Just like a vineyard, the tea garden produces tea from several fields. We buy our antlers from just one field that is reserved exclusively for Rare Tea.
They taste like no other tea you have ever tried. So extraordinarily good it's served at Claridge's.