Kenya Marula Black Tea from McQuarrie’s Tea & Coffee Merchants

McQuarriesLogoTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: McQuarrie’s Tea & Coffee Merchants

Tea Description:

Flavourful African black tea from Kaimosi, an exotic combination of sweet banana with the tart, fresh taste of the yellow-gold African Marula fruit.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

McQuarrie’s is a local loose leaf tea and coffee store; the kind I feel like most larger cities have at least one of – usually privately owned, and not part of a chain of any kind. They source their teas from other companies, such as the Metropolitan Tea Company and are an interesting middle ground between more commercial/branded loose leaf companies such as Teavana or DAVIDsTEA which can act as ‘gateway’ loose leaf shops and less commercial, higher quality stores for more seasoned tea drinkers. If that makes sense at all. This tea in particular is sourced from a larger manufacturer called Wollenhaupt tea, however it doesn’t appear to be currently listed on their website.

According to my Aunt, McQuarrie’s has ‘probably been around longer than she has’. It’s, of course, right in the heart of my cities’ more ‘hipster’ area with all of the other stores that specialize in more obscure hobbies/interests and fancier, offbeat cafes and such. My roommate, coincidentally, happens to work at one of those restaurants!

I picked this one up in person; it’s always kind of nice shopping in person because you don’t have to blindly purchase something just based on the description or other people’s reviews. I got to see and smell this before hand! The smell was definitely very banana and that certainly made me excited because it’s been a while since I’ve had a good banana tea with a black base – right now 52Tea’s Butterscotch Banana is sticking out in memory but it’s been an awfully long time since having it. The marula was very interesting too; other than knowing it’s an exotic fruit I have no experience or familiarity with it so that absolutely caught my attention.

It seemed, overall, like a very interesting find from my local store!

I cold brewed my sample – someone recently called me the ‘Queen of Cold Brew’ and that may be pretty accurate. I will cold brew just about anything, especially at this time of the year.

This had a very interesting flavour! The banana was the dominant note; it was almost sickly sweet and tread a thin  line between realistic, overripe banana and banana candy. It struck up fairly vivid recollections of two things. The first was the banana liquer that I currently have in my fridge, which is very sugary and sweet. The second thing was Khao Tom Mad which is a Thai dessert made of banana, sticky rice and coconut milk served in either a banana or coconut leaf. I’ve only had it once, but it was pretty amazing – maybe even life changing. I definitely think some of the sweetness of the banana comes from the blackberry leaves; my experience with them has been that they tend to made fruit flavours really, really pop.

I don’t have a familiarity with marula, but I’m told by my roommate that it’s supposed to taste a little bit like guava. I don’t know if I necessarily got that with this blend – though I did get a little bit of tartness which the roomie says is probably from the marula. It was quite mild though and didn’t play much into the overall dynamic of the tea. I am a little bit sad the marula didn’t have more of an impact on the taste – I love when I get the chance to experience new flavours in tea.

The rest of the tea was supporting notes for the banana; both mild cinnamon and a bit of drier wood notes were present. The finish was the biggest let down for the tea though; there was a light sudsy/soapy flavour than was unpleasant and slightly lingering. I first thought that the wood was a little weird to have been coming from the rooibos in the blend, which was my initial assumption – but then I remembered that one of the listed ingredients is lapacho. Aha! I’ve had bad experiences with lapacho, including soapy notes and very dry hardly palatable wood notes. I definitely do NOT see the appeal of lapacho. Fortunately, it was quite mild here. It would certainly explain both the soapy notes and the off wood notes, though.

Overall this tea was pretty interesting, and a bit of a rollercoaster. It had an incredible beginning with some of the tastiest banana notes I’ve had in a very, very long time and the middle was pretty solid too but the weird lack of anything Marula, of which the tea is named after, and unfortunate presence of Lapacho made for a bit of a disappointing finish.

Still a worthwhile try though given how unique it is, and something I’ll continue to personally fiddle around with. I’m determined to taste some marula!

Roswell Strange

Hello; my name is Kelly. I’m a nearly twenty tea drinker and reviewer living in Saskatchablah, Canada. I started drinking loose leaf fairly casually a little over a year ago, and at some point between then and now that ‘fun little hobby’ turned into a serious, serious obsession. Typically I drink flavoured blends more that straight but one of my mini goals this year is to get that ratio to a more 50/50 level. I do a daily cold brew, and have at least (but usually a lot more) two hot cups of tea every day. Naturally I lean towards black or white blends, but I WILL drink everything; the last half year or so I’ve been challenging myself by further exploring Oolong and Pu’Erh which are the tea types I know the least about overall. My default for preparation is Western Style with zero additives; so unless I mention otherwise you can assume that’s how I’ve prepared my tea!

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