Mlesna Sabaragamuwa black tea. Okay, so the name is a bit of a mouthful, but is the tea? I’m about to find out in my full review!
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working my way through a selection box of Mlesna Ceylon teas. This week it’s Sabaragamuwa’s turn. This hearty black tea comes in individually wrapped teabags. For the purposes of this review, I’m tasting it black (without milk) and without the ginger and honey that Mlesna recommend you drink it with.
Below, discover my tasting notes, recommended brew method, and the best place to buy this tea.
Mlesna Sabaragamuwa Black Tea at a Glance
This tea is a bit of a disappointment. While there is some nice maltiness and sweetness to this tea, it’s mainly dominated by a staggeringly strong bitter flavour. Drink with a generous splash of milk and teaspoon of honey.
Full Review – Mlensa Ceylon Teabags
- Type: Tagged paper filter teabag
- Tea: Black tea
- Origin: Sabaragamuwa, Sri Lanka/Ceylon
- Flavour Notes: Light body, strong bitterness, sweet aftertaste, orange pith
- Aroma: Malty, brisk, sticky sweet ginger load, tannins
- Milk or Lemon: Milk, honey and ginger
- Where to Buy: Amazon
This is the most interesting tea I’ve reviewed in 2021 so far. Don’t let the pretty pink teabag wrappers fool you – this is no delicate, flowering tea. Initially, the aroma is quite malty albeit brisk. There’s also this sticky sweet and fiery note that reminds me of ginger loaf cake. Yum.
Unfortunately, this is as far as the ‘yum’ goes.
It brews into a dark peat brown tea with hints of red-orange. It’s also quite dirty and murky – definitely the kind of tea that usually goes with milk. The aroma of the brewed tea is cleaner, brisker and has those traditional black tea tannin notes. All in all, Mlesna Sabaragamuwa tea is just plain ol’ tea at this point.
The flavour blows your socks off. In a bad way. The tea has a very light body – it’s not rich or thick at all. It’s also unbelievably bitter and dark. It’s not bitter in a pleasant dark chocolate kind of way. It’s more of a charred, burnt food at the bottom of your oven kind of way.
When you finally manage to swallow a sip, there’s this odd sweetness that sweeps over your tongue. Something about this bittersweet combo makes me think of orange pith, that white bit between the zest and the segments.
I do not recommend drinking this tea black.
How to Brew Mlesna Sabaragamuwa Tea
I didn’t go crazy with this tea – just a short 3-minute brew time. I don’t recommend brewing for longer than this! Stick to 1-2 minutes if you plan to drink it black. 2 minutes and 30 seconds would be my recommendation with milk and honey.
It’s good that Mlesna indicate that ginger and honey are best with this tea, but I think it needs the milk to really curb the bitterness and give the tea a bit more body.
A good plate of biscuits to nibble with this tea wouldn’t be a bad idea either! Pick ginger biscuits, if you haven’t already added ginger to the tea.
Why Mlesna Ceylon Tea?
Mlesna Sabaragamuwa tea is part of a collection of teas by Mlesna. I haven’t been able to find it available separately, so if you want to give this one a try you’ll need the full set!
The tea quality isn’t brilliant, but that’s what you get from teabags. Mlesna do sell this as loose leaf, so that may be a better option.
As for the tea origin, Sabaragamuwa is a province in the south-central region of Sri Lanka and it’s one of the biggest tea-producing regions of Ceylon. On the back of the tea wrapper, Mlesna write about the Sinharaja rainforest and the strong, thick teas that the altitudes of 600-1000 feet produce. These are quite low altitudes for tea growing.
There’s no mention of bitterness, so I can only assume that the tea isn’t supposed to taste this way.
Overall, this tea isn’t even close to being great. But with a little patience and experimenting with milk, honey and brew times, it can certainly be drinkable. If you want to add Sabaragamuwa to your list of teas you’ve tried, you can find it as part of a trio on Amazon.
So, you’re hunting for a great cup of tea? Whatever you are in the mood for, check out my Tea Review Index for the full list of teas I’ve reviewed on the blog. We’re way over 100 teas now! You can also subscribe to our mailing list for a monthly update with the new teas we’ve tried straight to your inbox.