Tea heads are often asked if they have a “desert island list” of (usually) ten teas that they would want to have with them if they were stranded on a desert island. The thought of just ten teas makes them shudder, but after shaking off the horror they generally get to work thinking about what would be on that list. How to choose when there are so many we love?
I can tell you right now that “a good Keemun” would be the first thing on that list for me.
Keemun is a highly variable tea type. The word itself is a variation on Qimen, which is the name of the area in which it is grown. As with most teas, there are many grades available. Interestingly, many people have a great love for particular grades and not necessarily the highest and most expensive ones.
Teavivre sells many grades of Keemun tea and they all have their fans. Some of the very highest grades are fragrant and redolent with aromas of wine and chocolate. They can be fruity and even a bit floral. These tend to be lighter and more delicate, with less smoke. Most Keemun teas recommend steeping at lower temperatures and shorter times than other black teas.
While I love the top tier Keemun teas for afternoon tea or evening treat, I want a good Hao Ya with my breakfast, especially if there is maple syrup or something sweet on the table. This one is a premium Hao Ya – fancier than a Hao Ya B or an unnamed English Breakfast, it has the strong aroma and layers of flavor I love.
A good Keemun is raspy, by which I mean that it drags across my tongue with presence, leaving a dry, cocoa-y taste. I don’t mean drying like the astringency of a high grown Ceylon. I wouldn’t really define it as briskness, either. It is deeper and darker, far more enjoyable and impressive to me. There is a hint of smoke, a bit of cocoa, even a little malt in this Premium Grade tea, with the barest floral undertones.
It resteeps well, and I can get my large breakfast cup filled with just one teaspoon of leaf steeped twice, and since it only steeps for a short time, my food doesn’t get cold while I make my tea.
There are a lot of good Keemuns at Teavivre. For me, this is one of the best. If you are in America and this review has made you impatient to get some, go to their website, choose “Teas in the US Warehouse” and choose the zip bag. It will get to you much, much quicker! You can always order the tin later…and you will probably want to. Just be sure you order your refill in plenty of time so you don’t run out!
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Teavivre
Rated as the best of Chinese black teas, Keemun is an absolute delight to drink. TeaVivre’s premium Keemun Hao Ya represents the highest quality of this tea generally available to the public, and has a taste, aroma, and appearance that more than justify its reputation as one of the best black teas in the world. Handmade in Keemun’s birthplace of Qimen, this tea is truly astounding.