Superfine Keemun Mao Feng Black Tea from Teavivre

Superfine Keemun Mao FengTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Teavivre

Tea Description:

Keemum Mao Feng, one special variety of Keemun black tea origins from Qi Men County in Anhui province of China, has famous reputation for its peculiar aroma and shape. It has also been made widely familiar as one of the four world’s best black tea. It is carefully processed so that the shape of the tea leaves resemble that of the Mao Feng Green Tea. This is why it got the name “Keemum Mao Feng“.

With the thin and twisted strips of tea leaves and peculiar aroma (fruity mixed with orchid-like), those russet interwoven tea leaves look neat and taste wonderful.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve tried a couple of different Keemun black teas from Teavivre and enjoyed the ones that I’ve tasted – so it’s no surprise to me that I’m also enjoying this Keemun Mao Feng from Teavivre.  What can I say?  Teavivre has never failed me yet!

When I opened the pouch of this tea, I could smell the fruity notes immediately.  Hints of flower just beneath the delightful fruit notes with hints of earth in the background.

To brew this, I used my Breville One-Touch.  Two bamboo scoops were measured into the basket of the tea maker and 500ml of water was poured into the jug.  Then I set the parameters for 212°F (boiling) and 2 1/2 minutes.  A few minutes later, I had a delightfully fragrant pot of tea.  The fruit and flower notes are still there, tempting me to take a sip.

I’m not one to resist temptation, so after allowing the tea to cool to a drinkable temperature, I gave in to the temptation and began to enjoy this wonderful tea.

The fruit and floral aromas translate to the flavor.  It tastes fruity, reminiscent of stone fruit (I taste plum) and notes of orchid.  I also taste a raisin-y sweetness to this.  It has some wine-like notes to it too, I taste notes of black currant toward the finish and the slightly dry astringency toward the tail play to that wine-like character.

Quite often with a Keemun tea, I experience a smoky note, but I’m not getting a strong smokiness from this one.  Perhaps hints of smoke in the distance.  This one is more fruity and wine-like than it is smoky.

It’s a satisfying tea, I think I’d want this one as an afternoon pick-me-up rather than a morning tea.  It doesn’t have the really strong, malty flavors that I like a morning tea to have (and generally, Keemun teas don’t!) but it does have that beautiful fruity flavor that I like in an afternoon tea.

A really nice Keemun.  Then again, you can’t go wrong with Teavivre.  If you haven’t yet tried a tea from Teavivre, you really should!  They are one of the finest tea companies from which I’ve had the great honor to review teas.

Organic Long Jing #03 from Steepster

Long JingTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Steepster Select

Tea Description:

Our Long Jing (or Dragon Well) is produced by one of the most respected organic growers in Anhui.

Read other Steepster thoughts on this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve tasted and reviewed a lot of Long Jing (also known as Dragon Well) green teas over the years.  And while many of those that I’ve tried taste very similar to others, every once in a while I’ll taste one that sort of “stands out” among the others that I’ve sampled.  This Organic Long Jing #03 from Steepster (from my January Steepster Select box!) is one of those Dragon Well teas that stands out.

And what makes me say that?  Well, for one thing, just a few moments ago – after allowing the tea to cool slightly – I took a sip and I lightly slapped my lips and murmured “mmm!”  Now … I do that from time to time when I taste teas.  But, I can’t recall the last time I did that after taking a sip of a Dragon Well.

Like I said, many of my Dragon Well memories sort of melt into one another, like one big Long Jing conglomerate.  That doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy those other Long Jing/Dragon Well teas – because I did.  I enjoyed them immensely.  However, as I said in the previous paragraph, every once in a while one just stands out.

What I’m trying to say, very simply, is this:  this Long Jing ROCKS!

This is sweet and nutty, and there is a roasted note to it that reminds me of sweet, toasted chestnuts.  One of the things I look forward to when the holidays approach is roasting some chestnuts over my roaring fireplace, and eating the shelled chestnuts while they’re still warm.  Yum!

Well, that lip-smacking “mmm” moment I mentioned a while ago was from the warm, creamy chestnut taste that I get from this tea.  The tasting notes from Steepster state:

Nutty and vegetal with hints of baked earth.

And yeah, I’m getting that “baked earth” sort of flavor, as well as the vegetative tones that are reminiscent of lightly buttered lima beans.  But it’s the nutty flavors of this tea that really does for me.  So sweet and delicious.

A really, REALLY good Long Jing!

Organic Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea from Butiki Teas

Oriental BeautyTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Butiki Teas

Tea Description:

Our Oriental Beauty is organic and utilizes the Chin Xin oolong varietal. Originating from Hungshan in the Anhui province of China, this oolong is crafted by tea master Shan Zhen Chen. Our Oriental Beauty is made from young shoots and is heavily fermented (60-70%), heavily withered (13-25%), and lightly roasted. This gorgeous tea contains leaves that vary in color, including: silver, gold, forest, auburn, cocoa, and charcoal colors. Rich honey notes linger and mingle with apricot, macadamia nut, and orchid notes. Some pastry-like notes are present and pairs well with the sweetness of this oolong, which provides a flavor somewhat reminiscent of funnel cake.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The first note I noticed with my first sip of this Organic Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea from Butiki Teas was the orchid.  How lovely!  After experiencing the orchid, I discovered a strong peach-y/apricot-y flavor.  These notes were so sweet and nectar-like that I could almost feel the fruit pulp!  It amazes me how the pure tea leaf so perfectly captures the essence of the fruit.

I brewed this Oolong tea the way I usually brew an Oolong:  in my gaiwan, using short steeps and combining two infusions in one cup.  After a quick 15 second rinse, the first infusion was 45 seconds, and then I added 15 seconds to each subsequent infusion.  The first two infusions combined produced my first cup, and the second cup was infusions 3 & 4 … and so on.  I took this tea through its paces and had five lovely cups of tea (a total of 10 infusions.)

My first cup was very orchid-like.  Of the five cups I enjoyed of this Oriental Beauty Oolong, the first cup was the lightest in texture.  It felt somewhat thin in comparison to the other cups, but, there was a little bit of soft texture to it.  The apricot notes came through after the orchid, and then there was a sweet, honeyed finish.

The second cup was my favorite.  It was much more luxurious to sip, the texture was soft and sumptuous, and the apricot notes were prominent.  The orchid notes remained a focus with this cup, and hints of the nutty flavors promised in the description start to emerge as well as a distant note of “pastry.”  Definitely a yum cup!

The third cup was very much like the second.  The orchid notes were a bit softer, and there was a little more astringency with this cup than in the previous two.  The nutty tones were a little stronger, as were the buttery pastry notes.  The fourth and fifth cups were less floral and more fruity/nutty.  The astringency seemed to be strongest in the third cup, with the fourth and fifth cups offering a softer astringency, and a slightly thinner texture than was experienced in the second and third cups.

Overall, this was a truly lovely afternoon spent with this Organic Oriental Beauty Oolong from Butiki Teas, proving once again that this is definitely a company worth exploring.  I’ve not yet been disappointed by a tea from this company.  This is one of the nicest Oriental Beauty teas I’ve encountered!

Hong Xiang Luo Keemun from Wan Ling Tea House

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Wan Ling Tea House

Tea Description:

Hong Xiang Luo Keemun tea otherwise known as QiMen Red Tea. This 2011 China black tea is a superb example of a quality black tea. Combining great aroma, fine hairy, elegant leaf, which produces a deep, impressively bright and clear liquor. Refreshing, whilst being robust and balancing a complex blend of delicate flavours. A refined tea that offers a true taste of premium black teas.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

When it comes to Keemun, I typically brace myself for a bold, robust cup that will get me energized and ready to go.  This isn’t that Keemun.

This is a gentler, more refined Keemun.  It doesn’t have that “heft” that some Keemun teas possess, but I think that is what I’m really liking about this one.  This one is quite different from most others.

It has an exquisite complexity to it.  Sweet, but not overly so.  Fantastic set of spice tones in the background – this is what I noticed first.  It reminded me almost of a Yunnan, but without the malty tones.  A delicious, rich peppery tone that really took me by surprise.

It is remarkably smooth and well-rounded.  It has light smoked tones in the distance that seem to move closer as I continue to make my way toward the bottom of the cup.

It is a strong tea, but not so much a “bold” one, if that makes sense.   This isn’t the tea I’d reach for first thing in the morning when I need to shake the “sleepy” but it IS the tea I’d reach for when I want a delicious, contemplative cup … something to ponder over and simply relax … and enjoy.   Very nice… and very good.

Premium Keemun Hao Ya Black Tea from Teavivre

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Teavivre

Product Description:

Absolutely exceptional, premium Keemun Hao Ya black tea

  • Handmade Gongfu process tea from Qimen county, Anhui province
  • Dark black, glossy thin buds topped with golden tips
  • Makes a bold copper coloured tea
  • A bold but smooth, fruity taste with a lingering, mellow aftertaste
  • Moderate caffeine (less than 20% of a cup of coffee)
  • 1-2 teaspoons for 8oz of water.  Brew at 194 ºF (90 ºC) for 2 to 3 minutes

Rated as the best of Chinese black teas, Keemun is an absolute delight to drink. TeaVivre’s Premium Keemun  represents the highest quality of this tea generally available to the public, and has a taste, aroma and appearance that completely justifies its reputation as one of the best black teas in the world.  Handmade in Keemun’s birthplace of Qimen, this tea is simply stunning.

Taster’s Review:

I strongly agree with the above description of this tea.  It truly is a stunning tea.  From the moment I opened the pouch, I could smell the smoky tones of this tea, but I liked that it wasn’t an overwhelming smoky note.

And while I’m touching on the subject of the packaging (or rather, the opening of the packaging), I’d like to take a moment to discuss this packaging and just how impressed I am with it.  The outer pouch is one of those resealable,  “stand-up” Mylar-type packages that is completely opaque which protects the tea properly by not allowing any light to reach the tea leaves.  It is air-tight and will keep air and moisture out and away from the tea.  Inside the Mylar pouch is another pouch (not resealable, this is just a thin, foil-like pouch).

While this type of packaging may not be considered the most environmentally sound packaging available, as someone who has been involved with tea for many years, I can say that this is one of the most respectful packaging that I’ve encountered.  Respectful to the tea, that is.  And that really MEANS something to me.  I have encountered some tea companies who are all about the money and while, yes, a profit IS important to any tea company, the product should be at least just as important.  Teavivre has proven to me that they care and respect the teas they represent … and this is evident, not just by their packaging, but also by the exquisite tea itself.

The smokiness is stronger in the scent than in the flavor, although the smoky tones are certainly present in the flavor.  Beneath that smoky top-layer, I can taste many wonderful layers, creating an intense complexity that surprised me.  Sure, other Keemun teas that I’ve tried have been complex, but, this one is unique in just how exceptionally bold it is, while still maintaining the complexity I’d expect from a top quality Keemun.

That is to say that this tea is a hearty one, making it a perfect choice to enjoy with breakfast.  It has a wonderful, smoky kind of caramel-y sweetness that is delightful, and beneath that sweetness I can taste a fruity tone that is reminiscent of a sweet, dry wine.  But this tea has far less astringency than a typical dry wine … or even a typical black tea, for that matter.  Instead, it is incredibly smooth despite its somewhat rustic smokiness.  There is a certain sophistication to this cup, making me think more of a brandy than a wine (although, I’m not all that comfortable making that comparison, as I’m far less familiar – not at all familiar! – with alcoholic beverages).

This is absolutely one of the best Keemun teas I’ve yet to try.