I’m skipping the queue with this one, because I need to gush! There will be a queued post later, so that I’m not neglecting those.
I’m having Bad Dog! tea. I hadn’t heard about this company before, until SimplyJenW made a post about their Keemun in which it was mentioned that it had been grown in Fujian. This caught my interest. Keemun and Fujian black. And not just any bit of Fujian. No, it was near the village of Tan Yang! A combination of my two favouritest things in the world of tea? Was it a blend? No, it wasn’t. My guess was that it must be like that Taiwanese Assam that Butiki has, the one which is made from Assam cultivars but grown in Taiwan. This was indeed what was going on.
Steepsterites. I needed this tea in my life. I needed it like air!
I made some inquiries regarding the possibility of shipping to Denmark and what it would cost, and Joseph Wesley is a very kind soul who really went out of his way to help me get an order. Long story short, order was placed through email, and payment sent through paypal. And this is where my jaw dropped and I had to do a little dance of victory. What I had ordered would have made me eligible for free shipping, had I been in the US. Obviously, this was not feasible for him to do when shipping to Denmark, so instead he offered to pay half the shipping cost for me, so that I still got something out of having ordered for that much. So many companies would have simply said ‘sorry, we can’t give you free shipping to Europe, because we don’t normally ship there,’ and I’d have been fine with that. This solution that Joseph Wesley offered me would never even have occurred to me! I thought it was very generous of him to offer it, and if he hadn’t, I’m not sure I would have placed the order at all. It made the difference between what I’m willing to pay for shipping and what I’m not. Clearly this guy had taken pity on me in my Fujian Keemun desperation and decided to move sun and moon to make it happen. I went HOORAY! and forked over the money.
The generosity didn’t stop there, though. Let me tell you, Steepsterites, what happened next.
Joseph Wesley has seven different teas on his website, six of which I was interested in trying. There was the aforementioned gold nugget, this one which I’ll be writing about in a moment, an Assam (I’m becoming interested in Assam lately), three more Chinese blacks and a Darjeeling. Pass on the Darj. I don’t much care for that stuff. But the others! When ordering samples, you can get three samples, five samples or seven samples. Ideally, at this point I would have liked four, but I then realised that I’ll be sending a parcel to Auggy shortly, so why not ask for doubles and share with her? Seeing as how we appreciate the same sort of qualities in our black teas and generally love the same things, I should like to have her opinion as well. And I was already planning on sharing some of the Fujian Keemun with her anyway. So in the end I opted for seven samples, three of which were doubles.
When I then received my parcel, it included a handwritten letter from Joseph Wesley about how my size order fell just exactly in a zone of ‘no practical packaging’ and that he had included an extra free sample! I now have doubles of all the samples to share with Auggy! YAY!
How fabulous is that?
I didn’t start with the coveted Fujian Keemun, though. I haven’t tried it yet. I’m waiting for the Right Moment. Well, actually I just want to go around a look at the tin for a bit and just look forward to it. And pet it now and then. :)
This one I also got a tin of, and it’s from Zheijiang province. I am certain that I’ve had tea from there before, but I’d have to dig deep in my notes to find out which ones it was, so for all intents and purposes, it’s new to me.
I followed the suggestion from Joseph Wesley of using significantly cooler water than I normally would have. He suggests the same temperatures that I would normally have used for a white tea, or perhaps a particularly hardy green. This rather went against everything I’ve learned about my own preferences, but I thought, since I’d seen it I’d give it a go. I don’t normally look for these things at all, you see. I’ve been at this long enough to know what I like and how I like it, and next time I have this, it’ll very likely be the way I would normally brew, so I can see if there is a discernable difference. I expect the cultivar is dictating the temperature somewhat here.
The aroma is very mild and malty. I’m having a hard time really getting it. It does that thing where I can almost imagine that it’s somehow heavier than air, and I can sense it hovering there above the tea, but I can’t draw it into my nose properly. It’s quite strange.
It tastes… You know my very first thought was licorice. Not the anise-y unlicorice that some of you call licorice (Ha! I must laugh! Ha!) and which has nothing to do with proper licorice. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Anise =/= licorice. Anise doesn’t even taste like licorice. It tastes like anise.Not proper, real licorice which is as black as night, it has a chewy texture and preferably salty. Paradoxically, Real Proper Licorice which is chewy and preferably salty, doesn’t actually have too much to do with licorice root either. I’m sure it’s made of the stuff somehow. Some kind of extract probably, but it tastes different from actual dried licorice root. And when I say ‘this reminded me at first of licorice’ I meant Real Proper. Not anise, not licorice root.
Gosh that was long and complicated for something that was just a fleeting thought. I’ve accidentally made this cup a bit strong. I thought I had more water in the kettle when I measured out the leaf, you see, but the tea, although a wee bit astringent, has not been damaged. No bitterness. If I had used boiling water like I normally would I might not have been so lucky with it.
Now, what I’m actually picking up here when the licorice moment has passed is an underlying note of dark chocolate. Very dark chocolate. Well within the range of 70%+ cocoa here, and yet it’s still chocolate rather than cocoa. It’s rather hiding a bit. I just find myself sitting there going hmm, grain, yes, slightly floral, yes, bit Keemun-y, yes, hey, what was that? And there it is, lurking underneath all the rest is the chocolate. I’m also getting a smidge of cherries in it, but not until it’s all cooled down to lukewarm at the bottom of the cup, and even then it’s just a teensy bit, but still. Cherry.
Basically this reminds me of a strong Keemun with some chocolate-y notes in it and a wee bit of cherry. I’m really rather enjoying this, even though I accidentally overleafed it a bit.