From the queue
Husband needed a re-stocking of his Triple B chamomile bags. (Triple B = Before Bed Beverage) This then led to me finding myself in the tea section of the supermarket. Having moved, it’s a new supermarket. Same chain but larger, so they have a higher variety on some things. There was a thread on the discussion boards not too long ago about how it seemed like supermarkets seemed to be stocking a wider selection of loose leaf teas and of a generally higher quality than they did just a few years ago. Danish supermarkets seem to be moving into that trend as well these days, so I thought I’d have a gander. There were some really nice looking tins, unfortunately none of which containing anything I was interested in, so I was just about to move on when I spotted this on a shelf next to some Earl Grey of the same brand. These were standing a little back on the shelf compared to the EG (I imagine because someone took some before me), so they were easy to miss.
Excellent, I thought. It’s a type I’m rather fond of in general and it’s not so long ago that I was wishing I had some Keemun in the house. Therefore, yoink!
I have, however, upon coming home discovered two things about it. One suspicious and one slightly amusing.
The suspicious thing is the ingredients list which reads ‘Keemun tea (from China and Vietnam)’
This is not actually a Keemun tea. It’s a Keemun blend! Boo! Oh well. I suppose it’s still better than no Keemun at all.
The slightly amusing thing is the storage recommendation where it says to not pour it into a different container and that it keeps best in the bag. Like plock it does; it’s a paper bag! And it’s not even resealable in anyway. Not only is that impractical, it’s also not going to offer any protection against air or smell what so ever. LOL! Hand me a tin.
Now, blend or not, the leaves smell lovely. All wooden and leathery, slightly malty and with the faintest whiff of smoke. That, I have to admit, smells authentic enough. I expect this is probably mostly Keemun with enough Vietnamese filler to beef it up and make it cheaper. I didn’t exactly pay a fortune for this and there were 150 g in the bag.
After steeping it smells a bit thinner. Malty and grain-y, yes, and again the barest hint of smoke, but also rather a lot of just hot water. I would have liked a stronger, fuller aroma. This gets better as it cools to a drinkable temperature, but I would have liked it to be like that from the beginning.
The first few sips are indeed a wee bit thin in flavour and the fact that it’s a blend is really showing. It’s got the bone characteristics of a Keemun, a touch of smoke and some grainy notes and a bit of malt. But it’s thin. It’s stretched out and there’s very much an imitiation sort of feel to it. The vietnamese tea that it’s been stretched with is definitely playing a part here. It’s got some low-grown notes to it and I’m sort of getting the impression here of a relatively good quality Keemun stretched by a poorer quality Vietnamese which has roughly the same kind of flavour profile.
That just doesn’t work that way, though! Instead of something that makes me go ‘yay, Keemun!’ I’ve got something that makes me think ‘hm, good enough in a pinch’. If it hadn’t said Keemun on the bag, I wouldn’t have thought it had anything to do with Keemun at all apart from tasting relatively similar.
Again, it helps a bit as it cools and develops, but that’s just not good enough. It needs to be there sooner. Doesn’t lose that rough-around-the-edges imitation flavour, though. It’s not really a smooth tea, this.
I’m not completely disappointed, though. In itself it’s not at all a bad tea. I just don’t think it really does what it says on the box. On the other hand, it’s probably not aimed at people like me who are used to counting on teas that say Keemun on them actually being from Anhui and not Vietnam and who knows exactly what her Perfect Keemun should taste like. It’s probably aimed at people who are used to having bagged tea and once in a while gets a bag of loose for guests or sheer luxury. If I had still been one of these people and I had tasted this, I believe I would have been highly pleased with it. If I had been completely new at loose leaf, first venturing out into buying a higher quality leaf and I had tasted this, it would make me try more Keemun.
On that point, this is a highly succesful blend, I think. For the experienced loose-leaf drinker it’s not really special but perfectly drinkable, but it would make an excellent beginner’s tea.
I shall rate it as the blend it is, not as I would a pure Keemun, and put it here. If it had been a pure Keemun, I’d probably have knocked some 10 points or so off that.