I am a big fan of keemun tea, and consider the smoky character to be a key aspect of the tea. However, the smoke so dominates this tea that I can’t really enjoy it.
The aroma is very smoky: to the point of making me think about Lapsam Souchong. All I can smell is the smoke. The taste and finish are likewise dominated by the smoke, making the tea one-dimensional, though the complex character of keemun is what normally draws me to the tea.
Once I get over my initial impression, I can just enjoy the raw power of the tea. As I said, I do like a smoky tea. I also discovered that the second steep was in many ways better than the first: the smoke is subdued, letting the flavors of the tea peek through. The finish is still dominated by the smoke.
As an experiment, I tried steeping a pot with half my usual amount of tea: only 0.8 grams for 6 oz of water (3 minute steep). The smoke is no longer overwhelming. Although I can’t detect the tea flavors, the tea is good this way. Still, I wouldn’t change my ratings, since the tea is still one-dimensional.
Note: It is possible that I am reviewing the wrong tea here. In late 2013, Art of Tea only has a Hao Ya (with no A) and that is the tea I am reviewing.