60 Tasting Notes
I’ve been putting off a review because I have multiple tasting notes that don’t agree.
Today’s note says:
I love the incredibly rich nose. Wood smoke with hints of chocolate and something else (spice?). The taste is rich and complex with moderate power and depth. The finish is strong, but the smoky flavor tastes a bit more like ashes in the finish and I’m not sure how much I like that.
This tea is all about the smoke and if you don’t like a smoky tea you won’t like it. But, it seems to me to be an excellent example of a keemun: smoky and complex. I reduced my rating a bit because I don’t think the finish lives up to the other two components. Still a high rating because the finish isn’t bad, just not up to the rest of the tea.
On previous occasions, I’ve sometimex thought the smoke was too strong, but on other occasions saw more chocolate than smoke. This may be the result of slightly different steeping methods (one was a gong-fu style) or perhaps just my mood. My overall ratings go from 82 to 90, so this is an average of all my previous tastings.
Re-steep as nearly as good as first pot.
I have a hard time explaining why I like this tea so much. A big part of it is simply because it is decaffeinated. I normally drink unflavored teas, but the huge difference in quality between regular and decaf makes it difficult to switch to decaffeinated tea in the evening. Also, my favorite tea is Keemun and I’ve never seen a decaf Keemun
My go-to evening tea has been Harney and Son’s vanilla Comoro, which does a great job of blending the flavor of tea with Vanilla. This tea is like that as well. It has a big, fruity aroma, but with tea there as well. The taste is also a good mix of fruit and tea. Lots of body, yet smooth and very little bitterness. Not at all sophisticated or complex (which I usually insist upon) but just enjoyable to drink.
I don’t eat mango enough to say that this smells like mango, but I know that I enjoy it. If this were a caffeinated tea with the same characteristics, I probably wouldn’t score it quite this high, but being able to enjoy it at 9 PM is worth a few points.
With sugar: Very pale color. I really like the aroma, but the taste isn’t quite as compelling. It is nearly all butterscotch; the tea flavor gets a bit lost, though it does poke through. The flavor is remarkably complex, with hints of pineapple and grapefruit. I’m not sure how much is the tea and how much is flavoring, but the overall result is quite nice.
2nd pot: I usually use sugar in my flavored teas, but on a whim I decided to not use sugar, and was surprised by how much better I liked the tea. It had a lot of nuance that I missed before. The butterscotch flavor was still dominant, especially in the nose, but I really enjoyed the white tea flavors as well. The re-steep was nearly as good. Definitely a keeper
(1.6 grams, 6 oz water): Light nose with straw aroma. The taste is light and crisp with notes of straw and grass. Initial impression: not very strong; Short finish. Developed a bit more flavor as it cooled but still not very powerful. I like this tea because it reminds me of a sauvignon blanc wine (which my doctor has forbidden). Not sure if a green tea afficionado would like it. I tasted this with the Upton decaf china green, and initially the power of the Upton decaf just blew me away, but after a while I began to appreciate the delicate tart flavor of this tea. In fact I bumped my rating a couple of points.
(1.6 grams, 6 oz water): Powerful aroma of a new-mown lawn, with hints of straw. Fairly powerful grassy taste, with hints of something else underneath. The finish lingers. As the tea cooled, the flavor changed from grass to straw, but stayed pleasant and relatively strong. This is my favorite green decaf. I drank it immediately after the Harney’s decaf sencha, and the proximity emphasized how much more powerful this tea is. However, in going back and forth between the two teas, I found that this tea lacks the crispness of the Harney’s, which I really like.
My very first keemun was Teavivre’s Keemun #1, and it is still one of my favorite teas. I have been looking forward to trying its “big brother”. I was curious because it seemed to be quite inexpensive compared to other Hao Ya teas I have recently tried.
This tea’s nose has much less smoke than #1, but there are hints of chocolate. It seems very refined and elegant, but less powerful than I would like. The taste is also a bit on the weak side, but pleasant; without a hint of bitterness.
The tea really comes into its own in the finish. It opens up and shows both power and complexity. There is still a lot of flavor a full minute after I swallow. This long finish seems to help the taste build up: each sip seemed stronger than the first, so that by the end of the cup, I can’t really complain about the lack of power.
I gave this pretty much the same rating as the Keemun #1 but they are very different teas. This one is more subtle but lacks the smoke and power that I’ve come to look for in Keemun teas.
This is my favorite decaf tea, hands down. The vanilla is not overpowering, and the blend is perfect. A very pleasant warm drink in the evening.
The tea has a beautiful aroma that seems slightly toasty with subtle vanilla aroma. The rich flavor is round and multi-dimensional, easing into a nice finish. The burnt flavor gives a hint of bitterness, but not enough to be unpleasant. I usually add a bit of sugar in which case the slight bitterness totally vanishes. Tasted side-by-side with Upton Vanilla Decaf. This one is more dramatic, but I don’t like it any better. (but it costs 2/3 as much by the pound). I bought a pound.
I bought this after reading a novel in which a character drank Lapsang Souchong, so I guess I deserve what I got.
I hated it. Smells like the house is burning. I tried to give it a second chance at work and the smoke was so strong I was afraid someone would pull a fire alarm. People were looking around for the source of the smoke.
I won’t give it a number, since I know there are people who really like the smoke, but caveat emptor.
I’m a big fan of Keemun teas, so bought a sample of this as a special treat. And a fine treat it was.
The aroma is good: not overly powerful but with a strong chocolate nature. Magnificent finish: long, complex, and powerful. The taste is good and well-balanced, but not quite as good as the finish, which just goes on forever. Not a hint of bitterness anywhere. Excellent tea. Not as smoky as some Keemuns, but the smoke is definitely there.
I tried a 2nd steep(3m): Taste and nose are slightly weaker than the first steep, but the quality of the flavors was almost as good as the first steep. The finish was a lot weaker than the first time around. Still, if I had only had the second steep, I would have said it was an above-average tea.
I drank this in a series of cups with some other Keemuns. When I tried my previous favorite (Upton’s ZK25 Keemun Dao Ming) it tasted a bit coarse compared to this tea, which was really elegant.
Although this is a bit pricy, I think I need to buy a larger quantity, since it is definitely the best keemun I’ve ever had, as well of one of my favorite teas ever. I’ll use the fact that it re-steeped fairly well to help justify the price.
(3 min steep): Rich, dark color. Powerful smoky nose. The flavors are powerful, but the smoke component is a bit too dominant for my tastes. I might like this better if it weren’t so strong. No bitterness. Big finish also dominated by smoke.
The above note was based upon 1.6 gms in 5 oz of water, which is stronger than I normally steep, so I tried again with 1.4 gms in 6 oz water. The tea wound up slightly weaker, but still strong, and the smoke still dominated. The different steeping parameters didn’t change my opinion.