I’m still working on my relationship with this tea.
When it came in the mail, I saw the instructions on the bag which recommended I steep one tablespoon of leaves per eight ounces of water, using boiling water for three to four minutes. That seemed like a lot of tea to me, but I figured the folks at Rishi know their products better than I do, so I did just what they said. Even after three minutes, the result was an undrinkable astringency bomb. I’m now using a much more sensible amount of leaf and somewhat cooler water to account for the buds in this relatively tippy tea, which isn’t technically a Keemun because it’s made in Hubei, the next province over from Anhui, where Qimen (Keemun) county is. Interestingly, when I tried to brew that first oversize batch of leaves a second time, I found that they’d given up most of their tannins in the first round, and the result was odd but kind of nice.
The color of the plain liquor is a beautiful copper red, but I’ve found that I much prefer this tea with some milk. After all, Keemun is the traditional English Breakfast Tea and has been drunk with milk and sugar for over a century. It’s a little harsh without the milk, and the light sweetness of the buds, while detectable through the tannin, could use a little help (I only use a literal pinch of sugar in a 12 ounce mug). There are hints of chocolaty Keemun flavor, helped along by the added sweetness, but ultimately it’s not a tea to write home about. Not that I’m complaining: with milk and sugar it makes a perfectly good breakfast tea, which ain’t bad for something I only bought to boost my order up to $49.00 so I could get free shipping from Rishi.