Hello Steepsterites! I know, I (and my massively long tasting notes) have been MIA lately. Shame on me! My absence has been due to a sad lack of new teas. As some of you might recall, a couple of years ago the husband and I paid off our house. Awesome, right? There’s only one downside. See, turns out we don’t like our neighborhood. And honestly, I’d really like a dining room and a bit more of a back yard. Which means we’ve been contemplating buying a new, slightly larger house. But with no current mortgage, you can bet we don’t want to buy a house in a way that saddles us with a new mortgage, right? Which means we’ll have to save up a fairly substantial amount of money. Which means the budgetary belt has been tightened. A lot. Which has really impeded my tea purchasing (especially since it has to fight my knitting obsession for my monthly discretionary spending). But my tea pantry has withered to a measly 68 teas and that’s just not on, so this month tea has defeated knitting in the battle for my money.
I’ve placed a couple of orders (with Le Palais des Thés and American Tea Room) but they haven’t come in yet, so I spend some time today meandering around my grocery store’s tea section and managed to I come across this little tea. I can’t say no to a good Keemun so I didn’t even try to fight it when it jumped into my buggy. (Seriously, it just jumped in there! No help from me at all!)
I really wasn’t expecting all that much from this (after all, I love CTG’s Keemun almost as much as I love my cats and this tea is being sold in a grocery store) but I am pleasantly surprised by it. It has an amazingly sweet and fruity smell to it. There’s a bit of that typical acrid/acidic-ish smoke edge that is common to Keemuns but the majority of the smell is a full slightly-earthy-but-mostly-floral/fruity scent. I want to say it is somewhat fig-like. (That could just be because I was contemplating the figs at the grocery store today but it also could be because it is actually figgy. I might have to get out some of my dad’s fig preserves for a more accurate comparison.)
The smell isn’t the only fruity/figgy/floral thing about this tea – the taste is, too. It’s very smooth (I got almost no smoke/acridity sharpness) and it’s quite soft and pretty. But as nifty as that is, it’s also a little disappointing. I mean, yeah, it’s neat to get that fruity/figgy/floral taste in a tea that, when done poorly, can be scratchy, acrid and rough, but that sweet, soft floral, etc is pretty much the entire taste. I find myself missing the earthier notes of leather and mustiness a bit.
Don’t get me wrong – I like this tea just how it is. The smoothness is quite nice but I would totally trade a bit of it for a tad more depth. Brewing for a bit longer might take care of that, but even if it doesn’t I won’t be too sad because this is very pretty. I mean, it’s not lovely enough to replace my CTG Keemun love. It’s also behind Adagio’s Anhui Keemu in all but price and I’m sure TeaSpring has at least one Keemun that could make this one cry for its mommy, but I believe this could claim a spot in my Top 5 Keemuns.
The second steep helps cement this opinion. The taste has a dash more depth – it’s still sweet and fruity/figgy/floral but has just a touch of texture to deepen the taste and give it a hint of almost bake-iness. The finish is still high, sweet and makes me think of the color of pink that is on inside of a fig (maybe that’s why I think it tastes figgy) but now with an added note of toasted sugar.
So yeah, totally impressive for a grocery store tea. Really good for a tea full stop, actually. Still not my favorite Keemun but definitely not one to be dismissed. I think I’ll enjoy drinking this one while I window shop (since that’s the only type of shopping I’ll be doing for the rest of this month).