So it’s official – good Keemuns are really good! Adagio’s Anhui, Chicago Tea Garden’s, Jackee Muntz and this one – they’re all a little bit different but they’re all good. They each have similar notes of rye and sweet and smoke but in different strengths and proportions. Adagio’s and CTG seem to sit on one side of the spectrum for me with softer, smoother notes and lots of complexity. Jackee sits on the other end, representing the Keemuns with a stronger, more straight-forward flavor and texture and oh yeah, if the stars align, major sweet-in-the-form-of-caramel notes.
This one strikes me as sitting pretty much in the middle of that spectrum, with some delightful characteristics of the Keemuns to either side. The dry leaves smell sweet and slightly smoky, which somehow combines to give me the strong impression of chocolate – more milk than dark, but listing slightly towards the dark side. Post-steeping, the smell is slightly smoky, rich and silky, with a bit of a dark grain/yeasty note that is too sweet to be bready and instead translates into almost crème brulee-ish. You might see where I’m going with this…
The taste is lovely. Not quite as complex as CTG’s or Adagio’s Anhui Keemun but still with that overall gentle smoky taste and almost-bready/grain-ish/woodsy solid note. Then a bit of stars-aligned Jackee pops up in the insanely smooth and silky feel. The end taste is especially smooth with no hint of a raw or acrid note that a lot of Keemuns seem to have. Instead, it’s silky, rounded and heavy. If this tea was a shape (other than, you know, the shape of whatever container you pour it in to) it would be a large, frictionless, dark garnet sphere – that’s how smooth it feels going down. It also has a strong sweet note – not quite as sweet as full-on-caramel-mood Jackee, but sweet enough that, combined with the thicker grain-ish/yeasty/solid note and the smooth, decadent feel, it makes me think a bit of crème brulee or custard.
Ultimately, I like the edge and greater complexity of CTG’s and Adagio’s Anhui Keemun just a hair more (a very tiny hair, in fact) but this is a really good tea. Those that find non-caramel Jackee a bit strong would probably really enjoy this one, especially the sweet notes and silky feel. Actually, anyone that enjoys Keemuns would probably like this one unless you tend to go for rougher, rawer feeling/tasting Keemuns – it’s truly delightful.
A big thanks to Angrboda for the share!