This was another free sample generously provided to me by TeaVivre. Thank you so much!
Steeping notes: 3 tsp. leaf to 500 ml water at the below parameters. No additives.
Dry leaf: Small, dark, and compact. There was a slight smoky smell but really it smelled more cocoa-y and slightly musty than actual smoke.
Steeped leaf: A dark reddish brown color. The smell was quite similar to that of the dry leaf – a touch more musty once it was wet, though. The taste was not smoky at all, which was a really good thing for me – I was nervous about that aspect of the flavor but it is not present (maybe because I lowered the steep time?), so yay!
Frankly, the strongest taste I’m getting is dark chocolate on the swallow. It’s bitter like dark chocolate, but not bitter like an astringent tea would be, if that makes any sense. The texture is verging on thin, but that’s more down to my chickening out on steep time than anything else. As it cools the musty scent is transferring into the taste, but it’s still not smoky, so I’ll take it.
Overall: I think this must be a milder Keemun, and even though I wouldn’t venture much further as a matter of personal taste, I think it would be a good gateway tea for those who do want to explore smokier teas. As it cools I’m finding it somewhat abrasive on the back of my throat so I could definitely decrease the steep time when I have it again and see if that improves. Not bad at all!