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96 Tasting Notes

“What’s in your cup?”
This morning, courtesy of KittyLovesTea, I brewed Keemun Congou Rose by St. Martin’s Tea & Merchants: 2 tsp (5 g) / 8 oz / 205*F / 2-4 min. without sweeteners, milk, or cream.
Leaf: Chocolate brown, uniformly short Keemun blended with obvious rose petals
Fragrance: POTENT rose
Liquor: Dark amber brown
Aroma: Floral, very mild Keemun
Flavor:
2 min.: It was not yet full-bodied so I let it steep another minute.
3 min.: Not quite yet, so I gave it another minute.
4 min.: This Keemun was full-bodied, rich and smooth. There was no bitterness and only a slight bit of astringency near the tip of the tongue toward the bottom of the cup. There’s a little tartness in the aftertaste. The flavor follows the potent rose fragrance: rose on the first part of the sip and a rich Keemun on the back half of the sip.

5-min. Re-steep: This cup was less tart and only slightly less full-bodied.

This Keemun is truly unique and should not to be missed by those who enjoy floral scented / flavored black teas.

Note: It also helps if you live in England or know someone who does. This tea is not currently available on St. Martin’s Tea & Merchants website. This unique tea tasting experience was only possible thanks to the kindness of KittyLovesTea who lives in Leicester, England. She surprised us by including it with a Tea Horse Keemun Orchid and some TeaVivre Keemun samples I’ve recently reviewed.

Method:
RO water re-mineralized with an Aptera filter http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39532-puregen-aptera-alkamag-water-filter
http://steepster.com/teaware/teavana/39311-perfect-tea-spoon
http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/37731-my-weigh-durascale-d2-660-digital-scale
Brewed western-style conveniently in a tea mug with a Finum brew basket http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/29177-finum-brewing-basket.
http://steepster.com/teas/davidstea/36677-thermometer-and-timer

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 5 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
TheTeaFairy

I love how “organized” your tea reviews are looseTman :-)

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“What’s in your cup?”
This morning I brewed Organic Keemun Mao Feng by International Tea Importers:
1.5 tsp (3 g) / 8 oz / 212*F / 4-6 min. without sweeteners, milk, or cream.

– Leaf: dark chocolate brown, short, & uniform
– Fragrance: fine pipe tobacco
– Liquor: clear coppery
– Aroma: Very mild Keemun
– Flavor:
4 min.: it was not yet full-bodied so I let it steep another minute.
5 min.: This Keemun was full-bodied, smooth, & enjoyable with a classic Keemun profile. There was no bitterness. There is a mild sense of astringency but nothing objectionable. Perhaps 208*F might be helpful. However, it was not as quite as rich or as complex as TeaVivre’s Premium Keemun Hao Ya or Organic Superfine Keemun Fragrant.

Re-steep: This tea did not re-steep well at 6 min or even 10 min – a one-cup wonder.

Method:
RO water re-mineralized with an Aptera filter http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39532-puregen-aptera-alkamag-water-filter
http://steepster.com/teaware/teavana/39311-perfect-tea-spoon
http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/37731-my-weigh-durascale-d2-660-digital-scale
Brewed western-style conveniently in a tea mug with a Finum brew basket http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/29177-finum-brewing-basket.
http://steepster.com/teas/davidstea/36677-thermometer-and-timer

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
looseTman

I suspect The Steeping Room’s Organic Keemun Mao Feng is sourced from International Tea Importers (ITI).

looseTman

Additional thought added.

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“What’s in your cup?”
This morning I brewed Organic Superfine Keemun Fragrant Black Tea by TeaVivre:
6.5 g / 7.5 oz / 194*F / 1, 2, & 3 min. without sweeteners, milk, or cream.
The Western method directions call for 7 g & 8 oz. Since the sample package contained 6.5 g, I used 7.5 oz. In my eagerness to taste TeaVivre’s top Keemun I forgot the recommended rise before brewing.

Note: To TeaVivre’s credit, I understand their brewing recommendations are determined and optimized through tastings of each new batch and thus may vary from year to year. This sample was from the previous year. Thus, I followed the previous Western brewing recommendations: 8 oz. / 7 g / 194*F / Rinse 1, 2, 3 min.

The Western brewing recommendations for the current year are: 17oz / 6 g / 176℉ / 2-5 min.

Leaf: dark chocolate brown, short, & uniform
Fragrance: subtle Keemun & fine pipe tobacco
Liquor: clear Medium-dark copper
Aroma: Mild Keemun
Flavor:
A rich, full-bodied, refined Keemun with notes of cocoa & caramel that is warm, mellow and relaxing especially as the cup cooled to ~150*F. I truly enjoy both this Keemun as well as their Premium Keemun Hao Ya. I would very much welcome samples of this year’s Organic Superfine Keemun Fragrant and Premium Keemun Hao Ya to brew with both the current Western & Gong Fu recommendations as I am completely out of Keemun and need to order more. Typically I stock 500g to 1kg as Keemun is my favorite breakfast tea.

Re-steep 6.5 g / 7.5 oz / 194*F / 2 min.: This cup is nearly identical to the first one.

2nd Re-steep 6.5 g / 7.5 oz /194*F / 3 min.: This cup is a little less rich than the previous one.

A truly elegant and refined Keemun.

Thanks to KittyLovesTea for providing this free sample.

Method:
RO water re-mineralized with an Aptera filter http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39532-puregen-aptera-alkamag-water-filter
http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/37731-my-weigh-durascale-d2-660-digital-scale
Brewed western-style conveniently in a tea mug with a Finum brew basket http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/29177-finum-brewing-basket.
http://steepster.com/teas/davidstea/36677-thermometer-and-timer

caile

That’s interesting about the different brewing temperatures. My sample package said 194F and it was from the current year I thought…but I see the website does have it at 176F.

looseTman

Making sure one has the recommended brewing parameters for their tea sample significantly reduces potential frustration and insures the best first impression of a new tea. I don’t know which month of the year the new crop becomes available.

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“What’s in your cup?”
This morning I brewed Keemun Black Tea – Grade 1 by TeaVivre: 7.1g / 7 oz / 205*F / 1, 2, & 3 min. without sweeteners, milk, or cream. The Western method directions call for 8 g & 8 oz. Since the sample package contained 7.1 g, I used 7 oz. The TeaVivre recommended rise before brewing was performed.
Leaf: short, dark & unifrom
Fragrance: winey & smoky
Liquor: Medium-dark amber red
Aroma: Classic Keemun – winey & smoky
Flavor:
This Keemun has the classic Keemun full-bodied winey profile. The woodiness found in Grade 2 is absent in Grade 1. Grade 1 is also MUCH smoother than Grade 2, but not quite as smooth TeaVivre’s rich and creamy Premium Kemun Hao Ya. There was no bitterness or astringency. This Keemun is winey, malty and is somewhat sweet. After having enjoyed 1,700 grams of TeaVivre’s Premium Keemun Hao Ya since April 2013, Grade 1 doesn’t have the caramel-like sweetness and wonderful full mouth feel found in their Premium Keemun Hao Ya.

Re-steep 7.1g / 7 oz / 205*F / 2 min.: This cup is just a little less full-bodied but still very enjoyable.

2nd Re-steep 7.1g / 7 oz / 205*F / 3 min.:. This cup is nearly identical to the previous one.

An excellent cost-effective Keemun.

Thanks to KittyLovesTea for providing this free sample.

Method:
RO water re-mineralized with an Aptera filter http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39532-puregen-aptera-alkamag-water-filter
http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/37731-my-weigh-durascale-d2-660-digital-scale
Brewed western-style conveniently in a tea mug with a Finum brew basket http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/29177-finum-brewing-basket.
http://steepster.com/teas/davidstea/36677-thermometer-and-timer

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 7 g 7 OZ / 207 ML

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“What’s in your cup?”
This morning I brewed TeaVivre’s least expensive Keemun: 7.3 g / 7 oz / 205*F / 1, 2, & 3 min. without sweeteners, milk, or cream. The Western method directions call for 8 g & 8 oz. Since the sample package contained 7.3 g, I used 7 oz.
- Leaf: short & dark with a slate gray “nugget”.* (See below)
- Fragrance: winey & smoky – stronger/heavier
- Liquor: dark amber red
- Aroma: winey & smoky
- Flavor:
This Keemun has the typical winey profile but it’s more full-bodied. However, it’s not as rich or smooth as their Premium Keemun. It’s more woody & malty and doesn’t have a noticeable sweetness. There was a slight hint of bitterness. There was also some astringency towards the bottom of the cup. The TeaVivre recommended rinse before brewing should probably be followed.

Re-steep (7.3 g / 7.5 oz / 205*F / 2 min.): The additional 0.5 oz. helped to smooth out the 2nd-cup as there wasn’t noticeable astringency or bitterness.

2nd Re-steep (7.3 g / 7.5 oz / 205*F / 3 min.): This cup is less full-bodied but still enjoyable.

A good economical Keemun.

Thanks to KittyLovesTea for providing this free sample.

Method:
RO water re-mineralized with an Aptera filter http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39532-puregen-aptera-alkamag-water-filter
http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/37731-my-weigh-durascale-d2-660-digital-scale
Brewed western-style conveniently in a tea mug with a Finum brew basket http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/29177-finum-brewing-basket.
http://steepster.com/teas/davidstea/36677-thermometer-and-timer

*Note: Slate gray “nugget” was 0.1g piece of rock found in the TeaVivre sealed sample packet: barcode # 200312090219.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 7 tsp 7 OZ / 221 ML
looseTman

Typos corrected.

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drank Keemun Orchid by Tea Horse
96 tasting notes

“What’s in your cup?” This morning’s tea was truly a new experience – Keemun Orchid by Tea Horse courtesy of KittyLovesTea. Premium Keemun Hao Ya is my usual morning tea. By comparison, this Keemun is quite unique! I brewed 1 tsp. (3g) / 8 oz. & 6 oz. / 212*F / 4 min. without sweeteners, milk, or cream.

- Fragrance: A lush but gentle smokiness that reminds me of fine pipe tobacco & a light floral scent.
- Liquor: Golden amber
- Aroma: Lush, winey, & smoky
- Flavor:
8 oz.: A smooth, winey, med-bodied Keemun, with a pleasing velvet-like orchid aftertaste that persists long on one’s palate – truly special. At 8 oz., the lush winey Keemun character is more potent than the cocoa notes.

8-min Re-steep: Nearly as enjoyable as the first cup. With a little less potent winey character, the orchid notes are easier to appreciate.

2nd Cup – 6 oz.: With this higher leaf-to-water concentration, the orchid flavor is much more obvious and the cocoa notes are easier to appreciate.

8-min Re-steep: Nearly identical to the first 6 oz. cup.

An exceptionally unique Keemun.

Thanks to KittyLovesTea for providing this delightful generous sample. Unfortunately, per KittyLovesTea, “they have recently closed down. :( “ Thus, I feel very fortunate to have tasted this Keemun Orchid, which was also my first orchid tea experience.

Method:
- RO water re-mineralized with an Aptera filter http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39532-puregen-aptera-alkamag-water-filter
- http://steepster.com/teaware/teavana/39311-perfect-tea-spoon
- http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/37731-my-weigh-durascale-d2-660-digital-scale
- Brewed western-style conveniently in a tea mug with a Finum brew basket http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/29177-finum-brewing-basket.
- http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39312-teavana-perfect-preset-tea-timer

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 3 g
looseTman

Additional thoughts have been included.

TheTeaFairy

We rarely see flavoured or scented Keemun, this sounds very unique and interesting…

looseTman

It was an interesting & enjoyable tasting experience. It’s a shame Tea Horse has recently closed. I wonder if this Keemun was unique to Tea Horse or if it’s available from another supplier?

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“What’s in your cup?” This morning it’s a favorite – Organic Morning’s Journey. Today I brewed 1 tbsp. (5g) / 8 oz. / 205*F / 4 min. and found it to be SO ROBUST that I added more water. Then I remembered, I typically steep 5g at: 3, 4, 6, & 8 minutes. It pays to check one’s stepping notes before brewing. (In my defense, it was the first cup of the morning.) This black tea is the definition of full-bodied!

I’m going to miss Organic Morning’s Journey. Since this cup puts us half way through our 4 tin stash, of which there is no more, I’m genuinely interested to see how Hugo Tea’s Full Steam compares.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 5 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Today, is my 3rd foray into Chinese Gongfu brewing and my first with Pu-erh tea.

Per TeaVivre’s Recommend Brewing Guide:
Gaiwan 3oz / Tea: 1piece / 6 steeps: rinse(10s),10s,10s,10s,15s,20s,30s / 100ºC/212ºF

I selected this tea as it seemed to be a very approachable pu-erh that’s uncomplicated to prepare.

Method:
1 mini tuocha (6g – My Weigh Durascale D2 660 )

RO water re-mineralized with an Aptera filter http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39532-puregen-aptera-alkamag-water-filter

Butiki 6oz. Gaiwan http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39240-butiki-flower-gaiwan
TeaVivre’s Double-wall Glass Tea Cups http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39708-teavivre-double-wall-glass-tea-cups

A Teavana Perfect Preset Tea Timer http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39312-teavana-perfect-preset-tea-timer was used in the count-up mode to control the brewing time.

I improvised with what we had on hand. I used a classic Revere Ware SS Copper-bottom stove-top kettle to boil water. A cutting board served as a tea tray/desk for collecting water.

In lieu of a tea pitcher & a matching tea strainer, a Noritake Bleufleur Creamer pitcher 11oz. (Japan) http://thumbs1.ebaystatic.com/d/l225/m/m7U_-XkLDGw6vqi0oOJrD1g.jpg with a Finum brew basket http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/29177-finum-brewing-basket placed in the pitcher were utilized. Every two steepings were combined in the Noritake pitcher then served. The lid on the Finum helped to retain the tea’s temperature in the pitcher between servings. No sweeteners or milk products were added.

Results:
With Gongfu brewing, one can readily appreciate the quality of the leaves and their transformation. The 10-second rinse produced light amber-colored water and the mini tuocha was still solid. After the 1st 10-sec. steep, the solid mini tuocha changed to dark brown leaves that appeared similar to the richest topsoil. The liquor was transformed into a rich dark chocolate brown.

Impression:
The aroma was earthy and reminded me of a barn environment or of well-composted aged top-soil. The medium-bodied flavor was very smooth without bitterness or astringency. There was nothing objectionable about either the aroma or flavor. All six steeps were very consistent in aroma, flavor, and body especially since I was combining every two steeps in the tea pitcher before serving.

After sharing this Gong Fu session with my wife, I felt very relaxed. Both my wife and I found this to be a very enjoyable tea especially for a pu-erh novices like ourselves.

Using a tea like Pu-erh, that’s recommended to be brewed at 212℉, certainly simplifies gongfu brewing compared with teas that require a lower specific temperature. This point is especially true when one doesn’t have a thermo tea pot or kettle with a variable temperature control or presets.

Thanks to Angel Chen and TeaVivre for this very enjoyable free Pu-erh sample.

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
TeaVivre

Gongfu tea is as much about enjoying the appearance and process as the tea. Making tea requires a peaceful heart, I believe that brewing tea is retracing its process. And it can relax our heart and mind.

looseTman

Agreed, very well stated.

mrmopar

It’s a wonderful experience is it not. The brewing just puts your mind at ease with the simpleness of it.

TheTeaFairy

Great review, This is my favourite tocha, I always keep sone around!

TheTeaFairy

(I meant “tuocha” and “some” of course, damn typos!)

looseTman

“It’s a wonderful experience is it not.” Agreed!

looseTman

“Great review,” Thanks!
“This is my favorite tuocha, I always keep some around!” Very high praise indeed!

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drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
96 tasting notes

Today, was my 2nd foray into Chinese Gongfu brewing.

Per Verdant http://verdanttea.com/teas/laoshan-black/#brewing:
“Gongfu Brewing: Use 5g brewing of leaves for a medium gaiwan or yixing pot. Heat the gaiwan or pot with boiling water and pour out. Add leaves, rinse leaves with boiling water for less than a second. Use this steeping to heat cups and pour over yixing. Steep each round for 2-3 seconds, increasing time by 3 seconds each steeping after the third steeping. Enjoy at least 15 infusions.”

Since neither the ounce capacity of the “medium gaiwan” nor the number of ounces of water per 5g of tea were specified, I reviewed the gaiwans currently offered for sale on Verdant’s website. They were all listed as 5oz. Thus, I chose 5oz. per steep.

I selected this tea as I’m very familiar with how it tastes brewing western-style conveniently in a tea mug with a Finum brew basket. I wanted to see how changing the brewing method would affect the flavor profile.

Method:
RO water re-mineralized with an Aptera filter http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39532-puregen-aptera-alkamag-water-filter

Butiki 6oz. Gaiwan http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39240-butiki-flower-gaiwan
TeaVivre’s Double-wall Glass Tea Cups http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39708-teavivre-double-wall-glass-tea-cups
A Teavana Perfect Preset Tea Timer http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39312-teavana-perfect-preset-tea-timer was used in the count-up mode to control the brewing time.

As this was my 2nd Gongfu brewing, I improvised with what we had on hand. I used a classic Revere Ware SS Copper-bottom stove-top kettle to boil water. A baking pan served as a tea tray/desk for collecting water.

In lieu of a tea pitcher & a matching tea strainer, a Noritake Bleufleur Creamer pitcher 11oz. (Japan) http://thumbs1.ebaystatic.com/d/l225/m/m7U_-XkLDGw6vqi0oOJrD1g.jpg with a Finum brew basket http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/29177-finum-brewing-basket placed in the pitcher were utilized. Every two steepings were combined in the Noritake pitcher then served. The lid on the Finum helped to retain the tea’s temperature in the pitcher between servings.

Results:
It’s much easier to visually appreciate the quality of the Laoshan Black leaves and their transformation from long twisted wiry dark chocolate brown leaves that unfurl significantly to become large long whole leaves when infused.

Surprisingly, the Gongfu method produced very similar results to Verdant’s recommend Western brewing instructions. Perhaps, if less than 5oz. per steep were used, additional nuances may have been more apparent?

I was also surprised that this tea could actually be steeped 15 times. While it’s a full-bodied tea, it’s not the most robust black tea I’ve experienced. Towards the end, the liquor became more golden-amber and the flavor took on a more mild character of the unique Laoshan Black profile. By the 15th steep, the color had become a light-golden. The obvious disadvantage to this method is the time necessary for 15 steeps.

Using a tea like Laoshan Black, that’s recommended to be brewed at 212 ℉, certainly simplifies gungfu brewing when one doesn’t have a thermo tea pot or kettle with a variable temperature control or presets.

Preparation
Boiling 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML
AnnaEA

It’s nice to see a note from another person just starting to practice gongfu brewing. Thank you for sharing. I think maybe black teas just brew more similarly because they’re so oxidized, but I haven’t tried many both ways yet to compare.

yyz

AnnaEA. I find it varies. I have some teas that do have a similar profile for the first few steepings at least and then I have some others that are very different animals when brewed in different styles. You’ll find in time that thwete are teas you prefer one way or the other. Or sometimes you may find your style preference changes upion the season of the tea.

looseTman

You’re welcome AnnaEA. And welcome to Steepster! I’ve been brewing tea Western-style all my life. Time to try something different!

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100

These handmade glass tea cups fit quite nicely into one’s hand and are quite comfortable to hold even when filled with black tea that’s brewed at higher temperatures. The double-wall design insulates like a double-pane window. The clear glass also allows one to truly appreciate the color and clarity of the liquor. Additionally, the clear glass works well visually with gaiwans and yixing teapots of many colors & styles.

TheTeaFairy

I have purchased those as well and use them all the time! I also love all good the tea looks in them, it makes me appreciate what I’m drinking even more. For me good teaware improves my tea sessions. But that’s just me :-)

looseTman

“For me good teaware improves my tea sessions.” – Agreed

Terri HarpLady

I also a few of these cups, & Im all for good tea ware!

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Profile

Bio

I am passionate about teas that are full-bodied, rich, & smooth. I joined Steepster to explore Multiple Infusion Teas (MITs) such as Pu-erh.

Currently, my focus is on un-flavored orthodox black & pu-erh teas. Cost-effective organic teas are also of interest.

My wife is an Earl Grey Fan. We enjoyed Twinings for many years – mostly Earl Grey, also English/Irish Breakfast, & Prince of Wales. Several years ago, TEG no longer tasted as good.

Through our local co-op we tried Frontier Natural Products Co-op bulk loose tea – mostly Assam, also Irish Breakfast, & EG.

Rishi EG & China Breakfast then became our regular teas. However, after winning Tea Expo awards, the prices kept rising.

Kevin at The Whistling Kettle introduced me to Keemun, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and my wife enjoyed their Earl Grey Cream.

Our most recent orders were from TeaVivre & Zen Tea Life. Kudos to both Angel Chen and Kenneth Son who have been extremely helpful.

High quality water is essential for excellent tasting tea.
Our 450’ well provides hard water. For details see: http://steepster.com/looseTman/posts/176233#comments.

Solutions:
#1. Rainsoft water softener with
Q2 computerized control valve

#2. Abundant Flow Water
Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System with re-mineralization filter
Model: Zeta RO: https://www.afwfilters.com/drinking-ro-systems/6-stage-alkaline-zoi-zeta-reverse-osmosis-system-16.html
Includes:
- Dow Filmtec TFC R.O. membrane
- Omnipure Inline Post filter
- Puregen Aptera Alkaline Filter: http://www.puregen.com/products_detail.php?id=301&lang=en

Options:
- Aquatec ERP-500 & ASV 2000
- 3/8" Output
- HM Digital DM-1: http://www.tdsmeter.com/products/dm1.html

My profile picture is a Red-Breasted Nuthatch, an annual winter visitor to our woodpecker feeder.

Location

Mid-Atlantic, USA

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