I discovered Keemun tea by accident-just browsing TeaGschwendner’s site and seeing that it looked different. Liked it a lot-very unique taste compare to Assams, Ceylons, Darjeelings, etc. Tried RoT’s (which won 2nd place last year at NATC) and Teavana’s. Rishi’s won an award this year, and I couldn’t pass up this reserve-even though it was much more expensive than the previously mentioned Keemuns. Rishi promises 5-7 steeps out of 2 tablespoons-which is good, because that’s A LOT of tea.
My first experience brewing this tea was a disaster. I was just recovering from a cold, but didn’t realize I had lost my sense of taste or smell until I drank this and tasted nothing but brown water-ugh. Put it away for a week or so until my senses recovered. I have brewed this tea on two different days since my recovery.
I was concerned that being harvested in April instead of Autumn that the tea would taste radically different-as I found out to my dismay on 2nd flush darjeeling. The first brew was REALLY strong and bitter-think I went 5 minutes. Subsequent steeps were much shorter and better. Today, I started out at 3 minutes. Still, the first steep was really bitter. 2nd and 3rd steeps were much better. 4th had a little bitterness return-but it was gone by the 5th steep. I didn’t want to stay up all night so I had to stop there-but I thought it could have gone for one more steep.
I have to admit being a little irritated learning that Rishi has been saying “it is sure to be the very best Keemun of the year” for three years now. However, that has no bearing on my review or enjoyment of the tea.
I did enjoy this tea quite a bit, though I think it had less of the chocolate notes other Keemuns have had (because of the Spring harvest?). However, this is so expensive even with 5-7 steeps-it’s just not that much better than other Keemuns I have had to justify the price. I probably won’t buy it again.
Packaging-Comes in a sealed foil pouch placed inside Rishi’s traditional zip-lock type resealable pouch. I think it’s a tight squeeze to put the inner foil pouch back inside the Rishi outer pouch-so consider whether you need alternative storage for the inner foil pouch.
Dry leaf-short (about 1/4 inch long) needle-like. mostly very dark brown
1st steep- 3min/200
Notes-a little leathery and a touch of smoke
Taste-bitter with lingering bitter aftertaste
Aroma-not much, but traditional Keemun smoke, woodsy
2nd steep 3:15/195
Aroma-stronger. smells like keemun-smoky, woodsy
Taste-Much smoother. most of bitterness gone. tastes like traditional keemun-slightly smoky and faint chocolate notes.
Aroma-about the same as 2nd steep
Liquor-is now coppery in color. Zero bitterness.
Taste-Smooth. Notes are woodsy/piney, smoky
4th steep 2:15/195
Liquor-between amber and copper.
Body is light-medium.
Taste-milder/weaker flavors but now some bitterness returns. Notes same as 3rd steep
Aroma-same, but milder
5th steep 1:40/195
Liquor is amber-looks like a 1st flush darjeeling.
Taste-Notes the same. Still there, but milder again. A tiny bitterness in the aftertaste.