Organic Keemun Black Tea

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Black Tea
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5 Tasting Notes View all

From Arbor Teas

This distinctive black tea hails from Quimen County of Huangshan Shi, in China’s eastern Anhui province. In fact, “Keemun” was actually the English spelling for “Qimen” during the colonial era. This organic and Fair Trade Certified black tea consists of large, elegantly twisted leaves. Its red-brown infusion features a deep, winey quality, with a slightly sweet juiciness. Because of these qualities, Keemuns are often compared to Burgundy wines.

Sustainability is a cornerstone of Arbor Teas’ business philosophy. In addition to offering an exclusively organic selection of teas, they recently became the first tea company to offer their whole catalog in 100% backyard compostable packaging. They’ve also carbon-offset the entire supply chain of their products, from origin to the customer, making Arbor Teas the greenest option for Earth-conscious tea drinkers, and one of few tea companies recognized by Green America.

About Arbor Teas View company

We’re tea enthusiasts with a lot of passion. Passion for top quality tea, the environment, fair trade, and our community. We started Arbor Teas in Ann Arbor, Michigan, intent on creating a tea company as passionate as we are. Our passion is reflected in every aspect of Arbor Teas. You’ll certainly notice it in the exceptional collection of teas we offer - one of the largest catalogs of USDA certified organic teas around, nearly three-quarters of which are Fair Trade Certified®.

5 Tasting Notes

911 tasting notes

I’m fairly over-caffeinated right now after about 2L of tea today and not all that much food. But I’m having so much fun with my new teas that I’m just going to ignore the slight tremor in my hands because I really wanted to get to this tea today. Good thing I don’t need to go to sleep early tonight!

These leaves are (relatively) larger and not as uniform as CTG’s Keemun and Adagio’s Anhui Keemun. Any chance there is a correspondence between leaf size and tea quality?

The dry leaves smell very… starchy? Bready? Toasty? It’s very different from Adagio’s Anhui Keemun but is still attractive. Brewed up, it smells smoky and starchy. I’m oddly reminded of plantains. And something raw/green that reminds me of a Nilgiri.

The taste managed to surprise me. Based on the smell, I was expecting something a little rough and raw tasting. But it’s very sweet – a grain-type sweetness – and notes that alternately remind me of coffee and something almost floral/fresh. There is an overall dryness to the tea – it’s not very strong but it is solidly there and makes me think of a red wine aftertaste. As it cools, I get something that is more Nilgiri like, but more pleasant than any Nilgiri I’ve had.

It’s not what I was expecting with a Keemun but I did manage to drink it quickly. I can’t say I’d reach for this when in a Keemun mood, but I don’t think it’d be totally ignored in my pantry either.

ETA: Ah-ha! I just figured out what that green/raw-ish taste reminds me of – a green rooibos! Seriously, it does! (And green rooibos is the next tea up because I do not need any more caffeine today!)

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335 tasting notes

It’s one of those days you gotta laugh a little. So it’s my Friday off, a day I’d been really looking forward to. So far, my hair appointment for today, which I’d scheduled 24 days ago after needing it for two months, got cancelled; I agreed to go to the bike trail with my parents after we’d already ridden our bikes around the neighborhood, only to get rained on once we got to the trail; and when I went out this afternoon to catch a brief bit of sun, some painful buggy thing got under my shirt and stung me twice ON THE BOOB, both times hard enough to draw blood. So right now, I am sitting in my room, trying not to make Mother Nature any angrier than she already is, with an ice pack wrapped in my crappy tank top and tucked under my bra, listening to this one Parliament song I really should have previewed before I sent it to my bass teacher saying, “I wanna learn this! I think I can do it!” And drinking my keemun.

So. This keemun. I don’t remember it being so smoky the last time I made it. It’s not a good smoke like my lapsang souchong, either. It’s burnt-rubber smoke, in the aroma as well as the flavor. I hope it’s not the influence of the yunnan noir from yesterday and today. There’s a dark fruity? taste that I think I got more of the first time around, but it’s only an undertone. I know there are different grades of keemun; I’m wondering if this is a lesser-grade one. I need to pour it into my clear bowl to look at the liquor, but the impression I’ve gotten is that it’s fairly light. Knocking the rating way down.

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328 tasting notes

Hmmm.. I need to try this again. But after my first sampling,, this had a mild smoky, subtle sweet lapsang souchong flavor. This did not seem like a keemun at all. But if you like smoky and want an organic option, this could be a possibility…

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125 tasting notes

Sample package label:
“USDA Organic, Fair Trade certified
Suggested Steeping Guide:
One generous tsp. / 212*F / 3-5 minutes”

Introduction: Kevin @ The Whistling Kettle first introduced me to Keemun tea: I’ve purchased several pounds from him and have thoroughly enjoyed it. When I saw that Arbor Teas offers two different organic Keemun teas, I had to sample them. This first review is of the more cost-effective one.

Technique: 8-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 21 ppm, heated to 212*F
1 “generous” Tevanna teaspoon, without sweeteners, milk or cream.

This tea has a mild smoky fragrance.
Amber hue

1st cup: I first followed the brewing recommendations and after 5 minutes this Keemun was medium-bodied – not what I expected.

2nd cup: I kept everything the same but reduced the water to 6 oz. and it was too strong.

3rd Cup (8 oz. water & 1 Heaping tsp.):
3-min Initial Impression: The taste is light & smooth. It’s not at all bitter or astringent. (I then let it steep for an additional minute.)
4-min: Improving
5-min: It’s a smooth, full-bodied breakfast tea with a prominent roasted quality that overshadows the subtle wine-like Keemun flavor.

Impression: A cost-effective, smooth, full-bodied, organic Keemun.

Suggestion: With this tea, I used most of the sample to find the optimum balance of water & tea. This results in less of an opportunity to explore the subtleties of the tea. Using teaspoon measurements such as “rounded”, “generous”, “heaping”, etc. are sometimes too imprecise. Adding the weight of tea in grams to the brewing recommendations would be helpful and more time efficient.

(This tasting experience reminds me, I need to find a good digital tea scale. Does anyone have a recommendation?)

Thanks to Arbor Teas and Aubrey for providing this overstuffed free sample.

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