Keemun Hao Ya A

Tea type
Black Tea
Ingredients
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Flavors
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Caffeine
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Edit tea info Last updated by keychange
Average preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 g 6 oz / 177 ml

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2 Tasting Notes View all

  • “I actually ordered my art of tea sampler before I joined steepster, and was surprised that it wasn't all the rage once I perused the boards. No one has anything overwhelmingly negative to say about...” Read full tasting note
    keychange 450 tasting notes
  • “I am a big fan of keemun tea, and consider the smoky character to be a key aspect of the tea. However, the smoke so dominates this tea that I can't really enjoy it. The aroma is very smoky: to...” Read full tasting note
    81
    Dr Jim 107 tasting notes

From Art of Tea

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About Art of Tea View company

Art of Tea is a tea importer and wholesaler based in Los Angeles, California. We hand blend and custom craft the world’s finest organic teas and botanicals. Our teas are carefully selected directly from growers, each one offering a unique story.

2 Tasting Notes

450 tasting notes

I actually ordered my art of tea sampler before I joined steepster, and was surprised that it wasn’t all the rage once I perused the boards. No one has anything overwhelmingly negative to say about it in particular, but it’s just not the company that many people obsess about. I actually learned of it because I follow a really popular fragrance blog, and one of the writers there suggested it as a house for loose tea beginners. I’m still glad I did.

I’ll be honest and admit that I don’t really know what a Keemun really is. I mean, I know it’s a black tea, and that it’s somehow different from other types of black tea, but I wouldn’t have known how. But it came with the black sampler pack, and I figured today was as good a day as any to try it. It’s rather dreary out, and there’s a coldness that’s settled into my bones that I’m trying to rid myself of.

First sniff: black tea, but different, somehow. More character than, say, your average English breakfast.
Second, deeper sniff: definite hints of…barnyard?
Third sniff: yup, definitely barnyard. Complete with hay, animals, and maybe even some leather saddles over in some far-off corner. Maybe. But definitely a distinct barnyard.
Well, I thought, a little barnyard never hurt anybody, right? and so I brewed this per the instructions. As it brewed, the barn yard smell persisted, and so I made sure to cap the brewing at four minutes (instead of five) just in case the taste profile was too strong. I added in my required cream and sugar, and took my first sip.
I could definitely detect the black tea-ness about it, and it certainly isn’t all bad. And if someone took the essence of barnyard and infused it into a tea and it tasted this decent, then I’m convinced you can make a tea taste like any smell in the world and absolutely make it work. It didn’t taste bad at all. The barn yard taste did linger, and certainly was not overshadowed by anything, but it sort of tasted more like barn yard black tea and not just straight up barn yard, you know? and I think adding milk and sugar helped, because it sort of smoothed out any rough edges. I felt as though I was perhaps sipping black tea while having been in a barn yard all day, but not necessarily as though I was thrust unceremoniously into a barn yard and then firmly instructed that I must now roll and tussle with the livestock. You know what I mean?

Sooo. This is definitely going into my swap basket, because the great thing about the tea world is that you can love a tea that someone else abhors and vice versa. I would still drink this again if it were offered, as it’s a solid tea that tastes good enough, but I don’t feel compelled to finish this sample or restock. I’m all about the biodynamic Darjeeling when it comes to art of tea.

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81
107 tasting notes

I am a big fan of keemun tea, and consider the smoky character to be a key aspect of the tea. However, the smoke so dominates this tea that I can’t really enjoy it.

The aroma is very smoky: to the point of making me think about Lapsam Souchong. All I can smell is the smoke. The taste and finish are likewise dominated by the smoke, making the tea one-dimensional, though the complex character of keemun is what normally draws me to the tea.

Once I get over my initial impression, I can just enjoy the raw power of the tea. As I said, I do like a smoky tea. I also discovered that the second steep was in many ways better than the first: the smoke is subdued, letting the flavors of the tea peek through. The finish is still dominated by the smoke.

As an experiment, I tried steeping a pot with half my usual amount of tea: only 0.8 grams for 6 oz of water (3 minute steep). The smoke is no longer overwhelming. Although I can’t detect the tea flavors, the tea is good this way. Still, I wouldn’t change my ratings, since the tea is still one-dimensional.

Note: It is possible that I am reviewing the wrong tea here. In late 2013, Art of Tea only has a Hao Ya (with no A) and that is the tea I am reviewing.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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