I’m continuing on my Keemun craze. It all started with one innocent sample of Keemun Xiang Luo, and next thing I know I’m back to the tea shop to buy more because it was incredible. Then came the thought, “I bet this would go great with Stilton”, so over to the cheese shop I went. The pairing worked with a cheese other than the Stilton (actually Shropshire) as I thought it would, but I knew with the right Keemun it would work. So, back to the tea shop I went for more. I got some Mao Feng (this one) for the pairing, some Ho Ya A so I wouldn’t drink all of the Xiang Luo (they’re similar and the Ho Ya A is easier to get) and some basic Keemun (the Imperial) because once that Keemun spiral sucks you in…
Of the Keemuns I have, this is the boldest of the bunch. There is a definite smoky, roasted flavor. People who like dark roast coffee would find it familiar. Going hand in hand are other dark roasted flavors, mostly dark chocolate, but also some notes of tobacco. It has a smooth thick body, which given the taste, reminds me of a stout style beer. There is a little bit of a tannic bite, but just a little, possibly adding to what seems to be an afternote of spice.
Colston Bassett Shropshire was the cheese I initially had in mind when I was drinking the Xiang Luo for a Keemun pairing, but it didn’t work. The Xiang Luo just wasn’t forward enough, lacked in too many areas and just wasn’t quite right in others. The Moa Feng that I’m drinking right now has the bravado to stand up to the Shropshire. Harsher notes from the cheese or the tea were balanced by the other, new flavors were formed. A brightness formed that wasn’t initially there. Hidden flavors of dried fig and apple were revealed. Even the texture, became all around more fudgey. So far the pairing was great… but my favorite (and the most unexpected part) was the rind with the tea! The rind on this cheese is 100% edible, but it’s often strong to the point where you wouldn’t want to eat it, and the piece I’m eating is certainly close to that point, and by itself was pretty nasty. Talk about a balancing act. (when I talk about eating the rind, I’m eating it as part of a bite containing the interior of the cheese.) The tea completely washes away the harsh volatile flavors in the rind. The predominant flavors left are roasted peanuts, almonds, and chocolate. If nutella were made with almonds and peanuts instead of hazelnuts, it would taste like this. Finally, the pairing I was going for worked, and now the Keemun spiral can come to an end.
I steeped the tea western style in a ForLife brand steeping basket/cup combo. I used 8.9g leaves, 14 oz water, 202 F for 4 mins. I like a heavy brew with Keemun.
Flavors: Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Smoke