China Keemun Dao Ming (organic ZK24)

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Black Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by East Side Rob
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Boiling 4 min, 45 sec

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From Upton Tea Imports

A fresh and lively organic selection with classic Burgundy nuances and hints of oak. The hue of the cup is reddish-gold. These slender, tightly curled black leaves yield an excellent liquor at a modest price.

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3 Tasting Notes

25 tasting notes

Upton’s description of this tea talks about “Burgandy nuances” and “hints of oak.” Mmm, no, not tasting any of that.

I knew I was going to like this Keemun better than some of my recent tastings of this genre just by looking at the leaves. While they were dark, they didn’t look like they were covered in creosote, which at least showed promise that this tea wouldn’t taste tarry like some other Keemuns I’ve had recently.

The liquor is dark and the taste has hints of dark chocolate, obscured somewhat by that incessant smoky thing so many Keemuns seem to have. Is there a perpetual forest fire in An Hui Province? What’s with the damn smoky overtones? And if you oversteep this stuff, it taste like tobacco, which isn’t something I necessarily seek in my teas or in any other aspect of my life. Overall, this tea isn’t bad, but I’d love to taste more of the chocolate thing and less of the smoldering fire.

From what I understand, most of the black tea made (if “made” is the right verb to describe tea) in China is for Western consumption since the Chinese themselves prefer greens and oolongs. So, if that’s the case, I’m wondering if there are really that many westerners who are really into these smoky teas. Keemun grades like Mao Feng, which I think of as being less smoky, command a higher price. Is there a correlation there?

I’ve got two more Keemun samples in the pantry, an organic OP and an organic FOP. But I’m kinda Keemuned out at the moment. Plus I just got a shipment in from Rishi that has a Yunnan bud tea in it (Ancient Tree Golden Needles) that seems to be calling my name — in some strange Midwestern accent, no less. “Rahb. Rahb.” I think I’ll leave the Keemuns alone for a while.

Keemun Dao Ming available for purchase at…

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

Actually, Chinese do not prefer Green tea. Pu-erh (watered down) is generally the main choice of tea served in Chinese restaurants. I’ve never been to a restaurant where they’ve served green tea. It’s either that or sweetened chrysanthemum tea. For Oolong, Ti Kuan Yin, is very popular, but if I recall you know that already.

Green tea adheres to westerns for the health benefits, the same goes for tea blends. Chinese is more about keeping the tradition. As for smokey tea, Golden Monkey is popular among Chinese, but it’s considered high end. Err, there as another tea that was pretty popular that I can’t recall at the moment. Oh, yeah Jasmine flavored teas are pretty popular too.


I have wondered myself if the Keemun growing area is excessively smoky from wood-burning stoves. I had not thought that there was a perpetual forest fire but now that you suggest it…

Nice review.

East Side Rob

Carolyn, you know I was kidding about the forest fire, right? I suspect that the tea masters who make this stuff are using smoky fires in the cooking process. I’d prefer, however, to taste more of the leaf and less of the chef, if you know what I mean. More like the teas from India, Sri Lanka, and some areas of Yunnan (although some Yunnans can be smokey, too).


Hi East Side Rob, Yes, I got the humor and enjoyed it quite a bit. I thought I was responding with light humor myself (thus the elipsis) but it is often difficult for me to know when normal prose style will do fine and when one must use an emoticon. (There should be a Strunk & White specifically for the Internet.)

I agree with your expression of exasperation about the smokiness. It often seems to me that there are wonderful notes covered up by that smokiness in Keemun blacks.

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197 tasting notes

This is this year’s Dao Ming and it is superb. Very dark red wine cask smell and taste, with oakiness, and a bit of acerbic twist. A tiny whiff of smoke in the smell, but none in the taste. Earthy but not Pu-erh like. More a groundedness. A touch of cream rounds out the edges from being brewed about 1/2 minute too long. Really excellent stuff.

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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21 tasting notes

This is the first Keemun I have tasted from my sample stash from Upton. The dry leaves smell good – like it would brew into a dark, rich red and not earthy at all. However, when brewed it turns into a goldenish liquid with red undertones and somewhat an earthy taste. I did not get a chocolate-y flavour at all.
Not particularly memorable but perhaps mixing it with some Ceylon could be nice.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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