119 Tasting Notes

98

I steeped this for four minutes ( I know, sacrilege), but it yields such a full robust taste I couldn’t resist. Very light smoke, no bitterness, with apricot, black licorice and scotch flavors. This is the best sheng I’ve ever had and truly a benchmark for all future tastings.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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92
drank ZK80 Hao-Ya B by Upton Tea Imports
119 tasting notes

Maybe it’s my unrefined palette, but I’m having a hard time discriminating among the three Upton Keemuns I have recently sampled: Mao Feng, Mao Feng Superior and the Hao-Ya B. This one might have a little more body and a more prominent burgundy flavor but all three are smooth and fairly light with a nice sparkle in the cup.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML
looseTman

Of all the brands you’ve tasted, what’s your favorite Keemun to date?

Doug F

I go back to a Keemun I tried a couple of years ago from Teagschwender, China Keemun Finest Chuen Cha. It was incredible. I don’t know why I haven’t ordered it again; that will change soon.

looseTman

Since you enjoyed Teagschwender’s China Keemun Finest, you may also want to check out: http://steepster.com/teas/zen-tea/46734-black-tea-keemun-finest during one of Zen Tea’s sales.

Doug F

Thanks for the suggestion!

looseTman

You’re welcome!

boychik

Joseph Wesley has incredible Keemun and limited edition Qimen. I love Keemun but didn’t try the new Qimen
https://instagram.com/p/4CqfppC9Lz/
They are running 20% off till August 1 code 2015

looseTman

Cool – thanks for the heads-up!

Doug F

Thanks boychik!

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95

I have 40 grams of this “wonderful” elixir that smells like fresh-cut grass and chestnuts and tastes like creamy orange, honey and muscatel. Is there anything better than a top-shelf first flush darjeeling?!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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91

The thing I love about the decidedly utilitarian Upton Tea site more than some of those glitzy tea sites that show beautiful color pictures of happy workers picking tea in lush China tea farms, is that a devotee of a certain type of tea can choose among an array of estates, grades, or types, while many of the eye-candy sites offer one Darjeeling, one Assam, one Ceylon.

The downside of Upton is it is often daunting to make a choice from the 15 or so Keemuns available, many of which are labeled some variation of Keemun Mao Feng. Luckily there is the 15 gram sample—so I decided to do some comparison shopping.

The “superior” is a medium-bodied Keemun with a smooth red wine flavor up front, a cherry tobacco and leather finish, and a hint of cotton-candy sweetness. As it cools it reminds me of cinnamon raisin bread.

A refined and elegant tea. Next up: Another Keemun Mao Feng, minus the “superior.”

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML
TeaBrat

I got their catalog recently but I just don’t need any more teas right now! ;)

Doug F

It’s never about need! I can’t help myself when the new Senchas darjeelings and Assams roll in, even though I’m drowning in tea.

TeaBrat

I know what you mean. I did get some darjeelings from Happy Earth Tea myself!

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95

I have to disagree with the lukewarm reviews of this tea. While it is reminiscent of a golden monkey, it has a unique flavor profile that includes the mace that Upton mentions and perhaps cinnamon. I’ll definitely order a bag of this and I expect it to move to the top of my black tea rotation, along with my Yunnan Sourcing blacks and Black Beauty from Mandala

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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93

Delicious, creamy, berrylicious tea with high energy akin to the best raw shengs. I find myself drinking Yunnan Sourcing black teas most of the time. There’s something untamed about their teas that makes me feel like I’m drinking some magic potion.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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94
drank Doke Black Fusion by Tea Trekker
119 tasting notes

This tea has been getting some good press lately and I would say it’s warranted. The leaves are a striking dusky grey/black—long and twisted. The liquor is dark molasses and tastes something like a cross between an Assam and a Nepalese tea, malty and sweet, with hints of vanilla and pepper. It’s smooth and delicious—reminiscent also of Mandala’s Black Beauty—and immediately jumps to the upper echelon of teas I’ve tried in the last few years. Based on this and the two Darjeelings I’ve tried recently from Tea Trekker, it’s clear they choose their teas intelligently.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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93

Given the bias toward Chinese teas on Steepster, I feel I need to carry the torch for the poor forgotten darjeelings, which are still the tea I feel compelled to drink most often. I don’t think I need to repeat what Tea Trekker has already provided in terms of description. I’ll just affirm that this is a tea where every component is in perfect balance, creating a harmonious whole. The perfume is perfect—not too strong or too subdued. It really is the prototypical second flush.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 45 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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97

Just blissing out to some of the best Sheng on the planet and listening to some of my favorite music from 2014: Hiss Golden Messenger, Cloud Nothings, Alvvays, Mastersons, War on Drugs, Real Estate, Popstrangers, Future Islands, First-aid Kit, The Rural Alberta Advantage, Against Me and on and on.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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91

The dry leaf is among the most gorgeous I’ve ever seen and highly unusual for a darjeeling. The picture doesn’t accurately represent the length and thickness of the leaves. Both the wet and dry leaf have a strong aroma of soybeans, also unusual for this type of tea. The soybean remains in the flavor along with the classic muscatel taste. There’s absolutely no astringency or bitterness—the tea is incredibly smooth and drinkable. I’m still trying to decide whether it’s too subtle for my personal darjeeling preferences. It doesn’t grab your attention; instead, you must bring your attention to the tea in the same way some music can remain in the background, but once you listen closely, you realize how great the music is.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

nice I heard there weren’t too many second flush darjeelings this year due to the drought

Doug F

There weren’t, but Tea Trekker has a few intriguing ones. I ordered their second flush from the Sourenee estate and it’s a really excellent tea. I’ll log it soon.

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Bio

I love tea and living in a place that is cold or cool nine months of the year, tea is a constant source of warmth and education. I always drink tea straight and rarely drink flavored teas or Tisanes, except for the occasional Rooibos. I’m a proud father of two young boys, an avid skier, motorcyclist, reader, and runner. I have a doctorate in English (dissertation on Emily Dickinson.)

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Maine

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