drank Grand Yunnan No. 21 by Kusmi Tea
1328 tasting notes

No. 21… I’ve always wondered about this with Kusmi. What are the other 20?

Anyway, I was in a different supermarket from my normal one yesterday. I’m home alone for a couple of days (again!) so I was looking for something easy and unhealthy for my dinner. It’s the same chain as my normal one, but bigger. I was looking for something else in the tea/coffee section, when I spotted the easily recognisable Kusmi tins. There was this one and the 4 Red Fruits and… I think one more, but can’t remember which. I thought, eh, why not? I only took this one because a) I’m not made of money, and b) 4 Red Fruits is a known quantity and c) we’ve already got Tea Palace’s Queen of Berries and so don’t need another soft fruits flavoured tea.

I’ve never had this one before, actually, because I’ve been a bit wary of it being Yunnan black. My relationship with the black teas of Yunnan is a bit fraught. Some of them are really really nice, but some of them also just tastes like drinking liquid hay with pepper in it. I’m not a fan of the latter, but it seems to be mostly the more golden ones that do this.

So I chanced it and am pleased to report, that while there are a bit of golden tips in it, it’s not golden golden. Bodes well.

The aroma has a bit of hay in it though, and something which I can only really describe as ‘horse’, but I don’t really mean that in a bad way. I mean, horses are quite whiffy, but if you are a horse-person, it’s a smell with all sorts of awesome associations to it. What I’m getting at is that the horse-y smell in here doesn’t so much pong of actual horse as it brings on lovely (non-horse-y) associations. I’m not explaining this very well, am I? I’m not even a horse-person myself, although my childhood/teenage self would have LOVED to be one. The closest I come is a friend I had in my teens who had a fat, lazy pony on which she gave me some very basic lessons in posture and how to (in theory, it being a very lazy pony) make it go.

Tastewise, I was sort of expecting a bit more. It’s nice, but it strikes me as a bit thin in the middle notes. The initial notes are strong and the aftertaste is decent, but in the middle there? It’s like it’s not really trying. Like it puts some effort into the front end of the sip and thinks that’s sufficient. If I hold it on my tongue for a little bit, though, I can prolong the initial notes of pepper, a little bit of hay, slight astringency, and slightly burnt toast, but that’s not the same. I’m missing the smoothness and the malty thickness that I know from Keemun and from the Fujian blacks.

This really is an entirely different beast from those. But then again, if you look at the map of China, they’re not exactly grown next door to one another either, so differences are indeed to be expected.

So where does this fall on a scale from ‘peppery liquid hay’ to ‘nice and sweet dark nom’. Oooooh probably right in the middle. It’s taking on qualities of one, but not yet letting go of the those of the other. It’s nice and drinkable, but not really an epiphany in a cup.


Totally know what you mean re the tea reminding you of “horse”, and I am also not a horse person haha.

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Totally know what you mean re the tea reminding you of “horse”, and I am also not a horse person haha.

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Ang lives with Husband and two kitties, Charm and Luna, in a house not too far from Århus. Apart from drinking tea, she enjoys baking, especially biscuits, reading and jigsaw puzzles. She has recently acquired an interest in cross-stitch and started a rather large project. It remains to be seen whether she has actually bitten off more than she can chew…

Ang prefers black teas and the darker sorts of oolongs. She has to be in the mood for green and white, and she enjoys, but knows little to nothing about, pu-erh.

Her preferences with black teas are the Chinese ones, particularly from Fujian, but also Keemun and just about anything smoky. She occasionally enjoys Yunnans but they’re not favourites. She has taken some time to research Ceylon teas, complete with reference map, and has recently developed some interest in teas from Africa.

She is sceptical about Indian blacks as she generally finds them too astringent and too easy to get wrong. She doesn’t really care for Darjeelings at all. Very high-grown teas are often not favoured.

She likes flavoured teas as well, particularly fruit flavoured ones, but also had an obsession with finding the Perfect Vanilla Flavoured Black and can happily report that this reclusive beast has been spotted in a local teashop near where she works. Any and all vanilla flavoured teas are still highly attractive to her, though. Also nuts and caramel or toffee. Not so much chocolate. It’s a texture thing.

However, she thinks Earl Grey is generally kind of boring. Cinnamon and ginger are also not really a hit, and she’s not very fond of chais. Evil hibiscus is evil. Even in small amounts, and yes, Ang can usually detect hibiscus, mostly by way of the metallic flavour of blood it has.

Ang is not super impressed with rooibos or honeybush on their own. She doesn’t care for either, really, but when they are flavoured, they go usually go down a treat.

Ang used to have a Standard Panel of teas that she tried to always have on hand. She put a lot of thought into defining it and decided what should go on it. It was a great idea on paper, but in practise has been discovered to not really work as well.

Ang tries her best to make a post on Steepster several times a week. She tends to write her posts in advance in a word doc (The Queue) and posting from there. This, she feels, helps her to maintain regularity and stops her from making five posts in three days and then going three weeks without posting anything at all.

Angrboda is almost always open to swapping. Just ask her. Due to the nature of the queue, however, and the fact that it’s some 24 pages long at the moment, it may take a good while from she receives your parcel and until she actually posts about it.

The Formalities

Contact Angrboda by email: [email protected]
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Find Ang on…
Steam: Iarnvidia (Or Angrboda. She changed her display name and now is not certain which one to search for. She uses the same picture though, so she is easily recognised)
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Bio last updated February 2014





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