International Tea Importers

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Recent Tasting Notes

78

Yes, I’m still alive. Since May I’ve been very preoccupied with first-time homebuyer stuff, and am working on trying to close on a house at the end of this month and the stress of packing up my home. At present, the vast majority of my tea collection is in boxes (I’ve only left some of the samplers/boxed tea currently unpacked, and have mostly been drinking iced tea trying to clear some of that out before it gets added to my last massive tea box). I’ve also felt quite stressed because back in June my job basically backed me into a corner to pull my FMLA rights away from me, and things have been going quite slowly with the DoL trying to get those rights reinstated, so I’ve been having to work through all my chronic migraine attacks. This gal is exhausted. But next week I’m going to Portland for the PDX Tea Fes! Honestly at this point, I’m more excited for some days to not be dealing with the house stuff and work than the tea. Sad, but true.

Anyway, I’m down to my last three servings of this one. It’s an old flavored rooibos I got from Snake River Tea in Boise, and it’s wholesaled from International Tea Importers. The dry leaf has a strong creamsicle aroma. The steeped tea is a deep red-orange and has a strong stonefruit and sweet vanilla fragrance. The base is slightly brassy/woody, but mostly the flavor is strongly orange, leaving a citrusy tanginess on the tongue; like most orange flavors it does come off to me a touch artificial, but not enough that I’m finding it bothersome, especially compared to other orange-flavored teas I’ve tried. It actually pairs pretty nicely with the noticable sweet vanilla flavor, which lingers in the aftertaste. I also can taste just a hint of a peachy/stonefruit note in the tea, which also may be helping balance and take the edge off of the artificiality of the orange flavoring. Overall, the balance is actually really good in this one, and I’m surprised that the flavor has held up so well since this is one of my older teas. It has a nice creamsicle taste, with a slightly more tangy/fruity hit before the sweetness of the finish kicks in.

Flavors: Artificial, Orange, Peach, Smooth, Stonefruits, Sweet, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML
tea-sipper

Congrats on buying your first house! Sorry about the job pain and I hope the tea fest goes well for you.

Mastress Alita

Ya, I’m really looking forward to it, now. The home-buying experience has been exhausting, and the Department of Labor has been very slow with my complaint (probably because my employer didn’t leave anything in writing I could use to support myself, it was all done verbally, so if you just have “your word” that doesn’t look so great to get some negotiations in there…) I’m now quite happy to be off to the Oregon Coast/Portland for a week. The vendor line-up for the tea festival is a good one [https://www.teafestpdx.com/vendors], and me and my friend Todd signed up for three panels: a discussion of pu-erh, tea blending and tasting demo, and tea, tourism, and social change.

tea-sipper

The tea fest sounds amazing. I recognize a few vendors, including JusTea. They sent me some samples when they first started!

LuckyMe

Glad to see you back on Steepster. Hope the home purchase goes smoothly…it was a nerve wrecking process for me as well. The real fun though begins after closing when you have to clean, maintain, and fix the darn thing. Such are the joys of homeownership, but worth it to have a place to call your own :-)

Kittenna

Congrats about the house! Seems to be a current trend with people I know. I’m looking forward to some commentary on the tea festival when you return!

Mastress Alita

Thanks! I’ll try to remember to take some good notes of my tea-capades around the Oregon Coast and Portland!

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78

I’m on Day 2 of a severe migraine, but back at work, because I’m so tired of the underhanded harrassment any time I’m “out of work for more than a day for a headache” because they don’t understand how chronic migraine works (and this is with FMLA from my doctor on file… I seriously wonder what good it does). So I feel like utter shit, but just have to get through these eight hours. Meeeeeh. This is one of my old “vacation teas” that I got from a vacation to San Diego from a tea shop called The American House — they appear to source the majority of their blends from International Tea Importers, a quite prolific tea blend wholesaler. Metropolitan Tea Co., another large blend wholesaler, also has a Black Currant black tea blend, but their ingredient list is different, which is the taletell sign of which is which.

I remember when I tried this before I found it horribly bitter/astringent, but since then, I’ve really refined how I make black teas for my personal tastes (I use a lot less leaf and shorter steep times than is typically “recommended” by most) and using my typical parameters (this cup was 3g for my 400ml work thermos with a 3 minute steep in 205F water) I am not having that problem… there is some mild drying, but it’s mostly quite smooth and really tasty! I wouldn’t put it up there with Lupicia’s Cassis and Berry, but the base is a nice mix of malty and autumn leaf notes, with just a hint of spice toward the end of the sip, and the black currant flavor is rather full and juicy. It isn’t naturally sweet thanks to the fruity, so a bit of sweetener may make the fruity notes pop a bit more; I’m finding it fine as is, though, as a rather rounded black cup with a strong currant presence. I think I’ll make this as an iced brew next time.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Berry, Black Currant, Drying, Fruity, Malt, Smooth, Spices

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 14 OZ / 400 ML

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89

This is a sampler I purchased as “White Thunder” from Fusion Teas quite some time ago; it is wholesaled from International Tea Importers and hey, Fusion Teas didn’t even bother changing the blend name, what a pleasant surprise.

I made this as an iced tea; even during the bitter cold months I like to have an iced tea on hand, I just drop down to only having a single quart mason jar in my fridge at a time and don’t work through it very fast (in the summer I usually have 2-3 mason jars constantly in rotation). Right now mint teas have been a nice balm because, though I have chronic migraine, the winter months tend to be a bit worse due to barometric pressure changes from snow fronts moving in and out, and mint helps with the nausea, so it’s good to have on hand.

I drank a lot of different mint teas last month but didn’t have a chance to get to this one. And I have to say, this might be one of my favorites (if not my favorite!) that I’ve tried. The white tea base is just sort of perfect for the minty flavors, because it is light and delicate and doesn’t overwhelm those notes. It has some very subtle refreshing melon or vegetal cucumber qualities to the flavor, and a touch of a sweet floral note, but they really give it a nice touch, especially iced. The peppermint is also a really nice flavor, being a mix of peppermint and spearmint. Nothing artificial tasting, it’s very clean and refreshing, with a brisk, cooling flavor. It’s really thirst-quenching, and soothing on the stomach, too.

It’s a simple tea, but seriously… I’m loving this stuff!

Flavors: Cucumber, Floral, Melon, Mint, Peppermint, Spearmint

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more 6 g 32 OZ / 946 ML
derk

Oh look, there are 3 other companies listed on Steepster who sell the blend and didn’t bother changing the name.

Mastress Alita

My job becomes really easy when they aren’t even trying to hide it. :-P

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63

A Berry Frui-tea July! I originally tried this tea at Snake River Teas when I was on vacation last May, then realized I had a sampler of this tea sitting in my collection from Fusion Teas (no doubt they also wholesaled it from International Tea Importers). Well then!

I had mentioned before I was curious if the flavors would present themselves better in an iced cup rather than a warm pot of tea, so discovering I had this leaf at my disposal and didn’t even realize it, I made myself a quart of cold steeped tea and decided to find out. My experience really wasn’t much different than what I remember from having the warm cup, though. The main aroma off the cup was very grapey (like, that artificial grape in candies or Kool-Aid), and I was still getting that as the dominant flavor, rather than raspberries. There was still a nice floral/fruity element to the tea, but the fruitiness seemed more an element of the white tea itself than an obvious raspberry note. I will say that the iced tea had one noticable improvement over the warm cup, in that the mouthfeel had more of a slight alcohol bite on the close of the sip, which was very pleasant and did make it feel more “champagne” like. But if there is raspberry here, it is really subtle. They should’ve called it White Champagne Grape tea…

Increasing my score slightly for the improvement to the champagne quality from the iced brew, but I’m still overall not entirely impressed by missing the mark on the raspberry flavor.

Flavors: Alcohol, Berry, Floral, Fruity, Grapes, Rose, Smooth, Sweet

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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63

Since it has been nearly a month now, I figured I should finally get around to copying over the reviews I hastily scribbled in a portable notepad I carried in my purse when I was on vacation Memorial Day Weekend.

This is a pot of tea I shared with Todd at Snake River Tea during my Anime Oasis convention weekend in Boise. It is one of the many teas that they wholesale from International Tea Importers. You can find plenty of iterations of it in the database under many different teashops that carry it from this wholesaler, but I prefer to list under the wholesale source rather than add yet another small teashop to the list, so there you have it.

The aroma of the tea was very floral, almost rosy. The tea was a very pale color and so light and smooth. It had a sweet berry flavor with a subtle floral note. There was a bit of a grape flavor (like an artificial grape flavor, like you find in grape candies or sodas rather than grape fruit) but I didn’t really get any of a champagne like taste or bite, and I’ve certainly tasted a champagne or wine sort of taste in tea before, like I get in Angry Tea Store’s Sparkling Wine or even from International Tea Importers other white tea I’ve tried, Black Fruits Bai Mu Tan. Perhaps this would just present a better flavor iced rather than as a warm pot of tea? In any event, I was unimpressed on the whole. It had a nice delicate floral-fruit taste, but failed to come off with any hint of champagne as advertised… yet the one fruity white tea I’ve tried by the same company tasted far more like wine than this one. Meeeeeeh.

Flavors: Berry, Floral, Fruity, Grapes, Rose, Smooth, Sweet

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63

A coworker found a nice teacup set for a bargain at a local thrift shop and is giving the cups away as graduation gifts to her friends and asked where to get good tea, and of course my answer was, “Around here? Honestly, from me.” So this was one of the teas from my stash she asked for, and after measuring out her sampler, I just had enough left for a sipdown. A single ounce can go pretty fast when you are a charitable individual. :-)

I got this tea from Snake River Tea in Boise last May, where they call it “Orange Vanilla White Chocolate,” but thanks to my Nancy Drewing, I’ve determined that they stock it from major wholesaler International Tea Importers (hey, at least I can applaud them for having teas that aren’t just Metropolitan Tea Co.). In any event, expect to see this same tea all over Steepster under various names and with various tea shops as the “company” name. ITI teas are wholesaled all over the place!

This tea does have a very nice dreamsicle flavor. This is a flavor combination that I typically find in rooibos, and I have to say, I probably do prefer the dreamsicle rooibos teas I’ve tried as that base seems to compliment the orange and vanilla notes a bit better with its natural sweetness, but for a black tea, this is all right. The citrus adds a nice warmth to the cup and the vanilla brings a sweetness that keeps the dark base from having any bitterness. There is only a very mild drying astringency left after the sip, and the orange and vanilla flavors are still very prominent on the tongue. My only complaint is that it’s a bit easy to tell that the flavor here is very much the product of flavoring — it isn’t unpleasant, but has an obvious artificiality to it. It’s that bold sort of orange taste that just comes off to me as trying a little too hard, but to be fair, at least paired with the vanilla, it tastes better than the mandarin green and white teas I’ve had where the orange just tastes way too fake and unpleasant to me, so I really don’t mind this. The vanilla, too, has that sweet confectionary vanilla taste, as opposed to the more subdued, creamy essence of vanilla I get in teas that use vanilla beans. So you get quite a whollop of flavoring here, which may or may not be your thing, depending on your tastes. In a tea with a lighter base, I’d probably be more turned off from it than I am, but in a dark black base like this, eh… it’s doable. Not my favorite, but certainly a pleasant enough cup. For my last teaspoon I’ll probably try it with a bit of vanilla almond milk, and see if latte-style adds a bit of creaminess and cuts back some of the overwhelming flavor. That may be the way to go with this one.

Flavors: Artificial, Orange, Sweet, Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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78

I picked up this tea when I was on vacation in San Diego last fall from The American House, where it was simply called “Tropical White” — the blend is obviously sourced from large wholesaler International Tea Importer, since it has an identical ingredient list and appearance to the leaf.

I really enjoy blends like this iced, so I cold brewed up a quart of this. The tea smells a bit like mango, but softer and sweeter than the heavily-infused mango greens that have caused me issues in the past, and there also was a bit of a floral quality here, as well. The flavor is very refreshing; it is sweet, with hints of mango, grapefruit, melon, and a smooth, floral finish that must be coming through from the Bai Mudan base. I was personally expecting it to be a little more tangy having a tropical note, but at least iced, it is very very smooth and sweet on the tongue, with only very subtle hints of a lingering fruity tangy note. It’s a refreshing iced tea, and one of the few tropical blends I’ve tried without a pineapple element.

Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Grapefruit, Mango, Melon, Sweet

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more 8 g 32 OZ / 946 ML

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18

Green March! Another International Tea Importers blend that I picked up at Snake River Tea in Boise the last time I was there. This one took a bit more researching on my part to hunt down the blend source, since the blend is called “Cholestea” but Snake River Tea had renamed it “Capitol City Market Spice.” As far as I’m concerned, it should just be called, “Nastea,” because that is what it is (and for the most part, I usually really like ITI’s blends!)

The ginseng in this is just really, really overwhelming, to the point that the tea really doesn’t have much other flavor. There is a slight cinnamon note on the finish, but you have to really be looking for it… the tea just tastes overwhelmingly musty and medicinal to me. It isn’t even really an… earthy sort of flavor, to me it just feels… dirty somehow, like ginseng roots fresh from the ground were just steeped in water and just left this really unpleasant dirty flavor behind.

I have a full ounce of this stuff, so I was trying to find some way to make it palatable, and thought maybe some honey would help. ………I swear this is the one time adding honey to a tea actually made it worse! You know those ginseng and honey cough drops? Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. I wanted to mask that icky medicinal taste, and actually made it taste more like medicine! Bleeeeeech! So honey was a big fat no. I really don’t know if there is a saving grace for this one…

I’ve had ginseng in other tea blends and it has been just fine. I think it’s just the presentation. It is just such an overwhelming flavor here, and not blended with a proper balance with the other flavors, so you just get nothing but this strong, heady ginseng taste. I’m sure there are some folks out there that would really enjoy that, and this is the tea for them. I just happen to not be one of them.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Dirt, Medicinal, Musty, Wet Earth

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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80

Ah, another International Tea Importers wholesaler blend, so this will probably pop up over and over under different tea shop’s names. I made my purchase from Snake River Tea in Boise, Idaho. I already see that places like “Roundtable Tea Company” and “Grandpa’s Cheese Barn” (Really? Grandpa’s Cheese Barn?) are listed in Steepster… shame they don’t allow the merging of records… (It’s my weekend off and my librarian cataloger brain can’t get “merging records” off the brain…)

I’m supposed to be preparing a tea talk for National Library Week in April, so I’m trying to find a good white tea to share from my stash. I was going to use Machu Peach-u but after I tried it again and found it just too autumn leaf pile-tasting than I remembered, I just don’t think that is a good one to introduce onto the general public, and I wanted at least one blend that I can make a nice iced tea out of (as I can prepare iced tea ahead of time, and that’s one less tea I have to brew “live” during the program) so now I’m going through others in my stash before I resort to ordering more in a mad dash to find a good one. This one… might be okay? I want a nice white tea flavor, but don’t want it to be… overwhelming, and I want it to have some nice blended flavoring, too, if that makes any sense. (Most of the teas in the talk will be pure teas, as it is focused on history/culture, but I want a few blends in there since they appeal well to the general public/new tea drinkers, and this will very much be an “introductory” sort of talk…)

I made this iced using the cold brew method, steeped overnight. I do get very slight vegetal notes from this tea, but not that overwhelming autumn leaf sort of flavor I was getting from Machu Peach-u, so this may be more on par to what I am wanting. Subtle base notes, without being too… strong and possibly off-putting. This has a really brisk, refreshing taste, with a flavor that reminds me of white wine (or at least what I can remember of it, I haven’t been able to have it in decades thanks to chronic migraine). There is a bit of a sweetness to it, but not overly so; there is a fruitiness to the tea, with a subtle tart grapiness and blackberry flavor. Overall, I really like it; it’s much nicer than the Machu Peach-u, thanks to the base being softer and a little more subtle, so the fruit notes feel better suited to the blend. This is one of those iced teas that somehow brings me the appeal of chilled wine (something I can’t have), so I think I’ll keep this one around!

Flavors: Blackberry, Fruity, Grapes, Hay, Sweet, Tart, Vegetal, White Wine

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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88

Love You An Oolong Time! I’m continuing my month-long exploration of the oolongs in my collection, and this one I picked up at Snake River Tea in Boise last May. After a bit of reference librarian skills, I believe I’ve tracked down that they wholesale the blend from International Tea Importers. I’ve sampled it a few times since then and quite like it, and since I’m still in “ward off the plague” mode, I’ve been craving citrus and ginger flavors.

This tea is really nice… it doesn’t have that strong, spicy ginger heat like the orange ginger tea I tried yesterday. It’s actually very smooth, with just a touch of sweetness. The orange flavor tastes more of mandarin than orange to me, and mixed with the mellow ginger, I’m reminded of a sweet Chinese sauce. The base has this lovely subtle earthy taste which compliments the orange ginger flavor very nicely. I’m really enjoying the gingery flavor without the spicy heat!

Flavors: Earth, Ginger, Orange, Smooth, Sweet

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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96

I originally got this tea from Snake River Tea in Boise, Idaho, but they stopped carrying it, and I really loved this blend, so I hunted it down and found a shop in Florida that did online orders, Beleave Teas, that carried it and stocked back up. It is worth mentioning that I had a very good customer experience from them and lightning fast shipping! The tea blend is wholesaled from International Tea Importers.

This is such an interesting tea! The scent of the leaf is this combination of floral fruity sweetness that smells like bubblegum to me! The name of the tea is very misleading, as the tea does not have a thick, tart hibiscus flavor at all; it brews up a yellow color, and is a very light, sweet tea. It has a sort of sweet, lychee flavor with a lot of floral notes, and the scent wafting up from the cup reminds me of flower blooms in a warm breeze. The tea almost has a candy-like quality to it from the sweetness of the combined fruit and floral notes. This is one of my favorite floral teas, hands down. It just has such a unique flavor. It also makes an amazing iced tea, which I enjoy preparing as a cold brew! The only thing to be mindful of is this tea can be a bit fussy about water temperature and steep time; I find the flavor is best when it is prepared delicately, so I use 160 degree F water and a brisk two minute steep. Using water even a little warmer and a steep a little longer (175 degree F with a three minute steep) tends to bring out a slightly more tart finish to the drink… which isn’t necessarily bad, but isn’t my preferred way of taking this one.

Full Review: https://teatimetuesdayreviews.wordpress.com/2017/08/29/tea35/

Flavors: Candy, Floral, Lychee, Rose, Sweet

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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87

I tried this tea at a cafe and really enjoyed it. It’s strong and spicy and perfect for a really cold day. Cinnamon is really apparent on the nose and also very present in the sweetness, but the spicy ginger balances it so that the taste isn’t overwhelmingly sweet.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Citrus Zest, Clove, Honey, Spices

Preparation
2 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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“What’s in your cup?”
This morning I brewed Organic Keemun Mao Feng by International Tea Importers:
1.5 tsp (3 g) / 8 oz / 212*F / 4-6 min. without sweeteners, milk, or cream.

– Leaf: dark chocolate brown, short, & uniform
– Fragrance: fine pipe tobacco
– Liquor: clear coppery
– Aroma: Very mild Keemun
– Flavor:
4 min.: it was not yet full-bodied so I let it steep another minute.
5 min.: This Keemun was full-bodied, smooth, & enjoyable with a classic Keemun profile. There was no bitterness. There is a mild sense of astringency but nothing objectionable. Perhaps 208*F might be helpful. However, it was not as quite as rich or as complex as TeaVivre’s Premium Keemun Hao Ya or Organic Superfine Keemun Fragrant.

Re-steep: This tea did not re-steep well at 6 min or even 10 min – a one-cup wonder.

Method:
RO water re-mineralized with an Aptera filter http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39532-puregen-aptera-alkamag-water-filter
http://steepster.com/teaware/teavana/39311-perfect-tea-spoon
http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/37731-my-weigh-durascale-d2-660-digital-scale
Brewed western-style conveniently in a tea mug with a Finum brew basket http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/29177-finum-brewing-basket.
http://steepster.com/teas/davidstea/36677-thermometer-and-timer

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
looseTman

I suspect The Steeping Room’s Organic Keemun Mao Feng is sourced from International Tea Importers (ITI).

looseTman

Additional thought added.

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54

A light maple colored liquor dirty tasting very roasty. I have definately had better Houjicha

Flavors: Plant Stems

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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74

Slight Chocolate notes, pretty dark brown liquor with hints of barly and malt. Over all a pretty good black tea

Flavors: Chocolate, Malt, Roasted Barley

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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72

A pleasant nice brown liquor. Slightly Medicinal, and earthy. Slightly malty.

Flavors: Earth, Malt

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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73

Very Similar to a gunpowder green. a Little less astringent as well as a lighter body. A slight nutty flavor with hints of hay

Flavors: Nuts

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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78
Buttery slightly grassy Orchid notes. I was expecting a more tippy tea. But the taste was pretty good.

Flavors: Butter, Grass, Orchids

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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69

Cloudy Brown Dark Liquor Medium astringency, Slight apricot chocolate flavor

Flavors: Apricot, Chocolate, Tobacco

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 g 0 OZ / 6 ML

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89

Sweet Delicate and Buttery Very Smooth Hints of popcorn. Liquor is very pale greyish. Very Tasty Tea

Flavors: Butter, Grass, Honey

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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76
A decent Tea a bit lacking in body, nice pale yellow color. Slight hints of evergreen and Honey. Not bad for a green Ceylon.

Flavors: Butter, Fir

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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91

Floral, Slight pleasant salmon fat flavor, Sweet and slightly Buttery

Flavors: Butter, Fish Broth, Flowers, Grass

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 0 OZ / 6 ML

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64

Inspired by Angrboda, I felt the need to try something smokey today. Buuuut, as it turns out, my Lapsang-exclusionist practices combined with the worst organization of 20+Kg of tea you ever did see has left me scratching my head over where I had Lapsangish teas hiding about. It may seem a silly question to some, but why so little in my collection when I’ve reviewed more of that kind of tea than some of my favorites? Well, while I’m happy to taste samples and screw with brewing parameters to the extreme to challenge my prejudices on tea types, this is how I think of most Lapsang Souchong:

http://youtu.be/buZdqMP4Tuo

Yeah, a little smoke is nice… Just not enough to beat my senses to a pulp. And definitely not that chemically-tasting junk that has liquid smoke added to it.

Anywho, I gave up looking and just went with a particularly smokey Keemun-style tea instead.
I got a pound of this from ITI last April and it’s as potent as ever. I do take issue with the labeling as being “the finest Keemun” when it’s from Sichuan, but am glad they list the origin prominently in the title (unlike some of the resellers). In terms of fine-ness, or whathaveyou, it tastes good but the “finest” thing about it is the grading. There are so few leaves in here that are not the same approximate length, width, color, and degree of rolling. That translates into this being one of the most consistent teas per pot if other parameters are held in check when simply measuring volumetrically. I was having a real doozy of a time trying to brew tea this past week when I forgot my centigram balance at work several times (personal control issues – not difficulty getting good results), but with this tea it doesn’t much matter. A level tablespoon comes out being within 0.07g over the course of 25 samples… Yeah, there’s some variance and I ought to take more samples than that for significance and such but I’m lazy and how many people really feel a crushing need for 0.01g resolution or greater every time they brew tea?

This time ’round I went for a couple big mugs of tea rather than my usual smaller service with more infusions.
8.5g tea in water brought just to a boil so in the 30sec gap between preheating and pouring on tea the temp in my 1.5L kettle had dropped to 99C. Reheated same water to like temperature for second infusion. Water mass was 357g first round and 348g for the second infusion using 4min and then 5min steep times.

Dry leaves are wee lil’ black needles coiled tightly lengthwise with a smooth curve making most of the bag sort of resemble cartoony eyebrows. This tea would actually work well in combination with a couple dots to make all sorts of little smiley or frowny faces… I’d better keep that idea for later…
Dry fragrance is a mix of hardwood smoke, burned pine wood (not pine smoke), dried and live cone bearing horsetail ferns, and a sort of shifting fruit characteristic. Bugs me when fragrance shifts, ‘cause unlike aroma and flavor it’s most likely due to desensitizing to the smell. Opening the bag, this goes from woodsmoke and a bit of tar to burned wood, to the smell of an area a grassfire razed a week or so prior, to the smell of peaches then oranges then apples. Lesson of the story – if you want smoke to be perceivable in your cup, don’t stick your face in the bag more than a couple times over the course of a minute (here, I am evaluating fragrance mostly after drinking a full mug, before my second cup).

Wet aroma is like wet burned conifer. Something like redwood with that sort of fibrous moist bark aroma, but more of a Bishop Pine “snappier” woodiness tossed in. Wet leaves are wet leaves, though, and don’t tell tons about the flavor compared to the other indicators – seems to alter the experience more when preparing smaller quantities back-to-back, smelling the rising aroma upon pouring fresh water each time. A bigger pot captures more liquor aroma on the walls, though, and the mixture can be intriguing. In this case, the mix is surprisingly Nilgiri-like (especially following the second infusion) in a moist squashy and light tulip aroma.

Liquor aroma is oak and moss smoke in equal parts with rose petals. Shifts to the smell of oranges in a bowl after it starts cooling. Not much more to it, but I suspect it’s largely due to certain aromas obscuring others since I can get crazy nectarine, carnation, black pepper, raisin, tomato sauce, jack/mozzarella cheese, ocean water, leather, cardboard, or even the smell from inside my boots after a long hike from this depending on how I brew it. In general, sticking to around 2g/100mL and above 85C will avoid the funkier aromatics.

Body is at the light end of full-bodied or high end of moderate-body. While there is a light sharpness to it, it’s more in terms of acidity rather than astringency; overall it’s pretty smooth in that regard. This tea is potent, but not with any particular characteristic as most discernible flavors pop in and out with relatively light tones on par with the intensity of a Wuyi Yancha prepared under gongfu prep guidelines. Overall base is like charred hardwood (or driftwood) but other characteristics override it in sequence. Flavor starts off appley. And pie crusty. Toss in some raisins with a bit of those little grape seeds in ’em as it progresses. Fair amount of light cassia in the aftertaste. Light bite starting mid-draught and carrying onward mixed with afteraroma conjures up a heatless similarity to black Tellicherry Peppercorns. There is a vegetal undercurrent (more obvious in second infusion) with a good similarity to Brussels Sprouts but it remains in the background as a vegetal accent so no worries to you haters of all things Brassica. Aftertaste leaves lingering reminder of unflavored oatmeal and grilled veggies – kinda sweet, kinda snappy, kinda chary, and ultimately satisfyingly heavy.

I mentioned before that there lies the potential for funkiness in this guy. It doesn’t reward high-concentration-short-brew methods well, though you can produce interesting flavors from it. It winds up with off-balance body to liveliness and the potency of aroma doesn’t match to taste intensity at all. Likewise, it can come off wussy in taste when knocked below 1.5g/100mL and/or 3min steep. The period between 2:30 and 3:15 shows a pretty big difference in brewing this using near-boiling water. Beyond 4:30 at 2.5g/100mL or greater pushes tannic acidity, but it’s still approachable at 6min below 3g/100mL, if a little tart and monochromatic.

Great alternative to Lapsang. Doesn’t hold a candle to some Qimen Hongcha out there at all. Goes great with a wide variety of food – especially carby foods. Drink this on a cold winter night with some bread pudding and you’re in heaven. Have with oatmeal in the morning and you may be satiated ’til dinnertime. Gotta be in the mood for it, though.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Angrboda

I tend to prefer the more smoky sorts of Keemun over the floral sorts too. A good Keemun has to be a bit of a bully, not some little lady in a pink dress and a sun umbrella. :)
I agree about the whole Keemun/Sichuan thing. It’s misleading, really. But at least it’s better than the talk I went to once where the speaker (from a local tea shop) claimed that all Keemun in the world, all tea with that name, all grades, comes from ONE estate. I have my doubts. That’s either a bloody big estate, or they’ve somehow worked out how to speed-grow the bushes… Come to think of it, that was actually the same lady who once tried to have me believe that Formosa Oolong and Taiwan Oolong were two completely different beasts. Haven’t set foot in that shop since.

Thomas Smith

Hahaha, I think I’ll add your story to my list of “ridiculous things misinformed tea merchants spew”

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