drank Keemun Hao Ya A by Art of Tea
513 tasting notes

I actually ordered my art of tea sampler before I joined steepster, and was surprised that it wasn’t all the rage once I perused the boards. No one has anything overwhelmingly negative to say about it in particular, but it’s just not the company that many people obsess about. I actually learned of it because I follow a really popular fragrance blog, and one of the writers there suggested it as a house for loose tea beginners. I’m still glad I did.

I’ll be honest and admit that I don’t really know what a Keemun really is. I mean, I know it’s a black tea, and that it’s somehow different from other types of black tea, but I wouldn’t have known how. But it came with the black sampler pack, and I figured today was as good a day as any to try it. It’s rather dreary out, and there’s a coldness that’s settled into my bones that I’m trying to rid myself of.

First sniff: black tea, but different, somehow. More character than, say, your average English breakfast.
Second, deeper sniff: definite hints of…barnyard?
Third sniff: yup, definitely barnyard. Complete with hay, animals, and maybe even some leather saddles over in some far-off corner. Maybe. But definitely a distinct barnyard.
Well, I thought, a little barnyard never hurt anybody, right? and so I brewed this per the instructions. As it brewed, the barn yard smell persisted, and so I made sure to cap the brewing at four minutes (instead of five) just in case the taste profile was too strong. I added in my required cream and sugar, and took my first sip.
I could definitely detect the black tea-ness about it, and it certainly isn’t all bad. And if someone took the essence of barnyard and infused it into a tea and it tasted this decent, then I’m convinced you can make a tea taste like any smell in the world and absolutely make it work. It didn’t taste bad at all. The barn yard taste did linger, and certainly was not overshadowed by anything, but it sort of tasted more like barn yard black tea and not just straight up barn yard, you know? and I think adding milk and sugar helped, because it sort of smoothed out any rough edges. I felt as though I was perhaps sipping black tea while having been in a barn yard all day, but not necessarily as though I was thrust unceremoniously into a barn yard and then firmly instructed that I must now roll and tussle with the livestock. You know what I mean?

Sooo. This is definitely going into my swap basket, because the great thing about the tea world is that you can love a tea that someone else abhors and vice versa. I would still drink this again if it were offered, as it’s a solid tea that tastes good enough, but I don’t feel compelled to finish this sample or restock. I’m all about the biodynamic Darjeeling when it comes to art of tea.

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Well, it’s been slightly over six months since I’ve joined steepster, and I can’t say enough wonderful things about this community. Like many of you, I began my foray into the world of loose-leaf tea by discovering David’s Tea, and although I’ve ventured out and have discovered many other companies that I’m extremely fond of, there are still many of David’s teas that I hold close to my heart and I will always appreciate it as a starting point for my journey.

As for my preferences, I tend to prefer bold black tea, flavoured and unflavoured alike, and I almost always take my blacks with cream and sugar. This isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy a good, flavoured white though, and I’m slowly making my way through the incredibly confusing world of oolongs and greens. I am also not a fan of rooibos, although I am starting to suspect green rooibos may be ok, but you know how it is: when you’ve decided you detest a certain ingredient, you’ll notice it everywhere—perhaps even where it doesn’t exist!

Things other than tea: I’m engaged to be married to my best friend, and feel like the richest woman on the planet because of it. I am also a veracious reader, and I also happen to have an obsession with fragrances, and have amassed quite a collection, although it pales in comparison to some collections out there! As a result of this obsession, I also follow several fragrance blogs, and am always up for a chat about scent. I’m also almost completely blind, and this does indeed mean that I come complete with a guide dog, who unlike me, hales from the sunny California campus of Guide dogs for the Blind. I think I’ve rambled on long enough, but if there’s anything you’d like to know or if you just feel like chatting to someone, please don’t hesitate to send me a message.


Ontario, Canada

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