drank Keemun Royal by Rishi Tea
109 tasting notes

I discovered Keemun tea by accident-just browsing TeaGschwendner’s site and seeing that it looked different. Liked it a lot-very unique taste compare to Assams, Ceylons, Darjeelings, etc. Tried RoT’s (which won 2nd place last year at NATC) and Teavana’s. Rishi’s won an award this year, and I couldn’t pass up this reserve-even though it was much more expensive than the previously mentioned Keemuns. Rishi promises 5-7 steeps out of 2 tablespoons-which is good, because that’s A LOT of tea.

My first experience brewing this tea was a disaster. I was just recovering from a cold, but didn’t realize I had lost my sense of taste or smell until I drank this and tasted nothing but brown water-ugh. Put it away for a week or so until my senses recovered. I have brewed this tea on two different days since my recovery.

I was concerned that being harvested in April instead of Autumn that the tea would taste radically different-as I found out to my dismay on 2nd flush darjeeling. The first brew was REALLY strong and bitter-think I went 5 minutes. Subsequent steeps were much shorter and better. Today, I started out at 3 minutes. Still, the first steep was really bitter. 2nd and 3rd steeps were much better. 4th had a little bitterness return-but it was gone by the 5th steep. I didn’t want to stay up all night so I had to stop there-but I thought it could have gone for one more steep.

I have to admit being a little irritated learning that Rishi has been saying “it is sure to be the very best Keemun of the year” for three years now. However, that has no bearing on my review or enjoyment of the tea.

I did enjoy this tea quite a bit, though I think it had less of the chocolate notes other Keemuns have had (because of the Spring harvest?). However, this is so expensive even with 5-7 steeps-it’s just not that much better than other Keemuns I have had to justify the price. I probably won’t buy it again.

Some details:

Packaging-Comes in a sealed foil pouch placed inside Rishi’s traditional zip-lock type resealable pouch. I think it’s a tight squeeze to put the inner foil pouch back inside the Rishi outer pouch-so consider whether you need alternative storage for the inner foil pouch.

Dry leaf-short (about 1/4 inch long) needle-like. mostly very dark brown

1st steep- 3min/200
Liquor color-mahogany
Notes-a little leathery and a touch of smoke
Taste-bitter with lingering bitter aftertaste
Aroma-not much, but traditional Keemun smoke, woodsy

2nd steep 3:15/195
Aroma-stronger. smells like keemun-smoky, woodsy
Body-medium heavy
Taste-Much smoother. most of bitterness gone. tastes like traditional keemun-slightly smoky and faint chocolate notes.

3rd steep-2:30/195
Aroma-about the same as 2nd steep
Liquor-is now coppery in color. Zero bitterness.
Taste-Smooth. Notes are woodsy/piney, smoky

4th steep 2:15/195
Liquor-between amber and copper.
Body is light-medium.
Taste-milder/weaker flavors but now some bitterness returns. Notes same as 3rd steep
Aroma-same, but milder

5th steep 1:40/195
Liquor is amber-looks like a 1st flush darjeeling.
Taste-Notes the same. Still there, but milder again. A tiny bitterness in the aftertaste.

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Started drinking tea for health benefits maybe 5 years ago-exclusively bagged tea. Usually went for various Celestial Seasonings type of stuff. I bought a tea infuser at a gourmet shop once and then I realized there was almost no loose tea available. Eventually tiring of bags, I started ordering loose tea online and I have never gone back. Initially, I was exploring all the wild and exotic flavor combinations, but now I mostly drink straight teas. I still enjoy blended teas-but prefer those without “flavoring”. Hope to learn here and find some new teas I might not otherwise find. Am a vegan, so “milk” generally means “soymilk” to me. If it’s almond, rice, or coconut, I will mention that fact.

I am new here, and new to reviewing tea. Many of my initial reviews will be from memory and may not be very detailed at all. I hope to write more informative reviews on current and future teas.

I won’t let external factors affect my rating of the tea-such as slow shipping, too expensive, etc. I’ll mention any customer service problems in my reviews. I also won’t let my mistakes in not following the seller’s recommended parameters affect a rating. I can’t believe people who say “I forgot about it and oversteeped it” and then give it a rating. If I brew outside the parameters, I will wait until I brew it right before I give it a rating.

TEMPORARY RATING SYSTEM- Don’t hold me to these numbers and descriptions-like George Bluth, I like to tweak.

90+ It’s awesome, right?? I’ll probably try to keep it on hand.

80-89 – I really like this and will buy it again at some point, but there are so many teas to try!

70-79 – This is a pretty good tea and I may buy it again based on my mood, what tea store I am buying from, and what kind of deal I can get.

60-69 – This is okay. I finished the bag. I would drink it again if offered, but would not buy it again.

40-59 – IF I finished the bag, I recall this tea thinking “Why in the hell did I finish the bag?”

1-39 – Did not finish the bag. Maybe not even the cup. Tea was given away or discarded.



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