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.