Black tea-Keemun Finest

Tea type
Black Tea
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Cocoa, Malt, Plums, Smoke, Vanilla, Muscatel
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Bulk, Loose Leaf
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Edit tea info Last updated by looseTman
Average preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 30 sec 4 g 5 oz / 160 ml

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16 Tasting Notes View all

From Zen Tea

“Finest smooth & smoky Keemun with a discrete finesse and particularly smooth, slight sweet taste. A treasured tea from southern Anhui Province, Keemun is grown and produced near the famous HuangShan mountains. This selection represents one of the finest grades available, boasting a velvety mouth feel and subtle notes of cocoa, leather, dried plum and wet earth. Light brown, radiant infusion colour.

Origin: Anhui, China
Harvest: April, 2013
Preparation: 3 min, 98C (208F), 1 heaping tsp / 8 oz cup"

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16 Tasting Notes

791 tasting notes

Cocoa, Malt, Plums, Smoke, Vanilla, and Muscatel are all pretty good descriptors, though I would add “Leather” to the mix. Malt, Leather, Smoke, and Cocoa are the best adjectives in my opinion. I am loving the brewed leaf smell, though it reminds me of the blends its often mixed with like English Breakfast and some rose blends. It is also very smooth and has a solid amount of natural sweetness, but dry bitter-sweetness like cocoa.

Evol, you might gasp, but I decided to power steep the entire sample Gong Fu. It actually turned out really nice with super short steeps. Cocoa almost every time. First was 14 due to timing of pouring, and the second 5, 7, 8, 10 and then stop. I actually liked this tea more cooled down closer to 170 F instead of 180 F since I caught more of the nuances with that temperature. The last steep was more malt than anything else with the fading cocoa and leather.

I feel a little buzzed and weighty after this one. A little bit of pressure on my skull…I am mildly tea drunk or too frickin’ drunk of caffeine lol. I did randomly look up that this has a higher concentration of geraniol, an alcohol in the essential oil of roses among other plants. That is what makes me think this is a bit rosy. I don’t know if it is contributing to the mild delirium.

As much as I as I enjoyed the smoke and the cocoa, I am not sure I would drink this often. I pretty much have the same opinion about Keemums in that they are good teas if I am in the mood for mega malt and if it’s good quality. This one comes to that mark for me ’cause of cocoa and leather, but it might not for others. I liked the body a little bit more than the Nepal, but the honey note in the Nepal off sets its dryness. Again, thank you so much Evol! Now, for some water!


Interesting about the geraniol…

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357 tasting notes

I drank this sample Western-style both times I tried it, as that’s just what the smaller leaves seemed best suited to. The dry leaf smelled malty with a bit of cocoa, smoke, and plum. The flavor was a nicely deep and malty, with a little bit of cocoa and vanilla in the first steep. There was also just a small tough of smoke to it. After the first steep, I didn’t get any of the vanilla or cocoa notes I got before. The maltiness remained, along with a slight bit of a plum note. Pretty good tea, especially to western and take with me!

Flavors: Cocoa, Malt, Plums, Smoke, Vanilla

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec 5 g 0 OZ / 8 ML

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2246 tasting notes

A tea I grabbed in Zen’s super generous Steepster 50% off sale. Basically I grabbed a few favorites and a bunch of samples. The dry leaves here are short in length and black — looks like the typical keemun to me! The flavor has that lovely slightly tangy quality that keemun has, like the tanginess of plums. Along with the tiniest hint of smoke, really not much at all. Otherwise, the medium bodied brew has notes of bread, wine, and the hints of bright brassiness that I usually notice in assam. It’s a great combination of flavor notes and a keemun I could easily stock up on.
Steep #1 // 1 heaping teaspoon for a full mug// 10 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3-4 minute steep

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8245 tasting notes

Received this one from Evol Ving Ness at our meetup and had it early this morning. the downside is that i got side tracked and don’t remember detailed notes on how it tasted, but i really enjoyed the cup. There’s a little left in my cup that’s been sitting there, cold. and sipping it now it reminds me of fruity, malty delicious. I may need to look at ordering some of this for myself later on in the year.

thanks evol!


How prominent is the smoke?


I think this one is my favorite keemun so far. :)


Nicole, personally i didn’t notice any lol sooooo yeah.


Keemuns always sound appealing but then the smokiness always blows it for me. :(


Yeah, there’s a little bit, but it’s minimal. This one is stronger than most keemuns as well.


@nicole if I get any this year you can steal some hehe

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137 tasting notes

This is my fourth Keemun, and I would definitely say it’s my favorite so far! It’s smoky but smooth, with enough strength to get me up and going. This was another generous sample from ashmanra, thanks again for expanding my Keemun horizons! I’m going to purchase this one for sure!


My favorite of the three I sent you as well! Glad you like it. Grace Rare Tea has one called Winey Keemun that is very different from the ones I sent but is very good. It can be purchased online or at A Southern Season. It is true to the name – winey and fruity without smoke or cocoa notes.


Awesome, I’ll have to make a trip up to Raleigh soon, it’s been a while. I’ll wait until I diminish my current stores, I bought a lot of tea last month, hahaha! Thanks again!

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2215 tasting notes

Eldest daughter, SuperAnna, gave me this for Christmas. Sometimes she Steepster-stalks me for gift ideas, and sometimes she makes notes on what I like. She picked a winner here!

When she asked what I wanted for Christmas, I requested the beautiful Aurora matcha bowl from Zen Tea. She added this to the order and I am glad she did.

First reaction this morning was a growl as I lifted the cup. This is breakfast Keemun. Not so bold that you have to add milk and sugar, but bold enough that you are not going back to bed! (I don’t need tea to wake up – I am pretty at it once I awaken and I have to go out first thing and feed the chickens anyway, so that gets me going. If I don’t make it out quickly, the chickens “moo” annoyingly and I am afraid they will disturb the neighbors!)

There is the raspy scrape of unsweetened cocoa on my tongue and the very light hint of smoke, then as you sip, the building fruitiness. Nice tea! This would be very good with milk and sugar for those who like it that way.


Mooing chickens! What’ll they think of next? ;)


Moo-ing is their morning grumpy sound, and one of them actually sounds like it is saying, “Moooooom!” I imitated it once and the kids thought I had brought her in the house. This particular chicken was named Darles Chickens but we call her Buffy most of the time. When they squeal, they are being picked on by another chicken. If they sound like geese, it means they see a flying predator.

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286 tasting notes

The first time I had this tea, the smokiness that I usually associate with keemuns eluded me. I couldn’t find it. What I do recall from the first cup was the fruitiness that came through.

Today’s cup is different. I took my time and paid attention. The fruit note was still predominant, but I found those subtle tobacco and smoke notes. They came through at the end of the sip and sat on the tongue for a bit before disappearing. Interesting.

I have a couple of keemuns in my cupboard that I need to taste to see how this compares. I haven’t had keemun in a while. When I finally found the tobacco notes I enjoyed that, although I wish there was a touch more smoke.

My thanks to looseTman for providing me with a sample!

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472 tasting notes

This is a sample I got with Zen Tea Life sale.
There is nothing I can add to looseTman review. He nailed it perfectly. Some plum, some wine, a little of tobacco, smokiness is subtle.
This tea is completely different fr Spring Keemun by A&D or Pine Keemun by Wispering Pines.
Very nice afternoon cup. I think I love my Yunnan blacks more. But it’s like comparing apples and oranges. Still want to try Teavivre’s offerings to make up my mind. No rating since I’m exploring .

1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Thanks, that’s very kind of you!


He is pretty good!


You both made my day! Happy July 4th weekend!


Happy 4th of July to you too. I’m going to watch fireworks, they decided to do it tonight in our community in Pocono ;)


God Bless America


+1 looseTman and all of us on here also.


I agree with everything that was said in this thread :-)
Just love you guys!!


The reason Steepster is so incredibly awesome is that it is populated by awesome people!


I can’t say better than all of you people!


+1 mrmopar: “God Bless America” and Steepster!
Terri HarpLady: Back at you :)
We love you too TheTeaFairy!
Agreed MzPriss: Steepster people are awesome people!
What a mutual admiration society!
boychick, you started it all!

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125 tasting notes

This morning, I’m very pleased to review Keemun Finest from Zen Tea Life, Western style: 8 oz. / 1 heaping tsp. (3.5 g) / 208*F / 3 min. without sweeteners, milk, or cream.

Intro.: My 1-kg Premium Keemun Hao Ya stash from TeaVivre was very joyfully consumed a while ago now. :- ( :- ( :- ( I’ve been waiting for their next sale to reorder and am suffering from Keemun withdraw! In my experience to date, no other black tea is quite like a Keemun! Then along came an email from Kenneth Son of Zen Tea Life telling me he was going to be offering a new Keemun that he thought was superior to his current one. Needless to say, I was curious. When his May sale arrived, I could not resist! I purchased 200 g without sampling it first, which is very unlike me. But you have to understand, I’ve been Keemun-less for a while now and it was a good sale. I also suspected that this Keemun may have been sourced from the same supplier as a Keemun that used to be offered by Butiki – a highly regarded and favorite Steepster supplier. Would I regret sampling a new Keemun with a 200 gram package???

Leaf: A mix of thick & thin twisted dark chocolate-brown leaves 1.3 cm or less .
Fragrance: Potent, very fine-quality rich pipe tobacco – YUM! Quite a surprise for a Keemun!
Liquor: Clear, dark copper
Aroma: YUM – this is something different! A touch of Keemun smokiness blended with fine-quality rich pipe tobacco. Take a moment to deeply inhale it over & over.
Flavor: Keemun with a subtle winey character

3-min: A thick, rich, full-bodied, extremely smooth and mellow juicy Keemun with zero astringency or bitterness. On the first sip, it has a subtle winey character compared with my regular Keemun – heavier on the bass. But keep sipping! As the winey flavor gradually builds with each sip, this Keemun is so warm, relaxing, and satisfying. Oh my! In the infamous words of Meg Ryan, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

4.5-min: Light to medium bodied
6-min: Light to medium bodied

Impression: A thick, rich, full-bodied, extremely smooth and mellow juicy Keemun. This black tea is very enjoyable and highly recommended for any time of day, especially for Keemun-lovers who might enjoy a unique Keemun experience. Sometimes in life, you just have to go for it, and in this case, I’m glad I did.

Thanks to Kenneth Son of Zen Tea Life for recommending this unique and excellent Keemun.

Method:RO water re-mineralized with an Aptera filter
Brewed western-style conveniently in a tea mug with a brew basket

3 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
Terri HarpLady

Gotta love Meg!


Great review as always! I didn’t notice that Zen Tea offered a new Keemun. I quite enjoy the other one they have, it’s very light in smoke. I shall give this one a try eventually. Glad it turned out this way so you can fully appreciate your 200g :-)


Thanks TheTeaFairy! Me too! Now if the re-steep was nearly as full-bodied as the first cup …


I got myself 20g of this tea. I have to try.


Wonderful review. I really like that your reviews are to the point.


Thanks boychik!

Terri HarpLady

I do enjoy Keemun teas, & the variety of flavor profiles they can have. Most of them don’t seem to resteep all that well, unless you’re going with really short gongfu steepings. This one sounds tasty!


Thanks, good point! I’ll have to try TeaVivre’s Western Steep recommendations for their Premium Keemun (5g / 1, 2, 3 Min.) with this one.


Great review! I haven’t had any Keemun in a long while…almost forgotten what it tastes like. Your note about this tea makes me want to buy it!


Thanks Charissa!


5g / 1, 2, 3 min. is sub-optimal for this Keemun.

Terri HarpLady

You tried it then?


Yes, I did.

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292 tasting notes

Fine, dark brown dry leaf that smells a bit earthy with dry plum, which becomes more pronounced when wet. There is possibly a hint of smokiness in the scent as well.

Brews a nice medium brown.
Tastes sweet with cocoa and plum, and there is a wee bit of earthiness. I do not detect much smokiness when drinking, but possibly the leather as in the description. Smooth and enjoyable!

A very nice tea and I re-steeped it once for just as delicious a cup.
Now I wish I had also ordered the other keemun that zen tea has so I could compare them, but perhaps next time.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 30 sec

Caile, How does this Keemun compare to others you’ve tasted?


I think I’ve only had two others which were from Teavivre – the superfine and the premium ones – and although it is hard to remember since I don’t have them in stock right now, I feel like I liked those better. I am planning to order the superfine (and possibly the premium as well) :)


Understood. Thanks!

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