|"Unique wouldn't even begin to cover this Keemun. It is an odyssey, but a good one."|
I was already aware of the four true types of Keemun - Hao Ya, Mao Feng, Gongfu, and Xin Ya. What I was unaware of was that other types were also in development. The Aromatic Snail is a relatively new variant on the Keemun formula. It gets its name from the production method, which is similar to a famous Chinese green tea - Bi Luo Chun, or "Green Snail Spring". Only leaf buds plucked prior to the Qing Ming Festival (early spring) are used for the production of this tea. The result - they claim - is a Keemun with a more delicate flavor.
It certainly lived up to the "Aromatic" part of its name, bestowing bold scent of sweet flowers, grapes and spice I only thought to find in Darjeeling blacks. The leaf buds themselves ranged in color from black to tippy gold. In fact, I was rather surprised it had a tippy presence at all; not a trait I associate with Keemun.
I coudn't find any brewing instructions on the site. Typical approach I used for blacks was boiling water and a three-minute steep. It had worked for other Keemuns of varying strength. I went with 1 heaping teaspoon in 8oz of boiled water for just that amount of time.
The Snail brewed up a little lighter than the average Keemun, imparting a solid amber color ringed with faint crimson. The mouthpiece aroma was all malt and honey; it definitely had the Keemun sweetness down from what little I could tell by nostril touch. That sweetness also reared its sassy head in the foretaste. Where most Keemuns have a decidedly blunt profile on initial sip, this imparted a dessert-like quality. The middle was woody, smokey, and creamy all at the same time. Astringency showed up a tad in the finish, but was helped along by a floral exit. Unique wouldn't even begin to cover this Keemun. It is an odyssey, but a good one.
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