|"Its flavor is bold, complex, and stimulating. It’s not a tea to relax with. It’s a tea to wake up with – it jolts your taste buds, and demands your attention."|
Picked in May 2011, this tea comes from Anhui, China. The small, twisted dry leaves were very dark – nearly black – suggesting that I was in for a bold flavor. I brewed at 95 degrees for 3 minutes, producing a dark, reddish-brown cup. The aroma was quite strong, with notes of ripe fruit and caramel.
The first sip was intense, slightly bitter, and not entirely pleasant. Each sip hit me with a sour citrusiness at first, developing into a bold chocolate/cinnamon flavor in the mouth, and a slight sweetness in the aftertaste. I was put off by the bitterness at first, but I persisted, and by the time I was halfway through the cup, the overall experience was starting to grow on me. I was reminded of stout beer (which I love), with its balance of sweetness and sourness. The lingering chocolaty aftertaste soon became addictive. By the end of the cup, I was no longer bothered by the bitterness, though I was still hoping that the second brew would be smoother.
And it was. There was almost no bitterness. The citrus, chocolate and cinnamon notes were all still there, but less so. There was a refreshing quality that made me think this would make a great iced tea. At the same time, I missed the intensity of the previous cup. The second brewing was enjoyable, but I actually preferred the first.
Overall, this tea has won me over. Its flavor is bold, complex, and stimulating. It’s not a tea to relax with. It’s a tea to wake up with – it jolts your taste buds, and demands your attention. While I still prefer Darjeeling as an everyday tea, I’m starting to see the appeal of high-quality Keemun. I look forward to trying more varieties.
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