hong tao mao feng keemun
type: hong cha
place of origin: anhui province, china
vendor: silk road teas [item #B-KMF-O; the ‘O’ suffix signifies ‘certified organic’]
date processed: 2005
date brewed for these notes: 051017
leaf-to-water proportions: 1g to 1 oz
brewing vessel: cebei
dry leaf: coal-dark, medium length for keemun leaf; fresh aroma, not malty
infused leaf: unfurled somewhat but not dramatically; color lightened to chestnut
first, i should say that, of keemuns, i prefer hao ya to mao feng. i mention the fact because it might well have predisposed me to be perhaps the less impressed by the tea under review.
on the contrary, this is a keemun to keep on the shelf alongside one’s prized hao ya. it’s more thin in the mouth than what one would find in a hao ya, but has nonetheless definitely got enough myrcenal to produce that distinctively ‘keemun’ flavor. the aftertaste is not as tenacious as some other keemuns. astringency is low.
INF1: 90 sec, 195F. at the beginning of the sip one gets a cooling overtone that is almost minty [i eschew the word ‘camphor’ because i'm not sure whether or when that would apply]. not especially ‘malty’ in profile; this tea is what i would call ‘elegant’ rather than ‘hearty.’ the afghan hound rather than the st bernard.
INF2: 90 sec, 195F. still not what i would term ‘malty,’ but the notes one associates with ‘chocolatey’ in a keemun begin to emerge here.
INF3: 2 min, 195F. there is still enough ‘there’ there to make this a drinkable and in fact enjoyable cup, but one wonders how a fourth infusion would do. beginning with INF3 one notices a taste [again in the ‘chocolatey’ range] that might induce one to mistake this for a fujian hong cha, like ‘golden needles,’ rather than a keemun. again, notably low astringency. somehow -- is it just the cumulative effect of drinking several infusions in succession? – the aftertaste seems to be more lingering now.
INF4: 3 min, 195F. okay, i went for it. all the characteristics of INF3 are still present here, though in attenuated form. the liquor is much paler now -- the color essentially of a light cognac -- but even now this brew surpasses more mundane teas.
IN SUM: i do think that this is at most a four-infusion tea. and for those who are not amused by such focused attention to their drinking, a one- or two-infusion tea. one does remark here the ‘dying rose’ sweetness that some associate with keemuns. overall, a delicate and distinguished tea that will not cloy.