Friday, July 07, 2006

Anodyne on Hong Mei Mao Feng from Imperial Tea Court

Hong Mei Mao Feng
Imperial Tea Court
Tea rcvd 7/7/06

I was intrigued by the description of a black tea offered by Imperial Tea Court called Hong Mei Mao Feng ("Red Plum Flower"). As their websites notes, the leaf is the mao feng style that looks like "pointy blades," and is "a tip that is neither gold nor silver but jet black...twisted into a long, thin springy strand." More information on the processing is on the website ( The tea is supposed to be "reminiscent of Keemun Mao Feng" at its best. The tea hails from Zheijiang province and seems to be one that ITC is working on to develop full potential, if that's the correct way to put it. Very attractive leaf to this tea, something that ITC so often seems to excel at producing. It's not the whole story, I know, but I do enjoy an attractive leaf.

Since I have been, for the most part, less enamored of Keemun Mao Feng of recent times than I was in years past, I found it interesting that a "similar" tea is given a debut here. First trial run and first quick impressions: the aroma is very lovely, deep and sweet. It's definitely the kind of aroma in a China black (red) tea that draws me in. It is a scent that, for me, conjures up a room filled floor-to-ceiling with well-bound books, a fireplace sending a glow onto a polished wooden floor, amber lamps lit low on a desk, and a well-softened from use leathery chair over which is tossed a jacket that is just faintly redolent of a sweet pipe tobacco. There's a definite fruity thing going on in this tea, a sort of juicy ripeness of dark fruit. The website links it, I see, to "over-ripe damson plums." The fruity taste comes into the finish and lingers into the aftertaste almost with a very light drizzle of honey. There is a nice balance going on here. As I first sipped, when the tea was quite hot, I thought that the aroma was promising quite a bit more than the cup delivered. But a lot more comes into the cup as it cools just slightly, evening out this equation in a very nice way. This isn't a tea that focuses on earth or smoke or leather--the balance is more refined than that. It is one of those teas where I'll spend just as much time taking a sniff of the cup each time before I sip. And yes, if this tea continues to perform at this level or even higher, it's definitely a tea I'll be visiting again (and again). Lingering aftertaste is very nice, and it's especially in the finish and aftertaste where you get the hint of something plum-like.

Empty cup is very aromatic as well. Very nice. I've only brewed it once, and if it brews up again just like it did now, I think I could be hooked on this one. As I recall, my last order of Keemun Mao Feng from ITC did not wow me at all, I fear. But this Hong Mei Mao Feng is definitely doing so. This was a tea that I ordered and sourced direct from the vendor.

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