Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Anodyne on Keemun Mao Feng from In Pursuit of Tea (and a Grace Tea Winey Keemun aside)

And while on the subject of Keemun Mao Feng, I have also just made a small serving of the In Pursuit of Tea current Keemun Mao Feng offering. Again, it strikes me as lighter than KMF of times long past. It has the distinctive Keemun nose, with the chocolate notes against a honeyed sweetness which comes into the aroma as well as meanders into the cup itself. The earth is clean and light and well balanced out by the honey-cocoa. Gives a very light hint of that "used tobacco box" aroma I've referred to before--not smoke, but the scent of a box that used to hold tobacco but now is only retaining a soft and subtle residual aroma. (Our household used to sometimes have chocolate flavored tobacco--as well as other tobacco--kicking around, so I suppose that is why this comes to mind when I taste/smell Keemun tea). This KMF is without that green pungency of the current ITC Keemun Mao Feng that I find a bit off-putting. It doesn't quite have the same fresh wheaty notes of the SRT Hong Tao Mao Feng either, focusing more on honey-cocoa with, p'rhaps, a light malty taste. I note that the IPOT website refers to it as having "roasty notes hidden behind nutty character, with a sweet fruity finish." It's not a sweetness I reference personally to fruity but more to honey, I confess. Lingering aftertaste is subtle, but there, and may extend to that 'winy' character that some Keemun has.

Grace Rare Teas has their Winey Keemun, and it's been a staple tea of mine for years that I neglect and then go back to now and then. The Grace Tea Winey Keemun has a different range of Keemun aroma and flavor--softer, sweeter, more mellow, and without those strong and dominant cocoa notes. It has a softer range, and seems to swap drama for a sweeter, more mellow character. Aroma is not muted by any means (it's quite full), but it just reflects a very different Keemun style. The Winey Keemun is actually softer on the palate. If you compare it to a voice, the Grace Tea Keemun is a deep male voice but in whispering mode, while other Keemun will strike me as a male voice at normal vocal level, but the kind of voice that reverberates in a room like a cello. Again, these are two different Keemun moods for me, and I'd like to have them both around for alternate drinking.

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