Saturday, January 14, 2012

Teavivre, Premium Keemun Hao Ya Black Tea

This sample is one of 15 provided by Teavivre, a tea distributor located in China.

The dry leaf is small pieces of leaf and smells of hay and pipe tobacco. I have never smoked and can’t stand the smell of ash trays but fresh tobacco is a pleasant aroma. Used a healthy spoonful of leaf. Steeped longer than intended, about 3 minutes with below boiling water per label instructions. Wet leaf smells of smoked hay.

First sip, wow, I find this to be smoky. I don’t believe I have experienced this in a loose leaf before so I am a bit taken aback. I can pick out the Keemun taste, as I am used to it, underneath and can really taste it in the aftertaste. It is pleasant but the smoke dominates. It may take me a couple cups to decide what I think of this tea. Cup two and three – strange, this isn’t smoky at all. It’s just a really good cup of tea. I guess if you like the smoke this would be disappointing. Personally, I think if there is a lot of smoke involved then there should be pulled pork.

Update - I had to revisit this one.

Knowing what to expect this time, I sipped and did not find it nearly as off putting as the first tasting. As the cup cooled the smoke diminished and the other notes started to emerge.

The two or three cups you can get after the initial steep are fantastic and easily deserving of a 90+ rating. My feeling is the average first timer may not get past the initial shock to realize there is a really good cup of tea here. I hope I am wrong. More experienced tea reviewers tell me this is not particularly smoky and in fact, it is one of their favorites.

And another update - On my third time trying this tea, I find I am really enjoying this first cup. Weird, I know but sometimes a taste just has to have time to grow on you. Keeping the first steep at 2 minutes helps a lot as well.

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