Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Teavivre: A Flight of Keemun, Picking a New Favorite

Guys, I drink a lot of Keemun, it is one of my favorite teas and when I start to run low I get antsy. A while back I got a big bag of Fragrant Snail Keemun from Teavivre, partially on a whim and partially because I liked the name, and it has been my favorite ever since....but is that fair? I have not tried Teavivre's other Keemuns, so I decided to have an adventure with almost all of them, and of course I had to blog about this adventure. For brewing I used my usual 195 F, a small 50ml clay shiboridashi, hat style cups, and 30-60-60-90 seconds for steeping. Let the games begin!

Keemun Grade 1
This is the bargain Keemun, quality but not super high quality, a daily drinker if you will, perfect for both gongfu and western style. The aroma is nutty and sweet, with notes of coconut, brown sugar, almonds, and a bit of molasses. The taste is brisk but sweet, combining malt, molasses, and peanuts with a slight aftertaste of wood and almonds. On a whim I brewed up a mug of this (and grade 2) for Ben on his days off and stole a sip, it is really solid brewed that style as well, a touch more brisk and stronger molasses. This is a really tasty daily drinker!

Keemun Grade 2
Perfect for making Milk Tea...hmmm, maybe gongfuing this one will be a mistake...but why not? This one is all about being approachable and multi-use, and I can respect that in a tea, even if I prefer super fancy stuff. The aroma is super strong, possibly the strongest of the Keemuns I have tried from this batch, notes of sweet cocoa, caramel, and peanuts reminded me a bit of candy. The taste is a bit brisk, not as much as I was expecting it to be, with strong notes of caramelized peanuts and a bit of a woodsy cocoa shell finish. Of the two mugs of western style I gave Ben, this was his favorite...and I am tempted to make this into milk tea, but as gongfu this is also pretty tasty.

Premium Keemun Hao Ya
I might have spent far too much time sniffing this one, we are definitely getting into the higher tier grade stuff now and it tells with the level of nuances in the aroma. It is woodsy, very sweet like butterscotch and caramelized plums, and a finish of toasted hazelnuts. It smells delicious! The taste is subtle but very good, notes of sweet caramelized hazelnuts, gentle distant flowers, thick chocolate, and mellow plums dance in my mouth. This tea goes the distance too, lasting a whopping seven steeps. This tea was a delight!

Keemun Aromatic Snail
Hello beloved snail! You are delightfully curly leaved hongcha goodness! The aroma of the tea is complex, with notes of cocoa pods, toasted cumin, sandalwood, myrrh, dried cherries, molasses, and raw honey. There is a lot going on here, and all the notes blend together wonderfully and smell so tantalizing, especially that cumin note, I love cumin in sweet things as well as in savory. The taste, well, there is a reason this one has been my favorite that I have not really strayed from, with strong notes of pistachios, cumin, molasses, myrrh, cocoa, cherries, and a rich dark honey and woody finish that lasts forever. Plus the mouthfeel is super smooth, this tea does happy things to my brain.

Keemun Imperial
The leaves on this tea are so pretty, curly and with hints of golden fuzz, truly these are beautiful leaves that deserve ogling. The aroma of this Keemun is super nutty and starchy! Notes of hazelnuts and peanuts blend with sweet potatoes and brown sugar, sniffing this tea made me rather hungry. The taste borders on creaminess with its smoothness, thick notes of sweet potato and brown sugar mix with hazelnut and peanuts, the finish is a long lasting honey sweetness that sticks around for a while. The taste and aroma of this Keemun is amazing, though it reminds me more of a Bailin Gongfu than a Keemun, but that is not a bad thing.

Superfine Keemun Mao Feng
The description of this Keemun says it combines bold flavor with intense aromatics, sounding like a perfect combination of all the ones I have already tried, this excited me! The aroma is a combination of sweet starchy pumpkin bread, caramelized plums, and a hint of cumin seeds, it is very sweet and subtly earthy...I like! The taste is pretty fantastic, it is quite bold, strong notes of pumpkin pie and plums, chocolate and cumin, and a touch of pine and sandalwood. It lasts for many steeps too, sticking around for six really solid steeps and a few more very light ones.

So, which will I be getting to replace my stash once it runs out? On the one hand, they are all good and quite enjoyable...I could save money by getting the solid Grade 1 or go for the most steepings with the Hao Ya...stick with the old familiar Snail or go with something new. Ok I will be honest, I am truly torn, the Snail and Superfine Mao Feng really were my favorites and they luckily cost roughly the same (though you can only get the Superfine in 3.5oz rather than 1.75oz) so knowing me, I will probably just get both! Do you have a favorite or for that matter, which would you pick?

All tea but the Snail were sent by Teavivre for review, the Snail was bought by me.

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