Tea: Hao Ya B (Keemun)

A Keemun Hao Ya B from Harney and Sons

Picture of Hao Ya B (Keemun)
Brand:Harney and Sons
Style:Keemun Hao Ya B
Region:China
Caffeine:Caffeinated
Loose?Loose
# Ratings:1 View All
Product page:Hao Ya B (Keemun)

Review of Hao Ya B (Keemun)

AromaFlavorValueTotal
9 of 105 of 55 of 598 of 100
SuperbExcellentOutstanding

I thought this was an exceptional tea and was my favorite traditional Keemun ever sapmled.

Dry leaf is fine and dark in color, pleasantly aromatic, and the aroma is quite complex, it suggests fruit, spice, and dried flowers, a little like potpourri, with vegetal and chocolatey notes. The smell reminds me of Christmas, gift shops, and a bit of the inside of a greenhouse filled with tropical plants, like when I opened the container I had a memory of Longwood Gardens.

Upon brewing, wow...this tea is incredibly complex, it is probably the most complex black tea I've ever tried, aroma-wise. I want to write a long list of the notes that come out. It reminds me a lot of other Keemuns, with notes of dried fruit, faintly smoky and woody, vegetal. There is a note that reminds me of olive oil and another of a fruity red wine, there are also honey and floral notes.

Each sip is initially smooth but ends on an edgy note. The sensation of each sip starts out oolong-like, leading into a richly astringent finish, more characteristic of a black tea.

The finish leaves notes of bitter chocolate.

This is a sipping tea, I can't drink it quickly, contrasting with some other complex teas where the subtlety can be lost if you drink it idly. The aroma is so busy and the sensations on the palate so multifaceted, and powerful, that it grabs my attention and forces me to slow down. The overall experience of drinking it is intensely warming, almost like drinking bourbon or other whiskey.

As the cup cools, the aromatic character changes subtly. More malty notes come out, like rye. The cup tastes almost as good cooled when hot, although I think it is best when hot. Because of its intensity, I found it hard to finish the cup while still warm.

Resteeps, and the second cup is good, but not mind-blowing like the first. The second cup retains the strong wine-like quality, and is deep. The second cup is noticeably more bitter, which surprised me; the aroma is less present and the cup seems thinner, although it still has the same pattern in the sip of being smooth up-front and with an edgy astringency in the finish.

Price is also surprisingly good for a tea of such top quality. I'd go as far as to say this is a steal.

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Comments:

Alex wrote:
on May 17th, 2018

The awful burnt wood smell of a Keemun from Adagio has made me a bit cautious of Keemun in general despite loving the taste, but your review makes me want to try this tea immediately. Do you know how much they put in the sample for this?

Alex Zorach wrote:
on May 24th, 2018

Sorry for the slow reply on this one, I don't know the exact weight, and it was a couple years ago so I don't remember super clearly but if I had to guess I'd say somewhere between 7 and 15 grams. I think I remember it being a pretty small-ish sample, but I was definitely able to brew it at least three times using my usual teaspoon-per-cup.

This is one point where I like Upton Tea Imports -- they explicitly tell you the exact weight in grams of samples. I have had good luck getting quick replies from Harney though -- you might want to reach out to them. I would love to see them add weights to their sample sizes listed on their site; I think this is a "best practice" thing that I'd ideally like all companies to do.

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