Review of Qimen Black Tea

10 of 105 of 55 of 595 of 100

Like other Starway teas, this tea is very inexpensive ($6.99 for 6 ounces) and is packaged in a red tin of the same style as other Starway teas. The leaves are broken, but in reasonably large pieces.

The dried leaves are quite pungent and smell strongly of raisins. As the tea steeps, the aroma is of earth, oak leaves and malt. It certainly smells like other Keemun teas.

The initial flavor is less malty and more earthy than I would have expected from the aroma, but the flavor once again matches the profile that I expect from a Keemun. There is no bitterness at all and only mild astringency, even with four minutes in near-boiling water. I occasionally steep this one even longer, especially if I won't be trying for a second brewing.

After the tea has cooled only slightly, the sweeter notes begin to appear. While the predominant flavors are still earth and dried leaves, the finish is malt, raisins, molasses and honey. The tea still shows no bitterness and only slight astringency. For such a mellow tea, it is very flavorful. This tea is easily as good as more expensive Keemuns that I've tasted.

The only problem I've had with this tea is availability. I can't find any reference (let alone anyone selling it) online and I've only seen it in one shop so far. That shop is now out of stock, so if I can find it again, I'm buying as many tins as I can carry.

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Alex Zorach wrote:
on April 6th, 2017

I love Keemun and given that I've had pretty good experiences with other teas from this company, I would jump on this one if I ever saw it for sale...but I've never seen it in any of the 5 or so different stores where I've seen this brand for sale.

I've always puzzled at why Keemun isn't more widely available in the U.S. (and perhaps Chinese black / red teas in general) Everyone I know who likes loose-leaf black tea, likes it when I serve it to seems easy-to-appreciate. But like, it seems so much less available than Ceylon, Darjeeling, and Assam black teas in the Western-style tea shops. And then Asian stores usually carry mostly oolong and green teas and don't even always sell it.

Difflugia wrote:
on April 7th, 2017

In the Starway red cans, I've seen pu-erh in several shops, but only one carries the Keemun (along with a lychee-scented black tea.) I understand that shops catering to Asian tastes aren't going to sell much black tea, but it surprises me that nobody sells the Starway on Amazon. I asked the owner of one Asian shop if she would consider carrying some Yunnan or Keemun black teas and she politely, but firmly told me she wouldn't. She offered that I might enjoy some pu-erh or Japanese barley tea instead.

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