Review of Imperial Keemun Mao Feng Secret Garden

8 of 105 of 55 of 588 of 100

Finally, a good Keemun! The dry tea has an aroma of aged wood, with a smoky scent that's more like the smokiness of a smoked cheese than the harsh smokiness of lower quality Keemun. I brewed it in a French press with water that hadn't reached boiling yet. The brewed tea has a similar aroma to the dry leaves, but this aroma doesn't even hint at the flavor. It has tangy tropical fruit and berry notes and a smooth and full mouthfeel; I now understand where all the talk of Keemun being "winey" comes from. The fruity, juicy finish lingers forever (coincidentally reminding me of a red wine I sampled earlier in the day), without a hint of astringency, while a black pepper-like spiciness appears at the back of my throat. I've been really enjoying spicy tea lately, so that's a pleasant surprise.

The second cup is substantially different, lacking the spiciness of the first and exchanging the berries for a rich dark chocolate flavor that blends well with the tart fruit notes. This cup is slightly more astringent than the first, but that only means that I actually noticed a small amount of astringency this time. It's still far less astringent than any Indian black tea I've ever had would be after a five minute steep.

I bought this at a tea shop, not from Culinary Teas' website, so I'm judging its value by the price I paid. This being my first Keemun that I would consider to be good quality, I don't have much to compare it to, but I think it's a great tea that I'd happily buy again.

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Alex wrote:
on July 31st, 2018

I decided to brew this in my gaiwan today. The first infusion was thin and mostly tasted of old wood, possibly pine. Every steep after that increased in sweetness and body until it produced a cup of the winey, fruity flavor that made me love this tea. The next couple steeps were variations on that flavor. The spiciness I compared to black pepper is more complex than that, as there's also an herbal, oregano-like spiciness. I also noticed a hint of cinnamon in both the flavor and aroma in the third and fourth steep. I got seven flavorful steeps out of it, which I think is pretty good for a black tea. I've had oolongs that faded more quickly than that. I don't think this tea benefits as much from gongfu brewing as dian hongs seem to, or especially oolong and sheng, but it still revealed some flavors I missed the first few times western brewing it.

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