Tuesday 20 October 2009

Come Over to Keemun

Keemun tea leaves mugRegular readers will know that I have never claimed to be a tea expert, just a very keen enthusiast. My tea education is a constant source of pleasure and excitement and a recent discovery is no exception. I love all sorts of tea but if it's first thing in the morning, or I'm having a slice of cake, it has to be black tea. I have a few blends that I really love but if I'm going pure I generally stick to a malty Assam or a refreshing Darjeeling. Indian black teas are where it's always been at for me. If I'm in the mood I do like a Lapsang Souchong but on the whole I've always found black teas from China to be a bit lacking in depth for my taste.

Well how wrong I was. I have recently discovered Keemun tea. I realise that for many of you Keemun will be old news but for me it's been something of a revelation. I'm aware that it's often an ingredient in breakfast blends but I'd never tried it in its pure form. That all changed this week when my parents brought me a couple of packs of Jacksons of Piccadilly tea that they had found discounted to the bargain price of £1 each. One of them was a Keemun and, being rather short of black tea, I made myself a cup that very afternoon.

What a pleasant surprise! I instantly realised I had been unfairly maligning Chinese black tea based on a few rather average blends that I've tried. This Keemun, by a well-known but not necessarily great tea company, was really something. Rounded and rich with a flavour that reminded me of a Lapsang without the intense smokiness. I've read descriptions of Keemun having a floral taste but that wasn't something I detected in this particular tea. Instead it was ever so slightly piney and had a certain something which reminded me of green tea - perhaps not surprising in that Keemun is grown in a province of China that until the late nineteenth century only produced green tea.

So there we are. A whole new world of tea opened up to me. And the really exciting thing is I can now buy Keemun from some of my favourite tea shops and compare aromas, colours and tastes. It's a tough job writing this blog but someone has to do it...

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