Keemun Chinese Black Tea from The Tea Spot

I love the discovery of new tea flavors, finding their nuances, comparing and contrasting from a baseline. I started educating myself on tea with subscription boxes, and still have a soft spot for them. Looks like Tea Spot will be my next choice. They offer a monthly subscription box for $16 for about an ounce worth of 5-6 teas and also a quarterly loose leaf club at $45 for 3+ teas of one chosen style, in larger portions obviously. This selection seems to be from the former.

The dry Keemun smells very gentle, a bit like the coriander in my cupboard. There are uniformly tight, straight, leaves, appearing medium on the spectrum of browns. I see some broken bits in wet leaves and a tamarind color brew. It smells subtly sweet, and reminds me of cherries – cheerful but with a slightly tart finish.  1 heaping tsp per 8 oz from the brewing instructions, does not make a strong tea, which some people prefer. I’m not the type to drink this flavor straight, because tannins and I are frenemies.  I think it is It may leave a slight orange taste in my mouth but, this tea is still excellent at its job of caffeinating me!

Just like the Beastie Boys, I like my Sugar with [Keemun] and cream, too sweet to be sour, too nice to be mean.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy: The Tea Spot

A splendor of toasty flavor and aroma! The most refined and perhaps the most well-known of Chinese black teas, this Keemun is handpicked in Anhui Province. This tea has an indescribable flavor, with the most delicate hints of smoky pine, orchid, crushed apple and a rich, sweet body.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Richmond Park Blend from Upton Tea

RichmondTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black Tea

Where to Buy: Upton Tea

Tea Description:

A mellow, whole-leaf blend of Keemun, Ceylon, and Darjeeling. An exceptional tea that is smooth enough for drinking plain, and sturdy enough to take milk or lemon. From our London blender.


Steeping Suggestions:
Leaf Quantity: 2¼ g/cup
Water Temp: 212º (boiling)
Steep Time: 4-5 min.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

According to the production description Richmond Park Blend from Upton Tea is ‘mellow’.  I disagree.  That’s not a word I would use to describe this tea at all.  However, the product description for Richmond Park Blend from Upton Tea does go on to say that it is sturdy enough for the addition of milk or lemon.  Eventho I don’t add anything to my cup of tea I will agree that it’s a more sturdy tea overall.

At first sip I wasn’t sure if this tea was on a level playing field when it came to the other black teas offered from Upton Tea.  This was a tea that I’m glad I didn’t judge at first sip.  It ended up growing on me.  It took me a little time to understand Richmond Park Blend from Upton Tea.  Once this tea and I ‘became friends’ I ended up enjoying it a lot more.

Keemun, Ceylon, and Darjeeling are blended together for this offering.  The flavor layers are ever changing throughout the sip.  It’s heavy, then malty, then sweet-woodsy, then smoky, then earthy.  This does live up to multiple infusions but be careful not to over infuse!

This is a complex blend that I encourage you to try but be patient with because it’s ever changing and taking the time to get to know will pay off in the end!


Keemun Tea from Red Blossom Tea Company

b-100-1Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black Tea

Where to Buy: Red Blossom Tea Company

Tea Description:

Developed by a Chinese mandarin in 1875 to satiate the increasing demand for tea in Europe, Keemun quickly became the primary tea export of late 19th century imperial China. Today, it is a key component in traditional English Breakfast blends, but usually used in smaller quantities because of its cost relative to lower grade Indian Assams.

Our Keemun comes from Anhui Province, China. The leaves were harvested from a tea garden in the county of Qimen. Once harvested the leaves are cut to increase the rate of oxidation, a process that creates the rich mahogany color of the tea.

This is a good everyday breakfast tea. Its dark mahogany color, honeyed aroma and floral character makes a lighter brew than Indian blends, but the heartiness of this tea means it could hold up well to high temperature English style brewing.

We selected our Keemun for its heavier, deeper character. As a breakfast tea, it can be brewed to upwards of five minutes and can (if you like) be served with a bit of milk and sugar. We prefer a more straightforward approach, steeped in either a gaiwan or a small tea pot.

To do so, use 3.5 grams of tea leaves, brewed at 200 degrees Give the tea an initial 1 second rinse, then proceed to steep for 1 minute 30 seconds. Steep the second infusion for 1 minute 20 seconds. For subsequent brews, increase steep time in 30 second increments.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Keemun Tea from Red Blossom Tea Company is the tea of the moment here at Sororitea Sisters.  I’ve had this tea on and off in my collection for a few years now and don’t know why I haven’t reviewed it until now.  Perhaps it’s because I’m finally finishing off what I have in my current stash and don’t know when I will come across it again.  Perhaps it’s just the right time for a review of a mighty fine Keemun here on our site.  Either way…here it goes!

When I say Keemun Tea from Red Blossom Tea Company is a good, solid ‘middle of the road’ tea I’m saying that with the utmost respect!  This is a dandy of a tea, indeed!  It’s of great quality and the flavor very pleasing to the tongue, tummy, and soul!  Maybe the phrase ‘middle of the road’ better describes the strength of the Keemun as a black tea base as it isn’t overpowering nor is it weak.  It’s ‘just right’.   Notes of flowers and honey really make this flavor shine!

Keemun Tea from Red Blossom Tea Company is a great staple to have in your personal tea collection and/or stash if you enjoy various black teas.  If you come across this one – give it a try!


Lumberjack Black Tea from Tippy’s Tea

LumberjackTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Tippy’s Tea

Tea Description:

An original creation made by Tippy’s, we think you’ll love it. This is the truly manly man’s tea. It is rich and flavourful and wouldn’t be complete without some extra smokiness. Simply must be experienced!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I wasn’t a big fan of Tippy’s Midday Flight (the only other tea from Tippy’s I’ve tried) but I really want to love this company because they’re Canadian (supporting tea companies from my country is awesome; especially with the poor state of our dollar), affordable, and appear to have really great customer service! This particular blend from them has been on my wishlist for a long time now, and thanks to a fellow SororiTea Sister, TheLastDodo, I’m finally getting the chance to try it! I do find it slightly ironic that one of our sisters in America is providing me with a sample from a Canadian company, though.

The dry leaf of this one is very smokey with wood notes too; it almost comes off as “thick” in just the scent alone. I’m incredibly excited to try this one – it’s been a long time coming.

Recently I’ve discovered a love for Lapsang even though it used to be one of my least favourite teas. And this definitely isn’t making me feel crazy for the sudden change in interest! Now that it’s steeped up, I’m picking up the smoke first and foremost as expected, but it’s not too in your face either. The many black teas in this blend (Keemun, Assam, Darjeeling, and the Lapsang) are offering up some very nice, sweeter supporting notes to keep it from feeling monotone and too ashy and intense; and the smoke notes in Keemun which I tend to dislike a lot are totally eclipsed by the smoke notes of the Lapsang.

Breaking down the sweeter notes; I’m getting stonefruit as well as much lighter cocoa notes. There’s also some mild malt notes, likely from the assam, and some wood notes which could be from a few of the different teas blended here. It’s very, very good! And, it’s surprisingly quite smooth as well. I went with a four minute steep Western style, and I don’t pick up on any bitterness or astringency, and it’s not particularly tannic either.

I think this is another “Lapsang” blend that is good for people trying to get into Lapsang for the first time too because it’s not as concentrated as a normal Lapsang is. Really, really happy I’m enjoying this because it just means it’s going to be that much more easy to eventually place an order with Tippy’s!

Caravan Triad Tea from Brooklyn Tea Blends Co.

CaravanTriad1Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Brooklyn Tea Blends Co.

Tea Description:

BROOKLYN TEA BLENDS CARAVAN TRIAD is a perfect marriage of three black teas.  Blended together to achieve a memorizing complex but smooth taste. Richly and malty yet with great harmony of spices, fruits and wealth of smolderingly smoky aroma.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I was excited when I heard about Caravan Triad Tea from Brooklyn Tea Blends Co.  Not necessarily because it’s a caravan tea which to me means ‘smoky’ and I’ve mentioned more than once that I’m not a huge fan of smoky teas, but because it was a new to me tea crafted by a new to me tea company!

So I contacted them immediately and they sent me a sample.  You can also get a sample (a very generous sized sample!) of this tea for a limited time (the website says that the samples will be available through May 2015).

CaravanTriadAnd while this is indeed a smoky tea that is composed of 60% Lapsang Souchong, I like that when I opened the pouch, I wasn’t overwhelmed with smoke.  And now that I sit here with a cup of the brewed tea in front of me, I’m not being overwhelmed with a smoky aroma wafting out of the cup.  There are some smoky notes, yes, but they don’t overpower the cup.  I also smell some really lovely fruit notes to this cup and I like the way those notes mingle with the smoke.

I’m loving the flavor of this tea!  Yes, the smoke is a dominant flavor profile, but, there are so many lovely layers to this Caravan Triad! It doesn’t impart a heavy smoky taste on the palate and I don’t experience a residual smoky aftertaste, which I really like.

I am picking up on a strong fruity essence to this.  Notes of plum!  And just as I enjoyed how the aroma of smoke and fruit mingled, I am also enjoying how the smoky flavor mingles with the plum notes.  It evokes thoughts of a plum that’s been smoked over a plank of pine wood.

Unlike some other ‘smoky’ teas, I appreciate that the pine notes don’t taste ‘burnt’ or ‘charcoal-y.’  The pine adds a certain crispness that is similar to a minty crispness but without the mint overtones.  This is nicely round with sweet and savory notes.

This is a tea I’d recommend for late morning or afternoon sipping.  This isn’t the kind of tea that I’d want to reach for first thing in the morning.  It doesn’t have that same ‘gusto’ that I want for my first cup.  This is more of a contemplative type of tea, something that you want to take a moment and sit back and take the time to explore the dimensions of flavor.  There are so many delicate nuances to this tea that are just waiting to be discovered!

This is definitely one of the nicer smoky blends that I’ve tried, mostly because the smoke is gentle and unassuming here.  It doesn’t aggressively assert itself into my tea drinking experience the way Lapsang Souchong can do.  It allows me to sit back and enjoy subtle notes of smoke as well as the many other delicious layers of flavor.  I highly recommend this tea to anyone who would typically shy away from a ‘smoky’ tea because they find it too overbearing.  This tea will surprise you in a very good way!