On October 18th of 2013, my journey through the world of tea tasting carried me to the Anhui Province of China. This sample of Keemun Mao Feng tea was provided by Changsha Nutrahealth Biotech Co.
The leaves used in this tea are the same leaves used in the well known and delicious Huang Shan Mao Feng green tea. Generally, these tea bushes are grown in the Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain) region of the Anhui Province. There are some awe inspiring photos of these tea plantations that can be found with a simple Google search of “Huang Shan Tea Farm photo.”
The sample pack has been opened, and a sweet smell of dried fruit and licorice is nicely complimenting the brilliant looking black and gold leaves. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves of this Keemun Mao Feng black tea are either a uniform black or gold in color, with a slight edge to the gold leaves in overall number. The leaves are nicely twisted, with a fairly uniform size and shape. The pluck is very evident, being one leaf and the bud. The aroma is sweet, like dried fruit, there is also another slightly sweet and spicy scent, I am going to classify it as licorice, for lack of a better term. There is minimal breakage and no crumbs.
The standard method of preparation was used for this sample. Purified spring water was heated to 200°F (96°C). Seven and a half grams of dry tea leaves were placed in a 21 ounce (600 ml) cast iron tetsubin teapot. The leaves were infused for two minutes.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a lively deep amber color, clear and transparent. The aroma is sweet like malt, and slightly woodsy. The body is full, with a smooth texture. The taste is sweet (malt), with a very light and pleasant bitterness. The aftertaste is mild and lightly malty.
The second infusion produced a lively deep amber color, very slightly lighter than the first infusion. The aroma remains malty and woodsy. The body remains full and smooth, very slightly lighter than the first infusion. The taste remains sweet (malt), with the bitterness lightening slightly. Aftertaste remains mild and malty. This was a very tasteful second infusion, almost at the same level as the first.
The third infusion produced a brighter shade of amber color. The aroma lightened some, but remains malty, with the woodsy quality having diminished. The body remains surprisingly full and smooth. The taste remains malty, although lighter than the second infusion, with the very light bitterness remaining. Aftertaste is lighter. Overall, still a tasteful third infusion for a black tea. I believe a fourth infusion could provide an acceptable flavor.
The dry leaves are a perfectly uniform lighter brown color. Pluck is one fine leaf and a bud. Plenty of buds are present, as well as plenty of fully intact leaves, some still attached to the stem. There are also some leaf fragments, but even so are larger fragments. The aroma is sweet and malty. The leaves are somewhat durable, suggesting that a fourth infusion may have some taste to offer.
Having sampled many Darjeeling and Ceylon black teas recently, this Keemun Mao Feng was a nice way to return to the realm of Chinese black tea. This is a nicely balanced, full bodied black tea that anyone can enjoy. Although I found no need for additives to enjoy this tea, it would certainly take milk or cream well. All three infusions had a high quality taste and beautiful color. This tea is ideal for beginning the day. It is easy to understand why teas of this style are popular in breakfast blends.