Keemun Imperial Black Tea

Tea type
Black Tea
Ingredients
Black Tea Leaves
Flavors
Floral, Fruity, Honey, Berry, Flowers, Frosting, Pine, Baked Bread, Malt, Sweet Potatoes, Caramel, Molasses, Yams, Hay, Tea
Sold in
Loose Leaf
Caffeine
Medium
Certification
Not available
Edit tea info Last updated by TeaVivre
Average preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 45 sec 5 g 7 oz / 213 ml

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15 Tasting Notes View all

  • “I thought I had already reviewed all of Teavivre’s Keemun black tea offerings but somehow I missed this one. I’ve purchased their Grade 1 and Grade 2 Keemun teas in the past and enjoyed them both....” Read full tasting note
    98
  • “I find it impossible that I have not posted a note about this one. I am drinking the very last of it! I made two steeps at breakfast and will sip it throughout the morning. I was really craving...” Read full tasting note
  • “I had this tea right after trying Keemun 2 Grade by Teavivre and wow, what different teas they are. The Imperial has very showy, attractive dry leaves and one of the most heady fragrances I...” Read full tasting note
    95
  • “bumping the rating up on this one. I am a fan of this one especially in comparison with the other keemun i pulled out today for the hell of it. Vastly prefer this one to the superfine keemun. ...” Read full tasting note
    85

From Teavivre

The fresh leaves for making this tea grew in the original producing area of Keemun tea, at an average elevation of 800 m above sea level. The one bud with one leaf (which just starts to open up, called Chu zhan “初展”) is hand-plucked for making this tea around the Chinese season of Qing Ming in early spring days. These fresh first-plucking leaves for making are loaded with nutrients and hence the finished dry leaves are neat and bold with high percentage of tiny golden tips. There is a sweet, mellow taste which creates a pleasant smooth sensation in your mouth. Overall, the first infusion of this tea is high in roasted sweet potato flavor mixed somewhat flower aroma, the second infusion is very mellow and the third infusion‘s lingering sweet and fragrant aftertaste will give you more enjoyment.

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15 Tasting Notes

98
247 tasting notes

I thought I had already reviewed all of Teavivre’s Keemun black tea offerings but somehow I missed this one. I’ve purchased their Grade 1 and Grade 2 Keemun teas in the past and enjoyed them both. I was surprised and happy to find this free sample packet from Teavivre when I opened my tea cabinet this morning.

When I opened the small silver foil container, an earthy and fruity aroma emanated from it. I followed the brewing instructions on the packet and steeped the short black leaves for five minutes at 185 degrees.

The finished brew had a dark gold color similar to motor oil. The odor was faintly sweet and fruity.

The taste of the tea was sweet with honey overtones. There also existed slightly floral and undefined fruity flavor characteristics. All of this merged perfectly together to form a sweet and mildly fruity taste experience with no astringency. The aftertaste continued this theme with gentle sweet and fruity attributes briefly floating on my palate.

The disposition of this tea is incredibly smooth. It is one of those fairly rare teas that I have to restrain myself from gulping down quickly. This is truly a tea that should be savored and enjoyed.

I don’t believe I have ever been disappointed with a Teavivre black tea. But, if I were forced to rank them in order of taste and smoothness, this one would be listed in at least my top three.

Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Honey

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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2436 tasting notes

I find it impossible that I have not posted a note about this one. I am drinking the very last of it! I made two steeps at breakfast and will sip it throughout the morning.

I was really craving some Keemun for breakfast! Honestly, sometimes I prefer a lower grade with waffles and such because they tend to be smokier and have that raspy feel that counteracts sweetness nicely. This one did the job and will be a pleasant companion as I rearrange and clean and declutter and take reading breaks today.

It is a lovely medium amber/orange color with a honey scent. It has a medium creamy body that coats the tongue and yet is brisk so there is a drying sensation at the end. A high note rises into the sinuses and at the mid-palate after your swallow. There is a little malt and a little woody taste, as well.

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95
211 tasting notes

I had this tea right after trying Keemun 2 Grade by Teavivre and wow, what different teas they are. The Imperial has very showy, attractive dry leaves and one of the most heady fragrances I encountered with any tea. The aroma is very sweet and full of honey, tulips, some other flowers, pine needles and rich cake with frosting.

The taste is very smooth and sweet, the typical Keemuny notes are barely discernable. It tastes almost like an oolong. The tea resteeps well: even the fourth gaiwan infusion is sweet and memorable, although the roughness starts to increase after the first two steeps. Despite all of this honeyed sweetness the aftertaste is lingering and unmistakably Keemunish. The infusions need to be short to keep the complexity intact and in no way this brew should be adulterated by the addition of milk or sugar.

This is certainly an excellent desert tea: lazy, voluptuous and decadent. I can’t say it is better or worse than Grade 2 but it is certainly more complex. Just two excellent Keemuns for different moods and different situations. But, of course the Imperial costs three times as the Grade 2, which tells something about how leisure is valued much higher then work.

I probably will have to stock this tea for special occasions because it IS really special.

Flavors: Berry, Flowers, Frosting, Honey, Pine

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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85
10936 tasting notes

bumping the rating up on this one. I am a fan of this one especially in comparison with the other keemun i pulled out today for the hell of it. Vastly prefer this one to the superfine keemun. Just a maltier, smoother tea that is right up my alley.

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90
735 tasting notes

This is another tea from Angel at Teavivre. Thanks again, Angel! Sorry it took me so long!

The first thing I notice as I open the pouch is a sweet, almost caramellized fruit aroma. Like a grilled peach. The leaves are very narrow and fine. Dark, dark brown. As the tea steeps, the water goes dark very quickly and the leaves unfurl to perfect little spears of young leaves.

The flavor is smooth and has a distinct sweet potato note. I also get a sort of wheat bread and malt flavor, too. It’s a very heavy black tea, but I love it. It’s very satisfying and is definitely going on my order list for Teavivre. Would be a wonderful winter tea. I think it could also serve as a good substitute for coffee.

A note to self, however: Scoop lightly, this stuff is potent! Maybe go with a shorter steep time, too.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Malt, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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84 tasting notes

I love keemun but haven’t drank any in awhile. This one is delicious. Mellow and smooth with a bit of winey malt and creamy caramel. Perhaps a hint of smokiness but minimal. Could drink this all day!
Thanks Angel at Teavivre.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BGmsiDrjR3f/

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C

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85
3079 tasting notes

Additional notes:   Tea #7 in my Teavivre keemun test. Hmm, so far this is the lightest one, therefore not my favorite.  It hardly even has any of the keemun flavor notes.  If anything it has a slight bakey, sweet flavor, almost like a cookie.  The look of the dry leaf is gorgeous though: pitch black shiny leaves with hints of gold throughout, slow to unravel.   The leaf definitely looks different than the Superfine Keemun Mao Feng, which is smaller and has more of the golden fuzzies in the package.  Doing the math between the 50gram/100 gram prices, this is actually the most expensive keemun that Teavivre carries, and probably my least favorite, as it isn’t very distinct at all.  Keep in mind, I’m steeping this two years after the harvest date, so it could have been more distinct while it was fresher, but the other keemuns seem to be holding up well enough.  Also, as I have steeped all of these Western, they could be better steeping them with other methods.  The second steep thankfully blooms into more flavor, but again, nothing I would notice as distinctly higher quality.  The flavor takes more of a traditional keemun profile, with a hint of dark fruit on the back sip.  But I’d prefer even the Grade 2 over this one.  I’m not picky, and Teavivre’s lowest quality teas are probably other tea shops higher quality teas.  At least when I’m steeping up the lower priced teas, I don’t have to question if I’m steeping them incorrectly.  Now the rating might be 78.
Steep #1  // 1 1/2 teaspoon for full mug // 20 minutes after boiling  // 2 minute steep
Steep #2  //  just boiled //  3 min steep
Harvest: 2018

*OVERALL for the keemun test: * Yeah, these harvests seemed very different from past harvests.  But really the ratings only shifted a few points and I think the keemuns stayed stable in my rankings from past harvests, even if they are considerably tasting different now. The Imperial was the biggest decrease in rating. None of them had any smoky characteristics and a lot less chocolate notes when I LAST did a side by side comparison six years ago (oh my gosh, I can’t believe that was six years ago.)  In order of preference, I would say it’s Grade 1 & Premium Keemun Hao Ya which are so similar to me I can hardly tell there is a difference in flavor.  The Grade 2 & Aromatic Snail are tied for second place, depending if I’m in the mood for strong flavor or a more delicate flavor. Though I do admire the basil fragrance of the Aromatic Snail. The three higher quality Keemuns probably taste better when they aren’t steeped Western.  But try them all yourself — find the one you like best!  Also, this tasting note dump just put me over 3,000 tasting notes! Woohoo.

ashmanra

I concur. Premium Keemun Hao Ya is my breakfast tea many mornings, and Keemun Aromatic Snail my afternoon tea, especially with cake of cookies!

tea-sipper

Good choices. :D

Martin Bednář

Yaaay! 3,000. I am doing my best to catch you. Nice to read all of those tasting notes of those Keemun teas. I can’t recall if I had some single origin tea from Keemnun, but certainly it is interesting way to try teas side-by-side. I should do it maybe too with some teas.

tea-sipper

haha, glad you enjoyed the tasting notes, Martin :D

derk

Thanks for taking the time to write up this keemun dump :)

tea-sipper

Ha, hopefully slightly insightful. It’s for my tea brain to remember anyway.

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94
687 tasting notes

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that one must have tea while reading British classics”. When first brewed, it is a tiny bit smoky. There is a malty caramel scent. (And maybe some sweet potato too.) The flavour is sweet, with malty notes, and hints of roasted yams. Comes across darker than yesterday’s selection.

Thanks for the sample, Teavivre!

Flavors: Caramel, Malt, Molasses, Sweet Potatoes, Yams

Zennenn

which classic are you reading?

Lariel of Lórien

I’m re-reading Pride and Prejudice.

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371 tasting notes

Generously given as a free sample. Many thanks to Angel!

Brewed in ceramic gaiwan, had a gongfu session. No rinse. Steeping times: 15, 10, 15, 20, 30, 45, 60; 2 min, 5.

Nearly all of the leaf is dark, dark brown, save for a few golden leaves. They’re short and curly, like black bi luo chun, but thin and without hairs. The dry leaf smells of sweet potato and a hint of chocolate. After the leaf spent a little time in the heated gaiwan bowl, the chocolate note strengthened, and a graham crackers note also appeared. The wet leaf aroma is malty at first; as the session went on, it smelled more like sweet potato.

The liquor has a dark orange color. It is clear and clean-tasting, with a full body but light mouthfeel. The first infusion tastes of sweet potato and malt with clove in the background. Second infusion and onward, the liquor sweetens more and more, consistently tasting of sweet potato. Its texture feels thick and smooth, almost creamy.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BFrSlWbQNoI/

Being hongcha, this is a delight to drink on colder, overcast days. Unfortunately, this is only my second keemun – and my first keemun from Teavivre – so I can’t evaluate it fully. I wasn’t wowed by the aroma or the taste, though I did enjoy the full session. I also liked its hug-in-a-cup effect. It reminds me of dian hong. I imagine this would also taste good Western style.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 4 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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80
32 tasting notes

The more I drink of this, the better I like it; it’s a nice, sweet, mellow tea, and for a black tea it’s very relaxing, and perfect for lazing around with after a heavy Sunday lunch.

My brewing method for black teas changed a few days ago when my new yixing teapot, that I’m reserving for black teas, arrived; it’s nowhere near being fully seasoned yet, and possibly it’s all in my head, but my black teas do taste just a little bit more fabulous when I make them in my new pot.

Flavors: Caramel, Hay, Honey, Malt, Tea

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 7 OZ / 200 ML

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