This was yet another of the Harney & Sons black tea samples I purchased last year. This tea has now been out of stock for some time and I have no clue if or when it will again be available. All I know about it is that it was a type of black tea from Jiangxi Province, specifically a part of Jiangxi that is close to Qimen County, Anhui Province. Due to the close proximity of the two, the terroir of Qimen County is supposedly very similar to that of the village in Jiangxi that produced this tea. Harney & Sons insisted that this tea was similar to the more famous Keemun black teas produced in Qimen County because of this. I found that there was truth in that assertion, though I would probably not mistake this tea for a Keemun under most circumstances. Actually, while I’m at it, I will blaspheme a bit and say that I preferred this tea to most of the Keemun black teas I have tried to this point.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 212 F water for 3 seconds. This infusion was chased by 16 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 5 seconds, 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, I detected aromas of honey and sweet potato emanating from the dry tea leaves. There was a hint of malt too. After the rinse, I found new aromas of roasted nuts and brown toast. The first infusion then revealed scents of pine and cinnamon. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of malt, brown toast, honey, sweet potato, cinnamon, and pine with some underlying roasted walnut character. The following infusions then quickly revealed impressions of caramel, molasses, roasted chestnut, ginger, cedar, butter, and minerals as well as subtler notes of cocoa and candied orange peel. The final series of infusions mostly offered notes of minerals, sweet potato, honey, roasted nuts, and cocoa plus scattered touches of ginger, candied orange peel, and pine.
This was an excellent black tea from an entirely unexpected locale. I have never heard much of anything about the black teas of Jiangxi Province and I do not recall trying any prior to trying this tea. Though the leaf appearance was similar to most Keemuns and there were several similarities in this tea’s aroma and flavor profiles, this was more savory, more prominently nutty, and far less smoky, fruity, and leathery than most Keemuns I have tried. As a matter of fact, I did not find this tea to be smoky or leathery in the least and it displayed minimal fruity character. In some ways, I think this tea struck me as perhaps being more similar to some of the Fujian black teas I have tried than most Keemuns. Overall, it was impressive and definitely worth trying. If Harney & Sons were to ever procure more, I would strongly recommend that those who have an interest in Chinese black teas give it a try.
Flavors: Brown Toast, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Chestnut, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Ginger, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Orange, Pine, Sweet Potatoes, Walnut