This was the other Russian black tea I ended up with a couple months ago. I received a free 10 gram sample of it with an order from What-Cha. I’m assuming Alistair chose to include this tea because my order was comprised exclusively of black teas from Georgia, Russia, and Azerbaijan. The tea was described as being a Russian approximation of a traditional Chinese Keemun.
I prepared this tea using a one step Western infusion process. I steeped 3 grams of loose tea leaves in just shy of 8 ounces of 203 F water for 5 minutes. At one point, I attempted a second infusion of 7 minutes, but was not thrilled with the results. I think it may have been necessary to start with either a 3-4 minute infusion in order to get a more flavorful second infusion out of this tea.
Prior to infusion, I noted that the dry tea leaves produced a mild smoky, malty aroma. After infusion, I noted gentle aromas of smoke, toast, malt, dark chocolate, and raisin emanating from the cup. In the mouth, dominant notes of smoke, toast, dark chocolate, malt, and cream were underscored by notes of honey, raisin, date, and fig. I was expecting more of a plum note from this tea (I tend to get plum aroma and/or flavor out of most Keemuns), but I did not pick it up in this tea.
This was not bad at all. I think it is probably best to approach this tea as a unique approximation of a Keemun rather than comparing it directly to traditional, authentic Chinese Keemuns. For the most part, this tea does a good job of approximating the smoky, fruity, chocolaty, and malty character of Keemun, though I felt that it failed to fully capture the depth of a truly exceptional Keemun. I think a lot of that is probably owing to differences in terroir. In the end, I would probably not choose this tea over an authentic Keemun, but I would still recommend it to anyone looking for a solid Russian black tea.
Flavors: Cream, Dark Chocolate, Dates, Fig, Honey, Malt, Raisins, Smoke, Toast