Today’s tea is Lion Mountain Keemun, and it is a China black tea from Peet’s Coffee & Tea.
Finest quality Keemun tea, with notes of smoky pine and incense.
The first thing I notice when I open the tin is the scent of the tea leaves: very smoky, almost like Lapsang Souchong. I definitely smell the pine and incense in the tin. The second thing I notice is that I have just enough left in this tin for one mug of tea, and that’s it, which is a strong indicator that I once really liked this tea.
The leaves are very small, and the tin indicates that “the smallest orange pekoe grade leaves” are used in this tea. If you’re like me, you’re wondering, “what the heck does ‘orange pekoe’ mean?” I can only tell you what I understand it to mean, and I find it very confusing. Orange pekoe refers to the grade of the tea, and there are many different grades, such as souchong, pekoe, and orange pekoe. It refers to the grade of tea, but not to the quality of the tea, which is what is confusing. In Coffee and Tea by Elin McCoy and John Frederick Walker, orange pekoe is described as “Thin, wiry leaves, sometimes with yellow ‘tip’ (bud leaf).” The different leaf types are graded according to size, from largest to smallest, but again, the leaf size does not refer to the quality of the tea, just the size. Whew! Don’t know if that clears anything up. (168)
So, on to the flavor of this tea. It is robust and rich, with a smoky fragrance and aftertaste in the cup. I prefer it with milk. I have a few smoky teas in my cupboard, and I have to be in the mood for them, they’re not something I seek out on a regular basis. I would say on a scale of 1 to 10, one being “blech!” and 10 being “elixir of the gods” that this one is sitting in at about a 7.
For someone who likes the heavy, concentrated flavor of a rich tea, then this is a good tea for you. “Concentrated” is a term used on the tin, and I find that description very apt here.
The next tea up is Lapsang Souchong, so it will be interesting to compare the two, because the Lapsang Souchong of course is very smoky.
Until next time, then! As my grandfather used to say, “Cheerio!”