Black tea is the least favored in the “true tea” world because it tends to be associated with mundane teabag culture. When people think of black tea, they think of a run of the mill tea bag widly consumed in Europe, America and other non-Asian cultures. Yet, not all black tea is created equal, when processed right, black tea can be very delicious! I got this Keemun black tea at a small tea shop called Adagio in downtown Chicago. Adagio is a wonderful place to start a true tea journey. Although the majority of their teas are blended or flavored, they do provide a nice variety of true teas as well, there is something for everyone. I thank them for being an easy gateway for me into the world of gaiwans and gong dao beis.
What I have always really appreciated about Adagio is that they encourage their customers to learn the history of the teas they drink. They are also pretty good at connecting people with their farmers all over the world by providing stories and information about them, both at their stores and online. Adagio also offers tea tasting events where they showcase teas from different countries. They really do a good job at getting everyday people into tea by educating them and by providing lots of different
teas to try. My favorite thing Adagio does is that they offer people the opportunity to create their own blend either online or at the store! Basically customers pick their base tea (or teas) and any dried fruits or herbs they would like to add. Even more genius is their idea to allow customers to name and submit their art online for their individual blends! Customers can then purchase blends and vote on their favorites, if a blend gets enough likes, Adagio will offer them at their store in tins with the customer’s artwork! How cool is that! Check it out here! Adagio teas are great for gift giving as they are mid-range price and have a large variety of flavors that will be attractive to new comers of tea.
Anyway, back to the tea- I got this Keemun as part of Adagio’s “Black teas of China” sampler set, when brewed hot, it is fruity, chocolaty and leaves a powerful tingling astringency in the mouth. I can see this as a pleasant higher quality every day tea that for people that are used to drinking black tea bags daily. For a nice cold brew, take about a tablespoon of the tea in a cup and a half of water and leave it in the fridge overnight. The result is a really strong fruity brew with hints of cocoa. It’s color is a beautiful glowing, dark reddish brown and is full of character. You can re-steep a good 2-3 times before the flavor and color start to significantly diminish. Again, the mouth feel is what suffers most from cold brews, giving you a smoother more crisp finish instead of the long lasting syrupy singing from a hot brew. Both are good, it just depends on what you prefer or what you’re in the mood for. Try them both!