Well, let me start by saying that, generally, I am a big fan of Keemun tea. Let me follow that up by mentioning that this week, I have drunk Zen Tea Life’s Keemun Finest, which sets the bar quite high, in my humble opinion, because it is a big favourite.

The packet here offers no information beyond the bare bones. No point of origin, no specific flavour notes.

I steeped this western style. The packet here said boiling, so I went with boiling. I steeped fast, perhaps two minutes instead of the four minutes recommended on the packet.

The solid black leaves contained a considerable amount of dust and the tea liquid steeping in my clear glass steeper was murky brown.

I had been looking forward to the Keemun smokiness and was disappointed. Instead, the brew is reminiscent of that you would get from a hotel teabag, English Breakfast perhaps, slightly stale. Sadly, this cup lacks the fragrance and taste I would ordinarily associate with Keemun.

As it cools slightly, a bit of the Keemun sweetness comes up to rescue it, but the sweetness is faint, just barely barely. That sweetness is defeated by the astringency and dryness that catches the back of your mouth towards the throat.

This is a strong kick in the pants kind of tea, I’ll give it that. Good for when you need to get out the door and fast, with no time to dilly dally and ponder the subtleties of tea, or anything much. Or this might be a good tea to drink with a pancake and maple syrup breakfast when you need a strong brew to wash it down.

Perhaps milk and sweetener would make this a kinder cup.

Thanks, MissB, for passing this my way to review. I will keep trying.

Boiling 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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A monk sips morning tea

A monk sips morning tea,
it’s quiet,
the chrysanthemum’s flowering.

- Basho


Note to self—-you do not actually need any more tea.

My real tea obsession began in February 2015.

Not, sadly, when I had been living and working in China, though I very much enjoyed sampling a variety of teas during my travels there as well. No, no, that would have been far too sensible.

I am a reformed coffee drinker. I still enjoy a long double espresso with a good quantity or milk or cream from time to time, but for now, tea is my thing. All day.

*note—this is way out of date, so if we are doing a swap and you are checking to see what I like and dislike, mostly never mind what you find below. One of these days, I will update this. In the meantime, check what I’ve been drinking and use your own judgement. I like all the teas. Well, I am open to trying all the teas.

I tend to drink black, green, or oolong tea in the morning to early afternoon. Rooibos or
Honeybush or herbal in the evening. And perhaps some sort of sleepy-type tea in the wee hours.

This year, I’ve been discovering flavoured teas, so it may look like that is all I drink although that would provide a false impression.

Not a big fan of chocolate or mint in teas, but I will try them and, from time to time, have been pleasantly surprised. Also, usually I dislike a prominent cinnamon flavour, if untempered with other things, in teas. Again, I say usually, because there are exceptions.

Also, please note that haven’t quite gotten into the habit of updating my tea cupboard on Steepster, and it is unlikely that I will do this on any kind of regular basis.

I drink my tea black and unsweetened. If there comes a rare moment that I add something to it, I will mention it.

Finally, while I thank large and successful tea companies for tantalizing and beckoning me to the world of tea, I prefer to support independent ventures with real people, real enthusiasm and commitment, and real dreams.

Currently, I am researching monthly tea subscriptions. Perhaps it will keep me out of tea shops.

And here is Shae’s rating scale— which I am using with permission, of course— which more or less describes the way I have been rating teas. I am going to make more of an effort to stay very close to these parameters now.

Rating Scale

1-20: By far, one of the worst teas I’ve tasted. I most certainly will not finish my cup and will likely “gift” the rest to my sweet husband who almost always enjoys the teas I dislike (and vice versa).

21-40: This tea is not good but if I mix it with another tea or find another steeping method I might be able to finish it.

41-60: This one is just okay. I might drink it again if someone were to give it to me, but I probably won’t be buying more for myself.

61-75: This is a consistently good tea. It’s reliable but not necessarily special.

76-90: This one is a notch above the rest and I would gladly enjoy a cup of it any day of the week. I’ll likely be keeping this in my cupboard, but it isn’t one of my all-time favorites.

91-95: One small change and this tea would be perfect. I’ll definitely have a stash of this in my kitchen if you come over for tea.

96-100: No words can describe this tea. It’s an experience, an aha moment. Closed eyes, wide smile, encompassing warmth. Absolutely incredible. Perfect.


Mostly, but not always, Toronto, Canada.

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