Brand: English Tea Store
Type: Black tea, Chinese
Form: Loose leaf
Review: As those who follow me in the tea world know, I am fond of Keemun. Unfortunately, a fair number of Keemuns on the market cost a pretty penny and they aren’t always easy to find in tea stores, so keeping it on hand can be a challenge. Fortunately, the English Tea Store’s Keemun Panda provides a nice, hearty Keemun at a very reasonable price (as of February 26th, 2011 it sells for $3.79 for a 4 ounce bag). The fine, delicate, dark brown leaves give up a rich nose of smoke and red wine which continues after the tea is brewed. While the color of the infused tea isn’t very inspiring (it’s a rather muddy brown), it tastes great. Not as refined as some of the more expensive Keemuns that I’ve tried, but powerful in flavor and not at all bitter. It also has a lovely, almost cinnamon-like sweetness in the finish which becomes more pronounced as the tea cools. Please don’t add any sugar or milk to this tea. It doesn’t need it and will compromise its wonderful flavors.
Preparation Tips: I like this tea made with boiling water, 4 grams per cup and steeped for about 3 minutes. You can give it a second steep, but it isn’t as good, and at the price charged for this tea, why would you?
Pairings: This tea is lovely on its own, but it also goes quite well with many different types of food. I’ve had it with a traditional breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast as well as a lunch of sautéed Brussels sprouts and bacon. I also like it with peanut butter and bacon sandwiches.
(Yes, I really like bacon.)
In any case, Keemun Panda goes wonderfully with many things, and is robust enough to stand up to most menus.