Crunching through enrollment work, and decided that I'd break into a special packet of tea that Richard sent me: a Keemun Mao Feng "Hair Peak", a black tea from the Anhui Province of China, from The Cultured Cup.
I saw in a few places on the internet that this tea is often brewed for longer periods without increased bitterness, and that sounds good to me. Using my ingenuiTEA set-up, I just brewed ~5g in ~400 ml of ~200F water for 7+ min.
I have been thinking more and more that I'd like to learn and drink more of the teas that are at the base of the blended teas I'm more familiar with, such as English Breakfast. This is a great example: far superior to any blend in complexity and depth of flavor, this Keemun is outstanding. I can't pick up any floral notes at all; instead, I'm getting lots of smoky aroma and flavor with background sweetness (like an unrefined cane sugar juice) and absolutely no bitterness. What a great cup. Thanks, Richard!
You're quite welcome, Chris. Glad you are enjoying it.
And yes, it's worth experimenting with a range of brewing times for many teas. Oolongs also are often interesting with a first infusion of 7 - 9 minutes when brewed western style as you have done here with this Keemun.
Exploring the base teas for blends can be an interesting experience. If they are the quality of what goes into tea bag blends, you're not going to have a good time. If they are the quality of what goes into commercial loose leaf blends, some will be better than others, but they should be drinkable. Good to high quality loose leaf teas from China, India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) are another experience altogether. I can assure you that any tea of the quality of this Mao Feng is highly unlikely to appear in any tea bag or commercial blend.
Since you enjoyed this Keemun, I'll be interested to see what you think of the Dian Hong Imperiale from Norbutea.com in the current tasting.