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Red Peach Keemun, Silk Road Teas, and the mysteries of mail order

May 10, 2008

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About three years ago I discovered a lovely China Keemun at the Perennial Tea Room in Seattle: Red Peach Keemun. Keemun is one of my favorite black teas and the one I drink most frequently; it is smooth and tasty (sometimes smoky, sometimes fruity) and has the unusual trait of being delicious both cold and hot. By this I mean not just that it makes delicious iced tea (which it does), but that when I leave the perfectly brewed cup sitting out while I wander off doing something else, my cold cup of tea still tastes sweet rather than going bitter when I come back to it. Darjeelings and Assams just aren’t forgiving this way; if you forget, you might as well throw out the cup.

So, Red Peach Keemun is a full star above regular Keemuns – like a movie that has a good script but then has an outstanding cast and a great cinematographer to boot. I am thinking it is probably four times as expensive as a regular Keemun, but its delicious flavor has made me indifferent (as when you are getting fifty cups from a quarter pound of tea the cost per cup seems to vanish). I haven’t found any place in London that sells it, so imagine my horror when I attempted to get some from my regular supplier and discovered they were out!

Well, one thing led to another and I discovered they were buying from Silk Road Teas. Their minimum order is rather a bit higher than Perennial (it may have gone down, I can’t tell on the website, but last summer it was $50), but since I wanted a pound of Red Peach Keemun, I had nothing to worry about. Then it was a question of what else do I want to order, and, my, the options were amazing.

Most exciting to me were their “Marketplace Specials” – teas they had found outstanding and were offering on discount. I’d never heard of most (any!) of them before. And then there was the Phoenix Bird Collection – a selection of oolongs with a description that left my mouth watering. Mmmm! I’m afraid I might have ordered rather a lot, but every time I’ve opened one of their well-sealed packages, it’s been like Christmas in … whatever month it is.

Anyway, it’s been almost a year since I placed my order with them, and I’m getting ready to restock … and I discover they have sent me a letter! It’s all about the tea harvest in China and mentions some more teas I have never heard of. I will post part of this letter in a few days when I am back home – it’s an exciting window into the world of tea and how Chinese weather has affected this year’s tea harvest.

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