Tasting Tong Mu Jin Jun Mei Tea

October 28, 2021

by Kimberley Keighley

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When it comes to black tea from China, one tea reigns supreme for me - Jin Jun Mei. I was recently able to do a couple of sessions with the Tong Mu Jin Jun Mei currently offered by Masters Teas. It didn’t shock me at all that each and every session I had with the tea was an incredible experience.

While most people reserve black tea to start their mornings, this tea deserves to be enjoyed in a much different way, commanding attention from the moment that it goes into your warm Gawain and begins to release its aroma. Personally, I prefer to only prepare this tea Gongfu style and find it suits the afternoon in a much better way. This tea stopped me in my tracks and made me focus on the tea session to make sure I experienced it properly and was fully immersed in everything it had to offer. This Jin Jun Mei is a rare black tea from the high mountain village of Tongmu in Fujian, the birthplace of black tea and lives up to the expectations placed onto it because of that very reason.

For my sessions with this tea I used 4.5 - 5g per 100ml at 95°C (203°F) and started my first steep with 10 secs and added 5 secs on to the time with each steep. Grown at 100 meters above sea level, these 5 cm long Wuyi buds were hand-plucked in May from 100-year-old trees. They are then fired once, by hand, for 15 minutes. Lots of golden fluffy tip leaves vary in size for sure and are various shades of brown - from dark woody brown to light milk chocolate brown. The wet leaves gave off a fantastically mouthwatering aroma with notes including: Malt, clotted cream, dark chocolate layered sweetness, species nutmeg mostly, subtle chocolate turkish delight, rose in the background and hops with a hint of the foam from a pint of Guinness.

Tongmu Jin Jun Mei definitely has a strong, slightly browned toast note in the aroma, and an underpinning of freshly roasted coffee, kind of like the way it smells when you walk into a Starbucks, mixed with sweet baked treats. I was surprised by just how many additional notes came through in the aroma with just the difference of a quick rinse! The liquor of this tea throughout multiple steeps was a beautiful brown with copper and orange tints much like a cask aged whisky with a good age to it. It seemed to get darker as my steeps increased in time until maybe the last two-three steeps which is when it did start to get a little lighter.

I don’t even really know where to start with the flavour profile of this tea because of its depth and complexity. It’s very malty, similar to the inside of a Malteser and malted milk biscuits. There's dark chocolate (I would probably say around 75-80% cocoa), and because it’s so creamy it also reminded me of the way warm dark chocolate brownies with a milk chocolate drizzle taste.

Other tastes that come to mind in this tea are chocolate coated Turkish delight with a deliciously fragrant rose, rose water hard candies, dark roasted plums with a rich dark fresh honey drizzled on them, and antique woods and old books. It's not as overly sweet as the aroma makes it out to be, but does have a sweetness to it, however it’s more of a woody sweetness, as well as a tartness to it like chocolate coated dark cherries. The rose water notes became more prominent as the steeps went on, but started to dissipate toward the end of the session. With a flavour profile with this much depth and complexity, I would challenge anyone to try this and not immediately fall in love with this tea.

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When it comes to mouthfeel I would have to describe it as mostly smooth and silky! So silky in fact that with each and every sip, it left a delightful silkiness on the roof of my mouth. The silky finish was medium in length and had a nice dry wood note quench to it. It doesn't linger too long in your mouth afterwards apart from that silkiness. Honestly, I expected the finish to be much more drying, and while it has a hint of dryness to it, unless you were to over steep it or use too much leaf, that dryness won’t affect your experience with this tea.

When finished, the empty cups and fairness cup still gave off a subtle sweetness, a prominent dark chocolate note and hops, but no rose this time. Also in the aroma from the empty cups were recurring notes from earlier in the tasting sessions such as freshly baked dark chocolate brownies with milk chocolate fresh out of the oven, with a freshly brewed high quality coffee background and subtle hint of smokiness.

My sessions with this tea left me feeling calm and relaxed but at the same time focused, uplifted and stress free, which is why I said it is a perfect black tea for the afternoon because it’s not overwhelming and will keep you on track but without stress and tension. The wet leaves at the end of this session had become larger and in terms of colour were such a more even light brown colour, but there were definitely some dark touches as well. Looking at them you probably wouldn’t even assume they were the same leaves from the start of the session. I can not recommend this tea highly enough, and if you want to up your black tea game I recommend you give this a go. Be warned though, with this tea your heart will belong to Tongmu by the end of your sessions and you’ll never be able to look back from Jin Jun Mei.