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China Keemun Black Teas – an introduction.

Keemun, from Qimen county in Anhui Province, is one of China’s ten famous teas.

China Keemun Hoa Ya A

Previously known as Tribute Teas, keemun was Britain’s favourite tea in the nineteenth century. These black teas are known as the ‘Burgundy of teas’ for their winey character, floral notes and orchid aroma. They were first produced in the 1870s using techniques borrowed from Fujian Province becoming popular as the oxidation process kept the teas fresher on their long voyage to Europe and North America. Until that time all teas produced in Qimen were green.

The area from which these teas originate, near Huang Shan mountain, has a temperate climate with abundant rainfall; the area being characterised by swirling mists. The best teas are produced from small, slightly twisted leaves and the locals particularly value those which feature a fine red vein running along their underside. Virtually all Keemun teas are made from spring pickings.

The famous Mao Feng is made using two leaves and a bud to produce a lighter, sweeter tea which can have cocoa and smoky notes. Hao Ya A and Hao Ya B are also high grade teas, mainly containing leaf to create a prominent, full bodied, biscuity tea. The former is picked prior to the latter. Keemun teas are withered and oxidized slowly which helps create their unique character. They are known as gong-fu teas in that great skill is used to produce them. Keemun style teas are also produced in neighbouring Jiangxi Province. We stock an excellent and very refined Ning Hong Jhin Hao.

Keemun teas are best drunk black or with only a small dash of milk. They make great afternoon teas and can be most attractive in the evening. Keemun is used as the principal tea base for our Earl Grey tea. Brewed stronger some like them at breakfast as they have a good body. It is a versatile tea and easy to appreciate how it became such a popular China black tea.

See the Keemun Teas section of our website.