Keemun is a black Chinese tea with a winey and fruity taste, designated as a China Famous Tea.
Keemun is produced in the Qimen County of Huangshan City, in Anhui (Anhwei) province. ("Keemun" was actually the English spelling for "Qimen" during the colonial era.)
Keemun has a relatively short history. It was first produced in 1875 by a failed civil servant, Yu Quianchen, after he traveled to Fujian province to learn the secrets of black tea production. Prior to that, only green tea was made in Anhui. The result exceeded his expectations, and the excellent Keemun tea quickly gained popularity in England, and became the most prominent ingredient of the English Breakfast tea blend.
Tasting and brewing
The aroma of Keemun is fruity, with hints of pine (like in Lapsang souchong) and floweriness (but not at all as floral as Darjeeling tea) which creates the very distinctive and balanced taste. Keemun contains less caffeine than Assam tea. It also displays a hint of delicious orchid fragrance and the so-called 'China tea sweetness. The tea can have a more bitter taste and the smokiness can be more defined depending on the variety.
Keemun is typically enjoyed without milk or sugar; however, it goes well with milk.
- Keemun Gongfu or Congou (祁門功夫) - Made with careful skill ("gongfu") to produce thin, tight strips without breaking the leaves.
- Keemun Mao Feng (祁門毛峰) - A variety, where Mao Feng means Fur Peak, which is made of only slightly twisted leaf buds and is sometimes noted for a smoother and different flavor. Many people prefer to brew the tea for a considerable amount of time, in fact up to 7 minutes, while using a smaller quantity in order to bring out more interesting tones in the tea.
- Keemun Xin Ya (祁門新芽) - The early bud variety, it is said to have less bitterness.
- Keemun Hao Ya (祁門毫芽) - A variety known for its fine buds, sometimes showing prominent amounts of silver tips, and is generally the highest grade. In itself Hao Ya is sometimes separated into A and B, where A is the better grade.
- Hubei Keemun (湖北祁門) - Not a true Keemun, but variety that comes from the Hubei Province west of Anhui but the tea is said to have similar qualities to the Anhui Keemun.