Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Keemun Black Tea

I bought this tea as one of the "famous" teas I wanted to try on our last trip to the Chengdu Tea Culture Street. I bought it along with a Dian Cong to give them both a try. We bought 500 grams of this Qimen tea and 250 grams of the Dian Cong since I already had the Yunnan Golden Tips, I figured they would be about the same.

I retrieved the following information from the internet:

The Processing of Black Tea

The processing of black tea requires a full oxidation of the leaves. After the leaves are plucked, they are laid out to wither for about 8 to 24 hours. This lets most of the water evaporate.

Then the leaves are rolled in order to crack up the surface so that oxygen will react with the enzymes and begin the oxidation process. The leaves are left to completely oxidize, thus turning the leaves to a deep black color. After that, a final drying takes place. From there, it goes off to be sorted, graded, and packaged.

 Keemun black tea (Qi Men Black tea), is 0ne of the most famous black tea in the world, also called Qi Men Gong Fu or Qi Men Oolong. Be assessed as the chempion of rea tea in the world match of tea in Panama in 1915.

Keemun blacktea has been praised as 'one of the best three high aroma teas in the world and the 'the queen of fragrance'. This one is the special grade of super high quality. The rich brown liquor with a slightly scented flavour and the bright amber infusion has an appetizing honeyed sweet aroma while the taste is wonderfully smooth and with a light hint of floral aftertaste win its distinctive name 'Keemun Flavor'. Also, because of its subtle and complex nature, it is considered as the'burgundy of teas'.

This particular tea is supposed to be the "mother" or "father" of most of the tea sold throughout the world.

Black Keemun tea has its place amongst the ten best known Chinese teas despite its relatively short history. It has been produced in the district of Qimen in the prefectship of Huangshan Shi in the An Hui province since 1875, where formerly only green tea was produced. “Keemun” is an English transcription of the Chinese “Qimen” from the colonial era, and it is rightly considered the “champagne amongst black teas”. Its taste is distinctly suggestive, fruity with a hint of grape, with a woody base, generally unrivalled and may be very subjective. Its aroma is sometimes compared to the scent of orchids or roses, it is floral to fruity with a flavour of coniferous wood plants (similar to Lapsang Souchong). Black (or more accurately red) Keemun tea, as one of a range of Chinese teas, won an award at the international Panama-pacific exhibition in 1915. The production procedures for this tea are fully in accordance with the strict norms of USDA/NOP-Final Rule for the production of organic foodstuffs.

The Qimen tea leaves are black and very similar to the Yunnan Golden Tips. The Dian Cong (Dian actually means Yunnan) I bought was almost exactly the same as the Yunnan Gold Tips I have already been drinking. The main difference was the amount of golden leaves in the mixture. The Yunnan Golden Tips tea had almost 100% golden leaves while the Dian Cong tea was about 40% to 50% golden leaves. These Qimen leaves are almost all black with an occasion goldish leaf.

Here you can see the Qimen tea leaves that I used to get six solid infusions from. I probably could have gotten a couple more, but I was in a hurry to get this on this blog.

The first infusion was lighter than the second and it contained all the flavors mentioned above in the internet write-up. It had hints of the American Lipton tea but a level one hundred times better. It was strong and flavorful without being astringent but I never did get any hints of what I would call floral. This is nothing like Puerh floral and, IMHO, does not match the Yunnan Golden Tips in flavor or in the subtle nuances of the great teas I have been drinking. I think this tea would handle any amount of milk or sugar one wanted to throw at it. It is solid and strong with a mild front taste and a lingering but not overpoweringly strong aftertaste. I can see why people add stuff like flowers and things to it. The flavor is not overly abundant but honest and smooth all the way through from teeth to throat. Solid seems to be the term that keeps coming to my mind.

I let the second infusion go for about three minutes and it came out darker and even more subtle with its flavors. This is a great tea if one likes the taste of "Western-style" tea. It tastes exactly like a more expensive and more powerful tea from a Lipton tea bag. Same flavor but more pronounced and much more genuine. Maybe I have drunk too many cups of Chinese tea, because this is not my favorite. I understand its strengths and why it is the "mother of all Western teas," but still I prefer the Yunnan Golden Tip black tea. To me the Golden Tip tea is almost chocolaty in its flavor whereas this is just tea flavored. It was, however, well worth the trip to Chengdu and I think Sunee will put some honey in it to get the black tea benefits. An experience well worth repeating now again.


Anonymous said...

Dear Cecil:

I just discover your very interesting and made with love blog and I realized that the tea you're thinking is a Keemun is instead, as yourself stated, a Dian Hong or Yunnan black tea.

I encourage you to try a really high grade Keemun that differs from the picture that you publish (and the tea that I think you tried) in at least two central aspects: none of the Keemun leaves has the hairy aspect of the golden tips showed; and the Keemun fine varieties almost hasn't golden or silver tips. You'll find that high grade Keemun has to main leaves aspects: small, short, slighty rolled and thiny leaves in the Serchna, Hao Ya A and B varieties, and long, thiny and very twisted leaves -Mao Feng grade or style-as result of their hand rolled technique.

You will find a picture of the second type in

And if you want to know where to get some samples, you can find it in a specialist from CA

With my best wishes for your becoming journeys, and sheers for the marvelous Keemun that I hope you'll try

Patricio Hurtado
La Tetería - Té Gourmet
Santiago de Chile

Cecil Hill said...

Very excited that you commented on my blog concerning this tea. Yes, indeed, I went back to the half pound of this tea and did some close checking. The whole seller did, I believe, sell me some low quality Dian Hong instead of the famous Keemun I asked for. This happened on our second trip to the Chengdu Tea Culture Street. One must establish a relationship before one can trust.

It was also within a few months of my Tea Travels journey. One expects to get burned so I am not upset. I am pleased that you pointed this out and am now very anxious to once again head out on a tea travel to find the real deal - Keemun. I should have realized the stuff I bought (drinkable but not outstanding) was not as advertised.

I am now drinking this Yunnan black tea (with a touch of gold) now and it is not bad - very drinkable. What a great story I will have when I finally find some true Keemun.

Please continue to follow my journey with advice and guidance. Appreciated the fact that you took the time to comment.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much Cecil.

Patricio Hurtado

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