祁门红茶Keemun Black Tea
|Qí mén hóngchá / 祁门红茶
|Fully oxidized black tea
|Wiry, very small, neat
|Floral, but clean
|Golden-red tinged with copper
|Brew three to five minutes at 90°C
Keemun 祁门红茶 is a black Chinese tea with a winey and fruity taste, designated as a China Famous Tea.One of the 3 major black teas in the world. It used to be the Royal Tea in UK.
Qimen black tea is an iconic black tea from China, hailing from Qimen county in Anhui Province. The small village is blessed by nature: nestled in mountains, mild weather with sufficient rainfall and sunlight and fertile soil, making it the perfect place to grow tea.
History and Culture
("Keemun" was the English spelling for "Qimen" during the colonial era.)
Although synonymous with black tea now, Qimen did not have any black tea plantation until the mid 19th century. Like most tea producing regions of China, it was dedicated to green tea. It was not until a well-traveled local merchant who had been inspired by the growing popularity of black tea in Britain did he decide to pioneer producing black tea in Qimen. After years of tireless studying and experimentation, he finally mastered the making of black tea which involved a complicated process of fermentation.
It was mainly exported and Britain was one of its main importers besides France, US, German, etc. Once upon a time (1939-1940), Keemun recorded the highest selling price at the wholesale market
at New York City as compared to other famous black tea, e.g., India, Ceylon black tea.
Up to date, it enjoys equal popularity and fame as Darjeeling Tea from India and Uva Black Tea from Sri Lanka. The Imperial and Noble Family used to treat it as a fashionable beverage and presented it as a Gift Tea during special occasion.
Keemun Black Tea has been awarded for many times at international and domestic tea contest. The main awards are:
1913: Keemun Black Tea was awarded the Gold Prize at the Expo held at Italy
1915: It won the Gold Prize during the Expo (万国博览会) held at Panama
1987: During the 26th World Premium Food Product Contest held at Belgium, Keemun has won the gold prize.
1988: Keemun was awarded the gold prize during the 1st Food Expo in China.
Tasting and brewing
The aroma of Keemun is fruity, with hints of pine, dried plum and floweriness (but not at all as floral as Darjeeling tea) which creates the very distinctive and balanced taste. It also displays a hint of 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 and how it was processed. Good Qimen should contain many yellow young buds among the black leaves, giving the tea a more delicate flavor.
Keemun is typically drunk without milk or sugar; outside China it may also be taken with milk.The brewed liquor transforms into a beautiful maroon orange color. After brewing, one can immediately smell the unique longan and orchid aroma. Taking a small sip, the aroma envelops one’s mouth and lingers on for a long time.