Keemun is a very famous black tea grown in the county Qimen, a mountainous region of southern Anhui. Tea tea plantations are scattered on the wooded hillsides of the area that is known for its abundant rainfall, high humidity and the fog – important qualities for a place to grow tea. Keemun is the former English spelling of Qimen. Locally known Keemun for Qihong.
Keemun is a relatively new tea, especially when compared with other famous teas from China, but it also has an unusually well-documented history. It was produced for the first time in 1875 by a man named Yu Quianchen, who learned producing black tea in Fujian. Prior to 1875 produced only green tea in Anhui. The result was surprisingly good and the tea quickly became a major export success to England and is a significant part of the popular blend “English Breakfast”. Between 1939-1940 was Keemun so popular in New York that it dictated the highest price of all the teas on the market. Keemun has also won several major awards including 1913 and 1915 in Italy and the United States.
Keemun is produced by a variety of different types of tea plants but the best may still be from the initial variety, Zhu Ye Zhong 槠叶种 (1). Keemun is manufactured by the method historically named “gongfu”, which originally consisted of 17 different steps. In order to increase the production volume and to bring costs down many of the production steps are made by machines but some are still manual. The leaves are grown largely on small farms and harvested by hand from mid-March until May, when the leaves are coarse and of inferior quality. After the leaves picked, it may wither in the sun for a few hours and then crushed and oxidize at low temperature. After this largely manual process, the leaves to the factory where they are heated and rolled alternately to the tea will get its unique flavor.
Types and Quality
Keemun can be made that quite loose, easily rolled all the tea leaves, such as Mao Feng and Xin Ya or tightly rolled gongfu like Hao Ya.
Keemun Mao Feng
Mao Feng means “Fur Top” and manufactured by slightly twisted leaf buds.
Keemun Xin Ya
This type of Keemun manufactured by early harvested leaves and learn to be less bitter than other varieties.
Keemun Hao Ya
Although this is the kind of Keemun is famous for its fine leaf buds, and its large variety of “silver tip”. Sometimes the distinction is made Hao Ya A and B, where A is the better. However, I am not sure if there is no official rating system, but suspect that it left very considerable scope for arbitrariness in the various factories in terms of quality and terms.
Keemun Xian Zhen 祁门仙针
This is the Keemun of very high-quality made of Anhui Guorun Tea Industrial Co., a company that manufactured Keemun over 50 years. I’m not sure how long it has been manufactured but it won a gold medal at the China Wu Hu Tea Exhibition in 2001. The highest quality of this tea, an early spring harvest, are available from TeaSpring for $ 41 per hg. As far as I know, there is no outside company that knows how tea is made, not even TeaSpring know more than that it is a combination of traditional and modern methods. The name means immortality needle, probably because the pointed look.
It is very popular to forge Keemun nowadays. In the late 1990s, when the forgery was not as usual total production was only 350,000 kg / year of which 50 000 kg were type Hao Ya.