Keemun tea (also called Qimen black tea in Chinese pinyin) is a kind of Gongfu black tea, so it is also called Keemun Gongfu black tea. It is also one of the top 10 famous Chinese teas, produced in Qimen County in Huangshan City of Anhui Province.
Keemun tea is one of the best Chinese black teas. In history, it is the favorite drink of the British Queen and the Royal Family. With a high reputation, Keemun tea has a laudatory title of “The Queen of The Black Tea”.
1. History of Keemun tea
The earliest records about Keemun tea can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), but the recent Keemun tea only has a history of more than 100 years.
In 1875, the Qimen people learned the processing technology of black tea from other provinces and created Keemun tea.
In 1876, due to the superior natural conditions in Qimen County, the quality of Keemun tea is outstanding. Therefore, the production area was expanding, the output was increasing, and the reputation was getting higher and higher.
It attracted great attention from tea merchants in the international black tea market. The Japanese called it “Rose” and the British businessman called it “Keemun”.
In 1980, Keemun tea won the National Medal of high-quality products.
In 1983, Keemun tea was awarded the National Export Commodity Quality Honorary Certificate and mainly exported to dozens of countries and regions, such as Britain, Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Russia, etc. It has been China’s national tea for many years.
2. Growth environment of Keemun tea
Qimen County has a long history of tea production and it is the “hometown of black tea in China”. As early as the Tang Dynasty, there was a very prosperous tea market.
The landform of Qimen County is dominated by mountains and hills. The growth environment of Keemun tea with superior natural conditions, many mountains and trees, warm and humid climate, deep soil layer, abundant rainfall and clouds, is very suitable for the growth of tea trees.
In addition, the local tea trees have rich content and high enzyme activity, which is very suitable for producing Gongfu black tea.
3. Processing of Keemun tea
The picking standards of Keemun tea is stringent because the high-quality Keemun tea should be made from the more tender fresh leaves of which each is one bud with one leaf or one bud with two leaves.
This step includes withering, rolling, fermenting, drying and other processes. All of those processes mainly make the fresh leaves turn from green to copper red, tea body into strips. Then use gentle fire to dry them.
Fermentation is a very important step in making black tea, and it is the key to determine the quality of Keemun tea. The room temperature of fermentation is controlled below 30℃. After fermentation, the leaves turn red and form the feature of red leaves and red soup.
Refining includes dozens of complex processes, which is the reason Keemun tea is called Keemun Gongfu tea. Gongfu means “many works or tasks to do”.
Refining is mainly to distinguish the length, thickness, weight of the tea leaves, and remove impurities. The fragrance of refined Keemun tea is long-lasting. It is like a fruity or orchid fragrance.
4. Characteristics of Keemun tea
The main characteristics of Keemun tea are as follows: the shape is tight and thin; the color is dark and smooth; the fragrance is long-lasting, like fruit and orchid fragrance, which is specially called “Keemun fragrance” or “Qimen fragrance” in the international tea market; the color of the tea soup is red and clear; the taste is mellow and the aftertaste is meaningful.
Keemun tea is made by three main processes and twelve particular processes. According to its shape, quality, color, and flavor, Keemun tea can be divided into 10 grades.
The higher the grade of Keemun tea, the neater the shape, the brighter the color and the stronger the fragrance. The high-quality Keemun tea is called “Li Cha” (literally called Gift Tea).
5. Three musketeers of Keemun tea
Keemun tea is just a collective name. The black tea produced in Qimen County is called “Keemun tea”. Some Keemun teas have their own name or brand.
The three musketeers of Keemun tea refer to Huangshan Jin Hao, Qihong Mao Feng, Qihong Xiang Luo. These three kinds of black tea are developed and improved by a tea expert for decades.
Huangshan Jin Hao
Huangshan Jin Hao (Huangshan Golden Hair) is the first of the three musketeers. In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Huangshan Jin Hao is called Jin Yu Xiang Ming (Gold Jade Fragrant Tea), which was lost after the collapse of the Ming Dynasty.
Four hundred years later, in the 20th century, according to the historical legends, people kept searching for the classical producing technology of Jin Yu Xiang Ming.
And finally, they got the classical technology from an elder who was over ninety years old. After many years of practice, the imperial tribute of the emperor of the Ming Dynasty was reappeared.
Qihong Mao Feng
Qihong Mao Feng is a high-quality tea of Keemun tea. The production process of Qihong Mao Feng is more elaborate and it is more fragrant than the traditional Keemun black tea.
Qihong Xiang Luo
Qihong Xiang Luo is a new famous tea of Keemun tea. The quality of the improved Qihong Xiang Luo was greatly improved. It was highly praised by judges from South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, and other countries
6. Health benefits of Keemun tea
Keemun tea can provide abundant riboflavin, folic acid, carotene, tocopherol, and phylloquinone, and is an important source of fluoride in food.
Here are the main benefits of Keemun tea:
- Clearing heat
- Nourishing the stomach
- Anti-inflammation and sterilization
- Refreshing and eliminating fatigue
- Lowering blood pressure and blood lipid