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Keemun Tea: Your Next Favorite Cuppa

BY: Camila Loew

Keemun is a very well-known variety of black Chinese tea, honored as the "queen of black tea". It is, in fact, one of China's ten most famous teas, well known for its mellow taste and strong fragrance, and the  beautiful appearance of its leaves. Keemun is the English spelling, since the colonial era, for Qimen, and Qimen is also the name of a city in the southernmost part of Anhui province, namely between 29.35-30.8 north latitude, west of Huangshan mountain.

Keemun is not one of the oldest teas, as it was first produced in 1875; up until then, the region only produced green teas. Nowadays it is very popular abroad: in the British market it's classified as a "tea hero", celebrated for its flavor, with the aroma of a Chinese spring rain, and it's one of the primary teas used in the famous English Breakfast blend. Actually tea lovers  considered it as a delicacy because of its unique aroma of the Chinese spring rain .


 The production process of a high grade Keemun tea is quite elaborate: leaves are picked in spring and summer. Premium quality Keemun tea contains only the top bud and its leaves. They are then sorted by hand to choose only the best. As a black tea, Keemun is fully oxidized.

As for its health benefits, Keemun shares the health benefits of all the tea plant family members,  is high in antioxidants and catechins. As a black tea, Keemun is an energizing tea, which enhances memory and helps eliminate fatigue. And its  content in polyphenols will protect your stomach and promote great digestion caring and reducing stomach acid. Coincidentally, Qimen is also renowned for its TMC practitioners; the health benefits of tea are much touted by the entire world, and nowhere are the easier to apply than in the cradle of Qimen itself.


Tasting notes: though there are many varieties and grades of Keemun, in general we can say that Keemun tea in its dry leaf state has a sweet, malty aroma, with hints of dried apricot. Upon brewing, its liquor is bright red and carries an aroma of rich dried red fruits, with honey and molasses. The best Keemun tea -like COKARE's- has an initial strong taste of cocoa, without the bitterness. Gradually it reveals on the palate notes of red fruit, like plums and berries, and sweet spice. Its mouthfeel is creamy and smooth. Keemun tea paired with a little bit of high quality dark chocolate, melted in the mouth but not chewed, is a pinnacle of pleasure.

"Keemun is dark and beautiful, compliments sweet and spicy ingredients and has character enough to shine through regardless of other inclusions. Its strength is a major attraction," from a famous Master blender.

There are different varieties of Keemun on the market, our personal favorite is Keemun Mao Feng, which has the same name as a very high quality green tea the region is also famous for. Most Keemun teas are small leafed, whereas the Mao Feng variety, due to its larger size pluck, is full bodied. It has a cacao flavor and a chocolate aftertaste, but none of the smoky, charcoal flavor you sometimes find in other Chinese black teas. In this sense, it's more similar to premium Assam or Ceylon teas (which are also used in British-style blends). Its beautiful copper color is also distinctive. In fact, Qimen/Keemun, Indian Darjeeling black tea and Sri Lankan Ceylon black tea are known as the world's three most aromatic black teas. Keemun Hao Ya is another very high grade varietal, with its delicate buds.

The Cokare team produces its own Keemun tea in China, and we are honored to have received awards for our premium, organic teas. Our team of producers have been winning awards for their teas way back since 1915! We hope the flavors and aromas from a pot or cup of our premium organic Keemun black tea can transport you a bit to our beautiful farm in China. Please come visit us one day, we hope to be able to host you soon.

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