The part of China known since 1666 as Anhui province has been an important tea growing area for centuries. Home to the famous “yellow mountain” Huang Shan, it has a mild and humid climate, with constant cloud cover and ample rain during the summer. While the area is popular with tourists who admire its natural beauty, tea connoisseurs around the world have an affinity to Anhui because of the amazing teas it produces, including black tea from Qimen (Keemun).
The production of black tea in Qimen goes back to the 1875, when a tea maker called Yu Gan Chen, who came from Anhui returned home after spending most of his working life in Fujian Province. In Fujian Province he had seen that black tea – which keeps better and is more robust than green tea – was becoming increasingly popular for export to the UK and the USA. Yu Gan Chen set up a black tea production facility and started making black tea out of the leaves normally used for green tea, in the way that he had seen in done in Fujian.
The rest as they say, is history. Keemun black tea became a favourite of the Imperial family and the tea consistently won prizes in European and American competitions. These days it is also quite popular within China, where black tea is known as “red tea” due to the colour in the cup.
The best Keemun black teas are still made from the small leaves also used to make green tea. For this premium grade tea the producers have plucked only tender young leaf sets of one or two leaves and a bud. These young leaves give the tea a delicate sweetness. Although dark brown in the cup, the tea is subtle in flavour: With pronounced cocoa notes it is also sweet and fruity, delicate and complex.
Keemun Hao Ya A is the best quality Keemun you can get. After the Mao Feng is finished around the beginning of May, the Hao Ya is made. There are two qualities, Hao Ya A, and Hao Ya B. Hao Ya A has more tips, and more pronounced cocoa notes than the other Keemuns. Rumour has it that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II liked to drink Keemun tea – and of course if it is true, then we imagine she would have enjoyed the Hao Ya A.
By the way, both of our Keemun black teas taste great, so why not test your taste buds and try our Organic Keemun Mao Feng too?