Keemun (祁门红茶 祁門紅茶) is a famous Chinese black tea. First produced in the late 19th century, it quickly became popular in the West and is still used for a number of classic blends. It is a light tea with characteristic stone fruit and slightly smoky notes in the aroma and a gentle, malty, non-astringent taste reminiscent of unsweetened cocoa. Keemun is said to have floral aromas and wooden notes.
While Keemun is enjoyed all over the world, this tea is especially loved by the British, who have made it a key part of their famed English Breakfast Tea blends..Somehow, perhaps for marketing reasons, Keemun standard grades have been named “English Breakfast” by some tea merchants. “English Breakfast” is actually the name of a blend first used by a retailer in New York in 1843, before Keemun black tea appeared in 1875. It was a Mr Richard Davies of “Canton Tea Company” on Chatham Street (have since been developed into part of Park Row, west of St Andrew’s Church). Davis added touches of pekoe (a name for tippy flowery black teas back than) and Pouchong (a Taiwan oolong) to a base of gongfu black tea, and it instantly became a hit. Today different companies have their own blend formulas for it and I would say the absolute majority of tea selections with this name are broken grade at best. However, most better ones use broken grade Keemun as the base.
If you are like me, preferring a distinct clarity in the taste and aroma of your tea, than perhaps you should stay with purely Keemun rather than any blends. Because of the fame, a Keemun Maofeng or any other variants is generally a few times the price of an export grade one Keemun. If you are going to put sugar and other stuff into your black tea anyway, go for the better value. Keep the budget for other teas which you would enjoy straight. A good export grade one is capable of a very pleasant tea for drinking with sugar and milk. Dependent on your source, mostly it is already a great leap forward in quality from the vast majority of “English Breakfast”. Traditional quality varieties are worth the ticket only when you enjoy the light sweetness and liveliness of a Qimen Maofeng in your straight tea.
April Harvest,Harvest Region: Anhui Province, Huangshan Prefecture, Qimen County.