Keemun or Qimen tea?
Keemun tea is produced exclusively in Qimen, Huangshan. This black tea is also known as ‘Qimen Hongcha’ with the first part referring to its origin. The second part ‘Hongcha’ means ‘red tea’ in Chinese, also known as black tea in the West. In China, this tea type is called red tea, based on the tea liquor color instead of the appearance of the dry leaves.
Keemun black tea is also often known as ‘Keemun Congou’. The term ‘Congou’ is also a term from the colonial era, derived from the Chinese word ‘Kungfu’ or ‘Gongfu’. The reason why Congou is often part of the name, is because the original Keemun tea is great for performing a full kungfu style Chinese tea ceremony.
History: Yu Gan Chen, The Failed Wuyishan Officer
Compared to the Lapsang Souchong, this Qimen tea has a relatively short history, having been first harvested in the year 1975. It was Yu Gan Chen, a former Wuyishan officer, who secretly brought the knowledge to produce a fine black tea back to his hometown Qimen. Because (in Fujian) has been very successful in producing great Lapsang Souchong, the first black tea in history, Yu Gan Chen believed that Anhui green tea masters are able to produce a black tea of matching quality. Given that the Qimen has a favorable climate as well as skilled farmers who are able to harvest high quality leaves for the local green tea, the key was to master the fermentation process of Lapsang Souchong from Fujian province.
This adventure of Yu Gan Chen turned out to be a great success as Keemun tea gained popularity in China. Not too long after, British traders discovered Qimen tea, and it was quickly exported to England, where it became part of the English Breakfast tea blend.
Today, this loose black tea is often considered one of the best Chinese black teas and loose leaf high quality keemuns are more and more available in local tea shops. It’s only among a few types of black teas in the green tea dominated top 10 Chinese tea list.
The Keemun black tea production is an elaborate and complicated process. The leaves are picked in Spring and Summer and only the top bud with the top two or three leaves are collected. Once the tea leaves and buds have been plucked, the most tender leaves are sorted out by hand to create a premium Keemun tea. This process is referred to as “refinement”. The selected leaves then go through an elaborate fermentation process which changes the color of the leaves from green to a deep dark brown or brownish-black color.
When properly steeped, this Chinese tea has a clear red color with nuanced floral and smoky aroma. The flavor is very mellow and smooth that evolves in your mouth. Re-brew the black tea leaves several times to enjoy the changing flavors and aromas.
The cultivar used for Qimen is identical to the one used in processing Huangshan Maofeng green tea. However, today tea masters also experiment and produce Qimens from other cultivars. Farmers also experiment with different production techniques these days. Given that Chinese tea lovers prefer more nuanced flavors and aromas instead of strong and smoky, farmers have been fine-tuning the withering and oxidation processes to achieve a more delicate tea.
Because of this, Keemun tea has transformed from a tea blend ingredient in the West to a popular self-drinker in China that is now available through Teasenz!
The tea production region lies between the Yellow Mountains (also known as Huangshan) and the Yangtze River. The beautiful scenery of the region is beloved by poets, painters, philosophers, and tea enthusiasts.
Keemun Tea Benefits
Though loose black tea contains more benefits than a Keemun tea bag, it still has less antioxidants then loose green tea. Never the less, there are still many health benefits to drinking Chinese black tea. First of all, black tea is great as a breakfast tea that could enhance your energy levels for during the day. It’s also great to digest a heavy lunch and avoid afternoon dips, without making you crash again like coffee does. Different from coffee, the caffeine in black tea is gradually absorbed by the body and turned into energy. This enhances your concentration as well as muscle endurance. Given that you drink it without sugar, it’s great for your waist as well.
In the long-term, regularly drinking black tea can healthy for the heart. It reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases and heart attacks. In addition, it can protect against Parkinson’s disease as well as various forms of cancer including skin, lung, stomach, pancreas, prostate, and even ovarian cancer. The first type is related to evidence that this ancient drink to some extend offers protection against UV light.
At last, it’s noteworthy to mention that regular consumption of the best Chinese black teas can also protect you against free radicals that can be harmful against the body and slowdown the speed of aging.
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