Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Keemun all alone

My plan was to get some Keemun tea and immediately start blending it with my strongest Assams, but I got caught up steeping this wonderful tea all alone. I'm sure I'll eventually mix it with other teas, but not yet.

I've now gone and done a bit of research about this tea and am surprised that there's much more here than I realised. I didn't think Keemun was a simple tea, but that it was mild and a bit boring. Little did I know.

Developed in the late Nineteenth Century (very recent for Chinese tea), this is a very well known tea and the best of it was allegedly reserved only for the British upper class and royals. Like the Ceylons I prefer, it doesn't surprise me that the best Keemun is grown at high altitudes.

The specific tea I'm starting with here is Keemun Hao Ya. I agree with the accounts I've read that this tea is floral, though not as floral as a Darjeeling, and definitely mellow. There's no bitterness at all. One writer even said you can't over-steep this tea. I'm not going to test that, but I can imagine it's difficult to leave this tea in the water too long.

In addition to the tea being grown at such high altitudes, there's another reason this tea stands apart from others. One is an essential oil called Myrcenal. This is supposedly the only tea that contains this oil. There's something else found in many teas called Geraniol, which is forty to one hundred times stronger in Keemun. The unique, sweet taste that Keemun is known for has these two chemical properties to thank for it (source: Keemun Tea-the Burgundy of Tea by Alexa Wang

So at some point, I'll start throwing this tea in with others to see how it softens or enhances other tea. But until now, I've been enjoying it too much all alone.


  1. It seems you can always learn things and share them with others.

  2. Keemuns are the pinnacle of Chinese black teas! I can see why!