- Keemun Background
- Gongfu Black Tea Preparation
The newest type of Keemun black tea was invented only ten years ago by combining the traditional production methods of Keemun tea and that of Green Snail Spring (Pi Luo Chun, another famous tea listed among Chinese top ten famous teas). Keemun Aromatic Snail Tea is made of only whole leaf buds of the first flush of tea harvested before Qing Ming (early April.) It is noted for a smoother and more delicate flavor than traditional Keemun Hao Ya A while maintaining the typical Keemun Fragrance. The unique aroma of Keemun tea is said to rival any of the Darjeelings and Ceylon teas. A tantalizing blend of fruit, honey and floral notes, the Keemun aroma is a charming experience. The taste, often described by foreigners as "China sweetness", is well balanced and distinctive.
Our Keemun Aromatic Snail brews up a little lighter than the average Keemun, imparting a solid amber color ringed with faint crimson. The brewed leaf proves to be all young buds with one or two small leaves, very consistent and even. As with Keemun Hao Ya A, this premium tea ages well and improves over time, which is why many connoisseurs will store batches of it the way one would do with wine.
Ingredients: Artisan organic black tea
Origin: Anhui Province, China
Throughout the history of China, many poems and odes have been written to tea, from the Cha Chin by Tang Dynasty writer Lu Yu, to Wen Zhenheng's Treatise on Superfluous Things, Incense and Tea, published during the Ming Dynasty. The ancient writers were inspired by the artistry and natural elegance of tea production, from the harvesting of the fresh leaf to the gentle baking and drying as it was transformed into its drinkable form. One such writer, Gao Qi, is rumored to have penned the following poem during a visit through Anhui province many years ago not far from the site where our Keemun Hoa Ya A is produced to this day.
I heard Sound of spinning wheel
Mixed with sound of flowing water
Sight of wooden bridge,
Flowerless trees in hazy spring
Where from the aroma the breeze brought so close?
Oh, next neighbor is baking afternoon tea!
It isn't hard to understand how the natural beauty of Anhui would inspire such a poem - a large swath of the region is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. True to the poem, the raw leaves plucked to make Hoa Ya A, are still harvested and manufactured during springtime when they are plump with moisture and rich in flavor. In China, the tea is known as a Gong Fu tea, which means "great labor" on account of the hard work and time required to produce it. How hard is the work? Keemun Hoa Ya A is hand-sorted before firing and then hand-sorted again before packing. The hard work also means it is exceptionally rare - our producer only makes 120 kg per year. (In total, the entire province of Anhui produces only 1200 kg per year.)
Also true to the poem, Keemun Hoa Ya imparts a warm biscuity aroma both during production and in the cup. A remarkable tea worth writing about! Takes milk well.
Did you know: Keemun Hoa Ya A is rumored to be the favored breakfast tea of Queen Elizabeth – when she can get it!
Many black teas coming out of China these days are best prepared gongfu style using a high leaf to water ratio (2 grams to 3 ounces water) and up to five short infusions starting at 30 seconds and increasing the amount of time with each infusion. However, it can also be prepared in the traditional British manner as follows:
Water Temperature: Boiling
Water Quality: Best with Spring Water
Amount of Leaf (per 6 fl oz water): 1 Tbl (3 grams)
Steep Time: 2-4 minutes
Number of Infusions: 2-3
We highly recommend brewing your tea in a teapot or mug with a removable infuser so that you can remove the leaves at the end of the steeping time. Whole leaf tea of this quality needs room to unfurl and expand in the water in order to perform its "magic." However, leaving the tea leaves in the water will result in an over-infused, bitter tea. If you want a stronger cup of tea increase the amount of leaf rather than the steeping time. If you don't have a removable infuser, you can brew the loose leaves directly in the pot. At the end of the steeping time, pour all of the tea into a warm serving pitcher or pot.