- Keemun Background
- Black Tea Preparation
Keemun Hao Ya A is called "The Burgundy of Tea." Compared to other Chinese teas, Keemun has a relatively short history. It was invented in 1875 by Yuanlong Hu and soon gained popularity in England and became the most prominent ingredient of high class English Breakfast tea. Over the years, Keemun Tea continued to take the world by storm. A two-time gold medalist in the World Exposition Fair, the unique aroma 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.
Keemun Hao Ya A is the highest grade of Keemun available and is very rare. It has a sweet biscuity fragrance and exquisitely mild but complex aroma with a hint of smokiness. Many tasters describe its profile as being reminiscent of toast hot from the oven slathered in berry jam. The character can also be described as Burgundy-like, owing to the deep winey notes that permeate the cup. It is said you can compare Keemun Hao Ya A to a fine burgundy wine because of it’s superb bouquet. Unlike most tea, 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!
Water Temperature: Just off the Boil (205 degrees)
Water Quality: Best with Spring Water
Amount of Leaf (per 6 fl oz water): 1 tsp. to 1 Tbl.(2.5 grams)
Steep Time: 2--4 minutes
Number of Infusions: 1
When measuring it is best to weigh your tea. (I use a small pocket scale. We have a few or you can get good inexpensive scales at Old Will Knotts) Measuring volume with a teaspoon or tablespoon is not accurate because whole leaf teas take up much more space than broken, graded teas.
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 teas of this quality need room to unfurl and expand in the water in order to perform their "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.