Tag Archives: anhui

Keemun Black Tea: A Favorite of Anhui Province

We recently highlighted the discovery of a hundred year old box of Qimen black tea in Anhui China. The story of this century old tea, though short, featured a beautiful wooden box that was typical at the time for shipping finished teas around the world. Though few producers actually ship in this type of wooden box any longer it was a handy excuse to focus a post on this wonderful tea from Anhui Province, China. Qimen or Keemun black tea, which incidentally forms the base for our Colonial Breakfast, tea has been produced in China for hundreds of years and like so many others has a history of it own.

Keemun Black Tea from Anhui Province was represented by 30 growers at the 1915 Expo

Keemun Black Tea won gold at the Panama Pacific International Exposition (Public Domain)

Keemun Black Tea

Black tea has been produced in the region of Qimun County in Anhui, China and the area around it for about 200 years. The name Keemun, as we know it today, is an Anglicized version of the name. Black tea from this region is known for having a very unique aroma and taste. The aroma is often described as having hints of honey while the taste is often said to be sweet and mellow. It can take milk and sugar though is often consumed straight. The tea was common in the United States dating back to the colonies and has been part of some blends of English Breakfast Tea over the years.

Keemun black tea has been awarded international recognition many times as a gourmet tea product. In 1915, at the Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, which had 30 tea companies from Anhui Province, Keemun Black Tea was awarded a Gold Medal. Much more recently, in 1987 it received a gold medal for food quality in Brussels. Over the years there have been many other awards as well and it has been the gift of choice for visiting dignitaries.

Qimun Region Tea Production

Keemun Black Tea is the base for our Colonial Breakfast Tea

Keemun Black Tea is the base of our Colonial Breakfast Tea

The Qimun region dates back to the Tang Dynasty in 766 C.E. and is about at the same latitude as Northern India, falling due West of Shanghai and North Northwest of Taiwan. Although inland a bit, the region isn’t far from the East China sea. It lies in the general vicinity of the famous Yellow Mountains and the Yangtze River. It is a mountainous region at about 2000 ft above sea level with large temperature swings between day and night and often has very high humidity. Tea is a major industry in this part of China with hundreds of thousands of farmers producing tea on tens of thousands of hectares of land.

Not all of the tea produced in the area is black, of course, with green tea featuring prominently. Most tea produced in the region is for domestic consumption and the majority of Chinese drink green tea regularly. Indeed, black tea production has been on the decline in this part of China according to the Qimun County Government for a number of years. Reasons for the decline include international competition by Indian black tea, Ceylon black tea, and others. The competition from international black teas and continued low consumption of black tea in China has contributed greatly to the black vs green tea production decisions.

Steeped in history, Keemun Black Tea continues to be a wonderful example of Chinese black tea. Despite production falling off from the height of its demand, this tea continues to delight consumers around the world, even if not consumed so much in China itself.



Qimun [Keemun] County Government, The Rise and Fall Keemun Bicentennial (translated), January 4, 2010, http://www.ahqimen.gov.cn/DocHtml/1/2010/1/4/2197202312203.html 

CPC Huangshan Committee, the People’s Government of Huangshan, Tea Industry, http://www.huangshan.gov.cn/en/NewsList.aspx?cid=10680&tid=10690

Official Catalogue of Exhibitors, Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, California, 1915, pg 80, Digitized at: https://books.google.com/books?id=c-VFAQAAMAAJ

Cultural China, Food Culture, Keemun Black Tea, http://www.cultural-china.com/Kaleidoscope/en/131Kaleidoscope294.html

Yellow Tea: Unique and Rare Chinese Specialty

Yellow tea is China’s rarest tea, due to the extensive manufacturing process to get the yellow hued leaves and liquor. Depending on current trends in China, yellow teas come and go in overall availability, making it more difficult to find these teas here in the United States, but they can be found.

History of Yellow Tea

There are a wide range of stories around the creation of yellow tea and when it occurred, without a lot of agreement around those circumstances. Yellow tea is currently manufactured in both the Anhui and Hunan provinces of China.

Yellow is a favorite color in China.

Xian, China – Temple at Night

It is thought that the tea was produced in honor of the emperor, though which one specifically is not really clear, with yellow being the imperial colors of all five imperial dynasties in China. In Chinese culture, yellow is considered the most beautiful color. It is associated with Yin and Yang and the perfect center of everything. Yellow is paired with red in decorating alters and imperial palaces and is also associated with heroism in China.

With yellow holding such an important place in Chinese culture, it is only natural for tea producers to experiment and ultimately produce a tea that is both yellow in color as a dry leaf and as the beverage.

Producing Yellow Tea

Yellow tea resides somewhere between white and green teas both in flavor and appearance. Like a white tea, it is picked as either only a bud or a bud and single leaf. However, it is steamed during production. Like other teas, yellow tea is picked, withered in the sun and then pan dried. However, at the end of the pan drying, it is then laid back out and covered with a damp cloth and allowed to steam for a few hours. It is then returned to the pan to dry and may then be wrapped again. This process of steaming and drying may be repeated several times until the tea reaches the required color. Keeping the buds and leaves whole while going between the pan and the steaming clothes requires great care, adding time to an already time consuming manufacturing process. The process ends with the final drying in the pan.

All of that work produces a tea that ranges from buttery to floral in flavor depending on which yellow tea you get and at what temperature you steep it.

Types of Yellow Tea

Ahnui Yellow Flower Yellow Tea

Anhui Yellow Flower (Ho Shan Huang Ya) Yellow Tea

Yellow tea is quite rare and there only a few available including Jun Shan Yin Zhen from the Hunan province and Huo Shan Huang Ya from the Anhui province.  Jun Shan Yin Zhen is bud only and tastes buttery with slight floral aroma.  The Huo Shan Huang Ya was originally a tribute tea dating back to the Ming Dynasty and brews with a floral aroma and slightly nutty taste.  These teas can be brewed at temperatures between 185-200 degrees Fahrenheit for 3-5 minutes for a cup. We would recommend a gaiwan for this tea so you can enjoy the beauty of the infused tea leaves.

So when you are in search of your next tea experience, keep your eyes open for these teas.  They are worth a try.