Keemun tea has been on my “To Try” list for a while, and I was lucky enough to pick up some Grand Keemun from Chado Tea in Pasadena recently. Chado is a cute little shop in the middle of bustling Old Town, the perfect spot for relaxing after shopping or a visit to the Norton Simon Museum. Or just for picking up some loose tea to make at home. They have an impressive selection of teas, and the staff is incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. They made SO many great suggestions that I went home with 6 fantastic teas: Milk Oolong, Tung Ting Oolong, Gongfu Oolong, Earl Grey Imperial, Dragon Well Green Tea, and as I have mentioned, the Grand Keemun.
Keemun is a Chinese black tea that was first produced in 1875 in Anhui Province. Anhui Province was known as a green tea region, but a resident travelled to Fujian in search of the secrets of black tea and brought them back to Anhui. The rest is history. By the 1915 Panama World Exhibition, Keemun was recognized as the most celebrated Chinese black tea, popular with the Queen of England and the Royal Family.
Jane Pettigrew states in The Tea Companion that “Keemun is the ideal tea to drink with toast and marmalade,” and I agree 100%. Something about the subtle smokiness of the Keemun contrasts so well with the sweet tanginess of the marmalade. I suspect that it would also be an amazing tea to serve around a campfire with fresh S’mores, but I have yet to put that theory to the test. Grand Keemun is smooth and rich but also very mellow, with a slightly toasty flavor. I am not usually a fan of even remotely smoky teas, but Chado Grand Keemun has become one of my favorite teas. Sadly my Grand Keemun supply is getting low, but what a perfect reason to check out the Chado locations I haven’t been to yet! 🙂
If you are interested in learning more about Keemun tea, check out Teavivre’s wonderful “Guide to Choose the Highest Quality Keemun Chinese Black Tea,” which discusses what to look for when purchasing fine Keemun tea, including:
- Appearance of dried leaves
- Appearance of brewed leaves
- Color of the brewed tea
- Flavor and aroma