Ingredients From: China
Region(s): Anhui Province
Shipping Port(s): Shanghai
Grade(s): Panda Grade #1
Growing Altitudes: 1500 – 4900 feet above sea level
Manufacture Type(s): Special Keemun Orthodox
Cup Characteristics: A winey and fruity tea with depth and complexity. Takes milk very well.
Infusion: Bright tending reddish
Luxury Ingredients: Black tea
Of all the China black teas available Keemun Panda #1 is probably one of the best known. Keemun is one of the congou-type teas; meaning it requires a great deal of gongfu, (disciplined skill) to make into fine taut strips without breaking the leaves. Interestingly the characters in the written Chinese script for time and labor are the same as those used for ‘gongfu’. It is often said that a properly produced Keemun such as Panda #1 is on of the finest teas in the world with a complex aromatic and penetrating character often compared to burgundy wines. Traditionally keemuns were used in English Breakfast tea.
In the early 1800’s tea was such the rage in England there was a danger that the British treasury would be drained because all the silver was being used to pay the Chinese for tea. The Chinese did not need textiles, one of Britain’s main exports – so what to do??? India and Burma produced significant quantities of opium and in due course China became a major market. The economic circle that evolved was as follows: Opium from India was sent to the British merchants stationed in Canton, China. The Chinese paid for this in silver and the merchants received credits against debts in England. This silver was then used to pay the Chinese for their tea. This practice led to wars between England and China – called The Opium Wars. The last war was won by the British in 1860, which led to opium being a legal commodity in China until 1908 when it was finally outlawed.
Keemun black tea was only produced after 1875 – against the grain of the Chinese practice of producing green teas. But, the English palate was finely attuned to fine black tea and with virtually unrestricted trade with opium and tea. Keemun rapidly became an English staple, notwithstanding that keemuns were particularly flavorful and full-bodied. Perhaps this interest in keemun also came about as some have described the taste and aroma of keemun’s as reminiscent of toast hot from the oven – another British tradition. Keemun is one the best-keeping black teas. Fine specimens will keep for years if stored properly and take on a mellow winey character.
Hot tea brewing method: Bring filtered or freshly drawn cold water to a rolling boil. Place 1 slightly heaping teaspoon of loose tea, 1 tea bag or 1 Q3 portion pack for each 7-9oz/200-260ml of fluid volume in the teapot. Pour the boiling water into the teapot. Cover and let steep for 3-7 minutes according to taste (the longer the steeping time the stronger the tea).
Iced tea brewing method (Pitcher): (to make 1 liter/quart): Place 6 slightly heaping teaspoons of loose tea, 6 tea bags or 6 Q3 portion packs into a teapot or heat resistant pitcher. Using filtered or freshly drawn cold water, boil and pour 1¼ cups/315ml over the tea. Steep for 5 minutes. Quarter fill a serving pitcher with cold water. Pour the tea into your serving pitcher straining the tea or removing the bags. Add ice and top-up the pitcher with cold water. Garnish and sweeten to taste. A rule of thumb when preparing fresh brewed iced tea is to increase the strength of hot tea since it will be poured over ice and diluted with cold water. (Note: Some luxury quality teas may turn cloudy when poured over ice. This is a sign of luxury quality and nothing to worry about.)
Iced tea brewing method (Individual Serving): Place 1 slightly heaping teaspoon of loose tea, 1 tea bag or 1 Q3 portion pack into a teapot for each serving required. Using filtered or freshly drawn cold water, boil and pour 6-7oz/170-200ml per serving over the tea. Cover and let steep for 5 minutes. Add hot tea to a 12oz/375ml acrylic glass filled with ice, straining the tea or removing the bags. Not all of the tea will fit, allowing for approximately an additional ½ serving. Sweeten and/or add lemon to taste. A rule of thumb when preparing fresh brewed iced tea is to increase the strength of hot tea since it will be poured over ice and diluted. (Note: Some luxury quality teas may turn cloudy when poured over ice. This is a sign of luxury quality and nothing to worry about!)
ANTIOXIDANT BENEFIT: More antioxidants are extracted from tea (L. Camellia Sinesis), or rooibos (Asphalatus Linearis), the longer it is brewed….and the more tea or rooibos that is used, the greater the antioxidant benefit.