Country of Origin: China
Region: Anhui Province
Shipping Port: Shanghai
Grade: Panda #1
Altitude: below 5000’ ft. above sea level
Manufacture Type: Orthodox
Cup Characteristics: Lovely burgundy depth with light hints of an oak cask. A tea to savor during hectic or quite times.
Infusion: Bright tending reddish
Ingredients: Luxury 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. 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. This interest in keemun also came about as some describe 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 freshly drawn cold water to a rolling
boil. Place 1 teaspoon of tea for each cup into 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).
Milk and a dash of sugar help capture the complex nature of this tea,
but it is also perfectly acceptable to consume this tea ‘straight-up’.