Keemun Tea: Everything You Need to Know (And How to Make it Properly)

Keemun tea leaves

Quick Look:

  • ORIGIN: China
  • TASTING NOTES: smooth, malty, fruity, smoky, floral, woody
  • STEEP TIME: 2 to 3 minutes
  • CAFFEINE METER: Moderate

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What is Keemun Tea?

Originating in Qimen County, China, Keemun tea is one of the most popular Chinese black teas available.

Keemun is actually the English spelling for “Qimen”. 

Made from the Camellia Sinensis var. sinensis plant, Keemun tea is often found in many tea blends, such as English breakfast tea. 

Once brewed, it can be recognized by its beautiful brownish-red color. 

How do you pronounce Keemun?

The proper way to pronounce Keemun is “kee-muhn”.

What do you need to make Keemun tea?

Tea Scoop

This is the perfect tool to help you get the perfectly measured scoop of tea leaves every single time. You won’t regret adding this to your tea arsenal!

Electric Tea Kettle

An electric tea kettle with a temperature setting is a must-have brew gadget for tea drinkers! You can set the temperature to the degree for the perfect brew every time. This kettle is a favorite of ours. Or you can check out our full post on the best electric tea kettles.

Spring Water or Filtered Water

To get the best flavors from your tea, use high-quality water. Don’t use tap water or distilled water!

Tea Pot with Strainer

A teapot with a built-in strainer makes brewing tea so much easier when you’re using loose tea leaves. If you’re an avid tea drinker, you won’t regret buying this tea tool!

Loose Keemun Tea Leaves

Using loose tea leaves really will give you the best tea-drinking experience. By letting loose leaves steep in the boiled water, they have room to unfurl and release all of their natural aromas. If you can’t use loose leaves, a tea sachet is the next best thing, since they have more room than a traditional tea bag.

Tea Cup

This one is up to you! Use whatever cup makes you happy! If you need some inspiration, check out some of our favorite drinkware.

How do you make Keemun tea properly?

To make the perfect cup of Keemun tea, you will want to use 1.5 teaspoons of tea leaves for each 8-ounce cup. If you don’t have loose-leaf tea, use 1 tea sachet or 1 tea bag.

Tea tip: if you want a stronger flavor, add more tea leaves rather than steeping them for a longer period of time. Most people don’t realize this, but steeping tea too long doesn’t increase the good flavors, it actually can make it more bitter.

Step 1: Pour your water into the tea kettle.

Use cold bottled spring water or cold filtered water. (Tea Tip: Do not use distilled water – this will negatively impact the taste). Make sure to pour some extra water to warm up your teapot or steeping vessel.

Step 2: Boil your water.

For an optimal flavor experience, bring the water to about 194°F. This is slightly below boiling point. This lower brewing temperature ensures that the hot water will not scorch the tea leaves and make them more bitter. If you do not have an electric tea kettle with a temperature setting, just bring your kettle to a full boil, then remove it from the heat and let the water sit for about 20 seconds before steeping the tea.

Step 3: Warm up your teapot.

First, pour a bit of your boiled water into your teapot or steeping vessel and swirl it around for a few seconds to allow it to warm the vessel. Then you can discard this water in the sink. 

Step 4: Put your Keemun tea leaves into the teapot and add the rest of your hot water and then cover the pot.

Step 5: Steep your tea leaves for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Step 6: Strain your tea leaves.

This is easier if you have a teapot with an integrated strainer.

You can also save the tea leaves for an additional steep. With a good quality Keemun, you can actually get 3 to 5 infusions. You should increase your steeping time by 30 seconds for each subsequent infusion.

Step 7: Decant your infused tea into your teacup and enjoy!

Tea Tips:

For a more authentic tea experience, you can also brew Keemun tea “gongfu style”, which uses more tea leaves, a shorter steep time, and a Gaiwan. The Gaiwan is a small traditional Chinese brewing vessel made of either porcelain or glass. Its use dates back to the Ming Dynasty and its name literally means “lid and bowl”.

Can you cold brew Keemun Tea?

Yes, you can definitely cold brew Keemun for a fruity and refreshing drink with hints of cocoa!

Keep reading for the steps to Cold Brewing Keemun at home.

Did you know cold brewing is the best way to make iced tea? To learn all about it, check out our post on everything you need to know about cold brew.

How do you make cold brew Keemun tea properly?

To cold brew Keemun tea, use 1.5 teaspoons of Keemun Tea leaves for every 8-ounce cup of water.

STEP 1: Add your tea leaves to a pitcher with an infuser.

STEP 2: Pour room-temperature filtered water or spring water over the tea and stir gently.

STEP 3: Put your pitcher in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours

STEP 4: Strain the leaves and enjoy!

What does Keemun tea taste like?

Keemun is a beautiful red-colored tea with light notes of florals and fruits. It is smooth with low astringency and offers tastes of smokiness and woodiness, and can even have hints of cocoa. 

There are different harvest times for Keemun tea throughout the year, leading to different varieties of Keemun with slightly different tasting notes.

Keep reading to learn about the different varieties of Keemun tea. 

What are the different varieties of Keemun Tea?

Keemun Mao Feng

This variety is harvested early in the year, thereby providing the lightest and sweetest taste. Keemun Mao Feng is a higher-grade Keemun with the silkiest texture and is therefore the most desirable and expensive variety available. 

Keemun Hoa Ya

The next highest grade of Keemun tea, Keemun Hao Ya is harvested a bit later than Mao Feng. It is divided into two grades, A and B, with A being better quality. This variety features a light and smooth body with hints of florals and chocolate at a more affordable price than Mao Feng. 

Keemun Gongfu

This variety is also known as “Congo”, and is a Keemun produced specifically for the traditional Chinese Gongfu tea ceremony. 

Keemun Xin Ya

This variety is made up of leaves picked early in the year, producing the least bitter-tasting notes of all the varieties. 

Hubei Keemun

Although this tea has “Keemun” in the name, it is NOT a true Keemun tea. 

In order to be an authentic Keemun, it must be produced in Qimen, China.

While Hubei Keemun offers a lot of the same characteristics as real Keemun tea, it is actually produced in the Hubei Province. 

How much caffeine is in Keemun tea?

On average, a cup of Keemun tea has about 45 mg of caffeine, a little less than half as much as a cup of coffee.

As far as the tea spectrum goes, this is a moderate amount of caffeine content. 

It is less than other black tea, such as Assam. However, it is more than most green teas.

Because of this, Keemun is often preferred in the morning or early afternoon and can be found in many popular blends, such as English Breakfast Tea.

What are some health benefits of drinking Keemun tea?

Keemun tea has many health benefits including antioxidants, blood sugar control, heart health, and more!

For the full summary, check out our post on the health benefits and possible side effects of black tea.

Where can you find good quality Keemun tea?

There are several good-quality Keemun options you can try. Here are just a few options to get you started:

What is the best way to store Keemun tea?

When it comes to storing Keemun tea, there are a few important things you will want to avoid. These are air exposure, light exposure, moisture, heat, and strong odors. 

In order to keep your tea in its best and freshest condition, you will want to store it in a container that helps avoid the above-mentioned threats. 

The best containers are made of opaque materials with a tight seal. Some good options include non-reactive metals, glazed ceramics, and non-leaching plastics. Beware that while you may see wood tea storage options, they are not best for storing loose-leaf tea, as they can have their own odors that can alter the taste of your tea. 

Once you have your tea in its storage container, keep it in a cool, dark place. 

Here are some good options for storing your Keemun tea:

Looking for ways to organize your tea bags? Try these:

You want to ensure your tea stays fresh as long as possible. To make sure you’re not making any common mistakes, be sure to check out our post on the best practices in tea storage!

We hope this guide helped you learn everything you need to know about Keemun tea and how to make it at home!

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