What is Keemun Tea? Our Guide to This Smoky Chinese Black Tea

Keemun black tea, also sometimes known as China Keemun, is a Chinese tea with a slightly smoky flavor with toasty notes. Delicious on its own, China Keemun is often included in blends like English Breakfast.

About keemun tea

Keemun tea takes its name from Qimen County in Anhui province, China, where the tea is grown. This tea features a medium body, toasty and smoky notes, and moderate astringency.  It brews up into a beautiful reddish amber color, and is light enough to be enjoyed on its own, with no need for milk and sugar.

Unlike more robust Indian black teas, which are made from the camellia sinensis var. assamica varietal, Chinese black teas are made from the camellia sinensis var. sinensis varietal. These types of tea plants have been cultivated in China for hundreds of years. They tend to have smaller leaves than indigenous Indian tea plants, and brew up into a lighter, mellower tea with slightly less caffeine. In China, what Americans often refer to as “black” tea is actually called “red tea,” thanks to the copper color of the prepared tea.

What does keemun tea taste like?

Keemun tea is brisk, smoky, and toasty, with notes of tobacco and a dry finish.

Keemun tea benefits

Some benefits of black teas like keemun tea include:

  • High in antioxidants: Like other types of tea made from camellia sinensis plant, black tea is extremely high in antioxidants.
  • Good for your heart: Black tea contains flavanoids which can help to boost heart health.
  • Helps with digestion: consuming black tea can have a positive effect on digestion and help soothe stomach troubles.
  • Boosts energy: China Keemun has a moderate amount of caffeine, about half that of a cup of coffee, which can help to boost energy and alertness.
  • Contains anti-inflammatory properties: Like other types of tea, black tea can help to soothe symptoms of inflammation.

Keemun tea caffeine content

China Keemun contains a moderate amount of caffeine. It's slightly lower in caffeine than Indian black teas like Assam, and contains about the same amount as other Chinese black teas, like Golden Yunnan. Some of the factors that influence the caffeine content in keemun tea include:

  • Tea varietal: China Keemun is made from the camellia sinensis var. sinensis varietal, which is indigenous to China and tends to be lower in caffeine.
  • Water temperature: We recommend preparing keemun tea with water that has reached a full boil. The hotter the water temperature, the more caffeine is present in a cup of tea.
  • Steep time: We recommend infusing China Keemun for two to four minutes. The longer you infuse your tea, the higher the caffeine content will be.

How to brew keemun tea

  1. Use 1 level teaspoon per 6 oz. of water.
  2. Heat water to a full boil (approximately 212 degrees).
  3. Steep for 2 to 4 minutes. For best taste, do not over steep.
  4. These leaves can also handle a second or even third infusion.

To prepare China Keemun, we recommend using a teapottea infuser, or tea filter. These preparation methods give the tea leaves room to expand as they steep, resulting in a richer and more flavorful cup. Avoid over-steeping China Keemun, since it can become bitter. This tea can be infused multiple times.

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