The Tea Detective
Uncovering and Exploring the Facts About Tea
China's Anhui Province - Home to
Chocolaty Flavored Keemun Teas
China's Anhui province is home to their Keemun (pronounced chee-men) black
teas, one of the West's favorite teas for over a century because of their lightly
sweet and intriguing chocolate flavors, reminiscent of unsweetened cocoa, but
without the bitterness.
No one is really sure why
the Chinese began
produc-
ing black teas in the first place, as they have
produced and drunk
green teas for thou-
sands of years.  But the Keemun family of
black teas makes one glad they did.

The magnificent, scenic Huang Shan Moun-
tains are located in Anhui province and are
home to
Kee- mun teas.  Ancient pine trees
grow amidst steep, rocky peaks, and cold,
clear mountain springs. The moist environ-
ment of these beautiful mountains produces
a natural phenomenon of swirling clouds and
mist known simply as "sea of clouds."

Near the Keemun tea growing region lies the
village of Tunxi.  Some of the public buildings and houses in the village have been built in the
southern Anhui Huizhou vernaclar style, dating back to the
Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).  

A little bit of this history has been brought to the United States.
One of the original houses from the village of Tunxi was dismantled
and then shipped to the U.S., where it was reconstructed and put
on display for the public at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem,
Massachusetts.

The Keemun (spelled Qimen in the East) family of black teas in-
cludes:  Keemun Hao Ya, Keemun Hao Ya A and B, Keemun Mao Feng (or Keemun HairpointMao
Feng), and Keemun Congou (or qihong tea).

Keemun teas come from four different grow-
ing areas of Anhui province - Dorgzhi, Guichi,
Shitai, and Yixian, which are all located near
the city of Huang Shan, and the Huang Shan
Mountains.

The microclimate known as "sea of clouds,"
described above, provides a blanket of mois-
ture over these tea producing areas.  Togeth-
er with the cool, clear mountain air, and plenty
of water from the mist and many small rivers
and mountain springs, provides the soil with
a unique combination of nutrients that help
the tea plants grow heartily.

          Keemun teas are made from eight different types of tea bush, but it's said that the
          best tea comes from leaves with a little red vein running down the back.

          The two highest grades of Keemun are Hao Ya A and Hao
          Ya B. Most Hao Ya A and B comes from the spring plucking,
          with little made from summer or fall flushes.

          All of the Keemun teas have the intriguing chocolate flavor,
          making them some of the most popular of
China's black teas.

          Keemun Mao Feng is grown near the town of Qimen (Keemun is an older Western
          spelling), in an area of steep rolling flats between the Yellow Mountains and the
                                                             Yangtze River.  Even though the hills can get quite
                                                             steep, they are small when compared to the massive
                                                             peaks of India's
Darjeeling tea growing region.

          Mao Feng is harvested in leafsets of two leaves and a bud, and is plucked during a few
          short days at the end of April and May.

          It is fairly rare to find because most tea makers skip over
          the short Mao Feng harvest, instead saving their leaves for
          the Hao Ya harvest that starts just a few days later, and
          runs much longer.

          So, if by chance you run across it, scoop it up.  With its
          lightly sweet and chocolaty flavor, you'll be in for a real treat.
Enjoy.
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      What is CTC tea and why is it the main type of tea grown in the Nilgiri
      region of India?

      China black teas - a labor of love.
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