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All About Tea's

All About Tea
 

Black Tea Knowledge - General Information, Making Process and Health Benefits

Black Tea Introduction Part 1 - Varieties of Black Tea

Black Tea Introduction Part 2 – The Making Process

How to Brew Pu-erh Tea

How To Properly Use a Gongfu Ceremonial Tea Set

Guide to Keemun Black Tea

Choosing the Highest Quality Keemun Chinese Black Tea



----- Black Tea Knowledge - General Information, Making Process and Health Benefits

Black tea, one of the six tea species, is the sort of fully fermented. It is renowned by its red liquid. Basic making procedures of black tea include withering, rolling, fermentation, and drying. Among them, fermentation is the most significant process of making black tea. It defines the quality of the tea. Meanwhile, plenty of healthy substances are produced during fermentation, which are important to the health benefit of black tea. Also fermentation is the reason why people who caring health loves black tea.

Development of Black Tea

The very first black tea produced in China belonged to small leaf species, after then Gong Fu Black Tea was invented. The modern tea sage Wu Juenong wrote about the origin and spread of black tea in his famous work Review of The Classic of Tea (《茶经述评》; 2005). He came to the conclusion that black tea was firstly developed in Chong’an (now Wuyishan City) in Fujian Province. It spread in the path started from Chong’an, then to Zhenghe, Tanyang Village and Bailin Town in Fujian Province, passed by Qianshan County, Xiushui County, Fuliang County in Jiangxi Province, and then arrived at Dongzhi County in Anhui Province, finally ended in Qimen County. Due to the complicate crafting of small leaf species black tea, people afterwards simplified the making process: sun withering, rolling, fermentation, drying. Yet these steps could only make rough dry teas. Refining (re-sifting) is needed in order to make qualified tea. Yet repeated sifting will take a lot of time. That’s why the re-sifted black tea is called Gong Fu Black Tea.

 

Fermentation – The Secret of Black Tea

Fermentation of black tea is the series of chemical changes that happen under the assistance of enzyme during making process, mainly refers to the oxidization of polyphenols. Fermentation is the key process determining black tea’s quality. It promotes the oxidization of polyphenol in the tea leaf with the help of enzyme; meanwhile other chemical substance will change, too, making the green tea leaves into red color. The unique aroma and flavor of black tea will then be formed.

Black Tea Knowledge
Fermentation - Golden Monkey

Making process of black tea: withering, rolling, fermentation, dry, sifting.

 

Benefits of Black Tea

Talking about tea’s health benefits, it is well-known all over the world. Every sort of tea has its own health benefits. They are healthy because of different reasons. Black tea, the one this article talk about, is beneficial due to its unique making process: fermentation. When speaking of the word fermentation, it specifically refers to black tea’s fermentation. Yet other kinds of teas are also fermented in vary degrees during making, such as oolong tea, white tea, dark tea and yellow tea. Fermentation is the key process of making black tea. The chemical change of polyphenols produces the special aroma and color of black tea, as well as its health benefits.

Fermentation is aiming to promote the oxidization of polyphenols, which will produce thearubigin and theaflavin. They are the key factors that form the color and flavor of black tea.

Black Tea Knowledge fermentation
Fermentation - Organic Bai Lin Gong Fu

Thearubigin exists in black tea, is a kind of golden pigment produced in fermentation. Beside of adjusting the color of tea liquid, thearubigin has many health benefits. It can combine with cholesterol in stomach and intestines, and reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food. Thus thearubigin is helpful for protecting your heart from hyperlipidemia and heart disease without any side-effect.

 

 

----- Black Tea Introduction Part 1 - Varieties of Black Tea

Black tea, one of the six tea species, is the sort of fully fermented. It is renowned by its red liquid. Basic making procedures of black tea include withering, rolling, fermentation, and drying. Among them, fermentation is the most significant process of making black tea. It defines the quality of the tea. Meanwhile, plenty of healthy substances are produced during fermentation, which are important to the health benefit of black tea. Also fermentation is the reason why people who caring health loves black tea.

This is the part 1 of our Introduction of Black Tea. Here we will talk about the different sorts of black tea.

Development of Black Tea

The very first black tea produced in China belonged to small leaf species, after then Gong Fu Black Tea was invented. The modern tea sage Wu Juenong wrote about the origin and spread of black tea in his famous work Review of The Classic of Tea (《茶经述评》; 2005). He came to the conclusion that black tea was firstly developed in Chong’an (now Wuyishan City) in Fujian Province. It spread in the path started from Chong’an, then to Zhenghe, Tanyang Village and Bailin Town in Fujian Province, passed by Qianshan County, Xiushui County, Fuliang County in Jiangxi Province, and then arrived at Dongzhi County in Anhui Province, finally ended in Qimen County. Due to the complicate crafting of small leaf species black tea, people afterwards simplified the making process: sun withering, rolling, fermentation, drying. Yet these steps could only make rough dry teas. Refining (re-sifting) is needed in order to make qualified tea. Yet repeated sifting will take a lot of time. That’s why the re-sifted black tea is called Gong Fu Black Tea.

tan yang gong fu black tea

Although many people probably aren't aware  of the huge variety of teas available to them, most everyone is familiar with black tea.  What most people don't  realize is how much of a variety of black teas there are to choose from.  Black teas are currently the most popular  types of tea in the United States and Great Britain, and there are many  varieties of black teas to choose from.

Black teas come in two main types, either  flavored black teas such as Earl Grey, Chai Teas and other various flavors, or  as a plain black tea with no added flavoring, such as Darjeeling teas, Assam  teas, breakfast teas and other unflavored black teas.

While there are many varieties of flavored  tea in almost any flavor you can imagine, all teas start with just a basic  black tea.   Some of the most popular  varieties of black tea are Ceylon, Darjeeling, Assam, Keemun, and Nilgiri, all  named for the region in which they are grown.   Generally, un-blended black teas are named after the region in which  they are produced. Often, different regions are known for producing teas with  characteristic flavors. Some black teas, called Estate Teas, are extremely high  quality teas which have been grown in the same tea garden for hundreds of  years.  

Different Grades of the Material of Black Tea

Tippy Golden Flowery Orange PekoeThere are also many different grades of  black tea, from the best ones such as a good SFTGFOP1 Darjeeling (which stands  for Superior Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe, First Grade), to the  worst grades which are called “dust” or “fannings” which is the standard type  of black tea you find in generic black tea bags.  In between the highest grades of black tea  and the lowest grades of black tea you will find that there are many different  grades, cuts and production methods in between!

Most varieties of black teas are grown and  processed in East Asian countries, although Sri Lanka and India also produce  some of the finest grown black teas in the world.  Tea from Sri Lanka is known as Ceylon tea, as  that used to be the name of Sri Lanka prior to the changing of their country's  name.

When looking for black teas, you should  look for the freshest, most recently plucked black teas, as black teas will  degrade in color, aroma and flavor over time, and most expire within 1-2 years,  even when stored properly.  The color  should be bright and black, not dull or grey, and there should be a pleasant  aroma about the tea.  If the tea has gone  bad it will begin to smell rancid or lose its fragrance all together.  All varieties of black tea should look, smell  and taste pleasant and smooth with little astringency.

The Main Types of Unflavored, Un-Blended Black Teas in the World

Assam Black Tea

Assam black teas are from India and are a  strong and robust full-bodied tea with a malty flavor which is often included  in most breakfast teas, such as English Breakfast or Irish Breakfast tea. 

Ceylon Black Tea

Ceylon black teas, as mentioned above, are  from Sri Lanka, and there are two primary types of tea which are produced in  Ceylon,  a crisp lighter black tea, and a  heavier bodied medium black tea which has a sweet flavor with hints of fruit.  Ceylon teas are often served as afternoon  teas.

Darjeeling Tea

Darjeeling Teas also come from India in the  Darjeeling region.  Darjeeling black teas  are known as the “champagne” of the tea world, and are grown at the highest  elevations that teas are grown in all over the world.  Darjeeling black teas come in two types, First  Flush, which has a crisp, golden refreshing muscatel flavor, and Second Flush  which is a much more mellow, smooth and earthy type of black tea.  Makes an excellent tea for any time of day!

Keemun Black Tea

Keemun Tea is another famous black tea  which hails from China.  Keemun tea was  the original “breakfast tea” as it has a deep, rich and bold flavor with a hint  of smoke in the background.  This tea  goes especially well with milk unless it is a very premium grade Keemun.

an hui keemun black tea

Kenyan Black Tea

Kenyan black tea from Kenya is another  hearty and strong breakfast tea which stands up well to milk and sugar.  Kenyan black tea is mainly processed by  machines, as opposed to most other black teas which are plucked and processed  by hand.

Lapsang Souchong

Lapsang Souchong is a very unique type of  black tea, which is prepared by smoking the black tea leaves over bamboo on  pine fires to give the flavor a deeply smoked essence, almost like the aroma of  campfire smoke, and is best enjoyed without any milk or sweetener.  It is said that Winston Churchill drank his  Lapsang Souchong with his scotch.

lanpsang souchong black tea

Nilgiri Black Tea

Nilgiri black tea from India is one of  better values of black tea for the cost.   They are generally cheaper than most other black teas, yet are smooth  medium-bodied teas that hold a hint of sweetness, and can be served with or  without milk.   A very popular tea all  around the world!

Yun Nan Dian Hong

Yunnan black tea comes from the Yunnan  Province of China and is one of the best black teas available.  It is a strong, mellow and smoother tea, with  a velvety almost silky texture and lingering aftertaste. 

yunnan dianhong black tea

These  are the main types of unflavored, un-blended black teas in the world.  There are many more to discover as there are  so many different sort of the varieties already mentioned in this article,  and flavoring of any type can be added to any of the un-blended teas to create  a delicious flavored black tea.

 

----- Black Tea Introduction Part 2 – The Making Process

Black tea, one of the six tea species, is the sort of fully fermented. It is renowned by its red liquid. Basic making procedures of black tea include withering, rolling, fermentation, and drying. Among them, fermentation is the most significant process of making black tea. It defines the quality of the tea. Meanwhile, plenty of healthy substances are produced during fermentation, which are important to the health benefit of black tea. Also fermentation is the reason why people who caring health loves black tea.
This is the part 2 of our Introduction of Black Tea. Here we will talk about how the black tea is made.

Making process of black tea: withering, rolling, fermentation, dry, sifting.

The Appearance

the appearance of fresh tea leafNormally black tea is made into strip or granular shape. The forming of both of the two shapes has same demands of fresh tea leaves. The leaves must be tender, thick, covered with plenty pekoe and can retain fresh for a long time. Meanwhile the color should be yellowish green or vivid green, as well as be glossy.
Large leaf species and medium leaf species are the appropriate materials for making black tea. Medium leaf species is better for making strip shape, like Gong Fu black tea and Sou Chong black tea. The appearance is tight and thin, full of pekoe while with abundant buds, dark and glossy. On the other hand, large leaf species is better for making granular shape. The dry tea is evenly shattered, looks glossy, no mottle.

Fresh Tea Leaves for Making Black Tea

plunk the fresh tea leafBlack tea’s quality is not only connected with its tree species, but also closely related to the environment and planting methods. Usually high mountain areas have cloudy and wet weather, large temperature difference between day and night, and fertile soil. Ultraviolet rays in the sunlight in these areas are higher than plane areas. The UV ray can help nitrogen produce and accumulate in the leaves. Therefore the amount of protein, amino acid and chlorophyll in fresh tea leaves will be increased; on the contrary cellulose’s growth will be slowed down. Thus the leaf and bud will be softer and can retain in fresh for a long time. It can be used to make beautiful strips and granular shapes. Dry tea is bloom and glossy, and presents a taste and aroma of higher quality. However, tea gardens in hilly area and flat area can also plant tea trees of high quality based on the choosing of good tree species, a suitable man-made condition for its growth, and better fertilizer.

Fresh Tea Leaves for Making Black Tea
Large leaf species Medium leaf species
Large and soft leaf with thin cuticle Thick cuticle, tough and brittle leaf, performs good in stress resistance
Proportion of palisade to spongy is 1:2 or 1:3. Proportion of palisade to spongy is 1:1 or 1:1.5.
Contains larger amount of tea polyphenol and caffeine. Dry tea has strong flavor, abundant nutrition and can be infused for many times. Higher amount of carotene and lutein, which can release aromatic substance. Thus small leaf species can produce not only nutritious dry teas but also high aroma teas.
large leaf species medium leaf species

The Making of Black Tea

Withering

Withering is the most basic process of making black tea. It evenly removes waters in fresh tea leaves. As the water is running off, cell sap of the fresh leaf will concentrate, resulting in a change of the leaf’s inclusion. Meanwhile, this process can control the speed of physical change as well as chemical change in the tea leaves in a proper level.

the sun withering

Why Withering?
Fresh tea leaf is composed of 75% of water. If the leaves are rolled without withering, they will be easily broken and hard to be shaped into strip. Also cell sap will be lost quickly, which highly affects dry tea’s quality. Therefore fresh tea leaves must be withered, in order to remove water and reduce the tension of fresh cells, thus the leaf will be softer and tougher, providing a better condition for rolling and shaping.

Three Main Methods of Withering When Making the Black Tea

Presently there are three ways of withering: sun withering, indoor withering, and using of withering trough.

Sun Withering
Put the fresh leaves outdoors under the sun. The heat from sunlight will release the water in fresh leaves. This method is fast, easy to apply, and no fuel require. But it is limited by weather condition.

the sun withering

Indoor Withering

the indoor withering

In case the weather is not appropriate for sun withering, indoor withering is another proper way for withering. Set several withering shelves in a room. Then put the bamboo trays which carry the fresh leaves on the shelves. With normal room temperature and proper process, the leaves will wilt naturally. This method can produce tea leaves of good quality.

Using of Withering Trough

the withering trough

Withering trough is a manually controlled machine that can wither the tea leaves with heat. The machine has a blast engine which blows hot air crossing the leaves. The hot air can provide enough heat to evaporate water; meanwhile it takes moisture away from the leaves, which helps the water evaporation as well. Consequently, this method can solve the problem of weather condition in sun withering and indoor withering. If the worker has excellent skill of using the machine, he could have the products of the same quality as leaves of natural withering.

Rolling

The Function of Rolling

The significance of rolling is on the forming of black tea’s quality and appearance, especially strip-shaped tea. Rolling will break the leaf cell and can push out cell sap, promoting the enzymatic oxidization of polyphenols. This is a basis of forming black tea’s aroma, color and flavor. Also, rolling determines the strip shape of black tea – tea leaves are shrank during rolling, and twisted into tight and thin strips. As the cell sap is squeezed out to the surface, dry tea leaves will present glossy dark color. Soluble substance in rolled leaves is easier to be dissolved, increasing the density of tea liquid.

An Important Process in Rolling: De-agglomeration

Lots of heat will be produced during rolling, especially in summer and autumn, which will strongly influent the effect of rolling. The heat must be released in time, in order to control the speed of oxidization of polyphenols. Accordingly, de-agglomeration is aiming to lower the heat in the leaves.

Fermentation – The Secret of Black Tea

Fermentation of black tea is the series of chemical changes that happen under the assistance of enzyme during making process, mainly refers to the oxidization of polyphenols. Fermentation is the key process determining black tea’s quality. It promotes the oxidization of polyphenol in the tea leaf with the help of enzyme; meanwhile other chemical substance will change, too, making the green tea leaves into red color. The unique aroma and flavor of black tea will then be formed.

Five significant factor in Fermentation
Temperature Proper temperature for fermentation is usually 2 – 6℃ higher than normal room temperature, sometimes even in larger difference. 30℃ is best temperature for fermentation; therefore the room temperature should be at 24 – 25℃.
Humidity An experiment result from Hunan Tea Research Institution proves that high humidity is better for fermentation. When humidity is at 63% - 83%, motley spots and dark shades in the leaves can reach to the percentage of 25% - 32.5% in tea leaves; while humidity rises to 89% - 93%, they will decline to 16% - 18.6%. Consequently, the fermentation room should be kept in humid condition, at the humidity of 95% or higher.
Ventilating Keep the fermentation room ventilated can provide sufficient oxygen for chemical changes, as well as remove the carbon dioxide which produced in fermentation. Normal way is to install exhaust fan on the wall of the fermentation room, or to open the door or windows often to let fresh air in.
Laying When the leaves are ready for fermentation, they will be laid in bamboo trays and be put in the fermentation room. Yet how the leaves are laid will affect the providing of fresh air and the temperature in the leaves. If the leaves are laid too thick, they will be lack of fresh air and be warmed up quickly; on the contrary, if the leaves are laid too thin, they will lose temperature easily. The leaves are usually laid in the thickness of 8 – 10 centimeters.  
Fermentation Time Fermentation begins from rolling. Starting from that time, fermentation will take 3 – 5 hours in spring due to lower temperature. While it is hotter in summer and autumn, fermentation will take shorter time in 2 – 3 hours.

 

 

How to Brew Pu-erh Tea

Brew method can have some effects for you

Brew method can have some effects for you

 

Remember that the proper proportion of tea to water is generally 1 gram of tea per 50 milliliters of water. In the above example we chose to use 2 grams of Pu-erh tea, so the water was approximately 100 milliliters. Since Pu-erh tea only steeps for a very short period of time, you only need to steep the first cup for about 15 to 20 seconds. Each time you re-brew the leaves, simply add another 15-20 seconds of brewing time for each additional brewing of the leaves.

 

There are many different types of Pu-erh tea, and each type can be steeped multiple times. The higher grades of Pu-erh tea can be brewed up to ten times.

 

 

 

 



 


Start Your Tour of Pu-erh

Effects of losing weight by drinking teas performs slowly. Your favorite flavor is also lowly formed by thousands of tastes of different teas. That’s how we said quantity breeds quality. If you are fresh of Pu-erh tea, you should know well about it before your first brew, like Pu-erh can be divided into Raw Pu-erh and Ripe Pu-erh. These two kinds present varying flavor and color because of the mysterious craft of “Wodui” (pile-fermentation). The article Understanding the Difference between Raw Pu-erh Tea and Ripe Pu-erh Tea will help you to know Pu-erh based on the learning of the difference between Raw Pu-erh and Ripe Pu-erh.

Taste of Flavor

Most people indicated of being unused to the special flavor of Pu-erh. For the first try of Pu-erh, it will taste very different from Green tea and Oolong tea. The flavor is formed during the process of Wodui (pile-fermentation). Here TeaVivre will explain to you what Wodui is and how it works. Wodui, the pile-fermentation, refers to ferment tea leaves by piling them up. To cover a fabric on the pile, pour water on it and heat up the temperature will speed up its process of fermentation. Microbes which produced during the fermentation will cause chemical reaction, and then bring the special earthy and fishy taste into finished teas. If it’s your first attempt of Pu-erh, the taste may confuse you – it is not so easily acceptable. Actually it is the normal flavor of Pu-erh. We suggest you to start with mini Tuo cha or loose Pu-erh, then gradually adapt to the flavor.

loose leaf puerh aged puerh tuocha
Ripened Aged Loose Pu-erh Tea Ripened Aged Pu-erh Mini Tuocha


Tips: mini tuo cha needs one or two times’ rinsing. Use a small amount of water that just cover over the teas for rinsing. The video below will show you how to brew Pu-erh tea.

View of Appearance

Pu-erh has the most varied shape in the six major species of teas, including mini Tuo cha, cakes, bricks, and gourd-shape. We know that the methods of storage will influent teas’ aroma and flavor. That’s why Pu-erh is made into different shapes – for better storage. It could be imagined that if Pu-erh is exposed to the air or not well-kept, how weakened it will be of its weight-losing effects or its flavor. For example, cakes after pressing, airs in it will be removed, and spaces between tea leaves will be smaller. Therefore the procedure of oxidation will slow down. More kinds of Pu-erh could be tried if you want to know more about it.

ripened tribute cake puerh raw cake paddy puerh golden buds ripened puerh
Fengqing Ripened Tribute Pu-erh Cake Tea 2007 Fengqing Raw Pu-erh Cake Tea 2006 Paddy Flavor Fengqing Golden Buds Ripened Pu-erh Cake Tea 2005



Tips: Tea Pin or Knife will be needed for breaking a tea cake or brick. They should be dug bit by bit into big pieces so that the leaves will be in full shape and looks more beautiful when brewed. We’d like to show you a video about How to Properly Loosen and Pry Pu-erh Tea.

Admire of Liquor

There are four methods of diagnosis in traditional Chinese medicine: to look, to listen, to question, to feel. So are the teas. When we drink teas, there are four steps we could follow: to look, to smell, to sip, to taste. Take Green tea as example, which is also helpful green tea for weight loss: To look the color: green and bright To smell the aroma: fresh and high aroma To sip the liquor: soft and smooth To taste the tea: sweet after-taste and long fragrance

More or less, every kind of tea has sweet after-taste. Life is like a cup of tea: after suffering comes happiness. I think this should be the best words for describing tea. Let’s go back to Pu-erh. Raw Pu-erh, not pile-fermented, has strong and heavy flavor even for first sip, which is contrast to Ripe Pu-erh. What’s more, the sweet after-taste of Raw Pu-erh is also heavy.

Good production comes from good origins. If you want good Pu-erh tea, you should pay attention to its year and origin place. Fengqing and Mengku in Yunnan are famous Pu-erh producing regions. Local residents are well acquainted with Raw Pu-erh and Ripe Pu-erh, and know how to choose good Pu-erh. We have looked up many documents and summarized five key points which determine Pu-erh tea’s quality: origin place, years of tea trees, picking time, level and storage method. These information could be checked here: The Most Important Things Decide The Puerh Quality.



 

 

 

 

How To Properly Use a Gongfu Ceremonial Tea Set

Tea can not be fully enjoyed without a nice  tea set to serve it with, and this is especially important when drinking tea  Gongfu style, or as part of a Chinese Gongfu Tea Ceremony.  Part of the Gongfu tea ceremony is entirely  about the aesthetic appearances and the display of the tea itself.  Using a Gongfu tea set, you can fully  experience your tea in all ways possible, delighting the senses. 

Therefore it is important to not only know  what a Gongfu tea set is, but what it is comprised of and how to use each tool,  because drinking tea Gongfu style is as much about the appearance and enjoyment  of the brewing of the tea as it is about the actual drinking of the tea.

Gongfu  tea traces its roots to the Song Dynasty, then became widely popular during the  subsequent Ming Dynasty, spreading to many areas of China, most especially in  Fujian, Guangdong.  If you would like  more information on Gongfu tea, please read our article Gongfu Tea.  If you are interested in Gongfu tea, but  aren't sure where to begin or aren't familiar with the terminology, read on to  discover what a traditional Gongfu tea set entails!

a tea tray  is square

The  Tea Tray:  Tea trays are usually very  beautiful, showing off the beauty of the tea set and displaying all of your  tools in a pleasing manner.  Tea trays  are shallow and can be of various sizes and shapes. The function of the tea  tray is to hold your tea pots and cups and can be filled with any overflow of  water or water discarded in the process of brewing.  Some of the more common shapes of a tea tray  are square, round and fan-shaped.

a tea tray  is square

The  Tea Pot:  Tea pots are used to brew  and pour tea, and you may use a tea pot to brew your tea, or a more traditional  gaiwan.  There are many different tea  pots available, including porcelain pots, glass tea pots, and intricately  designed pots, however tea enthusiasts tend to enjoy the more traditional Yixing clay teapot or sand-fired tea pots.

yixing clay teapot

The  Gaiwan: The  Gaiwan is used traditionally to actually brew your tea leaves in, and pour the  brewed tea from when brewing tea Gongfu style. People use a gaiwan to gaze up  the unfurling tea leaves and to smell the aroma of the brewing tea.  Gaiwans can come in a variety of colors and  styles. The gaiwan is also called the “sancai bowl”, which loosely translates  into the synchronicity of man, earth and the sky as the cover of the gaiwan  represents the sky, the bowl itself representing humankind, and the saucer  below as earth.

gaiwan

The Tea Holder: The tea holder is known also as the “enjoy tea holder.”  The purpose of your tea holder is to hold the dried tea leaves which will be  brewed, after removing them from the canister they have been stored in.  Tea holders can be made from many materials  including bamboo and wood, however the most common type of tea holder is made  from a simple white porcelain.

a tea tray  is square

The Tea Pitcher: The tea pitcher, which is also named fair cup and cha hai, is used to hold the brewed liquor of the tea leaves which you actually  brew in your gaiwan.  Once your tea  leaves are brewed correctly, the tea  is  then poured into the fair cup, which is similar to a small pitcher.  The fair cup is used to hold the tea and make  it the same density and taste throughout before serving the tea to your guests  in the Pinming cups, hence why it is called a “fair cup”.

fair cup is used to hold the brewed liquor

The  Pinming Cup: Pinming cups are what you pour the brewed tea into from  your fair cup to actually drink the brewed tea from, the western equivalent  would be the teacup, although Pinming cups are much smaller, shallow and  thin.  Remember, brewing tea Gongfu style  is about fully enjoying every aspect of the tea to the fullest.

a tea tray  is square

The  Fragrance Smelling Cup: The fragrance smelling cup is  used for the purpose of smelling the aroma that remains at the bottom of the  used brewed tea.  The fragrance smelling  cup is intended to capture the aroma and essence of the brewed tea, and is  matched with the Pinming cups.

The  Filter and Filter shelf: The tea filter is used to  filter tea leaves after brewing so that you may pour the tea into the fair cup  and Pinming cups without having tea leaves in them.  The tea filter is traditionally stored on the  filter shelf when it is not being utilized.

The  Filter and Filter shelf

The Tea Ceremony Sets - They are Useful when Brewing Tea

Tea ceremony sets are an additional set of tools to allow  you to have a Gongfu (and other) tea ceremonies.  Tea ceremony sets in China are also known as  Junzi Liujiantao and normally contain a tea container, a set of tea tongs, a  tea funnel, tea spoon, tea scoop and a tea pin.

Junzi Liujiantao

The Tea Scoop: Your tea scoop is a scoop used to scoop out dry tea from your tea canister to  place into your tea holder.

tea scoop is used to scoop out dry tea

The Tea Spoon and The Tea Funnel: Your  tea spoon is a utensil used to transfer dry tea from your tea holder to your  tea pot or your gaiwan.

The tea funnel is a cylindrical funnel used to direct the flow of tea into the pot,  and also used to prevent the tea from overflowing. The tea funnel utensil makes  it much more convenient to add tea to your tea pot.

tea spoon is used to transfer dry tea

The Tea Pin: Tea pins  are small utensils which look like a needle and are used to clear any blocked  tea from the spout of the tea pot if needed.

The Tea Pin

Tea Tongs:  Tea tongs are beautiful utensils used in the  Gongfu tea ceremony to carry cups while warming them or bringing them to  others.

The Tea Tongs

The Tea Container: The  tea container is matched to the tea set and is made to hold  your utensils such as your tea tongs, tea  pin, tea funnel, tea spoon and tea scoop.

The Tea Container

The  Tea Towel: The tea towel is a small but very necessary part of the  tea ceremony as it is used to clean up any spills, and water or tea stains, and  is usually made from either cotton or linen cloth.  Often the tea towel will match the tea set,  however you may use your own cloth as a tea towel if you prefer.

The  Tea Towel

These are the traditional items with which  to brew Gongfu tea properly or ceremonially, and have been used to prepare and  enjoy tea for hundreds of years.  You can  brew almost any tea in Gongfu style, however Gongfu teas such as Oolong teas  are much more popular.  However when you  are brewing Pu-erh tea such as Puer bingcha, zhuancha, toucha and other  compressed tea, you will also need to use a Pu-erh tea pin or tea knife to  loosen your tea. Please read our exclusive Teavivre article on How to Loosen  and Pry Pu-erh Tea for complete information on preparing Pu-erh tea for  brewing.

 

 

Guide to Keemun Black Tea

Keemun  black tea is one of China's Ten Most Famous Teas, and is a beautiful tea indeed.   It is also known as Keemun Gongfu   or Qimen Gongfu depending on dialect.   Keemun black teas are known for their aromatic fragrance, mellow flavor  and beautiful aesthetic value as well as the brilliant red liquor the brewed  tea leaves produce.  Also  highly regarded as a top quality black tea around the globe, and especially in  the British market Keemun is considered a delicacy, and classified as a “tea  hero” as well as being touted for being delicious and having the aroma of a  China spring rain.

Keemun Black Tea Production

It is produced in Qimen county in the Anhui Province of China, hence why  it is sometimes called Qimen tea.  "Keemun" has been the English  spelling for "Qimen" since the colonial era.  Keemun black  has a relatively short  history having been first produced in the year 1875 after a man named Yu Ganchen  traveled to the Fujian Province of China so that he could become privy to the  secrets of quality black tea production because prior to that time, the Anhui  Province had only produced green  teas.  What he  learned of the production of black tea enabled him to produce the world's first  Keemun black tea, which was exquisite and gained popularity very quickly, first  in China, then in England, where it has since become one of the primary teas  included in English Breakfast tea blends.

one of the people who invented Keemun black tea

How to Brew Keemun Black Tea

Brewing  this appropriately is essential to not only creating a delicious  and ideal cup of tea, but to prevent you from brewing the tea incorrectly which  can create a bitter and undrinkable brew.   To properly brew Keemun, add 1-2 teaspoons of tea leaves to 8 ounces  of purified or spring water.  You can add more or less leaves to achieve the flavor  you enjoy the best.  Brew the it  in water that is 194 ºF (90 ºC) for 2 to 5 minutes.  If you are brewing Keemun Haoya black tea, which  is created with only tea buds, you may need to lower your brewing temperature  slightly for the ideal cup.  Be sure not  to brew it in water that is too hot or it will scorch the leaves  and make the liquor bitter.

keemun black tea liquorkeemun tea

Attributes of Keemun Black Tea

Properly  brewed this tea will brew up a clear brilliant red color in your cup,  and have a light slightly floral, slightly smoky exotic aroma.  The flavor of a brewed Keemun is uniquely  delectable and is very mellow, smooth with many subtle flavor nuances  throughout the cup.  You can re-brew  Keemun  leaves several times to extract the full flavor from the leaves.

Proper Storage of Keemun Black  Tea

There  are many different ways you can store your Keemun black tea to preserve flavor,  aroma and quality.  One popular method is  to use plastic storage bags, such as Ziploc bags which are air-tight, to seal  the tea inside of, then place the sealed plastic bags into a tea caddy or tea  tin.  However the main goal of storing  your Keemun tea correctly is to prevent exposure to air, heat, light, moisture  and odor.  You should choose a container  that cannot absorb the flavors of the tea, that is opaque so that the light  cannot penetrate the container, and you want to keep your tea storage  containers away from any exposure to heat, moisture or in any place where it  could absorb other strong odors.  Some  people choose to store their teas in sealed containers in the  refrigerator.  It is also a good idea to  label your tea with the date you put it in storage for future reference and  quality. 

The Health Benefits of Keemun  Black Tea

As  Keemun tea is a black tea, which  is a fully fermented tea, it unfortunately does not contain as many  antioxidants as green or white teas.  However black teas such as Keemun have many  other benefits due to the caffeine and other chemical components of black tea,  such as being energizing, enhancing your memory and helping to eliminate  fatigue.  Keemun tea as well as many other black teas can be very  beneficial to the human body.

The Production Process of Keemun  Black Tea

The  production process to create Keemun black tea is actually quite an elaborate  and involved.  The leaves  must be picked in the Spring and the Summer of each year, and when plucked,  only the top bud with the top two or three leaves are collected as the raw  material to create the Keemun tea.  Once  the tea leaves and buds have been plucked by the tea pickers, it is hand  separated and selected to choose only the leaves that will create a premium  Keemun tea.  This process is referred to  as “refinement” of Keemun tea.  Once the tea  has been refined to only the most premium leaves and buds, the leaves go  through an elaborate fermentation process as well which changes the color of  the leaves from green to a deep dark brown or brownish-black color.  After fermentation, the leaves are sent to be  packaged, labeled and shipped.

people are picking the tea leaves

It  is one of China's best known teas, and is truly the exquisite tea  that it has a reputation for.  Strong,  mellow and rich, Keemun black tea is a true delight.




Keemun  Tea is widely recognized as the best black tea in china, and also considered  one of the best available black tea in the world, therefore, it is crowed as  the “Queen of Black Tea”. The appearance of keemun black tea is slender and  elegant, while brewed, its liquor is red and brilliant, and the taste is  mellow.  Sometimes, it has the obvious  sweet and fragrance, sometimes with rose, also with honey and fruit fragrance.  The special fragrance is regarded as the Keemun  Scent by the tea lovers in home and abroad.

In  the Chinese brewing method, except the Gaiwan method or glass teapot like the  way of brewing bailin gongfu, just we should pay attention to different  temperature and brewing time for the two different kinds of black tea.

The  advantage of the purple-sand teapot is : keep warm, the brewed tea can keep  it’s own taste without loosing its original fragrance.

Step  1: preparing tea sets which need to be used in the brewing and adding 1-2  teaspoons tea into tea holder.

tea setsdry tea in the tea holder

Step  2: in the Chinese brewing style, whatever method you use, before we brew the  tea, we are accustomed to cleaning the tea sets, there is no exception for Sand-fired  teapot.

add water to the sand fired teapotpour water

pour the water into cupsclean cups

 

Step 3: using the teaspoon to cast your tea from tea  holder in to Sand-fired teapot.

keemuncast keemun dry tea

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