Did you know that Qimen tea, or as spelled in English, Keemun, is the prominent ingredient in the English Breakfast tea blend? This beautiful and robust tea is named after the Qimen County of Huangshan City in Anhui (Anhwei) province and since 1875 it has been the most revered tea in Chinese culture, adored by the Queen of England and the Imperial House. I’m no royalty, but I’ve gotten my hands on Keemun Black by Four Symbols Tea and I’m ready to share my thoughts on it in another Tea Review!
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ABOUT FOUR SYMBOLS TEA
Four Symbols is a brand of tea created in 2016 by Firsd Tea, a U.S. subsidiary of Zhejiang Tea Group Ltd. (ZJT). a Chinese parent company. ZJT, the largest Chinese tea exporter and the world leader in green tea exports, was founded in 1950 and has remained the largest tea exporter for 25 years.
ZJT prides itself on collaboration with the Science Department of Zheijang University and the Hangzhou Tea Research Institute of All China Federation of Supply and Marketing Co-operatives. The company’s portfolio includes EU compliant conventional and organic teas (first organic tea producer in China since 1989), decaf teas (one of only two companies in China who have a CO2 decaf facility) and chemical solvent-free tea extractions, including instant teas, tea polyphenols, and EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate, a polyphenol used to affect human health and disease. EGCG is used in many dietary supplements).
With over 65 years of experience as a leader in the tea industry, the company exports more than 40,000 tons of tea a year including: green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, pu’erh tea, scented tea, special gourmet tea, and intensive processed tea products. While inheriting the tradition of China’s 4,000 year old tea culture, ZJT integrates traditional tea processing craft with modern techniques.
Keemun Black by Four Symbols Tea steeps into a deep caramel or amber hue. The color is very solid and heavy in appearance. It is no wonder why Keemun is the prominent ingredient in the popular breakfast tea, English Breakfast, as its robust and full presence alone awakens the senses.
Keemun Black by Four Symbols is reassuring to gaze into and strong enough to handle your early morning day-dreams of accomplished deeds.
Keemun Black is so heavy and full-bodied that the dried leaves themselves give off a freshly steeped scent coupled with a scent similar to dark raisins or dates. Upon steeping Keemun Black, the wet tea leaves carry an herb-malt-smoky scent into the air, which is quite pleasant. The steeped tea itself smells like dehydrated fruit with a fleeting smoked malty scent.
I really enjoy the scent of Keemun Black by Four Symbols. There’s something so grounding about a tea that creates a presence, not just in your tea cup, but in the room in which you have steeped the tea. And such an elegant and royal presence at that! Keemun Black can be my house guest anytime!
Without 2 teaspoons of honey, Keemun Black has a deep, deep malty-ness and, what I would call, a ‘late’ astringency. The malt pleasantly overwhelms the palate even once the sip is completely enjoyed. A considerable amount of time passes before an astringent sensation develops on the sides of the tongue. The astringency isn’t too aggressive.
With 2 teaspoons of honey, Keemun Black is accentuated in taste. The honey does little to enhance the individual notes in the tea, instead, the honey sweetens the sip and accentuates the deep malty-ness and late astringency effect. Keemun seems to be a really powerful tea that is able to hold its own. The honey is a nice additive but Keemun Black continues to take center stage.