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Of all the China black teas available Keemun Panda #1 is probably one of the best known. Keemun is one of the congou-type teas; meaning it requires a great deal of gongfu, (disciplined skill) to make into fine taut strips without breaking the leaves. Interestingly the characters in the written Chinese script for time and labor are the same as those used for 'gongfu'. It is often said that a properly produced Keemun such as Panda #1 is one of the finest teas in the world with a complex aromatic and penetrating character often compared to burgundy wines. Traditionally keemuns were used in English Breakfast tea.
In the early 1800's tea was such the rage in England there was a danger that the British treasury would be drained because all the silver was being used to pay the Chinese for tea. The Chinese did not need textiles, one of Britain's main exports- so what to do??? India and Burma produced significant quantities of opium and in due course China became a major market. The economic circle that evolved was as follows: Opium from India was sent to the British merchants stationed in Canton, China. The Chinese paid for this in silver and the merchants received credits against debts in England. This silver was then used to pay the Chinese for their tea. This practice led to wars between England and China - called The Opium Wars. The last war was won by the British in 1860 which led to opium being a legal commodity in China until 1908 when it was finally outlawed.
Keemun black tea was only produced after 1875 - against the grain of the Chinese practice of producing green teas. The English palate was finely attuned to fine black tea and with virtually unrestricted trade with opium and tea, Keemun rapidly became an English staple, notwithstanding that keemuns were particularly flavorful and full bodied. This interest in Keemun also came about as some describe the taste and aroma of Keemun's as reminiscent of toast hot from the oven - another British tradition. Keemun is one the best-keeping black teas. Fine specimens will keep for years if stored properly and take on a mellow winey character.
Brewing for best results
Ideal Brewing Temperature: 209°F/98°C.
Minimum Brewing Temperature: 194°F/90°C.
Bring filtered or freshly drawn cold water to 209°F/ 98°C. Place 1 slightly heaping teaspoon of loose tea per 8 oz of fluid water. Steep 3-5 minutes according to taste (the longer the steeping time, the stronger the tea).
Milk / Sweetener / Lemon / Mint
Tea(s) From: China
Region(s): Anhui Province
Luxury Ingredients: Black tea
iced tea instructions
Per Serving: Bring filtered or freshly drawn cold water to 209°F/ 98°C. With and infuser, use 1 slightly heaping teaspoon of loose tea per 6-7 oz of fluid water. Steep 5 minutes. Add filtered hot tea to 16 oz glass filled with ice. (Some luxury teas will turn cloudy when poured over ice).
Per Pitcher: Makes 1 Quart. Bring filtered or freshly drawn cold water to 209°F/ 98°C. Place 6 slightly heaping teaspoon of loose tea in a heat resistant container. Pour 1 ¼ cup of prepared water over the tea leaves. Steep 5 minutes. With a fine mesh sieve, filter the hot tea liquor to the serving pitcher filled with ice. Add cold filtered water to top off. (Some luxury teas will turn cloudy when poured over ice).
Making an amazing cup of tea requires several things. High quality tea, filtered or freshly drawn cold water, correct water temperature, time of infusion, and filters/infusers. Unfiltered water or too hot of water can ruin the best of teas. Always use filtered or freshly drawn cold water. Any flavor from water treatments or heavy minerals such as lime or calcium can taint the water. Brew at the ideal temperature. Too hot of water can scorch the leaves and produce a bitter brew. If you find that the tea is still bitter following the recommended brewing temperature, try lowering the brew temperature another 5 to 10 degrees. Use infusers that allow the tea leaves to fully expand and has full contact with the water. Ditch the tea bags. Know the steeping time for your tea. Too long of steeping can make your tea bitter and undesirable. Too short of time will make a weak tea. Don’t make tea in the microwave.
We strongly recommend using filtered or freshly drawn cold water brought to a rolling boil when brewing all types of tea. Today’s water has been known to carry viruses, parasites and bacteria. Boiling the water will kill these elements and reduce the potential incidence of water-borne illness. Cool the water to the ideal brewing temperature before brewing.