Keemun 3 Monkey Tea
Of all the Chinese black teas the ones most familiar to the West are commonly called ‘congou teas.’ The two principal divisions are north China congou and south China congou. The north China congous – from the provinces of Kiangsu, Anhui and Hunan were all typical English breakfast style teas. The most famous of these congous are the keemuns. The 3 Monkey Keemun though not the best keemun produced (the best keemun is grade Hoa Ya A) is noted for its excellent value and deep rich flavor. The aroma of 3 Monkey is somewhat difficult to describe. One is tempted to describe the subtle scents with that of long unopened jewelry boxes, with hints of incense or distant pine.
The Chinese say that the bouquet of 3 Monkey is like the perfume of an orchid and the less poetic will say that it is like toast hot from the oven. It has been suggested that the reason 3 Monkey is a classic English breakfast tea is that its fragrance is brought out by the addition of milk.)
In any event the thick reddish liquor from the fine, tightly rolled leaves of this superb tea have a deep, rich concentrated flavor, reminiscent of the fine qualities of Burgundy wine. Keemun is the best-keeping of China black teas and will keep for years, and if well stored take on a mellow winy character
Hot tea brewing method : Bring freshly drawn cold water to a rolling boil. Place 1 teaspoon of tea for each cup into the teapot. Pour the boiling water into the teapot. Cover and let steep for 3-7 minutes according to taste (the longer the steeping time the stronger the tea). Milk and a dash of sugar help capture the complex nature of this tea, but it is also perfectly acceptable to consume this tea ‘straight-up’.
Iced tea brewing method : (to make 1 liter/quart): Place 6 teaspoons of tea into a teapot or heat resistant pitcher. Pour 1 1/4 cups of freshly boiled water over the tea, steep for 5 minutes. Quarter fill a serving pitcher with cold water. Pour the tea into your serving pitcher straining the leaves. Add ice and top-up the pitcher with cold water. Garnish and sweeten to taste. [A rule of thumb when preparing fresh brewed iced tea is to double the strength of hot tea since it will be poured over ice and diluted with cold water]. Please note that this tea may tend to go cloudy or ‘milky’ when poured over ice; a perfectly normal characteristic of some high quality black teas and nothing to worry about!