Keemun Black Tea – Grade 1

Tea type
Black Tea
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Astringent, Chestnut, Seaweed, Smoke, Tobacco, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Malt, Dark Bittersweet, Wood
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Edit tea info Last updated by TeaVivre
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205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 5 g 13 oz / 396 ml

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40 Tasting Notes View all

From Teavivre

Origin: Qimen, Anhui, China

Ingredients: Dark black, glossy thin buds topped with golden coloured tips

Harvest time: May 8, 2014

Taste: A bold but smooth, fruity taste with a lingering, mellow aftertaste

Brew: 1-2 teaspoons for 8oz of water. Brew at 205 ºF (95 ºC) for 2 to 3 minutes (exact time depends on your taste – a longer time will give the tea a stronger taste and color)

Health Benefits: Keemun black tea is fully oxidised, and so does not have the same level of antioxidants as our Green or White teas. However it still makes a great healthy tea to drink, especially if drunk with no or minimal milk and sugar, and provides a great natural source of fluoride and other vitamins.

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40 Tasting Notes

985 tasting notes

Tea of the morning……

And the end of this sample. I think I have kind of figured out where this falls….. I think the Grade 2 is the smokiest of the three, slightly more earthy in taste, and the most astringent at the end. The Premium really has very little in the way of astringency, and is slightly smoother and more complex in that there are a few different flavor notes than Grade 1. Grade 1 and Premium are both very light on the smokiness…there is just enough so that you know you are drinking Keemun. The astringency can mostly be controlled by the amount of leaf, steep time, and steep temperature, but in similar steeping parameters, the astringency is greatest in Grade 2 and gets less as you go up in quality. Obviously, more leaf, longer time, and hotter temperature make the tea stronger, too. When I say smokey, of course the notes are light and nothing near that of a true smokey tea. In summary, the Grade 2 is essentially smokier and the Premium is smoother and more complex when compared to this one. I do think the difference in price on this one is worth it. Once my Grade 2 is gone, I am not sure if I will get this one or the Premium.

Usual teapot method…..a little light on the leaf, but for the full 4 minutes. (And it was still a little less astringent than the Grade 2 at 3 minutes….)

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I love your very well-thought-out and sensible comparisons. (I think I’d prefer to fill-er-up with Premium.)


Jen, Thank you for your comprehensive TeaVivre Keemun comparison! I truly enjoy waking up with Keemun tea – something to look forward to in the morning. How long after harvesting should the Premium Keemun be consumed? Thanks!


I am no tea expert, but I generally go with 2 or three years from harvest. The great thing about TeaVivre is that they put expiration dates on everything they sell (maybe not pu’erh, but that is different.)

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6785 tasting notes

In terms of the keemuns from teavivre, this is second from the bottom, just above the grade 2 that they sell. I prefer this one to grade 2, though not because it is more keemun-like to me, but because there is more malt and a sort of cocao note that’s in here as well. I also prefer the aroma of this one brewed, since the grade 2 didn’t smell like much of anything to me haha There’s a note in here that bites towards the end, which will likely be the reason i prefer the organic version but we’ll see…

Edit: after a few variations of trying this one and that one against one another, i think i’ve come to the conclusion that i actually like Grade 2 and the Organic version the best…

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As a reader it’s confusing to read: “I prefer this one to grade 2 …”
Yet you rated this Keemun a 74 and gave Keemun #2 an 80.

Then later read an edit: “i’ve come to the conclusion that i actually like Grade 2 and the Organic version the best…”


And that’s why there’s an edit. I don’t feel the need to redo my tasting notes after I experiment and figure things out.


…my initial thoughts were that I liked this one more…then I drank another 4-5 cups trying to nail down things and changed my mind. I’ve articulated that in my tasting note and in my ranking….


I’ve been having a hard time with the ratings. I’ll go back, and certain teas I remember more fondly than I had ranked them.


Sil, I understand. As a very interested reader in your TeaVivre Keemun comparison, it was at first confusing to follow.


tman – got it :)
SFTGFOP – yeah.. every now and then i try to go back and fitz with my ratings…it’s more of a sliding scale for my own sake anyway. 70’s i’ll drink them if they’re around but likely won’t re-order 80’s are “average” cups for me…in that a lot of those will rotate through my cupboard… high 80’s and into the 90’s will likely land as a permanent home. anything under a 60 is pretty much not worth my time.


I may copy that. Unfortunately then it would mean I will have to slide a lot of teas down to below 70!

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1242 tasting notes

I kept meaning to get to this sample from Amariel but I always kept reaching for something else instead. Last sample from her from the summer. Thanks!

I’m not getting that much maltiness like others are, but perhaps because when I think of malt I think of Assams and Laoshan Black, so in comparison, there is almost no malt in here. Also, I immediately pick up on smokiness and earthiness instead, perhaps because I’m not that into smoky blends to begin. Yes, it’s not nearly as smoky as a Lapsang, for example, but it’s palpable, and in the forefront.

This Keemun is also on the astringent side. Not my ideal flavour profile, especially for unflavoured blacks, but I appreciate it. Nevertheless, I look forward to trying more of Teavivre’s in the very near future.


I know what you mean about the smoke, not a fan of this type of keemun. I much prefer the fruitier ones like Organic Superfine Keemun Fragrant Black from Teavivre, my favourite Keemun tea.


I like the smoky ones when I am eating really sweet or strongly flavored foods, but prefer things like Superfine or Keemun Mao Feng by Harney when drinking it by itself or with delicately flavored things.


Thanks to both of you for the suggestions. I’ll have to pick up some of the Superfine when I order. Angel sent me some Premium Keemun Hao Ya in my sample parcel so I’m curious how it’ll compare.


Sil swears by maple syrup in her keemun. 1/2 tsp in a giant Sil-sized mug. :) I add a little more, and it’s a really nice flavour combo.


Oh yes, I read that earlier today! I just need to get some maple syrup. Sounds lovely.

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212 tasting notes

Today we have another tea faceoff. The contestants shall all be Keemun. Lovely stuff so far.

This is much like the grade 2 we tried previously but smoother and more refined. I think there is a fruity sweetness to it that the grade 2 doesn’t really have. The smoke that follows the rich, malt seems to be about the same in each. I do think that Grade 2 has my attention for now. It just feels a little more robust. This is for a more classy lady than I. ;)

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I haven’t had any of their Keemjns yet! I can hardly wait to try them!


I really like keemun as far as I can tell right now. It seems like I’m always finding some thing else I really like too, lol.

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3229 tasting notes

So today is Day 2 of The Qimen Quandery. Whether you choose to spell it Qimen or Keemun, this tea is produced in the Qimen County of Huangshan City, in Anhui (Anhwei) province. According to Wikipedia, “it was first produced in 1875 by a failed civil servant, Yu Ganchen, after he traveled to Fujian province to learn the secrets of black tea production. Prior to that, only green tea was made in Anhui. The result exceeded his expectations, and the excellent Keemun tea quickly gained popularity in England, and has since been used as a prominent ingredient in some blends of English breakfast tea.”

So this is my 3rd tea of the Qimen Quandery, having sampled 2 others yesterday. Of course, the purpose of this is to sample all of my keemuns & determine which ones I love the most, & what I love the most about them.

I would say that compared to the other 2 (Organic Superfine Fragrant & Premium Hao Ya, both from Teavivre), this one is more tart & slightly smokier, although it is not a full on smokiness. There is a plum-like fruitiness to it, and a deeper earthiness as well. There is also more astringency here, although that may in part be due to my using too hot of water. The resteep was bland.

Thanks to Teavivre for this sample, which is a sipdown! (328)


Will be interested in seeing which you like the best :)


“There is also more astringency here, although that may in part be due to my using too hot of water.” Will you be tasting this Keemun again with the recommended water temp?

Terri HarpLady

Eventually! I only had a sample of it. Probably the next time I place a teavivre order I’ll sample it again.

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170 tasting notes

Thanks to Rachel Sincere for a sample of this tea.

This may or may not be my first Keemun, I’m not sure. I definitely don’t have much experience with them. Teavivre said to use 7g of tea for an 8oz cup, but that seems a bit much. That’s almost 3 teaspoons, is that right? I just used 1 and a half, and steeped it for a minute. It tastes fine to me.

There’s some interesting notes in this tea. I’m getting some chocolate, malt, and some heartiness, too. As it cools I find that it’s still enjoyable and doesn’t get too bitter too quickly. There’s definitely fruity tones to it that pop more, as it cools.

Also, according to the description this tea has lots of flouride. No need to brush my teeth now (haha – just kidding).

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185 tasting notes

Keemun Grade 1 vs Keemun Grade 2… fight! Okay, so teas can’t really fight each other… the gloves won’t fit!

I found this tea to be extremely tasty, a very solid black tea that anyone would be lucky to have. It is dark and smooth, a little bit malty with a sweet, lightly fruity finish. I almost wrote ‘fruity finish at the end’, but I stopped myself (and then shared!). The smokiness on Grade 2 is a little lighter at first than Grade 1, but brings itself out in the aftertaste pretty prominently. It lingers on the tongue a little while, as a very pleasant memory.

Ill-fitting protective gear aside, this was a brew destined to do battle against it’s lower grade brother, and sadly it lost. At least for me. The flavors in this cup of Keemun are a little more complex than the Grade 2, but ultimately I prefer the strength and gusto of the Grade 2 Keemun. Either of them make a fantastic cup of tea… and had I not enjoyed the Grade 2 SO MUCH, the Grade 1 would feel more remarkable.

So, in an nutshell – if you like more contemplative, interesting flavor profiles, take the Grade 1. If you want a powerful cup of awesome, take the Grade 2. Or take the blue pill, and you’ll wake up tomorrow thinking this was all just a dream (I recommend the tea).

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

haha, I am getting a picture in my mind of little pearls of tea with boxing gloves on….I guess I am in a silly kinda mood!
I haven’t tried any of Teavivre’s Keemun’s, I will have to order samples when I acutally buy tea from them!

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852 tasting notes

I am unsure as to what the grades suggest. I assume it is to do with the quality of the tea but I would like to know what it refers to. I did a quick internet search and did not come up with much. This is the teavivre info page: It discusses different grades of keemun but then changes to discusses Grade A, B, and C. I assume that could be synonymous with the grades but I have no idea.

So anyway, this tea smells strongly earthy and more vegetal than smokey. It is smooth, but not the smoothest keemun I have had. There is a slight smokey flavour, I would describe it as more rustic. There is also a bit of an earthy flavour. There is just a touch of astringency on the back of my palate towards the end of the sip but it goes away really quick. There is just a tinge of sweetness.

This reminds me of a gulping tea, not a sipping tea. It is the tea you drink down with your breakfast, it tastes really good but you are not stopping to notice any subtleties or nuances of the tea.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

i have grade 1,2 on their way so that i can do a final comparison of the last of the keemuns from teavivre. :)

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2010 tasting notes

A tiny sample from Heather Martin. Just making half a cup of this to taste.

The dry leaves smell so tasty. Nice and dark and malty.

Ohhh, I like this one. A lot. It’s fairly light, sweet, malty, yet strong. (Light maybe because I underleafed.) So good. Definitely on my “to buy” list for Teavivre.

Thanks, Heather! :)

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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251 tasting notes

Thank you to Angel at Teavivre for this wonderful sample!

Dry: Lovely short and twisty black loose leaf tea. Has a pleasant lightly malty and mellow dry aroma.

Steeped: Medium brown clear liquor. I didn’t add anything to this and the brewed fragrance is a little bit sweet and vaguely fruity with that nice malty note from the dry leaves.

Taste: I really like this tea! It is so well balanced- probably more so than any other straight black I’ve tried so far. It is also really good for a breakfast selection. Smooth, mellow, naturally on the sweeter side without being overly so, and has a nice malt character without being too earthy or heavy. There are very subtle fruit and smoke notes in the aftertaste that linger on the tongue. This is a tea I can just sit and enjoy while contemplating the activities of the day ahead. It makes me look at my Assam tin sideways and don’t even get me started on some of my less favorite flavored teas. Yes, Keemun- Grade 1, I like you quite a bit! I am excited to try the others that Teavivre sent, but this one has started my day in a lovely and flavorful way.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 30 sec

It’s a perfect breakfast tea, Keemun is the key ingredient in many breakfast blends, notably English Breakfast and Russian Caravan. It is great to drink by itself, or with milk or sugar.

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