Tag Archives: Qimen Hongcha

Black tea: Qimen Gongfu

Ning Hong Jing Hao

More refined stimulating breakfast brew that’s still as light as Rooibos.
Black tea » Chinese » Anhui Qimen teas, ★★★★★
Also known as: 祁门功夫茶, Ning Hong Jing Hao, Keemun/Qimen Congou/Gongfu (or any combination).

I’ve been lucky enough to receive not just Qimen Hongcha, which is a great tea, but also this Qimen Congou, which is the finest grade of Qimen available. Qimen Hongcha uses only the smallest, most tender leaves, and the dry leaf has a more powerful aroma than Qimen Hongcha.

Brewed side-by-side, the liquors (tea liquids) look exactly the same (amber or honey-coloured). The aroma of the Qimen Congou, however, is more floral and less woody than the Qimen Hongcha—even though both teas are very similar, and very light. It’s only by comparing these two five-star teas side-by-side that I can acknowledge their subtle differences in taste.

Qimen Congou is a little lighter, has more floral notes and a subtle dark chocolate aftertaste. The sweet aftertaste (回甘) is stronger in this tea than in Qimen Hongcha.

Nomenclature tip:

功夫 = Congou = Gongfu = Kung Fu = anything that’s done particularly well (including martial arts and tea).

Given a choice between the two teas, I’d choose the Qimen Congou every time. But each of these teas is delightful on its own. I recommend buying the Qimen Hongcha or buying both and brewing them simultaneously. Qimen Hongcha and Qimen Congou sell for $11 and $22 in Melbourne, respectively. ★★★★★

Black tea: Qimen Hongcha

Qimen Hongcha

Stimulating breakfast brew that’s as light as a Rooibos tisane.
Black tea » Chinese » Anhui Qimen teas, ★★★★★
Also known as: 祁门红茶, Keemun, 祁红, Qihong.

Qimen Hongcha was the original “English Breakfast Tea” before it became too expensive for the mass market. The British purchased so much of this tea in the 19th century that the price rocketed within a couple of years after they first imported it. Today, Qimen Hongcha tea costs around $10 per 100g—a price that is highly justified.

Qimen Hongcha is delightful to drink. It has light, sweet, floral overtones, but (like Rooibos) lacks undertones completely. This is one of few teas where I can clearly taste the water in the brew! There’s no astringency or bitterness, and even though many tasters note smokiness in the brew, I couldn’t feel any. The subtle fruitiness resembles dark, sugary fruits like figs and sultanas, whose lingering aftertaste develops charmingly on the palate.

Qimen Hongcha makes a great breakfast tea. It awakens you without feeling heavy—in fact, it’s as light on the palate as a Rooibos tisane. Brew it before a day’s work and you’ll feel calm and alert, with a pleasantly sweet, lingering aftertaste that stays until lunch. I love it.

I tend to prefer white, green, and the greener oolong teas, but there are a few more oxidised teas, such as Fenghuang DancongDejoo Estate Assam and this tea, Qimen Hongcha, that even I am in love with. ★★★★★