Qimen Caixia (Sunrise Keemun)

Black Tea 2023

A rare example of an early harvest Qimen black tea, secured before it was chopped and sorted into grades. Very floral, complex, and sweet with the distinct spicy flavor of Qimen County’s heirloom tea cultivar.

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Tea Origin
Qimen County, Anhui Province, China

Tea Bush
Qimen Xiaochuyezhong (Qimen Small Leaf Tea Bush)

Tea Maker
Wang Chang

Harvest Time
Late March

Plucking Standard
One bud, one leaf

The namesake of Qimen Caixia (Sunrise Keemun) is its color — a deep cinnabar hue, radiant as the sky at sunrise. Appropriately enough, it makes for an excellent morning tea, freshening your mood with a beautiful aroma and a sweet flavor which are sustained through multiple infusions, layered with the earthy spice and floral sweetness of Qimen’s local tea bush.

The local tea cultivar is remarkable for having especially small leaves, giving it the name Qimen Xiao Chu Ye Zhong (Qimen Small Leaf Tea Bush). The dry leaves of black tea made from this bush appear dense and tightly curled, but when infused, they reveal themselves to be soft and tender, yielding an aroma that is both subtle and persistent. Their flavor lacks the tannic heaviness of other black teas. Instead, its infusion is refreshingly delicate with the clean complexity of light brown sugar.

Processing high-quality black tea

Historically, Qimen County’s black tea has used older leaves that were picked after the middle of April and chopped during processing. However, in the last decade, black tea producers have started to use high-quality unbroken early spring leaves, like those typically reserved for high-end green tea. Qimen Caixia is an excellent example of this new kind of fine black tea. These new techniques require more skill but yield a better result.

The one bud and two leaves configuration of Qimen Caixia’s young leaf material poses a problem to the tea maker. Because the bud is made up of many layers of small leaves, the tea maker must carefully control the conditions of oxidation (moisture, temperature, etc.) so that every layer of the buds is evenly oxidized. When oxidation is well controlled, the tea will not sour. Rather, it develops the sweetness and complex flowery aroma exemplified by Qimen Caixia.

History of Qimen black tea

This black tea is a famous product of Qimen County in Anhui province. Qimen is a hilly and forested county where black tea has been produced for just over one hundred years. The most famous story of Qimen black tea’s origin regards Mr. Yu Gan Chen, a retired official who returned to Qimen County from service in Fujian, where he witnessed black tea’s popularity as an export commodity. Mr. Yu brought the style back with him, establishing black tea manufacturing in his home county as an innovative way to bring wealth to the local economy.

No chemical fertilizer, pesticide, or herbicide was used in the production of this tea. Click here to read more about our promise to fair trade and the environment.


Qimen Caixia (Sunrise Keemun) brewing guidelines

5 grams (1.5 Tb) tea

12 oz 100°C (212ºF) water

4 min. first infusion

At least 4 infusions: 4, 4, 5, 8 minutes