A Tale of Two Keemuns

I’ve been wanting to do a side by side comparison of tea for a while and tonight I did one I have been thinking about for a while. These are two teas that I already had in my stash, and once I realized that they were both Keemuns I wanted to do a comparison. Keemun is a type of small leaf black tea from the Anhui province in China.

Those two teas are: English Breakfast by Harney & Sons and Keemun Hao Ya A by Harney & Sons. English Breakfast is not keemun you might think, and usually you would be correct. But, according to the Harney website: There are many versions of English Breakfast tea. Ours has an ancient pedigree. Researchers have traced its heritage back to the black tea the English drank regularly in the 1800’s. It is, simply, China Black 100% Keemun. A simple way to start your hectic day!

Also according to Harney concerning Hao Ya A: Hao Ya ‘A’ is the most intense Keemun black tea, loaded with light chocolate and toasty flavors. The city of Keemun was a highlight of Mike’s trip to China a few years ago, when he traveled there for the start of the Hao Ya ‘A’ season. Keemuns are considered some of the best black teas in China.

I’m not fancy. I brew on a kitchen towel

Keemun is the only tea so far that I prefer to brew Western style, so that is what I did this time. I used my glass pots and used 2 teaspoons of dry leaf and 300 ml of water at 200F for two minutes for both teas.

You can see ever so slightly the English Breakfast is a bit lighter in color.

The English Breakfast is a very smooth and balanced round cup of tea. Harney doesn’t say what the blend of Keemuns is, so we don’t know what makes it up exactly. There is a bit of maltiness to it, which is nice and hardly any bitterness or astringency. The Hao Ya A is definitely more intense. There is more maltiness, a bit of cedar wood flavor and a bit more bitterness, but more like a dark chocolate kind of bitter, which is a flavor I enjoy.

The price for a 4 oz. tin of English Breakfast is $7.00 and a 4 oz. tin of Hao Ya A is $22.00 which is quite a difference. 4 oz is 112 grams, and when I make a pot of tea I use 4 grams which makes 3 full cups of tea, and those leaves can be steeped as much as 4 times. So that comes to 28 pots of tea in a tin (112/4). $7 / 28 pots is $.25 per pot and each pot can make a max of 12 cups, which makes this tea a grand total of $.02 per cup. 2 cents! You can’t buy bulk grocery store brand bags for that price, and this tea is light years better than that stuff. If you are new to tea or if you want a good daily drinker, this is a great tea to start out with. This tea is in fact my daily drinker. I make a 20 oz. travel mug of it and take it to work with me during the week. It’s a good round cup and a very reasonable price.

Hao Ya A would be the same ratios. So $22 / 28 pots is $.79 per pot. Each pot can make as much as 12 cups, so the price per cup can be as little as $.07 per cup. That’s 7 cents. That is a great deal if you can maximize the leaves. And that is what I like to do . I usually make this my Saturday morning tea and make multiple pots with the same leaves. I like to get the most value out of it but I also like to drink it when I have a little more time to savor the more intense flavor this tea brings.

Overall, two good teas with some pretty distinct difference in flavor and price. If you are new to black tea or keemun, I would say start with the English Breakfast and see how you like it before venturing into the more intense flavors. $22 a tin is a little too steep for a daily drinker for me, but as a Saturday morning tea with multiple infusions, it’s a good value.

I will have to try some of the other Keemuns in the near future and compare to these two. Cheers.

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