Royal Gold Yunnan Needle from Zhi Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Zhi Tea

Tea Description:

Exquisite, rare, high-altitude Royal Gold Yunnan tea. This needle tea, along with our Silver needle, is considered to be one of the finest teas in the world. Ours is completely comprised of copper-y, soft, curly buds. The dry leaf is quite aromatic; deep woodiness, tobacco, and floral hints. Once steeped, the leaf denotes hints of honeysuckle, with an autumnal richness. In the cup we find a deep caramel color and complex aromatics; bing cherry, baked bread, dark chocolate, roasted nuts,and spring blossoms. A long aftertaste leaves an incredible tobacco-y cacao finish.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I just love it when I take that first sip of a tea and I exclaim:  “Awesome!”  … or something like that.  Sometimes it’s “oh, that’s good.”  Or, just simply “mmm…”

That was my response when I first tried this tea.  It was first “mmm…” and then “Awesome!”

This tea has such a deliciously rich character – smooth and complex and full-flavored.  The first thing I noticed is just how well-rounded it is.  It has a richness – almost creaminess, but that’s not quite the right way to describe it.  This isn’t creamy the same way an Oolong, for example, is creamy.  But, it has a thickness to it … a satisfying quality that seems to warmly blanket my taste buds in a swathe of flavor that ranges from flower to cacao, from caramel to fruit.  This tea seems to have it all.

There are distinct cocoa-y notes – a deep, dark chocolate-y note that seems to set the tone for the entire cup.  The cup is sweet, but not so much from the cocoa as it is from the burnt-sugar caramel notes.  After the first couple of blissful sips, I begin to notice the fruity tones emerging, reminiscent of fresh plum that has been ripened on the tree in the summer sun.  More sweetness and just a hint of tart from the fruit.  Just a hint – just a touch of tartness – and it helps to keep the cup interesting.

By mid-cup, the floral notes begin to reveal themselves.  The description above suggests honeysuckle, and yes, I suppose I get that.  But it isn’t quite the honeysuckle one might find in other teas that possess honeysuckle-like tones, these floral notes have the subtle qualities of chamomile, but with the flavor of honeysuckle. That is to say that they are soft, not sharp or overpowering – just a gentle hint of honeysuckle, as if a warm breeze filtered through a honeysuckle vine and the essence of the air and the flower met in the teacup.

By the time I reach the bottom of the cup, I can reflect over the different flavors that I’ve tasted and might also mention a slight spiced tone that peppers the cup – not heavily, just a touch of warmth here and there that tastes of freshly ground pepper that has been finely ground and used to season modestly the overall cup.

A truly wonderful experience, this Royal Gold Yunnan Needle from Zhi Tea.  It’s one of those teas that will serve you well as a breakfast tea and takes the additions of milk and honey well.  I prefer it straight though, as I find that it allows me to explore the many facets of flavor it offers.


Co-Founder/Co-Creator of SororiTea Sisters, Mad Tea Artist at 52Teas
Anne (aka the Mad Tea Artist) has celebrated her 29th birthday for many years now. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her hubby and her youngest daughter. Her oldest daughter is married and has bestowed Anne with the proud title of "Gramma" and her grandson is about the cutest boy you ever did see.

Anne started her journey with tea as a casual drinker and became more serious about her tea drinking when she realized that she couldn't drink coffee. Shortly thereafter, she started becoming obsessed with the beverage and she started creating small-batch, artisan blends of tea that she sold online as LiberTEAS. After a few years, she realized she wasn't cut out to be the sole proprietor of a business so she closed LiberTEAS and started reviewing teas online. She met Jennifer through another blog that they both reviewed for and they decided to start their own review blog. This review blog!

Throughout her journey as a tea reviewer, she discovered 52Teas and became enamored with the idea of creating a new tea every week. When the founder of 52Teas decided he wanted to move on, he offered the business to Anne but knowing that she wasn't cut out to be a sole proprietor, she instead offered the company to her oldest daughter who employs her as the Mad Tea Artist for 52Teas!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *