Imperial Grade Bai Lin Gong Fu Black Tea from Yunnan Sourcing

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Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black Tea

Where to Buy:  Yunnan Sourcing

Tea Description:

Bai Lin (lit. White Forest) Gong Fu black tea is made from Fuding Bai Hao “White Pekoe” varietal tea leaves. Our Imperial grade is a tippy grade, meaning only the smallest tips and leaf budlets are picked. This picking has to be done in few short days in spring to obtain the tenderest of shoots.

The brewed tea is packed with flavor and aroma.  There is a kind of dried longan fruit dark and pungent sweetness which juxtaposed against a low subtle bitterness that provides a real complex and lively drinking experience!

Spring 2014 harvest (Late April)

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The hot weather has finally hit the UK in full force as we experience a heat wave. It’s times like this that I tend to crave green tea and Oolong in general but lately I’ve found myself craving some black tea. That’s when I remembered about my sample of this from March – Yunnan Sourcing – Premium Club. I know what you’re thinking, “But Kitty, that was months ago!”. And yes it was, but if I’m honest I just haven’t been in the mood for black tea. I have had some in that time to try and de stash but I’m sure most of you understand what it’s like, you fall in love with one tea and similar types and before you know it your fancy has changed and you end up pushing the pre loved tea towards the back of the cupboard. So after such a long wait I am looking forward to finally trying this.

Once the tea leaves are free from their silver packet I can note some gold tips among a dark brown base tone. The leaves are rather thinly rolled and average roughly 4mm in length. A nice mixture of size to be frank, some small and some large but most being similar and meeting in the middle. This deep, Autumn feeling tea has a dry and wooden scent with a touch of sweet malt and cocoa.

Steeping parameters:
Leaf – Approx 7g
Method: Gaiwan 100ml
Water: 100C – Boiling
Rinse: 5 seconds

Steep One – 30 seconds 

Golden brown colour with rich sweet wood and malt scent.

Flavour is dry and sweet with wood, malt, date, brown sugar and soft leather notes. Wonderful combination of flavours there and each bowl offers more and more. They blend in very well and linger in the after taste. The only downside is the dryness which is rather thick in my opinion, especially for a first steep.

Steep Two – 1 minutes 

A little stronger but still well balanced in terms of flavours, most of which remain for the second steep. The notable characteristics of this steep being: The malt is thick but seems to have smoothed out slightly and is less sweet, the dryness in the after taste has also dissipated a lot and on the whole it tastes better balanced compared to the first steep. Meaning that this steep the flavours are less surprising and less temperamental. That makes this my favourite steep from the two so far. Also the after taste is very much date and prune like, it’s delicious!

Steep Three – 2 minutes 

Notes: Softer scent and colour is light golden brown.

Flavour is also softer in this steep, which cuts out a few of the previous notes. Dominance being embraced by the malt and wood tones in particular. Also the date flavour is still present but rather soft at this point. The after taste no longer lingers as such which has been replaced by some sourness. Only a touch of sourness though, nothing drastic and not enough to claim it is bitter.

Steep Four – 3 minutes

An increase in sourness and decrease in strength (as I was predicting). Though despite that the dryness is not as bad in this steep and it still has a nice malt and wood finish. Still enough flavour to be pleasing and on the whole remains fairly  smooth for the most part. I would also say that with the sourness it reminds me of light tobacco notes rather than leather.

Steep Five – 4 minutes 

Note – I honestly thought it would end on steep four but I felt there was enough flavour left for this steep ie steep five. A pleasant surprise 🙂

Yes, this is my final steep but it was worth having that one extra. Albeit soft and light, there is some sweet malt tones that remain with a mild sour finish and a touch of dryness in the after taste. I feel that completed my drinking experience perfectly.


This black tea had a wonderful burst of flavours at the beginning and it slowly began to soften. With the main flavours  throughout being: Wood, Sweet malt and date; this made for a delicious and rather special black tea. I have tried a few sources for Bai Lin Gong Fu and I believe this is my favourite so far. Reason being that it had the wide array of beautiful notes that for the most part remained consistent and pleasing, plus I found the strength was about right for my personal liking. Not to mention that this actually went very well with the heat wave thanks to the fruit tones.

Now I regret keeping it in my possession for so long without trying it sooner! I suppose all it means is that for right here, right now this is ‘my kinda cuppa’.

Jasmine Phoenix Pearls from Adagio Teas

jasminephoenixpearlsTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Adagio Teas

Product Description:

Jasmine Phoenix Pearls are perfumy, hand-rolled jewels of tea from Fuding, in Fujian province, China. Any fan of jasmine tea should try this specially crafted wonder. When added to hot water, Jasmine Phoenix Pearls majestically unfurl, releasing their delicate scent and flavor. Also known as ‘Jasmine Dragon Pearls’, their liquor is sweet and almost sugary. Very soft, airy mouthfeel. The delicate quality of the flavor is due in part to the leaves used to produce this tea: two tender, tiny new leaves and one plump unopened leaf bud. Younger leaves will yield softer flavor. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is a little bit like my revisiting a tea, because I did previously review Jasmine Pearls from Adagio.  However, since these are loose pearls, and my review was of Adagio’s sacheted Jasmine Pearls – which were part of Adagio Teas’ lovely Artisan Comfort gift box – I feel like I can get away with revisiting this one.

And as you are probably aware by now (assuming that you’ve been reading my blog regularly!), I adore Jasmine Pearls!

I brewed these pearls in my gaiwan and I combined the first five infusions in my designated especially for Jasmine Tea Yixing Mug.  And what a lovely experience these Jasmine Phoenix Pearls from Adagio offer!  The jasmine notes are soft and sweet and exotic.  The green tea has a fresh, subtle vegetal tone that marries beautifully with the flowery essence that has been imparted onto the tender tea leaves by the jasmine flower.

And the fragrance is heavenly!  Every time I lift the lid of my Yixing mug and raise it to my lips, my nose is enchanted by the aroma of jasmine and green tea.  It’s so wonderfully perfumed without coming across as something you’d find in a bottle of perfume.  It doesn’t come across as something that belongs at a department store cologne counter.  It is light, airy … almost like a sweet breeze that has been delicately scented with the flower as it passed through the vines of a jasmine plant.  So beautiful!

The sip begins with the sweet notes of jasmine that wash over the palate, and as my taste buds experience the soft floral notes, they start to also pick up on the notes of lush green tea.  Not really grassy, and there isn’t a heavy vegetative flavor.  Instead it just has a soft “green” sort of flavor.  It has a soft, silky texture and there’s a hint of buttery flavor to it.  The flavor remains smooth through to the finish, and there’s very little notable astringency.  The aftertaste is sweet with floral tones.

A really good Jasmine!

Golden Monkey Black Tea from Teavivre

goldenmonkeyTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Teavivre

Tea Description:

Coming from Fujian, the Golden Monkey is made of the fresh buds and leaves of Fuding Pekoe, by lightly sun withering, rolling, fermentation and drying. Golden Monkey has the particular aroma of black tea. You could scent the fruity flavor through every sip of the tea.

The golden hairy tips truly make this tea more attractive. This is one reason why it is called Golden Monkey. Another reason is its monkey-claw-liked shape of the dry tea, which is in golden and black color. When brewed, the Golden Monkey Tea tastes brisk and smooth for the first sip, presenting a distinctive flavor. If you like stronger flavor, you could brew for a longer time. The sweet aftertaste could act faster for thicker liquid. You could only feel it when trying by yourself.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

When I got my most recent package from Teavivre, this Golden Monkey Black Tea was the one I was most anxious to try!  I love Fujian teas, and Golden Monkey teas are among those that I favor most.  And since this Golden Monkey was coming from Teavivre, I KNEW it would be stellar.  Teavivre is one of my favorite companies for a reason:  they offer some of the finest teas I’ve ever tasted.

And this tea does not disappoint!  It’s so good!

It is rich with caramel-y taste, and that caramel-y taste is the reason I find Golden Monkey Teas so enchanting!  Well, those yummy caramel-y tones and the notes of cocoa … and this tea has cocoa notes too.

It’s very smooth from start to finish.  At the finish, there is a crisp, dry astringency.  The sip starts out sweet and robust with notes of earth, leather and fruit.  The fruit notes remind me of apricot and raisins.  Then I notice the caramel-y undertones and the distant notes of chocolate.  As the sip nears the finish, the flavor becomes crisper.  The aftertaste is sweet, hinting at a burnt-sugar sort of sweetness with notes of molasses.

I like that this has a bold flavor – it’s a strong enough tea to be something I’d enjoy as my first cup of the day, but it’s smooth and flavorful enough to be something that I’d happily drink throughout the day, any time of day.

A really, really good tea from a company that I knew would deliver nothing but awesomeness!

White Peony (Bai Mudan) from Peony Tea S.

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  Peony Tea S.

Tea Description:

The White Peony from Fuding is one of the most popular authentic White Tea around with its sweet aftertaste and refreshing taste. Affordably priced, there is no better time to try this remarkable tea.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Up until a couple of years ago, I would have considered myself to be quite a novice when it comes to white teas, having only tried one or two up until that point.  Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to try quite a few white teas, but still, I am learning more about it each time I try a new-to-me white tea.

It wasn’t until very recently (within the last year or so?) that I started to notice a distinct difference between Bai Mu Dan teas.  Many (if not most) tea companies out there carry a Bai Mu Dan, but even though they have the same name, not all Bai Mu Dan teas are “equal.”  And one thing that I’ve learned is that the dry leaf of a Bai Mu Dan will tell you a good deal about the quality of the tea.

For example, the tea leaves here are large and whole.  There are varying shades of color to the leaves, starting from a very pale grey-white color, to a pale silvery-green, to a light tan.  The leaves feel soft to the touch and are covered in tiny, white hairs (sort of like a fuzzy down).  These different qualities tell me a few things:  these leaves have been handled with a great deal of care and they are of high quality.

The color of the liquor is a gorgeous color – it’s almost alabaster.  Even with as many white teas that I’ve consumed over the past few years, I think only a handful of them (at most) had such a pale color liquor.  But that doesn’t mean that it lacks flavor.

The flavor here is delicate, but, it is so lovely.  It tastes sweet and clean, reminding me a bit of hay and fresh sweet grass.  It has a very smooth texture to it, almost like silk, and the finish is dry with a dry, sweet aftertaste that reminds me of the winter air.  That cool, crisp “taste” of the mountain air in the winter … that is the taste that notice in the aftertaste.

It is an extraordinarily soothing tea:  calm and serene.  Even though I know there is caffeine in this, the delicate, luxurious quality to this tea inspires a sense of relaxation from within.

An excellent White Peony, this!

Bai Mu Dan from Canton Tea Co.

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  Canton Tea Co.

Product Description:

Other Names: Bai Mu Dan Tea, Pai Mu Dan Tea, White Pekoe Tea

White Peony undergoes very little processing. Made from just the unopened silvery buds and the small, top two leaves it is picked in spring and gently withered to yield a refreshing, easy-drinking tea, full of soft fruit flavours and melon notes with a lingering sweet aftertaste.

Taster’s Review:

This is the second tea that I’m tasting from the “Migration” themed Steepster Select Package.  At first, I kind of wondered why a Bai Mu Dan would be offered as part of a “Migration” theme … but after opening the pouch, I understood.  The leaves are crisp and dry, just like the fallen leaves that cover the ground this time of year.

The tea these beautiful, whole leaves produces is exquisite!  Definitely one of the very best Bai Mu Dan teas I’ve yet to taste.  It is surprisingly rich and flavorful.  Many White Peony/Bai Mu Dan teas that I’ve tried in the past tend to be somewhat pale in flavor – delicate – but, this is not a typical Bai Mu Dan!

It possesses a delightfully sweet flavor and as the description above suggests, I taste the melon notes!  That melon flavors intensify as the tea cools.  There is very little vegetative/grassy taste to this Bai Mu Dan.  Instead, I taste a crisp, clean, and sweet delicious flavor unlike any other Bai Mu Dan I’ve tasted in recent memory.  Sure, many of those white teas tasted good, maybe even great, but, this one stands out as exceptional.