Today’s shared morning pot, and I’m surprised to see that I’ve yet to post about it. I could have sworn I posted about it earlier! Or was that the Bai Lin that Auggy sent me? Now I’m confused…
At any rate, if the Tan Yang Te Ji (♥) is my favourite ever tea, then the Bai Lin comes in at a very close second I think. I just really really REALLY love this province, I just do. Where does one sign up to be a fan of a geographical area?
Consequently, it’s also really hard for me to post about it on its own merits instead of making it just a list of the ways in which its different from the Tan Yang. I could say I’d try, but knowing me I’d probably not be trying very hard if those were the words that came naturally to me while drinking and writing. But then again, I’m not trying to bring you the Facts of Tea Forever, am I? I can only tell you what I think, and I think that Bai Lin and Tan Yang have very similar flavour profiles, but with some note-worthy exceptions.
Given the fact that they are as similar as they are, Bai Lin also lands at at least 90 points by default. Any further study of it and subtraction or addition of points is based from that outset.
Yes, I think the black teas in general from this province are THAT AWESOME!
Now, onwards. Bai Lin is like Tan Yang’s good twin. Tan Yang is the wild and powerful of the two, with the heavy cocoa notes and pseudo-smoky notes on the second steep. The Tan Yang is not a tea you want to mess with, because it knows exactly what it’s doing and it will take you to task for any insult to its name.
Bai Lin is by nature gentler, happier and far more sensible. It doesn’t have the pseudo-smoke or the heavy cocoa, it’s much more sweet and with a natural touch of oranges or mandarins.
Or perhaps on second thought, these two are not really twins, but more like a sweet little sister and a protective big brother. :)
Bai Lin, as mentioned, has notes of oranges or mandarins in the flavour, but they’re not really as clear as if it had been actually mandarin flavoured. They’re more like the ideas of the citrus fruits. I can’t tell exactly which part of the flavour that reminds me of them but the association is strong none the less. Whatever it is, it also lends a lot of the sweetness to the cup.
Furthermore, we have an insanely smooth cup. It’s thick and creamy as if it had milk in it, and I have often heard that this quality is indicative of something going well with milk. I can’t imagine that in this tea, though. It’s far too delicate and subtle to be able to carry milk. I suspect with milk all you would get was a cup of non-descript tea-flavoured warm milk, and that’s not really the purpose with it at all. So drink it as it is, ignore any and all urges to try it with milk and just close your eyes and drink. Then, if you are a of the persuasion that tea should have milk in it, you might actually be able to pretend it already has.
I can find very little bitterness and next to no astringency in this cup, only yummy goodness. After it has been allowed to stand still and develop a bit, the mandarin-like associations seem to become a little stronger. In addition to this a new note is poking its head out at this point, and there is now an underlying semi-spicy touch to the floralness of it. Quite akin to the pepper note in a good golden Yunnan, if you can imagine that note without the strong flavour of hay.
Yes, we are definitely coming in just behind the Tan Yang on the Favourite Scale, here. It’s coming in so close, in fact, that I strongly suspect I would be fully able to quench the Tan Yang cravings with this one if Tan Yang is not readily available. I need to always have one of these two in the house. Obviously, being my favourite, I would prefer the Tan Yang, but this one is a totally acceptable substitution. I don’t feel the need to keep the both of them around as Standards, though. Either one will do.