Yunnan Rare Grade (ZY84)

Tea type
Black Tea
Ingredients
Yunnan Black Tea
Flavors
Not available
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Loose Leaf
Caffeine
Not available
Certification
Not available
Edit tea info Last updated by Rumpus Parable
Average preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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22 Tasting Notes View all

  • “FrrrrrrrrUIT !!! Dry leaf: overwhelming aromas of roasted peaches, apricots and figs. Wet leaf: Even. More. Overwhelming. Aromas. This is either going to be the best Yunnan I've had, or...” Read full tasting note
    jimmarks 323 tasting notes
  • “tired and long day tomorrow..so keeping it quick tonight..i hope. This was early morning delicious tea and it was nice to revisit. Bumped the rating up a little because it as much tastier this...” Read full tasting note
    82
    Silaena 4875 tasting notes
  • “A Yunnan that fits my usual tea profile. This was very good. The leaves are a large percent golden, and long and curly. They brew up into a lighter version of the typical Fujian blacks I drink. ...” Read full tasting note
    83
    SimplyJenW 974 tasting notes
  • “Note: the crop reviewed here was purchased from Upton in late December 2013. This tea is OK steeped Western style, but seems to really shine with Gong Fu treatment. All experiments used 1 tsp (2.3...” Read full tasting note
    98
    TeaExplorer 20 tasting notes

From Upton Tea Imports

Description:
Bold, well-formed leaves with a very high concentration of golden tips yield a cup with complex flavor and pronounced sweetness. Hints of cocoa and a silky smooth finish round out the profile. Recommended for any time of day. New lot with a slightly bolder leaf.
Origin: China

About Upton Tea Imports View company

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22 Tasting Notes

323 tasting notes

FrrrrrrrrUIT !!!

Dry leaf: overwhelming aromas of roasted peaches, apricots and figs.

Wet leaf: Even. More. Overwhelming. Aromas.

This is either going to be the best Yunnan I’ve had, or it is going to be so bold and sweet I’ll absolutely hate it. But, that will be a matter of my taste, not the quality of the tea. “Rare” grade, indeed.

1st ~ Aaannnd… mmmmmmm… Oh. Man. When I go through these long stretches of saving money buying tea at the market instead of ordering direct, I forget just HOW MUCH BETTER these teas are than what you can get from big retailers.

For all the boldness in the leaf this is a remarkably shy first steep. Cacao (not cocoa), fig and a mild finishing astringency which keeps the sweetness from becoming too cloying.

2nd ~ This is making me want to either re-locate my work computer into the kitchen next to the kettle, or move the kettle into the office next to my computer. I can’t keep my cup full long enough or refill it quickly enough.

This tea helps you understand why people started adding honey to lesser teas. The roasted fruit is mellowing into more like a buckwheat honey (if you have never had very dark amber, buckwheat honey, it will COMPLETELY change how you think about honey) and the balance of the fast sweetness and lingering dryness remains intact.

3rd ~ Already even softer. Perhaps the exchange for this amazing flavor profile is that the candle is burning at both ends and we may only get but a handful of steeps from the leaf.

All in all, a FANTASTIC leaf.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec
ashmanra

Just went on my wish list.

Charles Thomas Draper

You have made me thirsty for this one

LadyLondonderry

I ordered a sample of this with my last Upton order, and after I tried it, a full bag immediately went onto my shopping list! It’s a great one.

Jim Marks

I’m glad everyone is inspired. I may seriously order the 640 gram bag next time.

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82
4875 tasting notes

tired and long day tomorrow..so keeping it quick tonight..i hope. This was early morning delicious tea and it was nice to revisit. Bumped the rating up a little because it as much tastier this time around than i remembered….that being said, i tried this a long time ago, and i know my tastes have changed.

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83
974 tasting notes

A Yunnan that fits my usual tea profile. This was very good. The leaves are a large percent golden, and long and curly. They brew up into a lighter version of the typical Fujian blacks I drink. The taste is smooth, and sweet, with a light smokiness that fills out the base. It is not as full tasting as darker deas, but still lovely and satisfying.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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98
20 tasting notes

Note: the crop reviewed here was purchased from Upton in late December 2013.

This tea is OK steeped Western style, but seems to really shine with Gong Fu treatment. All experiments used 1 tsp (2.3 grams) of leaf.

I tried two forms of Western steeping, both with 6 ounces of water. The more traditional 4:30 steep produced a powerful aroma of raw honey with an undertone of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven, but was somewhat less impressive in the cup with just a muddled note of the underlying sweetness that was hinted at in the aroma. Two subsequent 6 minute steeps brought faint reflections of the first cup along with a hint of pepper in the final steep. Modifying this with 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 minute steeps produced a better cup, especially in the early steeps, with the honey aroma translating into a nice honey sweetness in the cup. Pepper again made an appearance in the later steeps. The liquor varied across the spectrum of red-amber.

It was the Gong Fu treatment, however, that made me order more of this tea. I pulled out my 90 ml pot, skipped the wash and jumped right into a series of 15 second steeps until the flavor started to fade around the eighth one, whereupon I lengthened each steep considerably. Early steeps smelled and tasted like raw honey, with Yunnan spice slowly increasing as I went. The sweetness morphed from honey to something less distinct out through the 16th steep (a hail-Mary at 10 minutes), but never left. The liquor was a beautiful golden color that seemed to glow in my little clear glass teacup. This was an outstanding session which I’ve repeated several times since.

I’ve never tasted legendary teas such as Golden Fleece. Until I get that chance this stands as one of my favorite Yunnan blacks.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec
boychik

I think I should send you samples fr Teavivre yunnan golden tips so you can compare;)

TeaExplorer

If you could spare enough for a Gong Fu session, I would not say no :)

boychik

Sure. I recently ordered some nice cake from DTH ( I hope it’s nice) Usually it takes like 10-15 days from China. I want to include it for you

TeaExplorer

Cool … my order from Jing’s tea shop finally arrived … there’s some things in there you might be interested in.

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96
45 tasting notes

Ohhhhh so good. I ordered a large-ish bag of this after tasting a sample. This morning I made a little pot of it, and I broke out in a big smile after the first sip. Rich, mellow, a little spicy but not identifiably peppery. I will be drinking this for breakfast again tomorrow morning, no doubt about it!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec
Jim Marks

Oh how I love this tea. I love this tea so much. If I wasn’t already married, I would become a full time activist to demand my rights to marry this tea.

LadyLondonderry

:-). I can already see I will be using up my current supply of this much, much too quickly!

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361 tasting notes

Backlog:

This is a good tea. Once again, a yunnan. A good yunnan, but a yunnan. Pretty much all i can say about it.

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100
38 tasting notes

This is another perfect tea in my book. Just deep and dark enough for the morning, but good anytime really. When I opened the bag and sniffed, it was a delightful sensory confusion. Fruitcake? I finally settled on apricot or maybe even ripe persimmon, although it has been so long since I had a persimmon that I can’t be sure of that. There is more, but it is elusive to me. Brewed, it looses the fruitiness and again is hard to describe, I guess cookie is a good description of the flavor. Maybe an old fashioned sugar cookie? I would love to hear other thoughts on this one, the reviews on Upton are as confused as mine. I got 160 grams/5.6 ounces and I was not willing to review this until I ordered it again. So within a week I placed a second order for 320 grams. It is that good.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Uniquity

Sounds good…one to consider when I am back in the market for some black teas.

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91
335 tasting notes

Thank you TeaExplorer for your generous sample. This tea is sweet, bold, cocoa and stone fruit notes. I like it. I was drinking it side by side Yunnan Dian Hong Golden tip by Teavivre. I find these teas similar but Teavivre’s has honey notes more pronaunced.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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99
7 tasting notes

At the time of this writing, ZY84 is the second best Yunnan gold tips tea I’ve ever tasted—the best being ZhiTea’s Royal Gold—and it’s a very close second. In fact, I’m still having a difficult time deciding whether Royal Gold is worth its significantly higher cost, relative to ZY84…but these notes are about Upton’s Yunnan Rare Grade, so I’ll stay focused on that.

There is certainly ZERO problem deciding whether ZY84 is worth its cost. It is a superb value in a Yunnan gold tips tea. The bag aroma is astonishing. Yeah, I know…it sounds like hyperbole, but anyone who has had the pleasure of sticking El Schnozzola in a freshly opened bag of ZY84 knows exactly what I’m talking about. The fruitiness is remarkable.

It’s less fruity in the cup, but I don’t care. It’s still an extraordinary tea. My notes on the first cup say, “It’s a richly flavored, naturally sweet tea, but it has no single dominant characteristic. There’s some leather, some spice, more malt, a bit of cocoa; it’s a melange, really.” (4 infusions in the first tasting.)

Second tasting: “…has a smooth, almost creamy mouth feel. There’s a light sweetness on the tongue, and a lingering light sweetness in the finish.” (4 infusions)

Third tasting: “Magnificent tea. It has an intense cocoa-malty creaminess…”

…and so on until I polished off the entire 80-gram bag — more than enough to explore this tea thoroughly.

I typically use 8 grams of leave in 12 ounces of 208° water for the first two infusions (1:00 and 2:00 minutes, respectively). Then I reduce the water to 8 ounces or less with gradually longer steeping times for the subsequent infusions…up to 5 infusions.

Is there Yunnan tea of this kind that’s better than ZY84? Yes, so for that reason alone I won’t give it a 100% rating. But so far I haven’t had any better Yunnan gold at this price point.

UPDATE: Alas, Upton has raised the price of this tea…significantly. I haven’t tasted the new lot. Perhaps it’s better…although it’s difficult to imagine it being sufficiently better to justify the cost increase (nearly $11.00 per pound more than the previous price…and it wasn’t cheap then either). Too bad for Upton, but there IS better Yunnan gold, and I’ll buy that instead of ZY84. They’ve priced themselves out of consideration.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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82
46 tasting notes

This one was surprisingly just above average for me. A smooth and tasty cup to be sure, but I’ve had better Yunnan and Fujian teas than this one. The leaves are huge with quite a few golden tips. It has a nice dose of cacao and maltiness in the flavor with a lingering bit of honey on the palate. It is definitely quite smooth and I’ve enjoyed drinking it, but nothing makes it really stand out for me from any other high quality Chinese black tea. I would say the most exceptional thing about this leaf is that it stands up to quite a few brewings. I was still getting a lovely mild tea flavor even on a fourth brew.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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