Black Dragon Pearls

Tea type
Black Tea
Not available
Cocoa, Hay, Honey, Leather, Chocolate, Earth, Apricot, Bread, Malt, Smooth, Caramel, Cedar, Cream, Mineral, Orange, Pine, Plum, Raisins, Roasted Nuts, Smoke, Toast, Vanilla, Dark Bittersweet, Scotch, Wheat
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Loose Leaf, Sachet
Not available
Edit tea info Last updated by Michael
Average preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 30 sec 4 g 11 oz / 322 ml

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186 Tasting Notes View all

  • “Thanks to Lena for sharing this with me! First off, the dry leaves (balls) smell like someone sprinkled cocoa on them… not my cat but rather the baking powder. Really surprising. I had a little...” Read full tasting note
  • “Now something unsweet to get me back on track. I first encountered Black Dragon Pearls at Teavana years ago. I fell in love with them. So yummy, so malty, so chocolatey, so good. I was addicted....” Read full tasting note
  • “Backlogging from last night. I tried adding milk to this tea but it pretty much killed the rich, earthy, cocoa-y flavour of the tea, just leaving behind the tanin-y/smokey flavour (I think it’s...” Read full tasting note
  • “I still consider myself to be new to the tea game. Now that Steepster has me reading all of your wonderfulness, I find myself googling things [or binging things – I’m an equal-opportunity search...” Read full tasting note

From Adagio Teas

Hailing from the Yunnan province, this black tea version of the popular Dragon Pearl is naturally sweet and smooth with a touch of earthiness. Comprised of only the highest quality leaves and buds, expertly rolled into a large pearl-like shape. Subtle cocoa notes whisper gently as each pearl unfurls delivering a superior tea experience not to be missed.

About Adagio Teas View company

Adagio Teas has become one of the most popular destinations for tea online. Its products are available online at and in many gourmet and health food stores.

186 Tasting Notes

911 tasting notes

Thanks to Lena for sharing this with me!

First off, the dry leaves (balls) smell like someone sprinkled cocoa on them… not my cat but rather the baking powder. Really surprising. I had a little trouble getting the right amount for my cup because I weigh my tea. I had to shuffle around a combination of 5 different balls (ahem) to get my 2.3g for 6oz that I wanted. The large and irregular ball size could be a problem for me. Or else I need to relax. (Probably that last one).

Once I got them in the pot, I was good to go. I was also way too entertained by watching the balls open. How do they get the leaves to stick like that? Anyone? Way too easily entertained.

The smell of the tea post-brewing is much earthier than the smell of the dry leaves. And I don’t get the strong cocoa flavor/smell anymore except as a bit of the aftertaste. It does have a little bitterness to it that reminds me of cocoa, though. Not a bad bitterness, just an unsweetened chocolate bitterness. But without the chocolate.

All in all, I like it. It’s smooth and has a good, complex flavor. Not really knock my socks off with flavor or anything but I think this is probably something I’d get to have every so often as part of a black tea rotation. Not a have to have on hand at all times kind of thing but something to bring in occasionally, use up, then move on to a couple more before ordering it again.

And if I haven’t babbled enough – my next door neighbor is trying to start the motor on his sail boat. Yes, it has been raining all day, but it isn’t that bad yet.


You’ve been shuffling balls around, then, have you? This tea has been great, at the very least because the “ball” per tasting note count has skyrocketed on this site.


I’ve been using between five and seven balls per 8 ounce cup. Perhaps I’m just a ballsy kind of woman. The more I drink this tea, the more I like it.


No idea how they make them but I love watching jasmine pearls unfurl in my mug. There’s something terribly ‘zen’ about it.

I missed the promo-thingy on these guys unfortuntely but they sound interesting enough that I might buy them the next time I order from Adagio.


@takgoti: And there are sooo many jokes that this tea encourages me to make. That’s a total plus!

@Carolyn: I think 7 balls would scare me. That’s gotta be a fairly stout tea, yes?

@Jillian: These seemed fuzzier to me as they open compared to the jasmine pearls but that could have just been because of the size. Still, so fun.

This tea makes me wish Adagio sold something between the sample size and the 4oz tin (well, 5oz for this tea).


@Auggy: It brews up black as death with 7 balls and it produces a very stout, very caffeinated cup but not all that bitter. (Or at least it is bitter in a good, chocolatey way, not an unpleasant way.) It has a real body to it.

I’ve only drunk it at work where the water temperature gets to 190 degrees max, so that may be part of why 7 balls works.


I’m sort of tempted to try what I will now think of as Carolyn’s Black Balls of Death brew.


@Auggy: You make it sound almost like an STD! XD

/Sorry, my sense of humor isn’t very sophisticated when I’m this tired.


Haha – and please! I snicker every time I type “balls”! You ARE the sophisticated one here!


I’m really glad that I’m not alone when it comes to this kind of stuff. When I was in choir, we had to sing this song in Latin that had the word poenis [where the o and e are squished together – I don’t know how to do that on here without it involving more work than its worth]. It wasn’t even pronounced like what I think you know I’m getting to [poe-niece, if I remember correctly], but EVERY TIME, I would LOSE IT. And I’d make whoever was next to me start to lose it. Not too helpful when you’re trying to be all serious and dynamic and choir-y.

As for “Carolyn’s Black Balls of Death,” well done. I think that has a really nice ring to it. Someone should edit the tea name.


I would ask what a poenis is… but in my world I already know the answer.



Auggy, glad to see I’m not the only one here that weighs her tea!:) Mine has a .01 accuracy so I go for 2.25g/6oz. Although these balls are so dense I just round up and don’t sift thru them.


My scale is only accurate to .1g but I normally go for my normal 2.3g but sometimes I let it go of by .1… These little balls are tricky though! I think I just called it good at 2.5g after a few swaps and resisted the urge to dig through to get me the balls that would put me right at 2.3.

High-strung? Who, me? Nooooo.


I have this scale, I’m addicted to it!


Nice! I have one of the My Weigh pocket scales… I’ll admit, I felt like Amazon thought I was a drug dealer when I bought it.


Why’s that?


I tend to think that more people buy inexpensive, small weight scales to weigh their drugs into friendly, deal-able amounts than those that use them to measure tea.

Of course, there could be dealers out there that are big time into tea and they get a 2-for-1 deal. Bonus!


lol, maybe they sell ‘special’ tea. ;)


Well I guess, if you want to automatically assume that they use those scales for drugs then don’t be surprised if amazon does as well. I; however, think tha’s very judgemental.


Okay then.

Cynthia Carter

Wow. I’m surprised the mugs don’t dissolve with the amount of this tea you all are using. I made a pot tonight – 5 balls for a one pint pot.

And reading all of the comments on this tea, I am beginning to understand why Adagio refers to this tea as “pearls.” Dragon balls would be just way too entertaining.


I weighed them and to get 2.3 – 2.5 g I needed per cup was 3 balls. I was somewhat surprised but the tea is good so I run with it! :)


Auggy, how did I miss this epic post until now?! STDs, poenis, and drug dealing (and related “judgmental”-ness), oh my!


Thank you for commenting on this because it made me reread it all and laugh. So fun!

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3294 tasting notes

Now something unsweet to get me back on track.
I first encountered Black Dragon Pearls at Teavana years ago. I fell in love with them. So yummy, so malty, so chocolatey, so good. I was addicted. In fact, for awhile that was my breakfast tea, every day. They were that good. I use 6 pearls usually, which is about twice as many as suggested.
Sadly, they don’t have them anymore. They will tell you that Golden Monkey is the same tea, but I don’t think so.
I haven’t had them for quite some time now, & I think I’m on a quest to discover who has the best pearls. Maybe I’ll never find pearls that taste THAT good, maybe it’s a myth my mind created, maybe it was just where I was at at that time that made them seem so special…just my imagination?
Anyway, Adagio’s pearls are nicely tasty. A little malt, a little chocolate, a pleasant full mouth.
I guess I’m gonna order some pearls from Mandala & TeaVivre, & whoever else has them for comparison.
Let the quest begin!


I heard Teavivre’s are very very good and more reasonably priced than Teavana. I was a Teavana Black Dragon Pearl lover too.


I really like the Teavivre dragon pearls, though for me they can have a slight hint of leather, malt and smoke more than chocolate. I still love them though! Davids Tea has some jasmine scented black pearls which are delish but VERY expensive, so probably not the best idea to fall in love with.


thepuriTea has some pretty amazing Red Dragon Pearls. Really malty with sweet and earthy notes.

Terri HarpLady

Yum! I just visited thepuriTea site, I’ll have to loiter there soon, & definitely gonna have to get some of their pearls to add to the comparison.
I’ll probably pass on the one’s from David’s. I’ve got plenty of Jasmine flavored teas already :)

Terri HarpLady

Just for the record, I steeped these for 5 minutes. The 2nd steep for 6 was also quite tasty.


nooooo jasmine blacks terri! lol

Terri HarpLady

Huh? YOu want me to get them Sil?


no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no jasmine is ICKY

Terri HarpLady

LOL, that’s what I thought you meant! hahaha


Thanks for the tip about thepuriTea, moraiwe! I just placed an order for lots and lots of pearls! I can’t wait to try them!

tea-sipper and both have black pearls I LOVE. Though I haven’t had any others yet, so I don’t know how they compare.

Terri HarpLady

Great to know, TeaSipper! I’ll probably check theirs out as well!


I’m not sure if I have a different crop or something… but my black dragon peals from Adagio have almost no flavor at all! Its shocking, I can double up the tea and melt them for 5 minutes+ with boiling water and the resulting brew is always so thin and flavorless. I even threw 5 of them in the gaiwan to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. Don’t know whats going on with mine… The tea itself doesn’t taste bad or anything its just completely weak and mediocre — to be perfectly honest I am disappointed. I’ve been throwing handfulls of them in with iced tea blends to get rid of them :/

Part of me feels like I have a different crop from everyone else because the reviews are so high. I ordered mine in lets see… February of this year.

Terri HarpLady

That’s a bummer, Sixie.


Nah, not a big deal, and if anything its helping out with the iced tea blends. As we all know, there are plenty of other teas to drink out there!


Thanks Teasipper – will have to try the Tealux ones!

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1908 tasting notes

Backlogging from last night.

I tried adding milk to this tea but it pretty much killed the rich, earthy, cocoa-y flavour of the tea, just leaving behind the tanin-y/smokey flavour (I think it’s what some people are calling cigarette flavour, and I think I might agree with them for all that I’ve never smoked).

Note to self: Yunnan teas and milk don’t mix. DX

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Cynthia Carter

I agree – this tea is much more enjoyable without milk.


Ew. Will remember this.

Cynthia Carter

It’s really not an “Ew” thing, it’s just that dairy seems to squelch the flavor of the tea.


Got it in one, Cynthia. :)


@Cynthia Carter Ah. I read “cigarette flavor” and my brain recoils. In any case, I won’t be trying this with milk.

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260 tasting notes

I still consider myself to be new to the tea game. Now that Steepster has me reading all of your wonderfulness, I find myself googling things [or binging things – I’m an equal-opportunity search engine user] on a consistent basis. If a year ago, someone had asked me if I liked Ceylon, I would have said, “Is that like a robot?” And if someone had asked me if I wanted to try some Black Dragon Pearls, I would have said, “What is that? Dragon testicles?”


But really. These balls are huge. [Snicker, snicker.] Maybe I just haven’t had a lot of “pearl” tea, but these seem exceedingly large to me. Is that how Black Dragon Pearls are done traditionally? I am enclosing a picture for reference. [There’s a rotate button on the top right. I can’t get it to turn on my phone.] My wallet is not for reference, I just think it’s funny.

The taste of the tea wasn’t nearly as impressive as the size of its balls [okay, okay, I’m done]. If I say that it had taste but was rather flavorless, would that make sense? Maybe I didn’t let it sit long enough, but I found the whole experience to be relatively bland. The cocoa was a lot more apparent on the nose than the tongue, but I did get a couple of glimpses of it towards the very end after it had cooled considerably.

Additionally, any tea that I can watch unfurl is always enjoyable for me because I’m easily entertained. I’m on the edge of giving this a thumbs up, but it’s not quite there. Maybe it’ll grow on me. Or maybe I just need more balls.

That’s what she said.


If you are easily amused by tea unfurling, you absolutely must try display tea. I find that i can stare at a goblet with a display tea unfolding into a flower for a half hour.


I have a few that are lying in wait! I’m saving them for a rainy [or possibly snowy] day. I can only imagine the minutes upon minutes of enjoyment that shall ensue.


Love the picture. And not just because the wallet made me laugh. Those are really huge balls! And there’s just no way to way that that won’t make me snicker.


Thank you! I saw the wallet in a shop in San Francisco and I knew immediately that it would have to be mine.

And the balls ARE huge, aren’t they? I thought that maybe it was just due to my inexperience in pearl tea, but I opened the tin and was all, “Holy crap!” Also, it comforts to me that I have company in the area of subject matter that makes me giggle. STILL.


Haha nice wallet! I cannot believe how big those are though! Wow, the biggest I have had are about the size of a pea, rolled up tea leaves and jasmine flowers. Unfurling tea gets SO much more flavor than dried leaves, no question about it. Making me want some! haha


Hee, I do love my wallet. It’s gotten me a lot of conversational mileage over the year or so I’ve had it.

So far as pearl tea goes, that’s about as big as the ones I’ve had have always been – pea-sized, and now that you mention it I do tend to get more flavor from them. Huh. Unfortunately, the flavor called in absent for this particular one. Gonna try to put more in next time.

Rena Sherwood


Need to put that on a tea mug or tea shirt.

Pamela Dean

I have some green jasmine pearls which are almost that large [not boasting; just sayin’]. Have seen the black ones on eBay. Using large Yunnan gold tip leaves makes a larger ball inevitable. [easy now]
To get the tea to “stick,” they steam it until soft, roll it in some kind of fabric (traditionally silk or paper) and let dry. With mechanized ways of faster drying, modern balling might no longer utilize fabric [unless fixated].


u are really funny. i liked your ;Additionally, any tea that I can watch unfurl is always enjoyable for me because I’m easily entertained.

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98 tasting notes

On a cold morning, this tastes wonderful.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

I read this a lot earlier today. Maybe it nested in my brain and that is why I just made Teavivre’s Fengqing Black Dragon Pearls! It is cold and drizzly here, too.


I had my Teavana ones today — before checking Steepster! Laughing that, you, ashmanra, Dinosara and I all are drinking our pearls!


Great minds think alike


Also, I love that we each are having pearls for different stores

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576 tasting notes

I’m typically not a fan of “plain” (unflavored) black teas… not sure why, but my tastebuds need/want/require flavor. But this is the one tea that is the exception to my “rule.” Even though it’s technically a “plain” tea, you can immediately smell and taste the cocoa aroma/flavor in your first whiff and then first sip. I do usually add some sweetener to this (says the sweet-tooth queen) but honestly, that’s just me. This is sweet enough on its own. I love the cocoa wake-up flavor. Now if I could just get my body to accept the fact that it’s A.M. and I should at least appear to be awake for work, I’ll be all set. ;)


black teas are full of ‘flavors’…Yunnans have malty, citrus and sometimes leather and blueberry notes….Ceylon are brisk with tannins, dark fruit leather, carob….Darjeelings of white grape skin, flowers….Kenya and Tanzania of spice and earth….and Quimen/Keemun of plums and mulled wine….they are so rich on thier own and lush with memories they unlocked if we listen…slather them with chemical compounds and synthetic flavor oils, toss in pesticide laden dried fruit and flowers…and its a chemical bath…and no longer a dance with nature and weather….i’m glad you could find a way to appreciate the dragon pearls…i hope it frees you to find more nuances in your cup that are natural and raw and not made in a lab :)


Hey, those easily offended – I don’t always notice the flavors of other “plain” teas; every one’s taste is subjective. No reason to get upset. I respect your reviews, all I ask is that you respect mine.


i’m lost…was sombody offended?
your right..everybody’s taste is subjective…from time of day, to diet, to raw genetics….

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1353 tasting notes

Hello there Steepsterites.

I bring to you a post that it took most of the day to write. I just took notes when drinking and figured I could write a proper post afterwards so as not to get distracted away from the cup by the forming of proper sentences and hopefully coming up with something witty here and there. I’ve been hibernating for most of the day, so I’m not really in any condition to be seriously posting about a tea I’ve never had before, but for some reason I was inspired to try this one today.

It’s a Bethany-tea and she sent me four balls. I used two for a glass cup and saved the other two. The pellets are large and tightly pressed. It’s hard to pick up any sort of aroma from the dry leaves but I feel like I’m catching a small whiff of cocoa. As I dropped them into the cup, one of them bounced off the edge and rolled off on adventures. Those little things can really roll! Found it again several meters away on the other side of the living room.

First Steep

Having thwarted the escape attempt, I poured water on and watched the cup while it steeped. The unfurling seemed rather slow and the occasional small bubble of air escaped to the surface. I resisted the temptation to stir the cup to see if I could get something to happen, but I could see a clear difference in colour around the leaves at the bottom and the water at the top of the cup. I didn’t want any thin nearly tea, I wanted a representative cup, so I waited until I thought it should be well steeeped and gave it a gentle stir, trying to not whirl everything around too much and let the leaves stay at the bottom of the cup. If I had made it in a pot instead this wouldn’t have been necessary since pouring would have mixed it up. It made the balls fall completely apart and the colour went from palest pale of paleness to a reddish amber that actually looked like a black tea. A bit cloudy, though.

Sniffing at the aroma I suddenly learned to recognised ‘malty’! I’ve noticed that particular taste and smell lots of times before, but I’ve never connected the two until now where it seems wildly obvious. I once upon a time found a tea glossary (here: but I’ve learned that such a thing is pretty useless, because the only way to really learn how to recognise these things is by experience. To me, anyway.

Anyway, while waiting for some of the top water to get any tea into it, I managed to oversteep the bottom of the cup. Lovely. By the time I gave it a stir, the whole thing had acquired a slightly bitter bite. It had a malty flavour, but I couldn’t really find any of the cocoa notes that I had spotted in the dry aroma and remembered having seeing others mention. I even started wondering if it was something I had just imagined to be able to smell because I thought it was supposed to be there.

Given the slight bitterness, it probably would have helped with a little milk or a little sugar, but since it was brewed directly in the cup, that was not an option. I don’t really like the idea of those additives directly on my naked leaves.

Rating-wise I would say it was around 65, having knocked it down a bit due to the oversteep.

Second Steep

Second time around it was still a very malty aroma. An aroma that really filled the nose when sniffing it. I like that much better than the ones you sit there and smell and search for something TO smell.

It coloured up much quicker due to not having to wait for the balls to unfurl and it also meant that stirring wasn’t necessary. It had a more golden colour this time.

First thing I noticed on the first sip was a very sweet aftertaste. Almost as if it had been sugared. It was less malty that the first steep but I did find some cocoa notes this time, although still not as much as I had expected.

I liked the second steep a lot better, and I would rate this around 78

Third Steep

The colour is really pale now, and the aroma initially is just the smell of steam. I tried so hard to find some that I actually ended up dipping the tip my nose in it. Found nothing. Except, of course, a wet nose. After a really long steeping, mostly because I got distracted and momentarily forgot, some aroma showed up. No malt, but definitely cocoa.

Tastewise the third steep was very like the second, only much weaker. The sweetness was a little sweeter and the cocoa was a little cocoa-ier, but otherwise there wasn’t really anything noteworthy about it. I wouldn’t recommend bothering with a third steep at all.

This one was down at around 55.

Based on these three steeps, I’m landing at an average of about 66, but I’ll push it upwards a bit on account of the first steep having been a bit overdone.


So great and detailed! Yay! Wonderful review, as always.


Thanks both. So it was worth it spending most of the day on it, then? Just my notes alone were nearly 250 words! dies


Nice detailed review =], I’d say well worth those 250 words you jotted down. Also thanks for the glossary :)


Hee, I really enjoyed this.


Thanks. :) Tooks ages to actually write the post. With 250 words down already it felt like I was writing it twice. I don’t think it’s sometihng I’ll be doing routinely. :p

Ricky, you’re welcome about the glossary. I haven’t used it in a long time myself, mostly because I couldn’t figure out what to use it for when I still didn’t know what the words actually meant taste-wise. I did grin though when I saw that *Auggy*’s ‘bakey’ was already on the list of words. :D

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828 tasting notes

I had enough points to get something from Adagio, and remembering all the great reviews of this tea here I went with “Dragon Balls.”

But when it came to writing up a tasting note, I couldn’t find the tea to review! No matter how I searched, no correct results for “Dragon Balls!” About five minutes later I put it together: oh, right… it’s actually “Dragon Pearls,” we just have a good sense of humor about things. :)

So now I’m happily sipping this Dragon Whatever tea, which smells like chocolate and tastes as it should: like tea with a hint of chocolate. I think it’s a little weak, but I probably just didn’t use enough balls, or did use too much water. I’ll fix that next time.

It’s always fun to watch rolled tea unfurl, so there’s also that… though by the end it’s less pretty than some of the greens I’ve had. I’ll take pictures of it sometime to post here.


HAHAHAHA. I almost feel like Dragon Ball tea is going to demand its own theme song eventually.


I know, right? It’d probably sound like the Dragonball Z one… but with tea related lyrics. :)

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236 tasting notes

When I need something strong to get me through a difficult morning, I call for balls. (God I love saying that!)


HA! Yay balls!


Ah, Carolyn’s Black Balls of Death! Yay!


Balls make everything better!

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1271 tasting notes

Having this tea for breakfast and for crocheting time. I finished my last amigurumi commission yesterday, so finally I can work on my own project, which is another owl. After him and maybe another one, back to working on my best friend’s mittens and my mystery shawl of pain.

Some days this tea is great, nice malty flavor that doesn’t get bitter. It works so well in a travel thermos, which I’m using right now because I’m lazy!


Crocheting and tea!! One of my favourite combos as well!

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