No.9 Yunnan Full Leaf Black Tea

Tea type
Black Tea
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Malt, Sweet, Tannin, Caramel, Cocoa, Herbs, Honey, Leather, Molasses, Musty, Tobacco, Wood, Bitter, Earth, Raisins, Apricot, Stonefruits
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Edit tea info Last updated by Janefan
Average preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 3 g 8 oz / 223 ml

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From Steven Smith Teamaker

The best teas from Yunnan (known as the birthplace of tea) are wiry and tightly twisted with distinct golden tips. This exquisite variety brews up rich amber-red in color, has a lightly sweet, floral flavor and aroma, and brings welcome notes of smoke, spice and leather.

Full leaf China black tea from Yunnan Province.

For best flavor, bring freshly drawn filtered water to a boil. Steep five minutes. It will seem like the blink of an eye.

About Steven Smith Teamaker View company

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19 Tasting Notes

774 tasting notes

Ah yisssss!!!! This is what I have been chasing ever since more than a year ago when I had my introduction to Yunnans by chance in a random coffee shop. Dense and chewy, mildly sweet, leathery, thick and wonderful. I do get what my tastebuds identify as “smoke” but it lingers politely in the background, coming out more in the second steep but still as an aftertaste more than anything else. The first steep is best but the second is okay if you are trying to stretch your supply.

I’m starting to think what I taste as smoke is something else since so many others don’t notice smoke in teas that I do notice it in. Still makes my brain say “smoke” but maybe it isn’t what other people would think is “smoke” – and that probably makes very little sense. :)

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

Cinder? Charcoal? Sometimes I taste a burnt flavor like the caramelized outside bits on toast beef. It’s a great burnt taste but not smoke. Sometimes black tea has that roast beefy burned bits savory side.


remind me to get you to send a sample of this one my way eventually…i haven’t had much luck with most yunnans in that they’re tasty but nothing i LOVE.


I’ll put it on the list for when there are enough to send a package :)


thanks lady!


Nice. I might need to try this one.

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361 tasting notes

Sitting at the Steven smith headquarters sipping this with the Bean who stole my cookie! Luckily this teas is so good I don’t need a cookie. I’m very excited as there are several teas I’ve never seen here before. Sil & Terri, you’re in for a treat!


ah mah gawd! I wish i could be there with you!


oh man oh man

Terri HarpLady

Yay!! I’m there in spirit!!


Oh, I am going to Portland soon, I should check ’em out


That sounds like fun!!

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911 tasting notes

Another SST share from Terri Harplady! Yay!

I forgot to smell the dry leaf. It is early. I wasn’t thinking. But the smell as I poured it out of the pot was amazing. Like, wake me up amazing. Rich and sweet like a thin, fragrant syrup with just a tickle of black pepper. That’s a lovely morning greeting.

The taste is really flavorful and pretty. Earthy – a hint of leather, a bit musty; floral – in a way that reminds me of a much milder version of germanium oil (in a way that doesn’t make me gag); spicy – just a lovely tickle of black pepper during the sip, a bit of mentholated tang (camphor maybe?) in the very late aftertaste; sweet – with malt and a faint note of something between caramel sauce and one of those cheap butterscotch hard candy.

So yeah, lots of stuff going on in this tea but it’s allover so soft and pretty that it doesn’t feel overwhelming. It’s really kind of wonderful. I think I definitely need to get more of this. This is seriously one of the best Yunnans I’ve had in a while.

Terri HarpLady

I’m glad you enjoyed it! :)


I did! Thank you for sharing it! (And sorry for the delayed reply!)

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3262 tasting notes

Day 3 in Florida, 1st sip down of the day. Thanks for including this in the BBBB, TastyBrew. It is, in my opinion, a manly tea: Leather, wood, a little musty. Not as sweet as some of the Yunnan’s Ive enjoyed, but still a decent tea to drink.

Cameron B.

I have a sample of this one that I haven’t tried yet. Manly tea! :P


Terri, what’s your parameters for this tea? Hope you enjoying the trip!

Terri HarpLady

Boychik, I’ve tried it a couple of different ways:
1 tsp X 3 was ok, but kind of weak, IMO
1TB gongfu…it just wasn’t that interesting that way
1 TB 1/2/5 not much better than the gongfu
1 TB X 3 good, but a little strong
I probably should have gone with 2 t X 3. I think that would have been the sweet spot.


I should try when I get home. It’s still unopened . Thanks for the advice!

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348 tasting notes

Brought friends with to Smith HQ. While they were having their respective tasting flights, I ordered a full pot of their Yunnan. I didn’t remember trying it the last three times I’d ventured there. While not explicitly stated as being a Dian Hong, it had the earthy, and mid-astringent character of one. There was a bit of a nectarine nuance there, but not as much as a Yunnan Gold. Still, I enjoyed it quite immensely.

PS ~ It only took me ten minutes to down the (almost) 24oz pot. Make of that what you will.

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54 tasting notes

Yet, another favorite of this illustrious brand!

Aroma: It’s exactly as the website describes it…spicy, sweet and leathery, very pleasant.

Taste: A duplicate of the aromas. Spicy, sweet and leathery [if one could taste leather…not off-putting at all!]. This tea is a juxtaposition of tastes, meaning, it is spicy, sweet and leathery simultaneously; complex yet linear and delicate. A fine tea to enjoy throughout the day…better for afternoon and early evening due to not much of a caffeine kick for a morning jolt. Yunnan teas have some body to them and yet they are not mouth filling or possess that “drying” effect or the tannins of other black teas. Very delicious teas, indeed!

Aftertaste: More of a lingering sweetness of raisins and burnt caramel [not charred tasting at all] and not cloying either. A little spicy as well but only intermingled, not prominent.

I like Yunnan teas because of it’s complex characteristics…spicy, sweet, delicate and yet it has some body and complexity to it.

A highly recommended tea to have in one’s collection! A must buy!

Boiling 8 min or more

just fixed entry – tea name and company were switched :-)

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42 tasting notes

This was my breakfast tea today and it was kindly supplied by another steepster (thanks!).

This had a sweet smell though it didn’t translate into the taste. Like most of the black teas I’ve tried I ended up needing to add a bit of sugar, though not too much. Wit the sugar is was very nice and quite warming. Overall, very enjoyable!

Flavors: Malt, Sweet, Tannin

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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291 tasting notes

Prior to last night, it had been quite awhile since I had enjoyed a Yunnan tea. I used to adore them when I was younger, and not being in the mood to continue my Earl Grey and Darjeeling binge, I decided to crack open this container of Yunnan. I needed the change of pace, and as it turned out, this was exactly what I had been missing for years.

Prior to infusion the dry tea leaves showed a mixture of dark green and black with pretty gold tips. The aroma was a mixture of must, leather, and cocoa powder with just a hint of an almost mildewy, grassy aroma. After proper steeping, the liquor showed a beautiful dark amber with an aroma of caramel, malt, leather, must, cocoa, and grass.

In the mouth, I detected distinct notes of cocoa, caramel, molasses, tobacco, leather, malt, must, wood, grass, wildflower honey, and slight floral, herbal notes (perhaps similar to a mixture of anise, licorice, and ginseng, but I could not quite put my finger on it). This tea was distinctly smooth and rich in texture with a satisfying body and a finish of cocoa, caramel, malt, honey, leather, and wood.

Overall, I was very impressed with this tea. It reminded me of why I used to love Yunnan black teas so much and how much more frequently I need to revisit them. I think fans of Chinese black teas will be satisfied and perhaps even pleasantly surprised with this one.

Flavors: Caramel, Cocoa, Herbs, Honey, Leather, Malt, Molasses, Musty, Tobacco, Wood


Steven Smith has some amazing tea. No. 9 Yunnan is definitely on my wish list!


Obviously my review is evidence to the fact that I think this is a really good tea, but I really stand by my judgment of this one. I spent a lot of time playing around with steeping methods and temperatures, and I got fairly consistent results across the board. For the record, I think I settled on a Western one step infusion at a temperature of 208 F and Steven Smith’s recommended steep time of 5 minutes, but this is one of those teas that really seems to stand up no matter how you prepare it.

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2247 tasting notes

Thanks for this one, Nicole! One I have been wanting to try for a while! I was worried that steeping two teaspoons of this one would ruin it, but it didn’t at all. The way I steeped it, I couldn’t imagine it getting any better. The leaves are mostly a bronze gold. The flavor is delicious and complex. The medium amber cup is a delicious Yunnan – honey, sweet potato, hints of something fruity and a lovely almost wine quality. The subtle flavor notes work really well together. I didn’t find many chocolate notes, but that isn’t to say this is a light flavored tea. It’s dark while not getting to chocolate levels. The second steep was a little different, with hints of smokiness and starchy chewy bread notes and also EARTHY somehow. The flavors in the previous steep staying in the background. A tasty tea!
Steep #1 // 2 tsps. // 12 minutes after boiling // 2 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // few min a.b. // 3 min


Love this tea

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2816 tasting notes

Thanks to boychik for this sample. I ended up steeping it for 3 minutes at 205 f and that was definitely overkill because I got really intense tobacco notes that made it difficult for me to drink this without milk. I also noticed spicy pepper-y notes and a bit of the sweet potato type of flavor that seems characteristic of yunnans.

I tried a 2nd steep for 90 seconds and now it seems like it doesn’t have enough flavor… it could be I steeped all the flavor out of it at the 3 minute mark. :) Anyway the 2nd steep isn’t bad but I’m still getting tobacco notes with some caramel. Tobacco isn’t really my favorite flavor in tea.

this doesn’t seem to be my favorite yunnan to date but it isn’t terrible. If I had more tea I feel like I could hit a sweet spot with the brewing parameters. I wish I had more to play around with but probably not worth placing an order.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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