Bailin Gongfu Black Tea

Tea type
Black Tea
Black Tea
Caramel, Fruity, Sweet, Dark Chocolate, Dark Wood, Drying, Malt, Smooth, Astringent, Leather, Bitter, Chocolate, Earth, Honey, Sweet Potatoes, Wheat, Floral, Perfume, Raisins, Cocoa, Tea, Baked Bread, Grain, Tannic, Yams, Coffee, Molasses, Smoke, Cream, Cannabis
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Edit tea info Last updated by TeaVivre
Average preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 45 sec 6 g 21 oz / 627 ml

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359 Tasting Notes View all

From Teavivre

Origin: Fuding, Fujian, China

Ingredients: Made from tea buds and leaves with black and gold coloured pine-needle shaped appearance

Taste: A rich, full bodied sweet tasting tea with a hint of caramel

Brew: 1-2 teaspoons for 8oz of water. Brew at 185 ºF (85 ºC) for 2 to 3 minutes (exact time depends on your taste – a longer time will give the tea a stronger taste and color)

Health Benefits: Black teas contain antioxidants, which help in the prevention of some cancers and help reduce the effects of aging caused by free radicals. They can also reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks due to natural chemicals that reduce cholesterol.

About Teavivre View company

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359 Tasting Notes

576 tasting notes

This is the first tea I’ve tried from this company, which graciously sent me a number of yummy samples. Boy, am I impressed! A couple of items to note as I wait for the tea to cool off a bit: the packaging of this tea was superb. Individual bags inside a larger bag (which were then inside a box)… and each individual bag looks like it will yield at least two cups, more if you resteep.

The aroma of this tea is so nice. There’s a hint of caramel and lots of hearty warmth.

Now on to the taste: toasty caramel, strong and bold. Now this is an awakening cup of black tea! Lately I’ve been trying to drink my tea straight up with no sweeteners, but honestly, even a sweet-tooth sugar queen like me doesn’t need anything to enhance this tea’s flavor. It’s robust and sweet at the same time.

This is a new cupboard essential. And a new addition to my morning wake-up call.



I love your phrase sweet-tooth sugar queen! May I steal it in the future? :)


Definitely! :) From one sweet-tooth sugar queen to another! :)


was one of the last samples I had a chance to enjoy before a cold settled in and took my nose and taste buds away…I’m still waiting for a full recovery before posting again…but I wanted to mention that this was indeed one of the highlights of the samples I recieved from Teavivre. Personally I thought the packaging was a bit over-kill, a tribute to the Japanese tendency to “Russian Doll” every item till there is more packaging than product, certainly not the presentation to a bunch of tea enthuisiasts who are going to have brewing hardware and don’t need self-dosing simplicity. Hope to join your review with my own soon and can’t wait for newly born taste buds.


@Kashyap – thanks for weighing in, I thought I was the only person on Steepster who was annoyed by the packaging, i’m glad there is someone else. ;-)


@Amy oh…you certainly are not the only one :)


I didnt mind the double packaging because some of my samples would have heavily scented the others, and I assumed that the only reason the tea was in small pouches was because they were prepackaged samples. Surely when you place an order for several ounces or more it doesn’t come in those small packets, does it? I think a few people have placed orders. Chime in on how your tea was portioned when it arrived, please! :)


I’ve found that I get three full-flavored eight-ounce cups from one of the little sample bags.


I used a gram/oz scale upon opening any of the ‘pre-portioned’ samples and brewed them both according to industry standard by wt. and then also by ‘sample’ ..figured i might as well be emperical

Steven Cook

i am fairly new at all this and i was curious. how much were the little sample bags and how did you order them???

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436 tasting notes

I maybe use slightly above the reccommended water temperature but I still ended up with a very enjoyable series of cups. This one has more of a toffee/caramel note than my other Bailin , but it has less of the fruity spice notes that one has so it is a bit of a trade off. This one is more resilient though and I resteeped it 5 times. Altogether a very enjoyable and well balanced tea with a nice mix and complexity of flavours. Thanks Dexter3657 for this sample.
Malt fruit, cherry note,spice, faintly floral.

40s. Longan malt, upper and deeper grainy tones, bright shasrp fruit on top. Bitter cocoa cherry note, spice, bright notes at first and dissipate to deeper maslty cocoa tones. Tea tastes quite light at first and deepens to a dense thick flavour note. Cherry note not as prominent as my other Balin but really nice. Spice and fruit is there with similar notes and a hint of caramel under the malt. caramel is almost more toffee to me it has that slightly darker taste that it gets as the sugar mixture moves to a hard candy stage. After taste has a spicy cherry tone.

40s. Caramel,spice cherry notes,malt underneath.

Much sweeter than first steep and smoother. Caramel, cherry floral more, cocoa bitter malt tones.long an note milder blended into cherry spice note. Sweet note at back of throat astringency felt at roof of mouth. Sweet aftertaste.

60s longan, spice, malt

Sweet tone, longan, malt, cocoa underneath, caramel like aftertaste.

90s malt, longan, cocoa, sweet aftertaste.

4min. Sweet cocoa and malt.

1 tsp 8 OZ / 225 ML

Sounds delicious.


What a wonderful description!


wow…all these flavor notes are my cup of tea! i remember being intrigued initially by Bailin Gongfu, but your description makes it sound even better. surely i must try this! yum yum yum.

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553 tasting notes

I saved the last of this sample so that my fiance could try it too. I learned the importance of eventually getting a “fair pitcher” so that we get even flavors out of my press. My first cup was a little bitter while his was light and sweet. The flavors went back to normal for the second cup.

I am sad that this sample is gone, but I am happy that I was introduced to such a yummy type of tea. I will have to try some more Fujian blacks in the future.

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200 tasting notes

So I’ve been hearing so much about gongfu I couldn’t resist trying it for myself. Also, this gives me an excuse to buy more tea hardware. I saw this “easy gaiwan” and just had to have it ( It’s the same one Daniel Scott has in his icon. I don’t know if I’m ready for the “big girl” gaiwans, so I liked how it had handles and a built in strainer. I’m also using a strainer basket (also from Yunnansourcing) and a random 4 oz cup I found in the cupboard. One day I’ll get a fancy tea cup, but not yet.

Also, to keep the water warm but accessible, I brewed some hot water and put it all into a cast iron pot for me to pour in segments as I type. As you’ll see over the course of my “steepings”, the water got cooler more quickly than I thought. So this is why people get a Zojirushi.

I chose this tea because everyone has raved about it, and I was just “meh” about it. I thought brewing it gongfu style might help “bring it out” more and make me see what all the fuss was about. Also, it has gongfu in the name. How can you not love it??

I wanted to be part of the cool kids so I wrote down my thoughts of each steeping. But since this is my first time, you’ll see my notes aren’t quite so refined. Oh well, it was an experience.

1st steep – I was supposed to throw this steep out as a rinse, but I just don’t have the heart, so I thought I would try it. I got some light chocolatey notes. Also, this strainer basket is great, but where the heck do I put it when I’m done with it? Right now I’m just putting it over my gaiwan upside down, but next time I should bring along a plate of some sort. Oh geez, more hardware. This gong fu stuff sure requires a lot of room. This is what I get for not using a “serving pitcher”.

2nd steep (20 sec) – Used more tea this time. Definitely stronger and maltier. I’m getting notes of toast in here, as well. And I noticed the tea mentioned caramel, so yeah, I can see that. This is very different than the first steeping. Except I didn’t remember to swirl the leaves around in the gaiwain. Should I have? Maybe I’ll do that next steep and see how it goes. Also, I should use less water since this first true steeping spilled a little bit because I’m trying to get it just right.

3rd steep – (40 sec) My water has cooled down a bit. Boo. Don’t fail me now cast iron. This is a little bit smoother – not quite as maltier. I wonder if my water isn’t hot enough. Ah well.. Also, I noticed this was supposed to be 30 sec NOT 40 sec. Whoops.

4th steep (50 sec) – Now my water has cooled down quite a lot, even though my cast iron still feels hot. Why have you neglected me, cast iron? Also, I had my first pouring fail. I thought the lid was on properly, but I went to pour and it wasn’t and I spilled some water. Oh well, cleaning it up wasn’t too bad. The tea isn’t bad, but now it’s starting to have this metallic taste to it. Hmm.. I better drink my water fast so I can do another steeping before my water gets too cold.

5th steep – (1 min, 10 sec) – Need to figure out an efficient way to time these things because looking at my watch and hoping for the best probably isn’t going to cut it. So uh.. I guess the steeping time is right. We’ll hope so. Also, this tea is luke-warm and I’m not really tasting anything besides metallic-ness. I guess I need to break down and go make some warm water from the kettle, which is in the other room #firstworldteaproblems.

6th steep – (1 min, 30 sec) – Okay, so I went back and actually got hot water from the kettle. I steeped this the time allotted, and now it’s kinda bitter and extra metalic. Bleh. I wonder if I messed things up by using luke warm water the last few times. Should that really matter? As it cools though it’s not THAT bitter, but it’s that exciting, either.

Okay, I think I’m done with this tea. I gave it 6 good steepings, but I’m just not going to love it, especially near the end. The gongfu experience was fun, but it’s a lot more work than my traditional western style. I’ll definitely try it on some more teas to try and see what fun I can extract out of them.


I’ve never tried this one gongfu style, just western. I actually think this isn’t one that I’d want to do that way either. Now that you did it, seals the deal.


I would get a regular Gaiwan, easy gaiwan has the preset holes and will let smaller leaves and buds just go out. It was really hard for me to get used to it but now is the easiest way to steep.

As for the tea, I’ve had it for a while. I have this one and the organic version. I’m ‘meh’ about it, It becomes astringent fairly easily in my experience.


This reminds me a good deal about the first time I tried gong fu! I agree with JC, though, a regular gaiwan becomes really easy and convenient with a bit of practice. Also, when I do more “laid back” gong fu tea, I use a gaiwan, a cup to drink from, and a thermos. I also use another cup to pour the first wash in and if I use a strainer I just place it in the “wash cup” between steeps. You really don’t need all that many items to accomplish a convenient gong fu session.

As for the tea, I agree with the “meh” opinions. I prefer this one gong fu style, but I use far shorter steeps. The metallic flavor tends to be wiped out after the first three or four that way and it becomes quite palatable. It certainly is picky, however. Too long/short of steeps and too cool/warm of water tends to produce poor results.

Terri HarpLady

Ahhh, yes, I remember my first gongfu steepings (they weren’t really very long ago). Thanks for this trip down memory lane, Rachel. I still make messes & burn myself regularly, and I often feel like a mad scientist with multiple gaiwan’s on the counter, alternating between various brews. But it is fun, and it’s TEA!

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423 tasting notes

Right so I thought I used up all of this way back when. BUT imagine my surprise and delight when I found the sample pouch when I was packing teas for vacation. I have to tell you the carmel flavor of this tea is amazing. There is also a slight hint of honey on the finish too. I am really enjoying it. This is a nice morning cup of tea to start off day 3 of vacation.

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1112 tasting notes

A testament to how delicious this tea is: I’m finished my extremely generous sample from Teavivre! Roasty toasty, naturally sweet and so easy to drink. This is exactly what I love in a Fujian daily drinker. Mmmmmmmmmmmm!

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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2272 tasting notes

I am sitting in my living room watching the dog sleep in his chair as a torrential downpour floods my garden and the last candle from tea party is about to gutter out. Youngest has become passionate about cooking and has made the most wonderful meals and treats for the past few months. Today’s tea party treat was Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake.

This was the first tea of tea party, chosen because it is unflavored and won’t compete with the dessert, and has enough natural flavor to stand out and complement at the same time. I had forgotten how great it is, but thanks to the generosity of K S, we had three magnificent teas for tea time today that brought sighs…every, single one of them.

Though the flavors section mentions astringency. I only tasted rich, malty goodness. Bready, yes. Cocoa, yes. This is a real tea shelf necessity and I am glad I got to refresh my memory on this one before placing my Teavivre order.

Thank you, KS, it was sooooo good. I wish where we have the option to recommend a tea, our choices were “No”, “Yes”, and “Yes! Yes! Yes!”


Awesome… I mean Yes! Yes! Yes!

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368 tasting notes

This tea is really impressing me — as have all the TeaVivre teas, I have to confess.

Again, one could say that this is “what bag tea should be” in a sense. A very no-nonsense cuppa. But rather than elevating this tea to the level it belongs, such a comment would imply it was common, dull, or something of that nature, which isn’t at all what I mean.

Once upon a time, all tea was “good tea”. Then The West discovered tea and the tea growing regions of the world suddenly had to deal with economies of scale they simply weren’t prepared for. And so, traditions like putting fannings or dust into mesh bags were developed to help cover the margins. But the leaves those fannings and dust came from were, probably, at least initially, good leaves that would have made good tea.

But meanwhile black tea has gotten a bad name.

Which is a shame.

At any rate, I’m going to have to learn more about Bai Lin teas.

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Charles Thomas Draper

I enjoy your posts.

Jim Marks

Well at least someone does ;-)


Hey, I enjoy them, too! (And it’s fun seeing what other people are saying about the same teas I’m trying.)

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42 tasting notes

Ahh! This smelled so, so good. Licorice-y and caramel-y, very sweet and dark. I could sit there and smell it all day.

Brewed up it smells even more delicious. It may be my mind playing with me because of seeing “pine-needle shaped,” but I even feel like I’m getting a pine-y taste. It’s like a combination of a woodsy and medicinal (which is in no way negative for me) feeling – it tastes like something that could have once been called an elixir. This is one of those where I actually whispered a little “wow” after the first sip. There’s a lot about the taste that I’m not experienced enough to name (though I know I love the full-bodied-ness of it) – I see a lot of other members mentioning malty, which I think is what’s making me think of medicinal things.

My amazement might come from never having had a non-flavored, high quality black before. But I love this! I am so glad Teavivre sent this sample along with my flavored sample pack, because this one really impresses me.

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 30 sec

New to black! You’re in for a treat. :) There’s just something kinda perfect about a good black tea.


It is so awesome when you have your first REALLY amazing unflavored tea! Don’t stop exploring them! You will find that “unflavored” tea which I prefer to call unadulterated are as flavorful if not more so than flavored teas!


Yes, exactly. It’s like the flavors add too much…noise?




Heh, I’m even more excited now! I definitely won’t stop exploring them. My next order from Teavivre is probably going to be their black tea and their oolong sample packs, so I can see what those are all like!


Make sure you log them so I can steal the best ones. >:)

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100 tasting notes

So I’ve been absent from Steepster for awhile. I have an autoimmune disorder and when I get sick, I get sicky sick. It’s just a reality of life every now and then that I have to disappear. But I’ll always come back! I’m sorry I can’t do a backlog, it’s been too long.

Therefore, I’ll start with this morning’s tea. Bailin Gongfu. I sure was hesitant to try it when I smelled it. It smelled like hay. Then when I brewed it, it smelled like wet hay. What the heck, I thought, my senses might not be all there yet. So I tasted it. Wow! I loved it. My taste in unflavored blacks runs to English Breakfast, which technically is blended, and that’s about it. So this was a revelation. The more I drank, the more I enjoyed it. I’m sorry I couldn’t pinpoint the flavor I was getting with this tea, but it was different. My girlfriend thought it was OK until she sweetened it, and then she liked it a lot more. I had sweetened mine as a matter of course. I was glad it didn’t taste like wet hay though. :-)

It’s great to be back!

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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