Imperial Grade Bai Lin Gong Fu Black tea of Fuding * Spring 2018

Tea type
Black Tea
Ingredients
Black Tea Leaves
Flavors
Almond, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Grapefruit, Grass, Honey, Leather, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Orange Zest, Pine, Plums, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla
Sold in
Bulk, Loose Leaf
Caffeine
Not available
Certification
Not available
Edit tea info Last updated by eastkyteaguy
Average preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 5 oz / 139 ml

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2 Tasting Notes View all

  • “Before I begin this review, just allow me to state that I did not expect typing the review I just posted to go as quickly or as smoothly as it did. If I don’t write something new at least every 2-3...” Read full tasting note
    90
  • “Golden Monkey is the tea that awakened me to black tea after avoiding it for most of my life. The YS 2016 version was marvelous. Last year’s version was also good, though not as sweet. So this...” Read full tasting note
    65

From Yunnan Sourcing

Bai Lin (lit. White Forest) Gong Fu black tea is made from Fuding Bai Hao “White Pekoe” varietal tea leaves. Our Imperial grade is a tippy grade, meaning only the smallest tips and leaf budlets are picked. This picking has to be done in few short days in spring to obtain the tenderest of shoots.

The brewed tea is packed with flavor and aroma. There is a kind of dried longan fruit dark and pungent sweetness which juxtaposed against a low subtle bitterness that provides a real complex and lively drinking experience!

Spring 2018 harvest (Late April)

About Yunnan Sourcing View company

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2 Tasting Notes

90
943 tasting notes

Before I begin this review, just allow me to state that I did not expect typing the review I just posted to go as quickly or as smoothly as it did. If I don’t write something new at least every 2-3 days, I get out of the rhythm of typing, and it usually takes me a long time to sit down, focus, and get to work. That was not the case with my last review, which is more than a little impressive to me. Anyway, getting back on track here, this was another of my November sipdowns. I generally do not like Yunnan Sourcing’s Imperial Grade Bai Lin Gong Fu as much as their Classic Bai Lin Gong Fu, and it seems that I am not alone in that. This spring 2018 Imperial Grade Bai Lin Gong Fu did not quite buck that trend, but it did at least give the Classic Bai Lin Gong Fu a run for its money.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After setting my water temperature at 194 F, I quickly rinsed the 6 grams of loose tea buds I had set aside for reviewing purposes. I then started my session in earnest by steeping the rinsed buds in 4 ounces of the 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea buds emitted aromas of baked bread, honey, dark chocolate, pine, malt, and cinnamon. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of butter, cream, plum, cherry, and vanilla. The first infusion introduced a subtle roasted almond aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented me with notes of sweet potato, brown sugar, honey, baked bread, malt, and butter that were balanced by subtler impressions of pine, dark chocolate, cinnamon, cherry, and vanilla. The majority of the subsequent infusions introduced aromas of minerals, brown sugar, sweet potato, molasses, orange zest, and lemon zest. Stronger and more immediately detectable impressions of cinnamon, dark chocolate, cherry, and vanilla appeared in the mouth alongside notes of earth, minerals, grass, molasses, orange zest, plum, cream, roasted almond, and lemon zest. I also notes hints of leather, grapefruit, and smoke. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, malt, baked bread, cream, earth, and grass that were balanced by lingering roasted almond, honey, lemon zest, leather, brown sugar, cherry, vanilla, dark chocolate, and sweet potato hints.

This was a very pleasant and drinkable Fujian black tea. Usually, the Imperial Grade Bai Lin Gong Fu offered by Yunnan Sourcing strikes me as being overly dry, stuffy, and reserved, but this struck me as being a much warmer, mellower, and more engaging offering overall. It very much made me look forward to trying a few more imperial grade Bai Lin Gong Fu offerings in the near future.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Grapefruit, Grass, Honey, Leather, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Orange Zest, Pine, Plums, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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65
542 tasting notes

Golden Monkey is the tea that awakened me to black tea after avoiding it for most of my life. The YS 2016 version was marvelous. Last year’s version was also good, though not as sweet. So this year I decided to upgrade to the Imperial grade stuff to see if was really worth it. Well after gongfuing around with this tea, I can say this is totally different from the standard grade version and not in a good way.

This tea resembles keemun in appearance with its dark curly leaf. There’s fewer gold-tipped leaves here than the regular grade version. On the nose, I get an almost pungent aroma of dried fruit, smoke, and malt. The tea brews to a nice reddish amber. The taste though was far removed from any other golden monkey tea I’ve ever had. It has a very basic black tea, dare I say Lipton-like flavor. I didn’t get any of the deep caramel and molasses notes I love. There was no sweetness or real nuance to it at all. Subsequent steeps tasted the same.

I’m still scratching my head at this tea. It wasn’t bad or anything, just flat and kind of boring. Maybe this was an off year or something, but it’s hard to believe this is golden monkey tea let alone the high grade stuff.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 3 g 5 OZ / 160 ML
eastkyteaguy

Thus far, this has not been one of my favorites either, but you might want to try lowering the water temperature. I’m going to try the same thing and see if that helps.

Mastress Alita

I love Golden Monkey tea too. I have a hard time imagining “Golden Monkey” and “Lipton” in the same sentence. That poor tea…

apefuzz

Wow, good to know. It’s a shame to hear your experience. I’ve noticed a few reviews of 2018 teas now that are noting less-than-stellar experiences…

LuckyMe

Thanks for the tip on water temperature. I’ll give that a try and also try to western steep it. Not all tea do well gongfued.

@Mastress Alita, hehe I may have been a tad harsh there with the L-word. Golden monkey is one of my favorites, but sadly this one failed to rise above meh for me.

eastkyteaguy

I think Yunnan Sourcing normally recommends a temperature around 194 F for all of their black teas. I’ve noticed that a lot of their black teas, especially the imperial grade teas, can be a little fussy about temperature, so I tend to stick with temperatures ranging from 194-205 F and usually get good results. The teas sourced this year have been weird though, either being almost identical to last year or totally different.

LuckyMe

My usual gongfu method for blacks is 30s at boiling followed by flash steeps. It seems to work for most but is probably not ideal for the more refined teas.

My experience with this year’s YS teas is along the lines of what you described. Two of the 3 teas I’ve tried so far tasted totally different from past harvests. I wonder if they switched suppliers/farmers this year.

Leafhopper

I’m chiming in a bit late, but I agree that this tea is pretty boring. It was the first Golden Monkey-style tea I tried and it made me avoid the type for several years. :)

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