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

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Black Tea
Black Tea Leaves
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Edit tea info Last updated by eastkyteaguy
Average preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 3 g 5 oz / 160 ml

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  • “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

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)

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1 Tasting Note

458 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.

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

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…


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…


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.


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.


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.


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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