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