|"Nothing like a black tea. Needs lower brewing temperatures and lacks briskness."|
I'm no Chinese expert, but from what I gathered on various tea and language sites, "gong fu" translates into "effort" or "care". In other words, the very name of this tea indicates that its difficult to prepare. So I followed instructions and worked extra hard to unearth the charms of this cha. I brewed it three times, three different ways. None of them produced a flavor that I would consider a true black tea.
"Bai Lin Gongfu is a completely oxidised black tea. It is a “gongfu” (or “congou”) type of black tea, which indicates that it is hand crafted, with the leaf buds being twisted into thin, tight strips without them being broken. When dry, the tea has a sweet, caramel like scent and has a mix of black and golden-orange “pekoe” coloured leaf buds," reported Teavivre's website.
I smelled chocolate, and a bit of bitterness. Because it was labeled black tea, I brewed a teaspoon per cup in boiling water. The taste was a bit bitter, and I was going to give the tea a lower rating because of it. But then I went to the Teavivre website, which told me to brew in 185 degrees...more of an oolong temperature. So I tried it.
Sure enough, the bitterness disappeared. What remained, though, was a bit too flat for my palate. It tasted sweet at first, but finished a tad sour, with no interesting flavors in between. It left my mouth feeling stale-an unusual sensation after a cup of tea.
I confess, I liked the bitter version better. It had more of a bite to it, and I like my tea with teeth. I brewed it again at the lower temperature, adding an extra teaspoon to the pot. I hoped this would add the robustness I crave in a black tea, to no avail. Still, the brew was flat and uninteresting. Not that it was bad. It had a nuttiness, like raw almonds.
But in this case, I found the result not quite worth the effort. I rate it a 5.5.
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