Review: Teavivre Bailin Gongfu Black Tea

Black Tea, Teavivre Add comments
Dan’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Once it hits the palate, it’s a delicious flavor explosion of sweet, nutty, toasty, fruity, spiced goodness that is among the most unique and exquisite black tea flavors I’ve had the pleasure of knowing."
Dan’s Teaview: 9.8/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 9/10, CJ gave it 5.5/10, Jamie gave it 7.5/10, Raven gave it 9.1/10
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According to Teavivre, Bailin Gongfu is “the highest quality black tea grown in the Fujian province”, and after sampling this, I am guessing that’s not just hyperbole. Teavivre offers it in an organic version and a regular version (this review is for the more-affordably-priced “regular” version), but both come from the same source in the Mt. Taimu region. The term “gongfu” has always mystified me. For a long while, I thought the term was exclusively used to describe a method of preparing tea in small, incremental steepings, but here it apparently means that the tea is hand-crafted.

The scent of the dried leaf is extra malty. The wiry leaves are primarily rich mahogany in hue, but with plentiful contrasting flecks of cream-colored golden leaves peppered throughout. The recommended infusion time is 2-3 minutes, and is recommended to be infused 6-7 times (!!). I find this incredible, as most black teas can only be steeped once, as subsequent infusions are far inferior to the initial. That said, I start with 2 minutes so I can take maximum advantage of the additional infusions and put them to the test. Additionally, a suggested water temperature of 185 degrees is suggested – another anomaly, as most black teas are best with near-boiling water. However, the subtleties of this tea are exposed with the lower temperature, so I abide by the recommendations.

The first cup brews up to a bright reddish-brown with a slight aroma to the cup. Once it hits the palate, it’s a delicious flavor explosion of sweet, nutty, toasty, fruity, spiced goodness that is among the most unique and exquisite black tea flavors I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. There are notes of toasted cashews, cinnamon stick, caramel apple, and maybe even a hint of citrus. Certainly a complex flavor profile that intrigues the taste buds like no other. A second infusion brews up much darker than the first, but with similar aroma. The flavor profile is very similar to the initial cup, and very impressive, but slightly diminished in intensity. Nonetheless, the quality coming out of this second infusion of a black tea has already left me impressed. A third infusion at 3 minutes was back to a brighter, lighter cup, but a lot more subdued in aroma and flavor. Starting to take on characteristics akin to typical second infusions of other black teas (i.e. “the watered-down effect”), there is still a bit of flavor in this cup, and not all is lost, but I think I would personally stop at two infusions (or perhaps even lessen the temperature and time of the first two infusions to eke out a third).

The remarkable quality of the initial cup, and the ability to retain excellence in the second infusion, has this one as a two-thumbs-way-up winner in my book. One of the best and most interesting black teas I’ve encountered in quite some time.

— To purchase Teavivre Bailin Gongfu Black Tea, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Dan Dan
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