Review: Canton Tea Company Black Pearls

Black Tea, Canton Tea Co., Uncategorized, Yunnan Tea Add comments
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"These pearls are a pleasant way to enjoy a good quality Golden Yunnan, with lots of complexity and relief. They strike a nice balance between delicate honeyed notes and more robust wood and tobacco tones."
Sophie’s Teaview: 7.9/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 9/10, Shaiha gave it 9.2/10
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These pearls are made from high grade Yunnan Gold leaves that have been wilted, oxidized, baked and then hand-rolled into 1 gram portions for easy brewing. They are mostly ebony-coloured, streaked with gold. Impressively large, they are about the size of marbles. Taking a sniff, their spicy wood and tobacco scent seems par for the course for “red” Chinese teas.

I was in the mood for a heftier cup of tea this morning so I went with the more intense brewing parameters Canton suggests on the sample's package, infusing 3 pearls in 200ml of water heated to 95 degrees Celsius for 2 minutes. I was tempted to brew this tea without an infuser – don't try this at home folks. The pearls quickly loosen into a shaggy pile of leaves. I then had to use a sieve to get the leaves out, which is a dangerous proposition when I am not yet fully awake.

This tea brews to a reddish mahogany hue, with a briny yet malty aroma. Some might say the scent verges on "barny", but that doesn't bother me. I can see a lot of down floating at the bottom. This cup benefits a lot from letting the tea cool for a few minutes to let the flavours emerge. It's quite robust while maintaining a hint of honey to the finish. I sense that it could easily be over-brewed and become unpleasantly bitter (hence the usefulness of an infuser here - ahem). As it is now there is an edge of grapefruit that blends in nicely with the smoother tobacco, toasted bread, and wood notes. The body is rather creamy, which is a nice contrast with the heftier flavours.

I tried a second cup, brewing the leaves for 3 minutes. The balance of flavours is a little different this time. The tea is predominantly nutty with some malt and dark cocoa notes. There is a little bit of roughness to the finish but for the most part it's still rather creamy.

I steeped the leaves once more for 4 minutes. The results are rougher still, with a watery cocoa and malt flavour. While the cup is not out and out unpleasant, it's also not particularly pleasing. I would recommend re-brewing the leaves only once.

These pearls are a pleasant way to enjoy a good quality Golden Yunnan, with lots of complexity and relief. They strike a nice balance between delicate honeyed notes and more robust wood and tobacco tones. In later infusions I found that to get the most flavour it was better not to skimp of the leaves and to use a high pearl to water ratio. They are a little pricey but worth a try for fans of Chinese black teas.

— To purchase Canton Tea Company Black Pearls, 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: Sophie Sophie
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