|"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."|
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.
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