Review: Canton Tea Co. Bai Lin Gong Fu

Black Tea, Canton Tea Co. Add comments
Jamie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Just a look at the beautiful leaves will give you plenty to think on as you steep and sip this lovely tea. It seems appropriate to enjoy this tea when you have some time on your hands."
Jamie’s Teaview: 7.5/10
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cantonteabailinThe surprising, gorgeous leaves of Canton Tea Company's Bai Lin Gong Fu will draw you in immediately. Bai Lin Gong Fu is a red tea. As I've understood it, the Chinese refer to what Westerners describe as "Black" tea as "Red." This tea certainly appears closer to red than black on the color spectrum, handy descriptors aside. The leaves are long, bright orange gold and fuzzy with a dustiness to them akin to thick pollen. They are startlingly beautiful!

I did a little research on the Canton Tea Co. website for some direction on how to brew this tea, it being completely new to me, and I was disappointed with the results. The website suggests using "plenty of tea" and 90 c. water. My conversion abilities are far better than my divining abilities, so while I could seek to be as close to 195 degrees fahrenheit as possible, I had a bit more guess work to do with the quantity of tea to use. As this was a sample amount of tea, I had a limited chance to get the leaf amount right!

I experimented with a very very rounded tablespoon to a 24 ounce pot for two. That would be a tablespoon with nearly another teaspoon on top (and I believe I was just taking issue with vague directions!). I steeped the first infusion for three minutes to start. The first infusion brewed to a lovely dark copper color, much like a black tea. I found the body a little weak, though perhaps mild is a better descriptor. There was something very slightly spicy in the taste - the spicy flavor was not wholly unlike a hint of cinnamon, but very subtle. The tea has a wonderfully warm, caramel scenting to it. Slightly smoky and definitely sweet. I didn't find the strength of the scenting to carry over very definitely to the taste. This could easily be the fault of an improper tea to water ratio, though. I think I'm more prone to blame the vagueness of the website's brew instructions than the tea itself.

My second infusion I sweetened. Using the same temperature water but allowing a long steep time (about 6 minutes) and adding sweetener brought out entirely different shades of the first infusion. The caramel and spicy notes increase markedly and interestingly. And the sweetener, the longer steep time, the fact that it was the second infusion, or all of these things combined, brought more body and oomph to the tea - something that had been lacking in the first infusion. I found the second infusion to be really delicious and satisfying. The spiciness was intriguing and the caramel quality that comes through in this tea is one of the clearest I've ever tasted, making for a very enjoyable cup.

I would recommend adhering to the lower temperature water (195 seemed right), rather than boiling as you might for a black tea. Do a bit of research and experimentation to come up with an amount of tea to use to bring the best out of these visually stunning leaves. Personally, I would use twice as much tea next time as I tried in my sampling. The Canton Tea Co. mentions that this tea yields three to four good infusions and I can certainly vouch for three. I would agree with their note that the second seems the best, as seconds so often do in the world of tea. The website also notes it sources this tea from a local farmer who produces the leaf in small quantities. So savor it! The farm is located at about 1500 feet in Fujian Province. Just a look at the beautiful leaves will give you plenty to think on as you steep and sip this lovely tea. It seems appropriate to enjoy this tea when you have some time on your hands.

— To purchase Canton Tea Co. Bai Lin Gong Fu, 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.

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