Review: California Tea House Yunnan Golden Buds

Black Tea, California Tea House, Yunnan Tea Add comments
Lynn’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The flavor was rich and complex, with notes of bittersweet chocolate, tobacco, malt, caramel, a surprising hint of smokiness, and a long wildflower honey and spring water finish, which lingered nicely in the mouth. "
Lynn’s Teaview: 9.5/10
Other Teaviews: Dan gave it 10/10, Vanessa gave it 10/10, Brad gave it 7/10
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californiayunnanWhen it comes to Yunnan black tea, the minute I hear "golden"— Golden Monkey, Golden Needle, Golden Threads, Golden Buds, etc.— my mouth starts to water. I love Yunnans in general, from the rich black grades right up to the shining 100% golden pinnacle. The more golden tips mixed in with the dark, the finer the cup. These high grade teas are often brewed at slightly lower temperatures than a regular Yunnan, and many sellers, including the California Tea House, suggest using up to two tablespoons per cup and multiple short steepings. I've come to like that brewing method for these teas and will use it here. They also suggest using an Yixing pot, which I was happy to do, as I recently seasoned a lovely chocolate brown one just for fine Yunnans.

California Tea House's Golden Buds is about a 50/50 mix of dark and light leaves, which are long and gently twisted. The golden tips are shiny with a silky coating of tea down. The fragrance is lovely: a blend of cedar wood, bittersweet chocolate, and flowery something or other.

I infused two tablespoons of dry leaf in about a cup of 195F water in a 16 oz. Yixing teapot and let it steep for the recommended two minutes. The liquor was a clear, deep coppery red with a fragrance comparable to the dry aroma, but now with notes of warm caramel. The flavor was rich and complex, with notes of bittersweet chocolate, tobacco, malt, caramel, a surprising hint of smokiness, and a long wildflower honey and spring water finish, which lingered nicely in the mouth. It also had a pleasant astringency and was very, very smooth. It left my mouth literally watering for another cup, and since multiple short steepings were advised, I returned to the pot for another go.

The bud leaves had relaxed and were a dark chocolate brown and long, narrow, and needle-like—nothing like a broad green Tie Guan Yin leaf. I infused them with another cup of water for three minutes. This liquor was a bit darker than the first, with a sweet tobacco and malt fragrance that increased as the tea began to cool. The flavor was still very good, too; a bit lighter on the tongue, perhaps, but still with the various flavor notes intact, and a smooth, sweet finish without even the slightest hint of bitterness. The smokiness was less pronounced, the sweetness and malt more so. Very satisfying, especially for a second steep.

As with most goldens, I felt no need for any cream, and certainly no sugar. It's quite smooth and sweet by itself, and I think any adulteration would conflict with its own complex character. Save that for the darker, bolder Yunnans.

All in all this is a very satisfying and delicious golden blend Yunnan, and quite reasonably priced, especially when you take advantage of the multiple steep capabilities of this tea. Highly recommended!

— To purchase California Tea House Yunnan Golden Buds, 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: Lynn Lynn
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