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Ya-Ya's Tea Blog

Sitting down for tea with a King

 [ IMAGE: King of Yunnan Black Tea ] Royalty often has the reputation of being finicky, selfish and spoiled. I imagine most of them wouldn’t be much fun to be around.

It’s a completely different story with the king that I’ve just spent my afternoon with. Instead of selfish, he proved to be generous, instead of being fussy, he was forgiving and patient. And above all, he made for great company.

I am talking about the King of Yunnan, a truly royal black tea produced from ancient tea trees in Yunnan Province, China. Timing of the King’s arrival worked out just perfectly for the weekend, so I could devote the appropriate attention to an extensive tasting.

Opening the package, I was greeted with the strong aroma typical for Yunnan black teas: a sweet and heady smell full of honey and malt. The leaves are beautiful sets of only the youngest one or two leaves and the bud. As opposed to the famous Yunnan Golden Bud tea (which has arrived yesterday as well), the dried leaves of the King of Yunnan are straight and long. Most of the leaves are covered with a thin layer of golden fur which lends them a special and majestic appearance. This golden colour is created through the oxidation of the silver fur of the fresh leaves (think Yin Zhen, a.k.a. Silver Needle).
The first infusion was a deep golden colour with a wonderful aroma. The taste was lighter than I expected, but at the same time full and complex. The tea has very nicely balanced tannins, lending it a slight and very pleasant astringency that counters the deeper, malty notes. The liquor has a thick & rich texture and the aftertaste lingers for a long time after the last drop is swallowed. The following infusions revealed more of the amazing complexity of this tea.
I mentioned above that the King is patient. A tea that lasts for many infusions is often referred to as being a patient tea. And the King of Yunnan is extremely patient for a black tea. Even after 5 infusions, the tea kept brewing strong. The colour and flavour were starting to fade then, but it did give a very satisfying sixth and even seventh infusion.

The spent leaves often reveal more than an inspection of the dry leaves before brewing can. After finishing a tea session, the leaves are usually fully opened and pliable. It is easy then to look at the quality of the leaves, to check for consistency of the picking and find faults. The wet leaves of the King revealed the care that went into the picking and processing by hand. Immaculate sets of tender leaves that are evenly oxidized and skilfully finished mark this special tea.

I spent a great afternoon in the enjoyable company of a true king and I’m looking forward to the next time we’ll spend together.
While this is certainly not an everyday tea, it is a wonderful tea for special occasions. It captures your attention and makes it easy to spend some time with it.
I think this tea would make a great gift for anyone with an interest in tea – novices and connoisseurs alike – since it offers just the right balance of familiarity (in a broad sense, at least) and intriguing finesse.

Chinese black tea ‘King of Yunnan‘ $36.60 / 100g (If you’d like to buy some, please visit our ordering page)

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