Posted by: dan | March 16, 2009

heart of gold


Dan: When I ordered Jing’s tea explorer set, I popped one other tea in the basket for us to try. It was the much-celebrated Yunnan Gold, one of Jing’s favourite teas, and one of their most popular black teas. As the lovely lady who runs Jing’s Twitter page had recommended it, I ordered 50g, and gave half to Ben.

Yunnan Gold is another Chinese black tea, and one Jing describes as:

Dark, rich and tangy, with a tapered liquorice spice.

Which didn’t bode too well, as I hate liquorice. Not one to back down before I’ve even started, I brewed a cup anyway.

On opening the bag, there is a very strong, but slightly sweet smell. If you can imagine caramel-covered straw, that’s not too far off the mark. It’s a very pleasant aroma, and complements the golden leaves perfectly. After doing the usual process of putting a generous teaspoonful into the infuser and brewing for three minutes, the smell is, as usual, weakened, but the same wispy sweet notes linger. As the tea is brewing, the leaves tend to float for longer than other teas before sinking into the now malty brown liquid.

A lovely cuppa

A lovely cuppa

It tastes gorgeous. It’s very smooth, and the tapered liquorice spice is there, but it’s very light. It’s a deliciously smooth tea, and one that grips the tongue with a passion. It sits and slowly seeps through your tongue before pervading your mouth with a slightly smoky, wheaty taste. I usually like to add milk and sugar to my black teas, but this really doesn’t need it. It’s hugely enjoyable without either, and strong enough to consider using it as a regular tea. It almost immediately makes itself feel familiar, as if it’s what you’ve been drinking for months. It’s certainly a tea to drink as a break from experimenting with some of the other, stranger types we’ve been trying. Satisfying, comfortable and delicious.

Ben: I’m really starting to hate these reviews! If one of us writes glowingly of a tea you, humble reader, just know that the other person’s going to say, ‘well, it’s alright, but it’s not brilliant.’

Dan’s just said this tea is great. Let’s go through the motions and get this over with:

The liquorice aroma is present right the way through the preparation process. For something with usually such an overwhelming smell, it’s a little surprising to find that here it’s remarkably subtle. The leaves, the brew and the final drink have an aura of liquorice, as it were. Just an odd note here and there.

The leaves after brewing

The leaves after brewing

Brewing was very hit and miss. My first attempt at a pot for two resulted in a very, very pale brew which turned a pretty unimpressive grey when a dot of milk was added. Attempt two – a one-person show this time – used a lot more leaves and was much better for it. Oddly for a black tea, the leaves here don’t unfurl – they expand a little, sure, but there’s none of the unravelling and expansion that I’m used to.

After brewing and sipping, it’s apparent why. This, to me, tastes like a halfway house between black tea and white tea. It has the depth and smokiness to call itself black but with the cleansing, palate-washing qualities of a white tea. I suspect that much like a white tea, the leaves here are the very tips which have been dried a bit but not subjected to the normal black tea drying process, hence the taste and the appearance of similarity to the whites.

Here we go:

It’s a nice tea. I prefer it to white tea as it has a depth and weight to it. It’s a nice, round drink that could very very easily supersede your common-or-garden PG Tips, Clipper, Tetley or whatever.

But (inevitable! sorry!).

It’s not as good as the wonderful ceylon we tried last week. This is very nice and all but lacks the smokiness, the kick, the mellow warmth of that wonderful leaf. This certainly has a greater depth of flavour but it doesn’t hit those notes as fully and consistently as the Ceylon Black does. I guess I just want a little more from it. Perhaps that liquorice is a little too subtle after all..?

Ben and Dan were drinking Jing’s Yunnan Gold, available at ¬£7.00 for 50g.



  1. Oh yes, Yunnan Golds are wonderful. I love to see the look on the face of a drinker of bog standard black teas when I serve up some Yunnan Gold.

    I love the spicy quality!

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