Apr 17th, '15, 16:47
Posts: 82
Joined: Apr 24th, '10, 10:37

Variations in taste of high-grade Yunnan black teas

by absence » Apr 17th, '15, 16:47

My experience with medium-grade Yunnan tea is that the taste is pretty consistent between vendors and crops. I've noticed huge variations in high-grade ones however, even the same tea from the same vendor, just bought at different times. If I'm lucky they have an intense sweet, floral "Yunnan taste" that is somewhat less prominent in the medium-grade ones.

Every so often they have completely different characters that I don't care for at all, sometimes incredibly earthy and bitter with none of the sweetness, or with some of the sweetness in addition to a sickening taste that reminds me of pencils. While the "off" tastes change a lot with water temperature and brewing time, the result is seldom more than mediocre to my taste.

I haven't seen this kind of variation in other high-grade teas (first flush Darjeeling, shincha/gyokuro, etc.) and I wonder what your experiences are. Is it normal for Yunnan teas to vary like this? Are the tastes I don't enjoy supposed to be part of the high-grade Yunnan taste spectrum? It feels like hit & miss, and often a waste of money, so I'm curious if these are cases of bad tea, or if high-grade Yunnan is simply not for me.

Apr 17th, '15, 16:59
Vendor Member
Posts: 1310
Joined: May 27th, '12, 12:47
Location: Boston, MA

Re: Variations in taste of high-grade Yunnan black teas

by ethan » Apr 17th, '15, 16:59

incredibly earthy & bitter or sickening tastes that you mention don't strike me as normal for Yunnan black

Did you contact the vendors? If so, what did they do or say?

Apr 25th, '15, 10:55
Posts: 82
Joined: Apr 24th, '10, 10:37

Re: Variations in taste of high-grade Yunnan black teas

by absence » Apr 25th, '15, 10:55

I have tried, but they're conveniently not respondong. It's good to hear the teas don't sound normal, I guess I'll have to try some others for comparison!

May 22nd, '15, 06:16
Posts: 82
Joined: Apr 24th, '10, 10:37

Re: Variations in taste of high-grade Yunnan black teas

by absence » May 22nd, '15, 06:16

It's been a while, and I've gotten a response about variations in weather affecting the taste of the tea, and also got around to ordering some different Yunnan tea for yet another comparison. What I have currently are teas from both Le Palais des Thés and Yunnan Sourcing.

The ones from Le Palais des Thés are closest to what I think of as the traditional honey-like taste of Yunnan tea, but they also have a metallic pencil-like component that is a bit sickening. I have experienced similar metallic taste in Ceylon tea, but I have no idea what causes it.

The ones I ordered after opening this thread are from Yunnan Sourcing, and they have yet another variation in taste! There's a lot of cocoa, and it's pleasant and quite sweet, but not honey-like or floral. Reminds me of black tea from Fujian.

It seems like black teas from Yunnan simply have more variation in taste than black tea from other regions, which at least makes it quite interesting to explore. :)

May 22nd, '15, 07:39
Vendor Member
Posts: 1310
Joined: May 27th, '12, 12:47
Location: Boston, MA

Re: Variations in taste of high-grade Yunnan black teas

by ethan » May 22nd, '15, 07:39

I have a friend who likes the Yunnan black teas sold by Adagio. At her home I've tried the Black Pearls & Yunnan Jig which pleased me & were sweet enough for me w/o any of the nastiness you describe.

May 22nd, '15, 13:26
Posts: 82
Joined: Apr 24th, '10, 10:37

Re: Variations in taste of high-grade Yunnan black teas

by absence » May 22nd, '15, 13:26

Thanks for the tip, I would try the Adagio ones if shipping alone wasn't above $40. :)

Edit: I notice there's a European store now, €5 shipping is a lot more reasonable!

User avatar
Jun 29th, '15, 13:42
Posts: 6
Joined: Jun 25th, '15, 16:07

Re: Variations in taste of high-grade Yunnan black teas

by kstolz3419 » Jun 29th, '15, 13:42

It doesn't sound normal for there to be a metallic taste, I don't know a whole lot about your source or their supply chain... but that suggests some sort of contamination or quality issue to me personally.

High quality Yunnan teas are fantastic, but unless your purchasing them very close to the source... you never really know how they were handled.

+ Post Reply