Canton Yunnan Gold: origin and flavour
Yunnan, the home of pu’erh tea, produces some of the most delicious and comlex black teas in the world. Known as Golden Bi Luo Chun in China, this spectacular Yunnanese black tea is an unusual version of a famous green tea from Jiangsu, Bi Luo Chun – the name translates as Green Snail Spring because the tightly curled leaves resemble a snail. The leaves of Canton Yunnan Gold (or Golden Bi Luo Chun) are no different. Made with the very top buds of the tea bush, the leaves are gently rolled into tight curls. The ‘snails’ are covered in a delicate fuzz of hair, also known as trichomes, which turn gold when the tea oxidises. They also protect the baby leaves from harsh weather and pests as they grow. If you’re familiar with the famous white tea Silver Needle, these are the same small hairs which turn silver and give the tea its name.
The tea is produced in the Mojiang Town area of the Pu'er Prefecture, Yunnan, by grower Yang Zheng. The Yang family originally came from Zhejiang and settled in Yunnan in the 1930s. It wasn't until the early 1980s that they began growing tea, starting with high grade green teas. In the early 2000s and with access to the new varietals (in this case, Yun Kang #100) they began to experiment – and started to produce some of the world’s best black teas.
Picked at 1400 metres above sea level in early Spring 2021, the tea is slow-grown and has all the attributes of a high altitude, early spring tea: spectacular flavour and a wonderful creamy mouthfeel.
The difficult growing conditions of a high altitude environment contribute to the unique flavour of Canton Yunnan Gold. Cold mountain temperatures slow the growth of the tea bush, allowing aromatic essential oils, antioxidants and beneficial polyphenols to build up in the leaves. Mountain fog also filters the amount of sunlight that reaches the plant – in response, the plant produces more chlorophyll which in turn produces darker leaves, less astringency and a more complex flavour. Moistened by the fog, the leaves are softer and more tender – bringing a more delicate texture to the tea. And the natural drainage of a mountain tea farm reduces the amount of water in the leaves, helping preserve and intensify the existing flavour compounds.
So, what do these golden snails taste like? Caramel-soft, cocoa-rich and probably unlike any other tea you’ve tasted (unless you are a Yunnanese black tea aficionado). Look for notes of sugarcane, milk chocolate and brazil nuts.
We recommend brewing 4g at 90°C for 2-3 minutes. Buy Canton Yunnan Gold here.