Yunnan Gold Tips

Tea type
Black Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by Alex C.
Average preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

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  • “Many good teas consist of one leaf bud for every two fully developed leaves. Other premium teas are imperially plucked, one bud for every leaf. Ito En’s Yunnan Gold Tips are just buds, and nothing...” Read full tasting note

From Ito En

Meticulously crafted in Yunnan Province, this exceptional black tea is composed of gorgeous, golden tips, which yield more flavor and aroma than standard leaves. Once infused, the tips brew a smooth, round liquor that can be enjoyed neat or with a drop of milk. Especially notice how its bouquet of dry woods and smoke gives way to a luscious, lingering flavor of honey and molasses.

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1 Tasting Note

26 tasting notes

Many good teas consist of one leaf bud for every two fully developed leaves. Other premium teas are imperially plucked, one bud for every leaf. Ito En’s Yunnan Gold Tips are just buds, and nothing but the buds. It’s kinda what a white tea would be if you let the leaf buds oxidize.

This tea is smooth in terms of how it feels in your mouth, has a really malty taste with an aftertaste that’s sort of like honey or caramel. And with the tea plant pumping all that sugar to nourish these buds, it’s not surprising that this tea is sweet, even if you don’t add sugar, honey or agave. It’s not as full-bodied as a “regular” one-bud, two-leaf black Yunnan, but with a five-minute steep, this tea can hold up to milk.

At $7 an ounce, it’s not cheap. It can be purchased at Ito En’s store on Madison Avenue in Manhattan if you happen to live in NYC or it can be ordered online at

So what don’t I like about this tea? Well, for one thing it’s not organic and that’s a pretty big deal for me. When you buy produce, you at least get to wash it before you put it in your mouth. Tea arrives dry and goes straight into your cup when you make it. While I like Chinese black teas, when I think about safe application of pesticides (or food safety in general) China isn’t the first place that comes to mind. Organic tea is a big selling point for me and given that there is so much wildly harvested tea in Yunnan, it wouldn’t think it would be hard for Ito En to find an organic source for this tea. Numi Teas apparently has an organic Yunnan gold tip tea, and I’ll certainly be giving that one a whirl at some point and see how it compares to Ito En’s.

But if you like malty black teas or like Yunnan’s in general, this tea certainly meets the taste criteria.

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

I have a Yunnan Golden Bud that I haven’t given much attention, but will now be drinking tomorrow. Are tea buds easily distinguishable from leaves? Is it just a size thing? Now you’ve got me inspecting my teas more closely.

East Side Rob

In a “normal” black tea with a mixture of buds and leaves, such as Rishi’s Golden Yunnan, you can distinguish the buds as the lighter strands. Because buds have very little chlorophyl, they have less tannin to release during the oxidation process and don’t get very dark. The Rishi Yunnan is very good, by the way, (I’m drinking it as we speak) and would probably be the tea I’d drink if I were stranded on a desert island and could only take one with me. It would be harder to see the buds in a tippy green tea, I suspect, but I’m sure there are people out there who can spot them.

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