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Monday, March 1, 2010

Review: Chicago Tea Garden’s Golden Bi Luo Black Tea

The Subject: Golden Bi Luo Black Tea from Chicago Tea Garden. Note: the site is due to launch in late February or early March. The owners are still working on the site and hope to have it up by the end of the first week of March.

Another tea so good that I tried to get my humans to put up an extra teapot or two.


Water temperature: 212° F
Steeping time: 1 minute per infusion (according to info card that came with tea)

Tea type: Black (from Yunnan Province, China)
Scents, flavorings, etc.: N/A
Aroma, dry: Light, planty, hint of sweetness, delicate, slightly “floral” (in a natural way, not added in)
Aroma in the cup, plain: Light, planty, hint of sweetness
Taste, plain: Varies per infusion (see comments)
Aroma in the cup, enhanced: N/A
Taste, enhanced: N/A

2nd Infusion: Recommended. Can go to 4 or 5, even. More than that is questionable (see comments).

This tea came with a great info card with details on the tea from David Lee Hoffman (according to the card, someone very well acquainted with Chinese tea). One thing that was lacking was how much tea to use per 8 ounces of water. We took a guess and used a regular table-style (as opposed to measuring-style) teaspoon.

To give this tea a true tea tasting try, we followed Hoffman’s recommendation to steep 8 times at 1 minute each. The steeping guide provided by Chicago Tea Garden (a new tea venture from Tony Gebely and Erin Murphy) recommends four steepings of 1 minute for the first 2 and 1.5 minutes for the last 2. Our experiment shows that the steeping guide would be the thing to follow.

Hubby and I found the flavor mild, with a hint of smokiness and a definite vanilla note. No bitterness, no unpleasant aftertaste. Also, this is not a tea that needs any enhancing (lemon, honey, milk, sweetener, etc.). Aroma in the cup was an accurate presage to the taste experience.

We found this infusion to be about the same as the first one. The aroma and flavor were still going strong.

Infusion started to weaken here, with the vanilla flavor being the first to disappear. Still a smooth tea, no bitterness or astringency. Mild flavor and aftertaste. Hubby liked it, but I was starting to find it too weak and thinking I should have started with more dry tea in the teapot.

Still mild and no bitterness. Good flavor but definitely weakening.

STEEPING 5 thru 8:
Progressively weaker but still flavorful, with no bitterness.

This tea stays mild and never gets bitter, even after 8 steepings. I think that we should have started the steeping with a teaspoon and a half of dry tea. Nevertheless, the tea experience was very satisfying. This is definitely a tea that’s up to multiple infusions, a great way to get the most out of your tea dollars.

Notes from the Little Yellow Teapot About This Tea Tasting —

Teacups on Parade: I kept watch over the “troops” as my humans handled the whole infusion process. They were all lined up and waiting for each infusion to be poured. We used a teaspoon to sip them but inhaled the aroma straight from the cup.
Multiple Infusion Results: The results were close to what was on the info card that came with the tea. I think my humans were pretty successful here. And, of course, I did my part.

Tea Tin, Dry Tea, and Tea Leaves After Steeping:
The sign of a great tea is when the leaves look great before and after steeping. That was sure the case here. I made my humans take photos. One thing to note about the amount of tea in that tall tea tin: It’s only about a third full. These tins come in one-size-fits-all, so don’t worry, you’re getting what you pay for based on the weight of the dry tea.

Disclaimer: This tea was provided by the company named. However, the rating of the tea and any opinions concerning it are always strictly objective.


  1. Nice review. I reviewed this for my blog last week and really enjoyed it. Didn't go quite to the lengths you did with the experiment though — love that approach! I especially like the photo of all the cups from above. It's so interesting seeing how a tea progresses through the steepings.

  2. Hope you liked the tea as much as I did. Glad you liked the photos. It took awhile to set up that overhead multi-cup shot, but well worth it. Like you, I like to see how each infusion compares.

  3. Great review, I'm glad we're on par here. I just did a video review of this tea a couple of days ago and I got the smokey, vanilla flavor dead on! LOVED the multicup steepings as well, very thorough :)


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