Supreme Yunnan Golden Snail Black Tea from Vicony Teas
Today, after about nine months of owning a kilogram of this great black tea, did I finally realize that I never actually did a review on it. The Supreme Yunnan Golden Snail Black Tea was among the first three teas that I had directly imported from China earlier this year. As I began to build an interest in the process of importing tea, I came across Vicony Teas. I remember the first time I opened the PDF catalog from Vicony. I expected a few pages of a basic list. Instead, they had twenty or thirty pages of products, with organic certifications noted, origin information, and even a photo provided for every tea. In the second PDF catalog, they included hyperlinks to webpages with complete information on every tea, from cultivar, to processing technique, to historical information, and photos of the dry leaf, liquor, and wet leaf. To this point, almost a year later, I have yet to find a company that provides the treasure of content on each product that comes even close to Vicony Teas. They have done a phenomenal job in that respect. And did I mention that they have about thirty pages worth of products?!
This golden snail black tea was, and still is, unlike any other black tea that I have come across. As the name suggests, and anyone that I have ever showed the dry leaves to has confirmed, the shape of these leaves truly do resemble a snail. The leaves are rolled into nice spirals, similar to that of a Bi Luo Chun green tea. The dry leaves also have a downy soft feel to them, almost like a white tea. This is a beautifully colored tea, with bright golden tips.
Why have I waited so long to review this tea!? Let the journey begin…
As mentioned above, the dry leaves of this Supreme Yunnan Golden Snail black tea are mostly gold in color, with some dark brown to black leaves. The leaves are uniformly rolled into the shape of a snail. There is absolutely no breakage or crumbs, all the leaves are fully intact and rolled. The leaves have a soft, downy-like feel to them, lacking the hard and dry feel of most other black tea. The aroma is reminiscent of sweet hay, with slight notes of dried fruit and malt/caramel. According to Vicony’s information, these leaves are from the Fengqing large leaf cultivar, and are grown/processed in Fengqing, Yunnan Province, China.
The standard preparation method was used for this tasting. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). Fifteen grams of dry tea leaves were placed in a thirty-four ounce (1L) glass teapot. The leaves were infused for 2 minutes, then the liquor strained into a separate decanter.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a dark amber color (dark orange-red). The liquor was translucent, but not transparent. The aroma was malty and slightly spicy of pepper. The liquor has a full body, with a very smooth feel. The taste is malty, mellow, and very slightly spicy (pepper). There is very little to no bitterness or astringency whatsoever. The aftertaste is mild, with a light taste of sweet hay. There is no need for milk or sugar in this tea. It is very tasteful, yet mild, as it is.
The second infusion produced a liquor with a very slightly darker shade of amber (dark orange-red). Again the liquor was translucent, not transparent. The aroma remains malty and a little more spicy (pepper) than the first infusion. The liquor retains a full body and smooth feel. The taste remains malty, mellow, and slightly spicy (pepper). Again the presence of bitterness or astringency is almost non-existent. The aftertaste remains light, and tastes of sweet hay. The second infusion was just as tasteful and heavy as the first, and I do not see the third losing much character.
The third infusion produced a liquor with a color that is slightly lighter than the first infusion, but overall remains a dark amber color. The liquor remains translucent, but not transparent. The aroma has lightened some, but remains malty and slightly spicy. The body remains full, yet lighter, and smooth. The taste has also lightened some, remaining malty, mellow, and slightly spicy. The aftertaste is light, and is taking on a somewhat floral taste. This third infusion is surprisingly tasteful for a black tea, and I have no doubt that a fourth and maybe a fifth infusion could produce an acceptable flavor.
The infused leaves are a uniform copper color. Most leaves display a fine pluck of two leaves and a bud, while some display the “imperial pluck” of one leaf and the bud. The leaves display fine downy like hairs on them. The size of the leaf is larger than that of other Chinese teas, indicating the Fengqing large leaf cultivar. There is an abundance of buds. There is very little breakage or crumbs. The vast majority of the leaves are fully intact and still attached to the stem. The aroma of the leaves is malty and pleasant. The leaves have a surprising level of structural durability, suggesting that additional infusions are possible.
This Supreme Yunnan Golden Snail Black Tea continues to be one of my favorite black teas. Every aspect of this tea is unique, from the look and feel of the dry leaves, to the beautiful color and smooth, mellow taste of the liquor, to the fully intact and larger than normal infused leaves. There is a reason that I am almost completely finished with this kilogram of tea, while some other large purchases are at risk of not being consumed before their shelf life expires. I recommend this black tea again and again, and many of my friends and family are always requesting a pot of this tea when they know I have it around. It is a classic. Do not let the unusual look of the dry leaves turn you off, or else you will be missing out on a great tea experience. Thank you for the excellent tea, and the plethora of information on your website, Vicony. I look forward to making many more orders from you in the future.