50

OK. I have been holding off on doing a legitimate review of this tea because I was convinced I was doing something wrong. Every time I try to make it, I feel like I oversteep it. I take one sip, and then can’t even finish the cup. So this evening after work, I decided to make this one my inaugural gaiwan tea.

I’m still on a learning curve with the gaiwan, but I’ll get there. I think I have the gist of it though?

I’m going to rain on the Steepster parade with a brutally honest account of my personal experience. I don’t know what the issue is with me and this tea. I don’t know if I got a weird batch, or if I’m still making it wrong – or if this particular flavor profile just doesn’t sit with me. Dry leaf smells like fake chocolate flavoring on top of a green base, and the two aromas do NOT jive together for me. It’s the same fake chocolate flavoring I tasted in the Laoshan black, but unlike black tea, it does not go well with green. When I make it – even with a gaiwan, with water that is even cooler than what Verdant’s website calls for – it always tastes like I overdid it. The thing is, I’ve done it so many times now, and the taste so resembles the smell, that I’m doubting it’s my error, I think it’s the tea. The wet leaf aroma and flavor are completely unappealing to me. There’s a light vegetal taste, which is fine until it’s overpowered by a burnt, sickly sweetness that legitimately makes my stomach turn.

Suggestions?!?!? My gaiwan steeping was ~1 tsp of tea at 170 degrees for 10 seconds (although I may accidentally have gone a little over, which may partly account for the burnt quality.) Am I doing it wrong or do I just have an aversion to this particular flavor profile?

Fjellrev

It just may be your taste buds. Nothing wrong with that. :)

Dexter

I agree, you don’t have to love a tea just because it’s popular. Everyone has their own tastes/preferences.

Lily Duckler

My other suggestion would be to try brewing in glass and not to cover your tea as it’s steeping. Covering increases the brewing temperature even over short brewings and can make greens more temperamental. Brewing in glass is also a good option as the material is so good a dissipating heat.

I generally brew green tea with my nose. Just like green vegetables are done cooking when they look most beautiful, green tea usually tastes the best when it smells best. With this tea, for example, I usually pour my water against the side of the glass (so as not to shock the leaves), swirl for around five seconds, and smell. If it smells good, then it’s done brewing: I pour out into a new glass through a strainer.

Have you seen David’s brewing videos about Laoshan Green? I’ll leave the links here for reference. Though the videos are using different harvests, the same methodology still applies.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jO0wH7vTpQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlDwPs4_Dm8

All of that said, the flavor profile of Laoshan Green tea is very distinct. In Chinese, we refer to it as “dou xiang wei”.. (soy) bean fragrance/aroma flavor. It is a decidedly sweet vegetal flavor that leans more towards sweet-savory (soy bean, green bean) rather than more leafy // chlorophyl (grasses, fresh leaves). In that way, your comparison to chocolate makes sense- cocoa is after all made from a particularly sweet bean. However, just like some people do not enjoy chocolate (cocoa bean) while others do not like cream or milk or the flavor of vinegar or the flavors of red meat, it’s possible that this flavor is just not something you enjoy. Given all of this, I want to thank you you taking so much time with the He Family’s tea! Because I love what Mr. and Mrs. He are able to get out of their land and their leaves, so I always really appreciate seeing people take the time to try and taste their tea.

If you’re ever in the Midwest, I hope you’ll be able to come and visit us in Minneapolis. I’d love to make this tea (and others) for you and drink it with you!

Holly Faye

Folks, look at the above comment; if this isn’t the height of professionalism, I don’t know what is. Lily took the time and patience to respond to an abnormally negative and blunt review of one of her company’s signature teas with steeping suggestions, links, and an explanation of how the flavor profile is created, without getting defensive. She then went on to thank me for trying her company and even went so far as to invite me to their store! It’s commendable to go the extra mile for an appreciative customer, but to do it for one who complains about the product is truly a cut above.

Lily, thank you for your thorough feedback – I hadn’t considered how covering the tea would affect the steeping temperature! I’ve still got some of this tea left, so I’m going to revisit it with your advice. I also want to let you know that although the Laoshan green wasn’t my cup, I enjoyed your Laoshan black tea, and I fully plan on restocking that as well as trying some of your other selections.

Lily Duckler

Thank you, TeaKlutz! I hope you have better luck next go-around, but if not? The autumn harvests are coming up soon, and every season brings a different quality to each tea.

Happy sipping!

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Fjellrev

It just may be your taste buds. Nothing wrong with that. :)

Dexter

I agree, you don’t have to love a tea just because it’s popular. Everyone has their own tastes/preferences.

Lily Duckler

My other suggestion would be to try brewing in glass and not to cover your tea as it’s steeping. Covering increases the brewing temperature even over short brewings and can make greens more temperamental. Brewing in glass is also a good option as the material is so good a dissipating heat.

I generally brew green tea with my nose. Just like green vegetables are done cooking when they look most beautiful, green tea usually tastes the best when it smells best. With this tea, for example, I usually pour my water against the side of the glass (so as not to shock the leaves), swirl for around five seconds, and smell. If it smells good, then it’s done brewing: I pour out into a new glass through a strainer.

Have you seen David’s brewing videos about Laoshan Green? I’ll leave the links here for reference. Though the videos are using different harvests, the same methodology still applies.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jO0wH7vTpQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlDwPs4_Dm8

All of that said, the flavor profile of Laoshan Green tea is very distinct. In Chinese, we refer to it as “dou xiang wei”.. (soy) bean fragrance/aroma flavor. It is a decidedly sweet vegetal flavor that leans more towards sweet-savory (soy bean, green bean) rather than more leafy // chlorophyl (grasses, fresh leaves). In that way, your comparison to chocolate makes sense- cocoa is after all made from a particularly sweet bean. However, just like some people do not enjoy chocolate (cocoa bean) while others do not like cream or milk or the flavor of vinegar or the flavors of red meat, it’s possible that this flavor is just not something you enjoy. Given all of this, I want to thank you you taking so much time with the He Family’s tea! Because I love what Mr. and Mrs. He are able to get out of their land and their leaves, so I always really appreciate seeing people take the time to try and taste their tea.

If you’re ever in the Midwest, I hope you’ll be able to come and visit us in Minneapolis. I’d love to make this tea (and others) for you and drink it with you!

Holly Faye

Folks, look at the above comment; if this isn’t the height of professionalism, I don’t know what is. Lily took the time and patience to respond to an abnormally negative and blunt review of one of her company’s signature teas with steeping suggestions, links, and an explanation of how the flavor profile is created, without getting defensive. She then went on to thank me for trying her company and even went so far as to invite me to their store! It’s commendable to go the extra mile for an appreciative customer, but to do it for one who complains about the product is truly a cut above.

Lily, thank you for your thorough feedback – I hadn’t considered how covering the tea would affect the steeping temperature! I’ve still got some of this tea left, so I’m going to revisit it with your advice. I also want to let you know that although the Laoshan green wasn’t my cup, I enjoyed your Laoshan black tea, and I fully plan on restocking that as well as trying some of your other selections.

Lily Duckler

Thank you, TeaKlutz! I hope you have better luck next go-around, but if not? The autumn harvests are coming up soon, and every season brings a different quality to each tea.

Happy sipping!

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The name’s Holly, and I’ve been a tea drinker since spring of 2013. Tea is my happy place – it picks me up, it calms me down, it helps me focus, it helps me loosen my grip, it’s a little bit of positivity in each day. I do not drink alcohol, so tea is my recreational beverage. I love learning everything there is to know about it and sharing my experiences.

When I’m not drinking or writing about tea, I’m working at a music store and pursuing a Master’s degree in professional writing. You may also find me reading, writing, trying to learn French, cycling on the weekends, being a klutz, or making horrible puns and Star Trek references. Likely all at the same time.

My Tea Blog: http://steepinclined.wordpress.com/

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