603 Tasting Notes

98

My second tea from the newly managed 52teas! The dry leaf aroma is maple, coconut, and cardamom. The brewed tea aroma is maple and spices. I wasn’t so sure about all those huge cardamom pods (or the coconut for that matter) but you know what? This really does taste like French toast! Much more so than Frank’s 52teas blend from a few months back. (Strike that. Apparently it’s from a few years back. Man, time flies!)

I think the thing that’s really incredible with this one is that Anne has captured egg in the tea. French toast is many things: bread, butter, maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg spices, and EGG! This actually tastes like French toast coated in egg! Color me impressed!

The maple is very strong and there’s a little bit of everything else you’d want: butter, bread, sweetness, and overall tastiness. The coconut adds a nice sweet component that blends well with the maple flavor. I’m actually surprised and delighted that those two go together so well. And with every sip there’s that lovely bready egg flavor that just screams French toast. This is a home run!

I added some Truvia and skim milk. It doesn’t need it but that’s the way I often enjoy black teas. This is delightful! I am really enjoying this! The base is a bit strong but that’s probably because I overleafed it. Even though it’s strong and assertive, it’s not bitter. Yum! I love this so much, I wonder if I can justify purchasing another few ounces to my husband…I don’t want to run out! I really can’t though, ugh. I’ve already spent more on tea than my budget allows.

The second infusion for four minutes is still flavorful and delicious. That’s a nice bonus! I used to get only one good infusion out of 52teas’ blends. So far (and no offense meant to Frank whatsoever as I have loved the company under his stewardship as well), this change in management seems to be a change for the better! Grab this tea while you can!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
LiberTEAS

Thank you, I’m so glad to see that you’re liking this one. I was really happy with it too.

TeaBrat

sounds yummy

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88

This is my first tea from the newly managed 52teas! The dry leaf aroma is surprisingly lemon and cheesecake! I know I shouldn’t be surprised. But Frank’s cheesecake blends never seemed to have enough cheesecake, and this one actually smells like it! The aroma is potent and mouthwatering. Aahh, now I’m really excited to try this one! I should have worked out tonight. But now it’s too late and I’m tired and although I should really just already be in bed, I’m going to brew up this tea!

The leaves are really pretty too. There’re big chunks of lemon peel and lemongrass among other things. What a beautiful tea! The houjicha is of nice quality too. There are whole leaves as well as stems, not just a dusting of crushed leaves like I’ve found in some houjicha varieties. Houjicha definitely gets the short end of the stick sometimes. It deserves as much love as any other tea! Yes, even as much love as a premium dragonwell or silver needle!

I find myself fluttering around the cup as it steeps. Hurry up! Hurry up! You know you’re impatient when the timer says 58 seconds and you run to the bathroom just to pass the time and return to see 14 seconds left. Sigh. Seriously, two minutes really shouldn’t take this long.

Okay, enough of my babbling. Time to try it! Mmm, the flavor is unexpected. The houjicha comes through strongly. The lemongrass hits the palate next. There’s a creamy component but not quite tangy like cheesecake. It’s really very lovely! I was expecting more of a sweet, dessert type tea. This is actually calming, relaxing, and revitalizing. A much different experience than I was expecting but quite enjoyable nonetheless.

I’m debating whether or not to add sugar. I don’t feel like this tea should be sugary sweet. The vanilla lends a sweetness that is perfectly adequate. But I also want to see if I can coax out more cheesecake. I’m not sure sweetener is the way to do this, but I’m going to experiment anyway. Hopefully, I don’t ruin a good thing.

Hmmm, Truvia definitely brings out different elements of this tea. I think it is a bit creamier and more akin to cheesecake now. But it’s actually quite a lovely, enjoyable tea sans additions. I really like this! It’s not my perfect cheesecake blend, but then Frank’s teas never were either. Okay, let me be honest. I pretty much sucked this cup down. It is a delicious tea! I’m a fan!

Flavors: Creamy, Lemongrass, Roasted, Vanilla

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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95

Inhaling long, deep breaths of the dry leaf aroma has transported me to heaven. I’m so glad I bought samples of both Mrs. Li’s Dragonwells! To avoid confusion, I’m going to call this one “Early Spring” and the other “Shi Feng” (even though they both have Shi Feng in the name; only one has Early Spring!). I was expecting them to taste basically the same. In fact, I was expecting to have difficulty tasting a difference. But wow, these are so different!

I thought the Shi Feng one was actually a tad bitter. I didn’t put that in my review because I assumed I messed up the brewing parameters somehow since it was my first gaiwan experience. But now I think it may have been a little bit of the tea’s fault too. That tea was good, much greener and clean tasting. This one is creamy, buttery, and luscious! I much prefer this Early Spring version!

They both definitely have watercress notes, but Verdant Tea hit the nail on the head describing the Shi Feng as silky and the Early Spring as creamy. Oh yes, creamy!!! And buttery!! Oh, so good! Nom nom nom!

So I didn’t read the directions properly and started this at 10 second infusions instead of 4 seconds. The first two infusions were definitely the best. I felt the tea lost flavor surprisingly quickly in later infusions, but this could be due to those longer early steeps. I tried to compensate by doing longer later infusions and that’s when the Early Spring got a tad bitter. But that’s the first time any bitterness could be detected, and I’m 100% sure it’s because I oversteeped the leaves. As soon as I decreased the infusion time again, all traces of bitterness vanished.

Wow, I am so loving Long Jing!! It’s hard to believe there was a time when I drank a cup of Dragonwell and thought, “Yuck!” This is not yuck. This is pure decadence in a cup. I read through Verdant’s description of this one again and I found where it recommends eating the leaves after the tea is steeped out. I would not have thought of doing that!! I popped a bud in my mouth and sure enough, Verdant didn’t lead me astray. It is sweet and tender and delicious! OMG, I think I found a new love. My husband may have to share me because I want to marry this tea. AAHHHH!!! So good! I love this tea!!!!

Flavors: Butter, Creamy

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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80

The dry leaf aroma is dark chocolate, malt, and walnut. The aroma of the wet leaves is rock and mineral. The taste is a lovely combination of the two aromas. It’s at first mineral-y with a great, oaky, rock oolong flavor. Then it becomes silky smooth with a bit of caramel or honey. There’s even more honey in the second infusion and now a creamy vanilla note is seeping in.

I don’t usually like rock oolongs but this is delicious! It’s more honey and oak than mineral, which is a plus in my book. The tea liquor is a gorgeous amber. I’m gongfu brewing this in my gaiwan, slowly increasing the infusions by 5-10 seconds. I just fed the baby before starting this and luckily she’s being good for the moment. Thank you for allowing me to enjoy some tea, my darling!

Of course, the second I typed that she started fussing. ;) Now I’m carrying her in my Ergo and bouncing while the tea steeps. I think I’ll be enjoying the rest of these infusions with a baby strapped to my chest. :) This is great tea and I’d say the leaves are probably a good year old. I think Fujian oolongs are growing on me!

Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Honey, Mineral, Oak wood, Vanilla, Walnut

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 2 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML

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98

Zhu Rong. You used to be so right. Now you are so wrong. :(

I’m not sure what happened to the last harvest of Zhu Rong Yunnan Black Tea. It is not the same as the year before. It used to be primarily cedar notes with a spicy undertone. This last year’s harvest, however, is largely smoke and tobacco. Yuck! I think I can still get some cedar and spice underneath whatever smokiness is going on. But this smoke is STRONG!

It’s not at all what I wanted or what I find enjoyable. I’m quite sad because I bought a whole 4 oz. of it expecting the lovely Zhu Rong I had sampled the year before. I purchased this in October 2014. Is anyone interested in taking it off my hands? The tea itself is very high quality and flavorful, as all Verdant Teas are. I just don’t like it. The bag has 4 oz. in it minus about 4 tsp from the couple cups I brewed. I’d like to recoup as much of my investment as possible, so hopefully around $15 + shipping OBO. Any takers? Please take this tea off my hands because it will languish in my cupboard! Someone should enjoy it!

Flavors: Cedar, Smoke

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
scribbles

I was pretty disappointed with that harvest too. And I did the same thing; bought a large quantity :( lesson learned

looseTman

Has anyone reviewed the 2015 harvest?

CHAroma

It hasn’t been harvested this year yet.

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78

These leaves are fairly old. I’m not getting carrot or cupcake. It does taste like a yummy chai with a strong cinnamon note. Other than that, I don’t have a lot to say. It stands up to sweetener well and doesn’t require milk to be enjoyable. I usually hate Keemun but this is all right. Tasty even. Dare I say I’m enjoying it? :P Oddly enough, I don’t think I have any other chais right now. It’s usually a staple in my cupboard. So I’m holding on to this one for when I get chai cravings. I like it! I do!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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75

Wow, so many other people have had this tea in a hospital. That’s my story too! I enjoyed this tea as I was recovering from the birth of my first and only child. I was told to stay away from caffeine because I was breastfeeding. It’s nothing spectacular but it hit the spot. It will always have a special place in my heart because it reminds me of the birth of my daughter. :)

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75

This tea kept me going in the hospital after I gave birth. I realize it’s decaffeinated but it was TEA! And that’s all I really cared about. I needed the flavor of tea and any kind would do. I was told to stay away from caffeine because I was breastfeeding. It’s nothing spectacular but it hit the spot. It will always have a special place in my heart because it reminds me of the birth of my daughter. :)

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95

Apparently, I haven’t had this tea in a couple years. This was a free sample with my recent order. I’m trying it out in my new gaiwan! The dry leaf aroma is strongly jasmine scented. The brewed tea is a heavenly dream. It smells and tastes amazing! I love watching the white leaves become green in the hot water. I started with a quick 10 second steep and slowly increased it to over two minutes. Every infusion is different and delicious!

I love Verdant’s notes on this one: creamy, jasmine, banana, melon, and pine. I really do get each of these flavors! Although I have to say that the banana is not how it sounds. It’s more like the texture of a ripe banana rather than the taste. This tea is floral and delicate with a lovely aftertaste of hay and pine. I don’t think I would have picked out the pine note on my own but I can definitely understand it now that I know what to look for. It’s in the aftertaste that lingers long after the sip.

Mmm, this is delightful. I am thoroughly enjoying this. It’s probably not something I’d want to drink every day but I loved my way through this sample. Why did I rate this so low three years ago? I’m raising the rating from 83 to 95! A gaiwan makes all the difference! :)

Flavors: Banana, Creamy, Hay, Jasmine, Melon, Pine

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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94

I’ve been very very bad. I recently bought my first gaiwan from Verdant Tea! It’s a beautiful, bone china, Jingdezhen, hand-painted, mountain gaiwan with matching teacup. It’s so so beautiful! It arrived today and I could barely contain my excitement! I immediately washed it and tried it out with this tea. I love it so much, and I was so impressed by the quality, that I went back onto the Verdant site and bought three more teacups, a bamboo tea scoop, and 1 oz. of Golden Fleece. AAHHHH!!!! What have I done?! I cannot, should not be buying all this teaware! I’ve been a very very bad girl. Shhh, don’t tell my husband. It’ll be our little secret. ;)

ON TO THE TEA!

Ah, on to this tea indeed. This tea is incredible! I honestly can’t do it justice with a review. I feel like my tea tasting and describing abilities are lacking for such a high quality tea. So I shall defer to the notes that Verdant Tea uses to describe it: silk, watercress, green bean, violet, and cashew. Wow! Silk and watercress indeed! This tea is silky smooth and delightful!

The first few infusions are incredibly flavorful. This being my first gongfu experience, I didn’t throw away the first infusion. I steeped the leaves for 30 seconds, which was honestly probably too long – or at least it’s too long when you don’t toss the first steeping after 10 seconds. This first infusion was a tad bitter. The second infusion though was spot on! The bitterness had faded and left behind a punch of watercress flavor. I rushed over to my husband and gave him the cup because I know he loves green tea more than me. He was blown away too.

Subsequent infusions (I lost count how many) were still delicious but didn’t possess quite the same broad spectrum of flavor. The violet and cashew are definitely only apparent in the early infusions. The late infusions were gentler and had mainly green bean notes. Still good to me but my husband said he definitely liked the early infusions more. He actually asked me if it was a different tea! He’s not quite as experienced – read obsessed – a tea drinker as I am, so he didn’t know that I was brewing multiple infusions of the same tea.

Ah, this tea is a luxury. It just oozes sophistication and class. I don’t usually like dragonwell but I think I may have to change that opinion because this is truly something special. How did I ever dislike green tea?

Now if only that bamboo presentation scoop wasn’t so darn expensive, I would have bought that too. I also looked into getting one of the tea pitchers, but I was able to successfully restrain myself. Gah! Why does Verdant have to offer so many beautiful teaware pieces? I want it all!! And after this gaiwan experience, now I see why I need a pitcher. The Chinese tea preparation method is messy! I got water everywhere! Besides that though, gongfu method brewing was much easier than I thought it would be. I have a new found love!

I truly enjoyed this gongfu experience so much more than my regular Western method of brewing tea, which surprised me. It honestly is so much more fun! I felt bad throwing away the used tea leaves in the trash. It felt wrong. Goodbye, beautiful tea leaves! I enjoyed all your delicious flavor and now you have no flavor left!

This was a treat. I am so thankful to Verdant for offering this tea, and I am so thankful to God for bringing me to this point in my life where I can afford and enjoy such experiences.

ETA: https://instagram.com/p/4KKFZvF-sf/
https://instagram.com/p/4KLPe6l-vC/
https://instagram.com/p/4KLhMIl-gD/

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec 4 g 5 OZ / 147 ML
Tealizzy

Love gongfu! It’s so much more fun! :)

CHAroma

It is! I added some photos of my beautiful new gaiwan. :)

ashmanra

I love the new teaware! So glad for you!

CHAroma

Thanks, ashmanra!

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Bio

Entering the sweet blissful world of tea aromas!

Having discovered this website at the end of July 2011, I’m so excited to share my tea adventures with all of you! I grew up with my grandmother serving Twining’s English Breakfast with cream and sugar.

But on a trip to Seattle in 2010, I stumbled into a Chinese teashop and tried my first oolong tea. I was forever changed! I embarked on a startling new love for green and white teas.

With a world of teas to discover, I was inspired to keep a tea journal to record my thoughts and new favorites. Let’s get brewing!


My ratings are completely subjective and 100% my opinion. All ratings are given in relation to each other (ie. teas are rated in the order of my enjoyment of them). Therefore, my ratings will constantly change as I try more teas.


I love swapping!!! If you see something in my cupboard you’d like to try, just send me a message. If you’d like to trade, anything on my shopping list will do or feel free to send something else entirely. I’m willing to try almost anything (although I’m not really a fan of honeybush, red rooibos, pu’erh, Lapsang Souchong, & banana-flavored teas).

Location

Maryland, USA

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