84 Tasting Notes
This is for Verdant Tea’s “Thirty Year” Tieguanyin. Probably not worth making a separate database entry for this because it likely won’t be available again. I bought some of this when I purchased their bamboo strainers, which I highly recommend, and I needed to add only a few dollars more to get free shipping. Thus I tossed this into my cart.
This tea is tough to judge because it has been heavily re-roasted recently. In fact it tasted like it was re-roasted right before I got it. Noticed some nearly char black pieces, the roasting is rather uneven. I mainly tasted the roast throughout with a slight sour note. The tea looked green once the roasting soaked off. I don’t think this is 30 year old Tieguanyin but with Verdant’s track record of misleading marketing lately I wasn’t expecting this tea to be as old as advertised.
On the plus side, it does steep quite a long time. I got 8 steeps before getting bored with the tea and it could have easily gone a few more. I don’t remember what parameters I used but I did use quite a lot of the tea.
This tea comes in small 2g sachets. Directions are to steep 4 minutes at 90C (194F) in one cup. Hard to say if one cup is 8oz, rather doubtful., probably less is better. I used 208F slightly hotter water and brewed for 2 minutes.
Flavor is malty and sweet, rather like a Yunnan black but nowhere near the strength. Adding milk somewhat kills the delicate profile. I only ordered 50g or 25 tea bags for $9.99 and wish I’d ordered the 500g, but then this is really pricey for tea bags. Not exactly economical if you drink two a day. So it’s back to English tea bags, this is carrying me over until my box from England arrives. I’m trying to stay off coffee in the a.m., but I need milk in tea to buffer my a.m. Meds. The good news is, haven’t had a cup of coffee since mid-December of last year.
Still, have to recommend these as a step up from regular tea bags. Wish I was a tiny Japanese woman using an equally tiny tea cup. I’d feel so elegant and Zen instead, but have to accept I wake up Slavic rolling with a heavy mug. Japan all the way in the afternoon though.
I got a sample teabag of this with an order. Used my regular teabag cup, but the teabag has only 2g of tea, less than a usual teabag so admittedly I may have steeped in too much water. The tea has a slightly marine seaweed odor on the first steep, not unpleasant. I get slight flavor of black tea, but otherwise the color of the brew looked normal with almost no taste. Maybe the sample is old, I don’t know.
I did buy an order of black tea bags of another type from Yunomi, along with some loose leaf too. Will compare to see how those are. But otherwise, I prefer a tannin bite when I drink black tea, that savory sharpness.
Flavors: Char, Marine, Wood
This is supposedly a very late autumn tea, picked November 6, 2015. Typical northern profile, floral but with decent bitterness. The tea is very young with thin stems, can’t say these trees or bushes are very old at all. But the tea is clearly different from the 1800 cake with the thin stems and fragile leaves, compared to the thicker stems. Not much thickness here in the brew at all, color is a yellow tinging to orange which seems consistent with an autumn picking.
I brewed all six grams of the sample generously provided to me by Steepster pals in the recent Sheng Olympics group buy. About 100 ml or less. Did about seven steeps and our unseasonably warm weather turned my leaves a bit mucky on day 3 of sitting in the gaiwan, so I decided to toss them after getting a murky looking cup.
Couldn’t find any information on the price tag as the tea is now sold out and was available on pre-order only. Still, my benchmark remains the Chawangshop Hekai at $36 for 200g. This Verdant tea is not a bad autumn brew, pleasant enough and would have steeped much longer than the seven steps I gave it. Can’t see any reason to complain about it as a drinker, aside from the thin brew. But spring tea can be had in the $30 price range for 357g from places like Yunnan Sourcing, so the budget-minded have better choices than this. The 300 year is a boutique romp for people with cash who already have everything they want from the 2015 season.
Flavors: Bitter, Floral, White Grapes
Actually, I got a sample of the 2015 version but since there isn’t much call for this, I will just add a note to this entry. Again I find myself surprised at a tea from Klasek Tea. I normally order teaware from Klasek and get my samples that way. Unfortunately we are contending with dollar to euro disadvantage plus shipping, so ordering tea on its own just isn’t cost effective since nearly the same teas can be ordered elsewhere. Which is too bad because this is one nice tea. Dark oxidation, rose in the nose and in the cup. This competes very well with Yunnan Sourcing’s Wild Purple Black, with that rose bouquet. But YS is half the price easily and lower shipping as I can obtain theirs from the US site. Too bad, because the cup here is nice and strong, brews several gong fu steeps. Brewed it strong but my son likes strong black tea, and he really liked this one too.
Flavors: Chocolate, Rose
I got a small sample of this with another order and decided to try it. This is a brick tea with low grade leaf, and not a ripe as it says in the title. In fact, if you read the description it says made from 2002 raw leaf which was aged and then either pressed or rewrapped in 2014. This is a heicha border tea, the dark leaves are oxidized and then fermented over time, along with raw, unoxidized leaf mixed in. The oxidizing may have been accidental, or the owner here didn’t know the difference.
The flavor is similar to other aged Tibetan brick heicha, with that Chinese medicine flavor. The leaves are large and papery, some are dark and stuck together a bit. Brew has a bit of thickness, and is a clear, dark orange/red. I don’t particularly care for the Chinese medicine/incense storage flavor, I can tell some camphor is part of it. In a way I’m curious whether I could work out that flavor but I have other such teas to use in an experiment. This tea is currently marked down to $16 or so for 250g.
Flavors: Camphor, Medicinal, Wood
Catching up on my tea notes and cupboard. Purchased this cake very fresh, love the price tag at $22 for a 200g cake. A surprisingly bitter tea, I have some Mengsong Gushu that I used to make a batch of shou and it was mild compared to the Chawangpu cake. Unlike the Hekai Gushu which I want to drink entirely while fresh, this Mengsong is a better tea to age. If I were younger I’d be picking up a tong of this to put away.
I’m impressed with the processing, very little char in my cake and have found that to be the case for most of the house label teas from this vendor, with the exception of the Lao Yun which is a farm production. Chawangshop teas remind me again this year that I don’t need to settle for dirty tea and sticks from some high production factory or other.
Flavors: Bitter Melon, Hay
Catching up on my cupboard and notes. I can’t believe I’ve drunk up nearly half this cake so far this summer. But it has been my go-to daily drinker for a couple of months now. This cake is packed full of buds and has that champagne grape profile of higher tier Yiwu, but at a fraction of the price. A nice change from apricot sheng if you know what I mean.
The tea is a little bitter when pushed, but I like this fresh profile while the tea is new, and less so once it hits a year old, so I’m trying to drink it up young. No expansive qi or terribly subtle qualities. In the summer, I get overheated on a daily basis and struggle with water retention from heat and BP medications. This tea cools my body in two cups, yep hot tea. Very yin. My interior heat cools, and I begin to pee out all the water my body is holding. I feel immensely better just after a couple cups. Yeah kinda gross, I know, but we all have our symptoms.
I get maybe 8-10 steeps tops, so I can finish this off in an evening or maybe a couple cups left the following day. I tried cold brewing this since the hot brew is such a nice light yellow/green, but it doesn’t really hold up cold. The brew turns dark and more bitter in the fridge.
Gotta recommend this for the higher tier flavor and budget price tag. My pick for a daily drinker from the 2015 Chawangshop house teas, but not an age-r. A better choice for aging is the 2015 Mengsong.
Flavors: Green, White Grapes
8 grams in 100-125ml, the higher amount of liquid as the leaves expanded. Brewed on the boil for one rinse, then at 208F for the duration. Tea opens bitter and astringent with some char in the gaiwan, typical sheng profile until steep 6 or so when the bitterness departs and the spicier notes emerge. I notice heat and fullness in my belly long after drinking this tea, almost tricks me into thinking I’m getting a tummy ache but that isn’t the case.
This tea is extremely warming in the gut, and as I’m not a gut person I have to mentally remind myself this is a tea sensation and nothing more. It is a tea to drink with the body more than anything else. Surprisingly cooling in the throat though. Again, a mix of experiences and flavors.
I got tea stoned in my face and sweaty in the pores of my hair on those first six steeps.
Very complex and changing throughout the session. Definitely a cake for a collector looking for a new experience. I have a feeling the experience will vary for everyone. Still steeping this out at 16 steeps now.
The Tea Filth version of this review is on my blog http://deathbytea.blogspot.com.
Flavors: Bitter Melon, Green, Honey, Nutmeg, Vanilla