312 Tasting Notes


Recently there was a post on Steepster/Teatra.de about a special offer to buy a pre-release pack of Zealong black tea. It seemed a bit pricey but I love trying new stuff so I put in an order for 50g. (Although to be fair, the price is on-par with other high end black teas I buy)
My package came in the mail today, and along with the tea I ordered there were a few goodies: a photo of a Zealong picker in a tea field, photo of a tea cup in snow, and 2 tea samples (gaba oolong and FF ruby darjeeling).

For my first tea session I will be brewing it “western style” once at 3mins. Next time I’ll do multiple short steeps in a 100ml tea vessel.

Dry leaf appearance: big broad leaves

Liquor scent: malty, grainy

Flavour: Starts off very light, grainy, malty, with a sweet after taste. As I kept drinking, I started picking up on a unique flavour, not sure how to describe it other than “grapey”. It’s not a muscatel or concord grape kinda flavour. The tea body wasn’t bitter or had much astringency. Reminds me a bit of the “oolong-black” tea I tried from Yuuki-Cha.

Next time I brew this western style, I’ll try it at 5 minutes. The tea body is very light, so I think it could benefit from a longer steep time. This is my second experience with a tea from New Zealand. Before this I tried the Zealong Pure oolong, which I thought was pretty good. They all seem to be quite smooth and lack a sharp astringency.

Overall I found this to be an interesting black tea, but I won’t rate it until I do a short steep session.

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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I was really disappointed the first time I prepared a cup of this, so I decided to have another go today.

Drinking in the liquor, it tasted too tarry and smoky. Lapsang Souchong is one of my favourite types of black tea, but I cannot find anything here to love. It’s like someone dissected a smoker’s lung and then steeped it.
The lingering aftertaste is not pleasant, the tarry and smoky characteristics stay with me even when I move onto drinking water. Blech

I’ve heard that some people keep new LS for aging to let the smoky characteristics mellow, but I don’t think you could salvage this one.

This one got dumped in the trash but I’m not entirely disappointed with my purchase. I was genuinely curious what the heck this tasted like! If you have a deep love for Lapsang Souchong/Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong don’t touch this one. There are much better options out there.
I’m not sure who this tea appeals to… perhaps people with very little LS experience or those that are heavy smokers (no offense, this is just a very smoky and tarry tea).

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My husband and I are not too enthusiastic about drinking green tea, but this one has certainly charmed us. It’s not that we don’t like green tea, but we’d usually rather drink oolong or black teas. That being said, I like brewing up a pot of this a few days out of the week. It’s also a very easy tea to brew, it never turns out bad even when I let it steep too long (oops!). Based on the flavour and price, this is our favourite green tea and we will probably buy more in the future.

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Tried some of this at a local tea room and wasn’t very impressed. I like rooibos but this one just tasted too much like medicine. Somehow I thought I’d love this cup of tea because I’m a big fan of those craisins w/ pomegranate juice.

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I received this as a bonus in my tea swap with Meeka. A nice gesture on her part, but now I wish I’d included something else too! ;) haha

The one she sent me looks a bit different from the Steepster picture but I’m pretty sure it’s close enough. Mine just says 糯香 instead of the Steepster one 糯米香, but from what I understand this sticky rice or glutinous rice flavour puerh (please correct me if I’m wrong). I’ve tried the raw variety before but not ripe. Now I don’t know if all these sticky rice puerh are made in the same way, but from the two raw ones I had the flavouring was the same. Now onto drinking this gift;

The first steep starts off with a nice creamy texture, and the familiar flavours of earthy ripe puerh and sticky rice.

After the tuo broke apart, it had a consistent flavour from my second steep to the sixth. I could have kept resteeping but these six were satisfying enough.

I quite like this type of flavoured puerh. If I didn’t already have a a big bag of the raw type I wouldn’t mind getting some of these. About the puerh itself, I think it’s pretty good for a ripe mini tuo cha. I’ve had much worse and this one did not offend my senses.

100ml gaiwan, 1 tuo, 6 steeps (rinse, rinse, 10s, 10s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 25s)
Note: I recommend using a strainer if you prepare this in a gaiwan. It is easy to get bits of puerh in your cup


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drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
312 tasting notes


I used the rest of the tea leaves that Meeka sent me, to make a nice big pot of this for my husband to enjoy. He said it tasted like a very manly tea… I don’t really get that but ok. ;)
The topic of similar teas came up and he mentioned a few that he could remember. I am more of a black tea fanatic than him, so understandably it is hard for him to remember all the black teas he has tried and their names. Usually he will say stuff like “that Taiwanese one I love” or “the one with chocolate flavour”.

Overall it was a positive experience and he was happy to have tried it once, but did not feel too attached to this. (In all fairness he is much more of an oolong guy.)

Final thoughts: My experience with this tea was mixed due to the hype. So I think I’ll make it a point to tone down my future reviews, award less high ratings, and hesitate to highly recommend anything. I don’t want to come across as snooty or elitist, this is my personal view and I know everyone here rates tea differently (and there is nothing wrong with that).

500ml of water, 2ish tsp, 1 steep
See previous note

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

I don’t think you’re a snob. I don’t plan to buy any more teas based on the steepster ratings myself. :)

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Strong cinnamon flavour, reminded me of those Hot Tamales candies.

100ml purion teapot, 1 tsp, 1 steep

See previous tasting notes

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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I cold steeped some of this (3tsp?) in a big glass jug (1ltr?) for about 24hrs. It tastes pretty good, I’ll have to make some again during the summer. Still preferring a hot cup during these colder months. :)


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drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
312 tasting notes

Tea Swap with @Meeka

This particular tea caught my attention because so many people on Steepster have tried it and loved it. Over the past year I’ve tried a lot of different black teas so I couldn’t wait to get my hands onto this one. Okay and now onto the tasting notes:

Sniffing the tea liquor, I’m picking up on scents of honey, spices, raisin. It reminds me of a few other black teas I’ve tried.

The first steep tastes much like the tea liquor scents suggested, with the addition of chocolate, malt, and floral rose aroma. (Personal bias: I have a low tolerance for rose flavour)

Subsequent resteeps had the same consistent flavours. At the fourth steep I picked up on more roasted notes, but the rose aroma is really starting to rub me the wrong way.

Overall I didn’t notice too much weakening until the ninth steep, which while weak was still flavourful.

I kept resteeping, and even though most of the tea body is gone there still remains nice hints of sweet honey, raisin and cinnamon which slowly fade away as I reached the fifteenth steep.

This tea was enjoyable, but fell far below my expectations. The high scores and hype on Steepster made me believe this was going to be an amazing, mind blowing experience. But I’ve had other teas like this and I wasn’t especially crazy about them either. I do not want to sound unappreciative because this is indeed a very good tea, but it is not a personal favourite.

On the plus side, I am glad that so many people here are being exposed to such a well made black tea. It is a wonderful example of how beautiful and complex black tea can be.

100ml purion teapot, 2tsp, 15 steeps (based on Verdant Tea gongfu instructions: rinse, 3s, 3s, 3s, +3s resteeps)
I liked this resteeping method, I’ll have to try it out again on some of my other black teas.


I’ve found a LOT of hype on Steepster, (particularly about Verdant teas) in my opinion.


Yes, and I am probably guilty of hyping tea as well. ;) I try not to go too overboard though.


well, I’m sure we all do it from time to time. :)


I haven’t tried steeping it like that yet – I have a tendency to steep black teas western style out of habit – but it sounds like something I want to try. I know what you mean about the hype, I’ve done it too. It’s nice to see honest reviews though.

I’ve gone to rate teas before that I just did not like and then feel a little funny when every other rating is like “95 – I could pick out every awesome flavor here and it is just amazing” and my thoughts are like “I’m so sorry, but I thought this tasted like muddy sugar water” (might be a slight exaggeration ;) )


Meeka – I know the feeling all too well. :)


@Meeka, I think it’s great to steep a tea both ways (western and gongfu), it really tells me a lot about what the tea is capable of. That being said, I’ll probably try western style when my husband is around so he can try this tea too.
I’m really glad that you sent me this sample, it is a good tea to try but I don’t think I’d want a whole bag.

Nathaniel Gruber

i would love to try some of the other black teas that you mentioned in your review that taste like this one. i haven’t encountered these flavor profiles that the laoshan black exudes in any other black tea. any info so i could order a sample and be exposed to such greatness would be awesome. thanks!


@Nathaniel: The main tea I can compare this to is Zhao Bai Jian, but the place I purchased it from (camellia-sinensis.com) is out of stock until spring and I have drunk all of my purchase. (I see that Dragon Tea House on ebay sells one called Nonpareil Sichuan Gongfu but I have not tried it.) Camellia Sinensis also has Chuan Hong which is a lesser grade, but shares enough similar traits.
Those two were the main teas that share the most in common, but Hualien Feng Mi, Xiao Zhong (Camellia Sinensis) and Yixing Hong Cha (jingteashop.com) all share a few common themes, but do not fully emulate Laoshan Northern black tea. Cheers!


Sometimes hype is deserved (Verdant) . Sometimes (like the bubblegum tea’s I don’t get it 52 tea’s) .


I was reading your review again and wondering what your favorite black tea is that can be steeped successfully at least 15 times? I have my own top 5 list, curious about what you were measuring Laoshan Black against.


@ Bonnie: My fav tea that can be steeped at least 15 times is Jin Die (Camellia Sinensis). But there are a lot of black teas I love. Unfortunately they can’t all be my favourite, and some of the best (or personal fav) I’ve tried keep pushing the rating down of the other black teas I’ve drunk.

I have a short list of loves (rated +90), and of course an even longer list of likes (rated +80) and meh teas. Last year I spent a lot of time drinking black tea. So my tongue became a bit picky over those months. ;) Hype bothers me because I expect to try something new and crazy when my expectations are raised so high.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve tried tea that tastes like Laoshan Black. But I just don’t enjoy those type of floral black teas. I’m sure you know very well, that fav teas and personal preference go hand in hand. Besides that, I recognize Laoshan Black is a great tea (I like the resteep ability and body), but it didn’t charm my palate.


Thanks! My question was an honest one since most people don’t steep Black tea’s so many times. Good info.


Haha, I’m kinda weird like that. Short steeping black tea is my preferred method.
The one I tried for this tea is good, but I mostly use 30 seconds, +15 seconds for each resteep.


Ah…explains alot! I just did a Verdant pre-release Black Dancong at 5 seconds adding a second for each additional steeping. Something I’ve never done before. Awesome experience!


I love all the comments here. Great information! Thanks!

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Tea sample provided by Teavivre for review

This was actually the first time I tried green tea in my purion teapot and it worked out really well. It had the same amount of water as my gaiwan, but tasted much better. I even doubled the steep time of the third cup and still wasn’t bitter at all. I know purion is more for (roasted) oolong and black tea, but I’m quite impressed with what it did to this tea.

The three steeps tasted: vegetal, buttery, with a hint of cocoa, a bit of astringency but no bitterness. Aroma made me think of wet moss and asparagus.
I don’t always brew this tea right, and the bitterness can be too overwhelming. So this experiment was nice.

Liking this tea more, but I still prefer the Premium Dragonwell (which I have purchased)
See previous tasting notes on this tea for more of my thoughts

100ml purion teapot (took lid off for steeping), 1 tsp, 3 steeps (30s, 30s, 1min)
I’m not encouraging anyone to buy a purion teapot… these notes are mostly for myself :)

175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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Feel free to add me on Steepster, I’ll probably add you back. :)

I don’t log tea every time I drink it. Tasting notes tend to be about either one style of brewing or a new experience. It is helpful for me to look back on my notes and see what a tea tasted like or which steeping parameter worked best for me. I try to mostly short steep tea unless it only tastes better with a long steep. I’d rather experience what a tea tastes like over 3 or 12 steeps than just 1 to 3 long steeps.

When I write “tsp”, the measurement I use is a regular western teaspoon. Not a tea scoop

What my tea ratings mean:

99-100: Teas that blow my mind! An unforgettable experience. Savoured to the last drop. I felt privileged to drink this.

90-98: Extraordinary, highly recommended, try it and you won’t be disappointed (and if you are, mail me the tea!)

85-89: Wonderful, couldn’t expect more but not a favourite.

80-84: Excellent, a treasured experience but not a favourite.

70-79: Good but could be better. Above average.

60-69: Average, unexceptional, not something I would buy again. Slightly disappointed. I’d rather drink water.

50-0: Varying degrees of sadness

No rating: Mixed feelings, can’t decide whether I like it or not, not enough experience with that sort of tea to rate it. A dramatic change of heart.


Ontario, Canada

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