517 Tasting Notes

78

1.5 tsp for 300mL water @ 85C, steeped three minutes thirty seconds Western style, drunk bare.

I’m not a fan of dark oolongs. It was low-quality, dusty dark oolongs made with too-hot water that scared me off this entire group of tea for years. Stale Formosa, scalded, is just nasty.

I’m in love with Verdant, though, and I’m really excited about the Laoshan teas, so hey, I’ll try the Laoshan Roasted Oolong.

I’ve had it for several days, though, procrastinating, instead getting tea-drunk on the tieguanyin. (Look! Look! Three steeps and still beautiful, ah ha ha ha ha!)

Did I make it too strong? I expect so.

It’s got a lovely toasted barley taste, even some butter notes, and the scent reminds me of wild Yunnan, but there’s also a … what, cooked note? Roasted, I suppose. But it’s flat to me, flat and almost burnt. The dry winey finish is confusing me.

I think this one’s wasted on me, or I made a mess of it. Back to the Iron Goddess of Mercy I go.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Guys, help me out. What am I missing here?

Michelle Butler Hallett

I started out enjoying this … it’s been a strange cup.

Starfevre

The directions for Western brewing call for boiling water, 1 tsp per cup and 1.5 minutes. Maybe try it again like that?

Michelle Butler Hallett

The shorter time makes a lot of sense, but I admit, I hesitate to use boiling water on an oolong. I’ll try it, though.

Starfevre

I was kinda wary of the boiling water too, but I just made some and oolongs aren’t really my thing but I think it turned out okay. It’s hasn’t turned ‘bad’ or anything with the treatment.

Bonnie

One thing I’ve learned with Verdant is to follow their website instructions even if it goes against everything you’ve been doing. After that, do as you will. My scoffing tea friends don’t scoff any longer. They scratch they’re heads and obey.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @90C, steeped 4 minutes Western style, drunk bare.

Oh! Try this with cooler water. I usually make this with boiling, but I just infused it with 90C water, and so much sweetness has come out. 95 might be even better. I didn’t get as much down in the liquor with the cooler water. So much honey and roasted root vegetable going on here — delicious.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Intoxicating! I am in tea bliss.

TheTeaFairy

Tea bliss is the place to be…I just remembered I had a very yummy sample of this not that long ago, you make me question my sanity for not making it part of my very recent Verdant order! On the list it goes!

Michelle Butler Hallett

It’s one of the nicest black teas I’ve ever drunk.

Starfevre

I’ve never experienced tea bliss and I am jealous.

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92

1.5 tsp for 300mL water @100C, steeped 4 minutes, drunk bare.

So good. An excellent, if mysterious, blend of black teas. I’ve made guesses as to what’s in here before, but in the end, I don’t much care how they made it: I just want it in my cup. A good wake-me-up tea. The last time I ordered it, I ordered three tins.

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6 tsp (I think) for 1000mL water @100C, steeped five minutes in the Breville, basket cycle on, drunk bare.

Oh oh oh! Peppery, foresty Yunnan! Clean finish, mineral sparkle, and pepper notes that I really like. The leaves are long and spindly, so it’s hard to measure this tea in a scoop. I feel I made it too weak yesterday, but then I always find tea made in a pot versus in a smaller cup seems weaker. That’s just me. This Yunnan tea is a delight. It doesn’t have the honey-like heaviness of some, but it’s got a crisp simplicity (that’s not really a simplicity at all) tI find invigorating. Not a lot of caffeine, either: I can drink this in the evening and not disrupt my sleep. But it does energize, in a more subtle, interesting way. A treat.

Michelle Butler Hallett

It’s also just a lovely tea to look at.

TheTeaFairy

I love pepper notes in tea, it gives a little bite…invigorating is a good word for it :-)

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91

1.5 tsp for 300mL water @ 90C, steeped 2 minutes 30 seconds Western style.

I’ve been wanting to try this blend for a long time. Frankincense is one of my favourite scents, and to think of it in tea …

This works. This works so very well. My first thought was “I want the goji berries out and a pinch of lapsang in,” but I’ve changed my mind. I find goji berries get a bit too sweet for me, so I might try a pinch of lapsang later in a second infusion. Frankinsence cries out for smoke, but I’ll need to be careful, because the tieguanyin could get overwhelmed.

An unusual but very well-balanced blend. No one flavour dominates, and using tieguanyin instead of a black tea as the base was inspired. As for tasting notes, I haven’t got anything much to add to the Verdant write-up; they describe it well. I can say that the frankincense gives a slight pine note to the finish, which, with the bergamot, is intriguing.

Michelle Butler Hallett

I added a scant pinch of Andrew and Dunham’s Caravan Resurrected to my second infusion. I needed much less — just a whiff of smoke if what I’m craving here, maybe even a pinch of Keemun instead. I am still quarrelling with the goji berries; I find their scent reminds me of bubble gum. I’ll give this blend another go this afternoon.

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100

1.5 tsp for 250 mL water @ 90C, steeped 3 minutes Western style, first infusion.

Tieguanyins are one of my favourite things to drink.

I adore the 2012 Autumn Harvest Tieguanyin from Verdant, greatly enjoying its depth and snap. The 2013 Spring is creamier, a bit more suggestive of orchids, almost like a Quangzhou milk, and more — well, springlike, fresh and new. The creaminess stands out for me, suggeting sweetness and vanilla. Lovely.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Mineral notes in the finish as I get further down the cup. Very nuanced.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Third infusion yielded some surprising mushroom and forest notes, the sort of thing I’d expect from a Yunnan black.

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100

1.5 tsp for 300mL water @ 98C, steeped four minutes, drunk bare.

I found some! I found some in a kitchen cupboard whole looking for some tea to ice.

Musk and pepper and honey and forest. Refreshing. No longer my favourite Yunnan -Verdant’s Golden Fleece stole my heart - but an excellent one, a brilliant example of what’s so good about Yunnan teas.

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96

1.5 tsp for 300mL water @90C, steeped Western style, drunk bare.

My favourite tieguanyin. I love the fruit and floral notes. I am now going to bask in an afternoon of steep after steep of this beautiful tea.

Verdant’s having a sale on this one, as they’ve not got much left.

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92

1.5 tsp for 300mL water @100C, steeped 4 minutes, drunk bare.

Assertive and comforting, a bit like a take-charge grandmother. Much classic black tea goodness going on here, with the Keemun (I suspect) as ever adding a rich note. A very bold tea. The slight bot of smoke is very comforting on a dreary, wet day.

gmathis

Take-charge grandmothers wouldn’t wear anything but double knit, would they? :)

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86

1 bag for 300mL water @100C, steeped four minutes, drunk bare.

Here in St John’s, the store that carries Barry’s tea has it in the green box, but the green box says nothing about it being “Irish Breaskfast.” This seems to be a marketing label for tea drunk outside of Ireland. I could be wrong. This box of Barry’s came direct from Ireland, though, so I do wonder.

I’ve had this teamany times before. Sometimes, yes, even Michelle the Tea Snob just wants to plop a bag in a mug, pour in the boiling water, and get some tea with minimal fuss. Call it lazy. I don’t care.

The first tea I ever drank was King Cole, a blend once very popular in Atlantic Canada. The bags were generously filled and would get very plump, tea leaves straining against the gauze — yes, gauze, not paper. King Cole only in the last year or so stopped using gauze, as gauze was getting expensive and hard to source. King Cole was a blend that satisfied with English war bride grandmother and being “almost” strong enough. In my memory, it was heavy on the Assam, very malty and pungent.

Barry’s in the green box tastes a lot like that. This blend’s got some Kenyan in it, too, and that’s fine. The result is strong black tea that can help you through bad weather, bad news, bad days …

Decent caffeine punch. Malty, with a medium to heavy body. Some Assam fruitiness, and a very strong pucker at the end. This is not a smooth tea, not after the China oolongs and blacks I’ve been drinking, but it is perfect for what it wants to me: unpretentious, dependable, everyday, blended black tea. There’s much worse out there than Barry’s.

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Bio

Writer and tea fiend. Author of DELUDED YOUR SAILORS, SKY WAVES, DOUBLE-BLIND, and THE SHADOW SIDE OF GRACE.

I prefer straight teas but will try almost anything … so long as it’s not tainted with hibiscus. I loathe hibiscus.

Oolongs and blacks are my favourites.

Location

St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

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