561 Tasting Notes


1.5 tsp for 300mL water @80C, steeped two minutes 30 seconds.

I got a packet of this as a gift from thoughtful friends.

Opening the package, I did not see much tea. Loads of fruit. It’s very pretty. It’s got a tart scent I can’t quite place …

Packet says 79C for water temp. Huh? For a white? Ohhhkayyyyy ….

WHOA! Tartness overload, and a stain leaking from the infuser that looks like blood in the water … oh no. Hibiscus. Oh GAWD NO, please, not hibiscus …


And I notice in the ingredients list there’s acai powder and maltodextrin. GOOD LORD. If I wanted sugar or any of its cousins in my tea, I’d put it there!

I really want to like this, especially seeing it was a gift that the givers went out of their way to obtain, but it’s a pink, mostly flavourless brew that smells overwhelmingly of hibiscus. I would never guess there was any actual tea leaf in here.

If you like a fruity tisane-type of drink, you might like this one. I uh … I can’t taste anything except hibiscus.

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

An excellent black tea blend. Quite robust today, after several days of drunking Yunnan blacks and tiguanyins. Reassuring. Not bitter. Solid and dependable.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @85.

I rinsed the leaves with 85C water, then steeped 3 minutes 30 seconds.

Orchids, sweet grass, peaches, minerals, sunshine. Some distant vanilla and cream notes. Exquisite. I’m having trouble finding words for this one.

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2 tsp for 300mL water @98C.

Hot tea on a hot day.

First, I rinsed the leaves. I’d not done that before with the Anxi Fo Shou.

Then I steeped it about four minutes, Western-style. I am getting a sweetness I’d not noticed before, like a dark honey, on top of that forest floor note, and, for the first time, peaty notes that remind me of malt whisky. Mineral finish. An incredible tea. I’ve not got much left, maybe another two cups’ worth from my little sample, and I am kicking myself that I did not consult the instructions on the site and note the rinsing idea. I had to struggle to throw away the rinsing liquor, as it smelled so fragrant, but it seems to have taken a lot of bitterness with it.

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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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.


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

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

Floral oolong and complex black teas are my favourites.


St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

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