558 Tasting Notes


1.5 tsp for 300mL water @100C, steeped five minutes.

Dry leaves are long and twisty, mostly dark with a golden one here and there.

Dark copper liquor.

Well, Damn Fine warned us this would be strong.

And it’s GLORIOUS. Lots of cedar and toast notes, and a rich, almost honey-like finish that announced ‘Yunnan’ in a deep voice. Not a subtle or a gentle tea. It’s not smoky, but it’s close to smoky. It’s got a faint peppery bite that I find in some Yunnans and really like. I’m gonna play with steep times, but I expect this will brew up intense regardless. I love this tea. But be warned: it’s strong.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Biting, Black Pepper, Brown Toast, Cedar, Cocoa, Earth, Fig, Forest Floor, Honey, Oak wood, Thick, Winter Honey


Yunnan teas are really good gongfu style



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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @85C, steeped five minutes.

The packet suggests using water at 100C, but I find that scalds mate and certainly makes the dried fruit a bit harsh. 85C works much better.

A fresh and bright green mate with lots of candied fruit. Sweet and sunny, with good but not overpowering or sickly ago flavour. Good mate buzz from it, too.

I find Tea Squared in my favourite supermarket. The re-sealable bags hold about 80 grams of tea or tisane, and retail around 8 to 9 dollars Canadian. Worth it, I think.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @95C, steeped four minutes.

A delicate and subtle lapsang souchong with a mineral oolong finish.

I’m in love.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @90C, steeped 8 minutes 45 seconds.

Yeah, 8:45. I got a phone call.

However, this tea stands of beautifully to a long steep.

Colour on my usual 4:30 steep is much the same as what I have here now, a medium copper that looks like a light Ceylon tea. This is a darker oolong than I usually drink, and it’s got a lot going on: molasses, figs, plums and a few other nots I can’t quite define. Nuanced. No bitterness, not even at 8:45. The shorter steep is much sweeter, but this robust beauty remains pleasant and complex. Well worth a try for anyone who likes oolong, and it might make a lovely foray into oolong for a tea drinker who likes the lighter black teas, like Darjeelings (though this has no astringency).

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1.5 tsp (approximate — leaves are long and twisty) for 300mL water @95C, stepped 4 minutes 45 seconds.

Oh oh oh.

First off, I love the name of this tea. I admit it; I pretend I am a dagger-wielding warrior queen when I drink this.

Dry leaf is black and gold, long and twist. Scents of dark honey, earth, a bit of sweet potato, and leather.

Wet leaf yields up copper and brown, like pennies. Scents are stronger.

Liquor is copper with some down.

Aroma is unmistakeable: some leather, buckwheat honey, fresh bread, and spicy trees. I know that last one sounds odd. Spicy trees, green incensey almost — cedar perhaps?

Flavour matches the aroma with some sweet potato notes as well. No bitterness.

I just love this tea.

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1.5 tsp in 300mL water @95C, steeped five minutes.

An excellent basic Darjeeling. Everything that’s good about Darjeeling — the clean astringence, the tending towards almost a green tea in body and taste, and that glorious muscatel — is all here. This is a blend from one grand, Pussimbing. I find it benefits from a slightly longer steep than I usually go for with a black tea, five minutes versus four or four and a half, and with the lower water temp of 95 vs 100. The price is more than reasonable — a bargain, I’d argue, with 250 grams costing only $18.00 — the leaf organic and tested for hundreds of different residues, and, best of all, Tea Campaign is committed to improving the lives of tea workers.

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About 4 grams for 300mL water @98C, steeped four minutes, Western style.

I can taste everything listed in the tasting notes, even the brightness, which is pleasant … but I still can’t finish it. Pu’er and I just can’t get along.


I only brew puerh Gongfu style . You might like it too

Michelle Butler Hallett

I expect you’re on to something.

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1.5 tsp (roughly — big leaves) for 300mL water @85C, steeped 3 minutes 30 seconds, Western style, first infusion.

Dry leaf: dark and giving a scent of earth and — uh — incense. Something spicy. Mineral notes.

Wet leaf is green and smells of toast and sun-warmed rocks.

Liquor is pale golden-green, much like a tieguanyin would be.

First aroma notes are earth and sunshine and rocks. The earthiness seemed more pronounced in the cup I made last night with warmer water, 90C. Today I’ve got something close to an autumn tieguanyin, those sorts of florals, with toasted grain and minerals. Yeah, I keep mentioning rocks: lots of rocky notes here, and that’s great. I think I prefer tieguanyin, on the whole, but this is lovely and complex, invites meditation — perhaps it’s the faint, faint reminders of incense doing that.

Flavours continue to open up as the tea cools.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @95C, steeped four minutes 30 seconds.

Dry leaf smells of rocks, pine, woodsmoke, salt, cream, and something sweet. The smoke does not overpower. Leave are long, dark, and twisted (like my favourite stories).

Wet leaf remains twisted, if less so, and smelling more of minerals than anything else.

Liquor is bronze with some down.

Smoke, yes, but a gentle smoke, with lots of China black tea characteristics coming through. There’s an elusive taste of cream, too. Plenty of sweet mineral notes. I know thi sis a smoked black tea, but it behaves much more like a dark sweet oolong.

This is really frigging good.


I just ordered one of the two remaining packages of this because of your review :D it sounds like such an enticing tea!

Michelle Butler Hallett

I’m kicking myself than I only ordered one ounce and not two. I’d been looking at it for a while but couldn’t afford a Verdant order til a few weeks ago. I hope you enjoy it.

Michelle Butler Hallett

I adore a good lapsang souchong. Lots of tarry and bitter impostors out there … this isn’t one. The only smoky tea I’ve tried that’s come close to being this good is Damn Fine’s Caravan and Caravan resurrected.


I own DFs Caravan and haven’t tried it yet! Know what I’m doing tomo…lol

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1.5 tsp (more or less, very long leaves) for 300mL water @95C, steeped 4 minutes 30 seconds.

Oooohh, the Zhu Rong is strong in this year’s blend. I adore Zhu Rong. It dances with the Laoshan, and the Big Red Robe is very clear, too. I am not a pu’er fan, but I do like how it works in this blend, and I have a sample of Master Hans 2002 Shu Pu’er on hand this time, to see if I can educate myself.

Liquor is light bronze. First aroma notes are smoke (very subtle), leather, cedar, and chocolate. Then everything else kisses you. The Zhu Rong leaves a note of sweet potato this year. An excellent blend. I wish I could drink this every day.

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Writer and tea fiend. Author of DELUDED YOUR SAILORS, SKY WAVES, DOUBLE-BLIND, and THE SHADOW SIDE OF GRACE. New novel next spring called THIS MARLOWE.

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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