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493 Tasting Notes

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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1.5 tsp (roughly, a fluffy tea) to 300mL water @ 85C, steeped 3 minutes Western style, drunk bare. First infusion.

I like white tea. I love Yunnan tea. I love good hit of jasmine. I figured I’d be pretty happy with this one, and I am. I have a painful medical condition that disables me to varying degrees, which I mention here because I find the ritual of making tea, the whole process of checking water temp and time, of sniffing the dry leaves and then tasting the tea, of parsing out the flavour and scent notes, can be a potent and therapeutic distraction. The blend of jasmine and good silver needle here is subtle first, then almost ravishing. The tea seems to produce an energy all its own, one that makes me forget some of what bothers me and instead focus on what is good and beautiful.

Meditative tea.

This tea is beautiful. The first sip was mostly a clean, silver needles flavour, with something heavier at the end: a promise. Then came the jasmine, which is mixed with apricot in both scent and taste. All of this is light, but it opens up in the mouth. I probably steeped it too long, as the finish gives me the slightest threat of astringence — almost coniferous, like the scent of wet spruce.

Complex, nuanced, subtle, and quite lovely. I will never drink this for a mere caffeine hit. I will drink this to understand beauty.

Michelle Butler Hallett

2nd infusion steeped four minutes

Stronge, but still subtle, conifer and silver needle notes. Less jasmine up front but definitely present in the finish. The apricot notes deepen in the finish, too.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Sorry — stronge = stronger

Bonnie

You totally get these tea’s. When I first began drinking them over a year ago my head was swimming with visions. Magical! Mystical! I’ve never turned back in disappointment.

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1.5 tsp for 250 mL water @96C, Western style.

1st infusion, steeped 3 min 30 seconds.

I made this strong, but I wanted a storm of tea this time. I am getting lots of honeyed malt and also a creamy, almost vanilla soybean flavour. Very refreshing. Lots of forest floor in the scent, too. Rich and sweet finish.

2nd infusion, steeped 4 minutes.

Some dark winey-notes, and some leather and honey … almost like a blend of Yunnan and Keemun. And that soybean taste again. Really good.

Bonnie

You are revelling in your new tea’s.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Ohhh yes, yes, I am. :)

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96

1.5 tsp for 250mL water @90C, Western style, drunk bare.

I know, that’s a lot of leaf for one cup of water. I am being greedy.

I adore tieguanyin. My three favourite oolongs are tiguanyin, Red Robe, and Quangzhou milk. I cannot pick just one of these. Oolong heaven.

1st infusion, steeped 3 minutes.

Lots of leaf and a longish steep for an oolong. The leaves are a brilliant green, as if just picked. I have never seen such bright green tea leaves in my life. The scent is potent, with that slightly sharp and floral sweetness that defines tiguanyin. The liquor is a bright pale green. The notes of grass, fruit, orchid, and even cream are ravishing.

2nd infusion, steeped four minutes.

Leaves are slightly less brilliant but still brighter than any other oolong I’ve seen. Liquor is tending more to pale yellow than green. Body is heavier, and I probably steeped this infusion too long; much more and I’d be getting that bitter, soapy edge abused oolong can give up. Orhid notes from start to finish, and a juicy, almost fuzzy mouthfeel: this tea tastes nothing like peaches, but it feels like peaches.

I cannot comment on how this compares to a spring tigaunyin, because I’ve only ever tried two other tieguanyins, and I don’t know when they were harvested. I can say this is the best tieguanyin I’ve drunk … and even bad tieguanyin is better than almost anything else.

Oh, Iron Goddess of Mercy, thank you.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @100C, steeped 4 minutes 30 seconds Western style, drunk bare.

1st infusion

Well, now.

I’ve been afraid to try this tea, given all the hype. When I made my Verdant order, Verdant was actually sold out of Laoshan Black, but they did have some little sample packs left, so I got a little pack as part of the five teas for five dollars promotion.

This is beautiful.

To my tasting, it’s the perfect China black: deep and rich, with cocoa, honey, and spice notes (cinnamon, pepper), but no bitterness and no astringency. Some leathery notes in the aroma, as well as cocoa and something roast and sweet, and a thick and warm aftertaste that coats the long. Maybe something slightly soy-beany, too? Is this the tea crop that’s grown with soybeans in the same plots? The liquor looks a bit downy, too; I expect the down adds to the thick mouthfeel.

Delicious. I’m in some sort of tea ecstasy here.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec
Michelle Butler Hallett

2d infusion, steeped 5 minutes 30 seconds, was very similar. I can believe how well all the Verdant teas stand up to multiple infusions.

Utterly a Verdant fangirl now.

Fuzzy_Peachkin

I’ve only received their sampler, but they are so far!

Bonnie

Being a fellow Black Tea lover, I can appreciate when you approve of a tea. I love strong black tea’s also…like Ajiri etc. I think they resteep so well because they’re super fresh. Picked and air-shipped right away as soon as processed. Knowing the sources makes a huge difference too.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Ooops — “can believe” = “can’t believe”

Michelle Butler Hallett

I’d not exploted Verdant before because I’m a bit of a coward. I’ve been a Stash customer for 20-odd years, and I’m nervous about planking down a fair chunk of change for new-to-me tea… but like we tell our youngsters when they’re faced with a new food: How will you know if you don’t try it?

I’m not giving up on Stash; I still need good Indian teas, and Stash certainly has that, with a really good selection of Darjeelings and Assams. And I love, love, love Andrews & Dunham Damn Fine Tea. Locally all I’ve got is a DavidsTea, and they’re good for blended and flavoured teas, if you like them. I’m not too excited about their straight teas. Mighty Leaf intrigues me, and so does Upton. But Verdant has knocked me over. Bonnie, I think you’re on to something with the freshness. The teas have all been so very fragrant when I opened the pouches, too.

Michelle Butler Hallett

YEESH, I can’t type! long = tongue in my original note

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Profile

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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