2918 Tasting Notes

Thank you to Angel & Teavivre for this generous sample

These are among the most beautiful tea leaves I’ve seen. Perfectly straight, in shades of olive, wheat, charcoal, & rust. Wet, they swell up lushly, taking on a copper color, with an olive undertone.

The scent is of chocolate & peppercorn, & the flavor satisfies: bold without being bitter, deep & smooth, essence of chocolate, a little spice, & there is the ‘clean’ sensation of linen, but it’s not an astringent type sensation, & it’s not so much a taste either, more a freshness, like sheets drying in the sun on the line. This is the kind of tea I like to start my day with!

I drank the first cup & a half plain, thought I’d add a little stevia to the 2nd half of the 2nd cup, just to see what it brought up, & it ruined it for me. :p

Not so much that I couldn’t polish it off & go for one more steeping, though, & the leaves delivered.


Mmmmmmmm Chocolate and Peppercorn!

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If this review seems redundant, that’s because I already posted it once, but I screwed up & posted it as Jubilee. Oops!

I’m at the London Tea Room, undercover, so to speak. I came to pick up some more Jubilee for Tony, and to enjoy a pot of tea for myself. Today I selected the Ancient Yunnan. My love for black teas is deep, & Yunnans are among my favorites.

This is a nice, bold cup of Malty goodness with a chocolately essence & a peppery finish. Everything a Yunnan is meant to be, & although it is perhaps not as intriguing as some of the yunnans I’ve drank of late, it is very satisfying on this drizzly fall morning.
As I often do, I drank the first cup straight & added a little stevia to the rest. I day like today tends to bring out my desire for a sweet taste, & the stevia really brings forward the notes of caramel & chocolate. Yum!

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Back at home, I spent the afternoon teaching & sipping multiple steeping of this Sheng.

I got this 1 oz sample right before this Pu’er sold out! I feel so lucky
I’m just getting started on Shengs, having finally sampled my first one (Tian Di Ren ’06 Bulang Mountain) last Friday, as part of the Tea of the Month Club offerings for October.

This will sound unsavory, but I’m finding Shengs to smell kind of like a well composted manure, but not in a bad way (only tea drinker would say crazy things like that). That’s not to say it smells like poop, so maybe it’s just a well-composted alfalfa type smell, now that I think about it, kind of fresh & musty smelling at the same time. The dry tea is in flat clumps, very compressed (like an old cow pie…sorry, I just had to say it! LOL).

I’m using my beloved Gaiwan, & the first steeping was light & very mildly salty. The wet leaf has taken on a charcoal smell. The 2nd steep is a beautiful honey color, with a boldness to it, a peppery bite, & a little bitterness. I may have over-steeped by a few seconds, in which case it’s not very forgiving!

With steep #3, I’m picking up a toasted almond flavor! The plantain is also still there.

  1. - All of the above, plus more charcoal, & some astringency
    #5,6,& 7 combined – less bitter, a hint of apricot
    $8, 9, & 10 The color & flavor are both still good! The toasted almond has been the predominant flavor throughout all steepings, and there is also an underlying smokey tobacco-like taste, & I added a drop or 2 of stevia to some cups, which really brought out the apricot essence. I can tell that I can get several more steepings out of this, but that’s all for today. Maybe I’ll toss the rest in a little water & cold brew overnight.

I only got an ounce of this. I wish I’d gotten enough to stick it in a closet somewhere & let it age awhile. I will put what I have left away for at least a little while, probably.


mmmmmmmmmmm, well composted manure, YUM ! roflamo

Terri HarpLady

I woke up this morning & combined steeps 11, 12, 13, & 14 into my little glass pitcher. The color is still beautiful, the wet leaves have a slightly sweet smell, & the flavor is still there too, mild but still tasty.


The whole compost thing amuses me, and at the same time it’s making me wonder what my own reaction will be when I have one of these varieties.

Autumn Hearth

Finally getting around to opening my sample of this from over a year ago. I totally got the composted manure scent as well but in a good earthy farm way. First few steeps I got lots of charcoal and pine, with that musty earthiness, like brewing up a clump of pine needles, mulch and a bit of moist soil all found under my parents pine tree I climbed as a kid. By the fourth or fifth steep I started getting the crazy sweet aftertaste especially at the back of the throat, bit minty, bit lemony and with a cooling sensation that reminds me of bubble gum, except I’m not a fan of straight bubble gum, but I like this.

Terri HarpLady

I ended up grabbing a cake of this. It’s been sitting up in my bedroom on the 3rd floor with the other pu’s. I should pull it out & see if it’s changed any

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Still on location at the London Tea Room. I come to this place often enough that my waitress, Audrey, gave me a big hug upon my arrival! We talked on & off while I was enjoying the first pot of tea, & I decided to stick around for lunch. I ordered the Chicken Waldorf Salad: chicken, golden raisins, walnuts, apples, pears, red onion & curried mayo on a bed of mixed salad greens, with a walnut vinaigrette dressing on the side. I’ve had it before, & it’s delicious.

For a tea, I’m having the Ancient Yellow Buds. This is my first yellow tea, & I’ve been thinking of trying it for awhile. The smell & appearance of the tea leaves is similar to a silver needle, a little nutty & bright. It brews into a beautiful pale yellow liquor, leaning towards an almost apricot tinge. They served it in a 12 oz glass teapot (made by rishi, I have one, & I love it. It looks like a miniature koolaid pitcher), & a small white porcelain cup, which really shows off the color of the tea. LTR doesn’t have photos of their teas on their website, so knowing I’d be the first to list this tea, I snapped a pic off with my iPhone so you could see the lovely color.

The flavor? Very mellow, light like a silver needle, but a little richer & sweeter. Slightly fruity, almost a little buttery, & although it doesn’t taste like corn, it has a savoriness that almost reminds me of cornbread stuffing. I know, that’s crazy!

I lost interest in my salad & had them pack up the rest of it to go.

Terri HarpLady

I forgot to mention, they ran this through 3 steepings, & all 3 were very nice!


I loooooove waldorf salad :P

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A few weeks ago there was a discussion board talking about Tea of the Month Groups. I had looked into a few at the time, & am continuing to look into them. Some sound more interesting than others to me, & I tend to be a little leery of joining a group that is going to send me some ‘surprise’ that I might not want (even though it might make good tea trade currency). I don’t usually drink a lot of flavored teas, for instance (although I’ve really pushed the edge on that a little lately), so I wouldn’t really want to receive a lot of teas of that nature. I did join the Verdant Tea of the Month, however, as I know that his blends are real things, not a bunch of supposedly natural flavorings.

This is the 3rd selection from the Verdant Tea of the Month offerings for October. I’ve reviewed the other 2 selections already. For those who don’t read the discussion boards, David gave us the opportunity to vote between this brew & another. This is the one I wanted! I’ve always enjoyed chrysanthemum flowers as a tisane, especially in the late afternoon while I prepare dinner. It has a bright & refreshing, slightly floral & mineral taste, & it’s also great for sore throats & fever. I’ll usually drink it plain, but sometimes I’ll add a little stevia, & I like it that way too. Chrysanthemum is considered one of the 4 Gentlemen of Chinese art: The orchid for spring, Bamboo for summer, Chrysanthemum for Fall, & the Plum Blossom for Winter. These are used to illustrate the unfolding of the seasons throughout the year. In my mind that makes it even more significant that David chose Chrysanthemum for this Fall blend.

The Xingyang 2007 Shu is a wonderful base for this tea: earthy, sweet, mildly ‘shroomy, with the warmth of fresh baked muffins. The Chrysanthemum brightens it up & adds a cooling factor, but then the coriander brings in a little more warmth. There’s a little burdock in there, which I love, with it’s tendency to bring us back down to earth, and a little Holy Basil adding a little more brightness & optimism.

I brewed this several different ways over the weekend. First, with my Gaiwan, going through several steepings, in tandem with the other 2 tea of the months, so I could compare them side by side & get the full impact of the pairings. Today I just made 2 cups: the first was 2 tsp of tea in 8oz water, steeped 2 minutes, unsweetened. The 2nd was a re-steeping, 3 minutes, plus stevia. I thoroughly enjoyed both! I love this combo! I feel warm & cozy!

To me, this tea is saying, “Winter is coming, prepare to go within.” This is the time of year when I want to turn my focus inward, re-connect with my roots, & get ready to hibernate. This is a tea for regaining balance, for looking within, for healing.

Thank you, David, & the Verdant team! Have a great trip to China!

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I love this tea! I’ve already written a review on it, but I just want to say it again, “I love this tea!”

This is simply the best blend currently available on Verdant’s website, in my opinion. I think David really outdid himself with this blend, & I applaud him loudly. There is just so much to this cup! It’s sweet, it’s tingly, it’s warming, & it’s delicious!

It’s also almost all gone from my cupboard, which means its time to place a new verdant order…again!


I love your enthusiasm. I think I may have to put this on the shopping list when I finally place an order. I’m waiting for the Mrs. Li’s Dragonwell to come back in stock..

Terri HarpLady

Rachel, did you get to try Mrs Li’s Dragonwell? If not, I’d be glad to send you a sample of both.


No I never got a chance to try it. Oh man that would be so awesome. PMing you right now :)

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Tea number 2 from the Verdant Tea of the Month Club:

This is a tea that I’m not new to, & it is one that I have already been enjoying since I placed my first Verdant order (which was really just about 6 weeks ago, can you believe that? I’m not going to confess to how many orders I’ve placed since then…LOL).

I love the deep chocolate boldness, & this is another strongly grounding tea, I feel like it is made of the roots of trees, deep in the earth. There is a hint of a burdock root flavor, a spiciness of clove, and my beloved sweet potato. Definitely a noticeable contrast from the Tian Di Ren ’06 Sheng, this is a much bolder cup, with a thickness to it.

Terri HarpLady

Now I’m headed down to Perryville (90 miles or do drive) to play a wedding!


If I were you, I’d need a great tea thermos, a non-spill cup and a custom tea-bib to keep my clothes clean while driving down the roads to the performance. I’m a terrible dribbler! Usually I use a straw in every beverage cup because I miss my mouth too often when driving and plop tea down my chin onto my ‘shelf’.


This tea sounds good. Clove and sweet potato? MMMM

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Yay! My first tea of the month club package from Verdant came yesterday!! A big thanks to David & the Verdant Team!!

So, this is the 1st of the 3 teas they sent. I’m not sure, but this may be my first Sheng Pu’er. I’ve been dabbling with Shu’s, which I really like. I like this tea too!

Dry, it has a mildly mineral ocean scent, like wakame or another sea veg. The wet leaf has a more astringent green aroma.

I actually brewed this 2 different times. Yesterday I used my gaiwan, running through several steepings (in tandem with the other 2 teas that were sent, so that I could enjoy the contrasts of this pairing). This morning I’m just having a western-style cup.

In both cases, it’s a very mild and pleasant tea. I get the sticky rice reference, and there’s almost a chrysanthemum-like floral in there, & another flavor I still haven’t identified. I’m still not 100% on my tastebuds, but luckily there is plenty left in the bag, & I also have a few other sheng samples that I plan to sample soon, again, so that I can look for similarities & differences. Anyway, it’s light, but satisfying. There is the grounding element of pu’er, and it’s a very smooth tea, not astringent in the least! A nice start to my day!

Invader Zim

I noticed this one is not on the Verdant site. Do you know if it is exculsive to the tea of the month club or will it become available on the site for everyone?

Terri HarpLady

@Zim: according to the notes that came with the Teas of the month, this one is from their private reserve. It’s one of those teas that they can’t get enough quantity to sell on the website.


Wooo! I just got my monthly club package in too; I can’t wait to try this one.

Terri HarpLady

:D I don’t know about you, Aiko, but when I got the email a day or 2 ago telling us they had included the new chrysanthemum pu’er, I got pretty excited! I was planning to order it, so I was grateful for the email, but also for knowing the tea was coming. It’s an interesting brew, which I like but am not quite ready to comment on. I’m looking forward to your reviews of these same teas!


I was excited too! It was so courteous of them to let us know that the blend was on the way just before it was released.

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Conversation with my cup of tea:
“ahhhh….good morning, my love….thank you for your chocolately, creamy, pastry goodness…I’ll see you again later…”

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I saw this tea on Adagio’s site, & who could resist? It’s a blend of Almond oolong, pumpkin spice, & tiger eye, with some cacao nibs thrown in for an extra treat. For my own education, I also ordered sample sizes of all three tea components, which I’ll review individually at some later time. This was my first order from Adagio.

The dry tea smells terrible, in my opinion. Very chemical smelling.
I steeped: 1.5 tsp for 3 minutes
The brewed tea smells: well, truthfully, I’m not really smelling much…black tea…a hint of caramel..
I left it sit on my counter for a few minutes while I stepped out into my garden to pick a few things: A mix of lettuces, a daikon radish, some cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, looks like I’m having a little salad with dinner!
So the tea: plain, it’s meh, but a bit of stevia changed that. There is a caramel note, a little almond, where are the spices? Maybe my taste buds just aren’t picking things up like they should. I admit, I’m not usually a huge fan of flavored teas, because in most cases you have to add some kind of sweetener to experience the flavors. I’m also not really getting a mouth-feel of much…no thick chocolate sensation, no bright butteryness. On the good side, it’s not excessively drying either.

It’s not bad, & again, some of that may be my tastebuds. Many of us have noticed that our taste for a tea changes from time to time. Obviously, when we’re sick we’re affected, but who knows what else might effect our ability to perceive flavors, sensations, aromas, etc. So, although this may not be my favorite cup of the day (that was the Zhu Rong Yunnan), it’s not a bad tasting tea either. I don’t dislike it, & I’ll drink some more on another day & report my findings! :D


I am not a fan of Adagio – I was in the beginning but not anymore. Sorry Adagio and those who love them.


I was all set to place an order, about a week ago, and when I got to the shipping – they added a “rural delivery fee” which annoyed me so much I did not place my order. If they had just charged higher shipping and not told me precisely why, they may have gotten my order, but that just ticked me off so much! oh well for them. Hey, if I WASN’T so darn rural, they wouldn’t be getting my order, they would have more competetition for my business, not less


(I still like Terry’s review though) and I think it’s good to order things just for the education of it, that definitly gets my vote :)

Terri HarpLady

Thanks! I thought it would be interesting to try the different things that went into the blend, ya know? I did that with the Aquarius blend too. I didn’t do it with the ‘Farewell Ponds’ blend, which I still can’t believe I even ordered, LOL. It smells terrible! I’m still going to drink it when I watch the Farewell Ponds episode though, even if I don’t like it (& who knows, maybe I will like it, right?)


oooo, love daikon! Never thought to grow it myself. Gotta look into this. :) Make pickles!

Terri HarpLady

@Mercury – I love home grown radishes! Last year I grew a variety of radishes: daikon, regular red & other colored little round ones, but my favorite of all was the Watermelon radish! Those are awesome. I didn’t grow any of them this year, but they are tasty! The Daikon I picked today is very sweet, & I think next week I will need to start my annual batch of Kim Chi, with homegrown radishes, carrots, greens, chiles, etc. I’ll probably also start a batch of sauer kraut (I like to combine a head of green & a head of purple cabbage together, which makes hot pink kraut). Also in the plan – cultured daikon pickles & some cultured ginger carrots! They are all so good, & really good for your digestion!

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I’m so excited to have found this community! I’m a self-employed Harpist (acoustic & electric – Originals, Classical, Rock, Jazz, etc) & Singer/Songwriter. My days & nights revolve around teaching at home, playing gigs, gardening,& fixing awesome food to eat. My schedule is different everyday, but I just go with the flow, & I sip a lot of tea!

My love of Tea began with Herbals back in the 70’s. One of my favorites was a licorice blend from House of Hezekiah, an old tea shop in Kansas City. There was also a tea with mint, rose petals, chamomile, etc called Nuclear Casual Tea.
In the 80’s I gave up caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, (& a few illicit substances…), and brewed medicinal blends & tinctures to support 4 pregnancies (all children born at home). In the 90’s my love affair with green teas began when I discovered ‘The Republic of Tea’. Their beautiful teas & packaging inspired my original song, “TeaMind”, from my CD “Zen Breakfast”. If you’d like to hear the song for free, drop by my website.

In general, I drink my teas straight, but occasionally I add a pinch of Stevia & maybe some coconut or almond milk (I’m allergic to dairy, gluten, & various other things & avoid most sweets.)

I’ve explored a variety of teas:
Whites tend to be a little bland…sorry
Oolongs – wonderfully sensual
Roobios – I’m not a fan in general
Puehr – a fairly new direction for me
I’m not a huge fan of flavored teas, but I do make exceptions, & I’ll try just about anything once.

And Black Tea, Oh how I love thee!!
I am on a quest for the most wonderful breakfast cup! I will find you, my Love!


St. Louis, MO



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