So this blend was at the top of my wish list and when I heard it was being discontinued I had to pounce and order all the other blends for good measure. Elderberry intrigues me and while I believe I’ve had it’s root in some medicinal tinsanes, I don’t think I’ve really experienced its flavor before. I was a bit unprepared for the intensity of the spice notes though. Again I don’t think I have much experience with ganghal and while I love me some ginger, for some reason I was imagining clove. The smell of the dry tea is potent and did nearly make me sneeze. The husband was actually standing next to me in the kitchen when I opened it and based on the expression on my face, he declined the offer to sniff. I inhaled again more carefully this time and found it to be rich, exotic, culinary and comforting.

I probably brewed this different than most, choosing short steeps in hopes of getting the most out of the pu’erh. The first infusion was the most spicy and I could barely make out the elderberry or pu’erh. I probably would have been happier treating this as a rinse, however I think I would have loved it as a fall/winter blend, just not what I was expecting from this one. The second infusion still carried quite a bit of heat but notes of dark tart and swee berry started coming through with a bit of earthy pu’erh. The third was probably my favorite, a nice balance of all three elements and with a nice mustyness that carried over into the fourth infusion as well.

I didn’t get to spend as much time with this tea as I would have liked, it being Father’s Day and all (brewed up the husband a cuppa Scottish Breakfast in the morning). However I look forward to experiencing this western style, maybe with a quick rinse to lessen the spice. More than anything though I want to try the 2008 nuggets this is based on and see if I can find some of these notes in it, which I suppose is the point. Really should have ordered it at the same time.

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Druid, artist, poet, mum, lover of tea, ritual and myth. I grew up on Celestial Seasons herbals but fell in love with straight loose leaf tea working at my local Teavana for a year. I am grateful for the introduction and the experience, but have moved on.

I see tea as an experience for the senses, I like to imagine tasting the land and the weather as well as the effect of sun, air, fire and the human hand. I have a soft spot for shu pu’er, yabao, scented oolongs, wuyi oolongs, taiwanese tea as well as smooth naturally sweet blacks, creamy greens and surprisingly complex whites.

I began ordering lots of samples from Upton to educate myself on different varieties of tea we didn’t have at work and have fallen head over heels for the unique offerings from Verdant Tea. I am learning things I like: buttery mouthfeel, surprising sweet or spice notes, woodiness, mineral notes, depth and complexity and things I don’t: astringency, dry and sour notes.

I collect tea tins and am in danger of collecting pots, though I am trying to restrain the urge due to current lack of space. I brew mostly in a glass infuser mug or a tea maker, only using cast-iron for company now (still need to get a gaiwan) and tend not to sweeten my teas unless they are British or fruity and iced, which is not often.

As far as ratings, I lack a definite system and haven’t been assigning numbers lately, wanting to spend multiple sessions with a tea first. I usually only log a tea once, unless it is a new harvest or I have significantly different observations, but will go back and edit or comment if I find something interesting or new.


Baker Street, Berea, Ohio

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