300 Tasting Notes

97

Oh my… So for awhile I have been saying how shengs aren’t really for me and I haven’t really developed a palate for them. But this sheng, oh my goodness, this sheng is so delightful to drink! It is immediately sweet and sparkling and woodsy with a touch of spice and just zero astringency, zero! I did a quick rinse and two quick steeps and they are just so unbelievably good. Love the cedar, love the stone, love the fruit (no idea what kinda fruit but the sweet with the juice and all the richness reads as fruit rather than rock sugar or honey) and cinnamon and its just so pristine and complex and I uh guh! And and and! There is a buttery note in the second and third infusion, unbelievable! Best sheng I’ve tried hands down! Now to spend the day with it. Must order at least 4oz, not sure if I’m ready to properly store a cake, but this is the sheng I want to impress guests with.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Spoonvonstup

I’m seeing a cake in your fuuuuuturrrrre…. ;) So glad you enjoy this one! Maybe you were just meant for each other? Hope you enjoy your date with destiny.

Autumn Hearth

Very possibly, of course there are several shu I am in love with (and yes some of them are nuggets and tuocha) but we’ll see ;). Right now I have migraine that I am not blaming on the sheng but rather that I had two black teas before the sheng. Sigh caffeine sensitivity.

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Was writing a note when my laptop shut down, then had a hard time logging on to steepster and by that time I had moved on to the wonderful sheng I am drinking now. But earlier I brewed two blends. One an Upton Assam with chai. It was okay, I enjoyed tasting the Assam but the chai was a bit thin. I ended up using the liquor to make pancakes and they were quite nice, smelled like pumpkin when they hit the griddle but were very mild, enhancing the pancake taste just a bit.

Second combination was a blend of Upton’s East Frisian Sunday Tea with Vanilla, Sacher Blend Scented Darjeeling and a smidge of Extra Bergamot Earl Grey. Twas rich and smooth and charming. Now just as I finished brewing, Rowan asked for “tiny pancakes” (the first batch was small and I was still hungry as well". So I used up the rest of the pancake mix and poured some of this tea in for the liquid. The result was pretty awesome and the toddler agreed, we enjoyed it without butter or syrup. Would definitely remake both the tea and the pancakes!

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Ha! I just made a Teavana blend out of two other Teavana teas. Just got home from Dairy Queen, where we didn’t get ice cream because the toddler wasn’t behaving, so I was jonesing for some desert tea, ideally an oolong based one but really my choices were chai or Gardens of Anxi and while the later is amazing, it’s not what I was craving.

Earlier today I had thoughts of using up an Upton Assam with a Teavana chai. I have a handful of little tins of various chai from errors at work, be they people over filling a canister or accidentally mixing two teas, the chai was always given to me. Anywho in one of the little tins was not-a-chai, it was Teavana’s one straight pu-erh from the Forbidden Kingdom collection. Low quality straight pu-erh with overly powdered spice oolong? Sure why not?

So what I ended up with essentially is Teavana’s French Spice Pu-erh. I was one of the few people who actually liked blend, it reminded me of Aveda, not Aveda’s tea mind you, but of there shampoo and such. It also gave me a nice warm buzz. Sure this is missing some subtle nuances, the clove and black pepper aren’t as pronounced yet I still can taste mint and even vanilla even though there may be none in here.

It’s not bad, actually. It would be a nice winter warmer and will probably be how I use up the rest of the Nan Nou Shan Pu-erh and Maharaja Chai Oolong. Also today I used up the rest of Upton’s Ceylon Select Earl Grey and brewed it with a teaspoon of their Extra Bergamot Earl Grey, twas nice.

chadao

Great idea, not wasting anything. I was going to throw away my Golden Monkey stash that I got when I first started at Teavana, but you’ve inspired me. I think I’ll try cold-brewing it for a nice iced tea :)

Autumn Hearth

:) we’ve been cold brewing pitchers of Nine Dragon Golden Needle over here. Was my husband’s favorite, so we bought 2 lbs during the Heavenly Sale.

TheTeaFairy

Ah, tea recycling! Great idea! I’ve been quite an alchymist myself this summer, cold brewing all my «unworthy» teas, some turned out pretty good but some will remain in the hopeless category…

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85

Tea of the late morning shared with the husband, first sip was a bit dry, then it turned sweet in my mouth. Lovely notes of caramel in this cup, no smoke. Much more enjoyable than the sample six months ago (this one was actually ordered a few months ago by the husband). I brewed at a lower temp and shorter time, probably around 3 mins, I went by smell which was divine. Me thinks this one is a shape shifter.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 15 sec

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96

Oh these Laoshan harvests keep getting better and better! This is the milkiest, mintiest most decadent and refreshing incarnation of this tea I’ve tried. Though I think last year’s Autumn Harvest was more buttery, this one seriously rivals milk oolong. Whenever I feel ambivalent about green tea, Laoshan restores my faith. I’m learning to appreciate it more and more and so enjoy reading the tasting and background notes David provides. It makes drinking this all the more rewarding. I have enjoyed three infusions of this today taking breaks to cook and entertain the toddler. Also though I have never had the pleasure of trying green bean ice cream, I can totally see that in this. Yum!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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98

Holy sweet buttery corn! This is exactly what I need right now! More later swoon! Mmm and its a really nice shu to boot! On my sixth infusion and it still has the lovely sweet corn notes but its becoming more rounded.

For anyone unfamiliar with this tea, it is not “flavored” rather it has picked up the essence of the cornfields the tea grows next to. Another reason pu’erh is awesome!

Ooo vanilla is making an appearance in this seventh infusion with some tart berry notes, these later steeps are reminding me of some of my favorite shu, squee! On nine and this is like a whole other delicious tea (reminds me most of Peacock Village Shu), two amazing teas in one!

Presented the husband with a tiny cup of the first infusion, he sniffed it “Smells like the sticky rice”. He took a sip and said “Hmm not bad. How much do you have of this?” Five more tuochas… “I might actually drink this, like in the fall”. This may seem small, but the amount of dismissing my husband does, especially for a 3 second steep like this, its pretty big :)

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec
chadao

Wow! Nine steepings?! Did you get through all that in a day or half a day? My poor stomach couldn’t take it. I usually prefer a good oolong, green, white, or black over a pu’er, but with all these rave reviews, I’ll have to try some myself!

Autumn Hearth

It was in a four hour period actually and after a sheng no less! The only thing that stopped me from continuing was that it was after midnight and time to go to bed. I wouldn’t normally do more than one pu’er in a day but shrug what can I say. I may try to revive it this evening but today I’ve stuck to a cold brewed white and a green. If you would like to do a swap sometime I would be glad to send you five or six of my favorite pu’er.

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First tasting note for this tea! I’m guessing others that got this tea as a free sample are waiting for a special occasion or perhaps some time alone as I was (this isn’t from my most recent Verdant order, but rather from July). However something was pulling on me today to try it and the toddler is doing a relatively good job entertaining himself right now so here it goes. First a great big thank you to David and the folks of Verdant Tea for offering this Pu-er Reserve Project!

I figured with a small sample like this I could either be generous and use all the leaf or risk having two lighter sessions with this tea, I chose to be generr… cautious. I didn’t get much scent from the bag, but when the dry leaf hit the bottom of the warmed mug I knew I was in for a treat: vanilla and smoke. Yes sweet vanilla from a sheng! I’m accustomed with this from Verdant’s shu, but a sheng? Mmm I’m excited!

I did a single rinse, probably could have used two, as in this first infusion I am getting primarily a charcoal and horse stable “taste” (not that I have ever tasted the stable, but it tastes how it smells), with some wood, a slight sweetness and is that eucalyptus? It left a cooling sensation on the tip of my tongue and when I licked my lips the felt creamy.

Second infusion is like cool mountain air and my tongue is positively tingling! The stable has shifted to a damp forest floor and I’m tasting mineral rich soil and rice. This is prickly, with a hint of spice, a bit drying but at the same time cool and dark and moist. There is a floral scent in the cup that I am having a hard time pinpointing. Breathing it in, there is a menthol quality. Ooo a cool coating is developing in my throat and just breathing long after the last sip feels amazing.

Third, the tension between dry and cool, soil and vapor, spice and eucalyptus continues. This is the most astringent of the infusions, probably due to the quickest pour off the boil, will wait a bit longer next time. I still smell horses in my cup and while this might seem strange or even unsavory to some, it brings up fond memories for me.

Fourth, this is much more palatable and a bit minty, but at the same time fiery. I have a confession to make: I am not a huge fan of sheng. I love shu, but I’m afraid my palate isn’t acclimated to the drier more astringent teas which still include most blacks and some oolongs and greens for me. However I am loving the experience of this tea, the sensations it creates. I am going to take a break from it for a bit and come back later. For those curious, I have been getting hints of the sticky rice through all these infusions though it is not nearly as straight forward as the tuochas made with Nuomixiang.

Azzrian

You make this sound SO SO SO good!

Autumn Hearth

Good to hear, I was afraid that horses and dirt would throw some people off ;) On the other hand Red Bull and children’s vitamins don’t sound that appealing to me for a matcha and yet I am very tempted to order some!

Azzrian

LOL!!!!! Exactly – and you should its really good! :)

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I may have to write a second tasting note for this later brewed with western parameters, but I wanted to use the same method I used yesterday with Verdant’s Shui Xian Wuyi to see how it compared and the verdict is that it just doesn’t. No vanilla, no cinnamon, no wow factor.

That is not to say that this is a bad tea, it is just a much lighter wuyi, lighter than Adagio’s Wuyi Ensemble that I got to try at the Chicago store. However it was the challenge of brewing this up gong fu (that worked out favorable for their Fujian Rain, but that was dark and heavy in the western sample) and the tiny little tin that sold me (okay so we all know it was mainly the tin, I’m a sucker).

I used lots of leaf like yesterday, but instead of getting a flavor explosion I got astringency. There are some nice notes as well that come out to play in later infusions, a hint of lemon, some veg and wood and a touch of mineral sweetness. But they are all so thin feeling and the brew is rather dry. Will attempt another day and see if I can find those ripe peaches. Saving the rating till then.

Edit: Silly me this is a Da Hong Pao aka Big Red Robe, so while it’s not fair to compare to the Shui Xiang: Water Sprite, this is also no where close to the two Big Red Robes I’ve had, nope.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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98

Holy teaeuphoria! The aroma of this tea! It is so autumnal: dark fruit and cinnamon and wood and everything that is good on this earth! And the taste? Wow! Just… I’m speechless and down right giddy!

I get the vanilla and cinnamon and wait… the description is insinuating this tastes like a banana split sans syrup with the addition of a waffle cone and I while I actually agree, there is something much more familiar here. Something in the stoney nature of Wuyi oolongs that is more than just the sweet mineral note. I can’t describe it but I know it, yet I never have I tasted it this intense. Mind blown, lovvve!

I’m going to have to spend the day with this and report back with more detailed notes. I’m starting out with quite a bit of leaf, water at 208 and steeped for 3 secs. And yay for tea arriving at the doorstep just as I’m putting the kettle on, glad I grabbed this one!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Angrboda

You don’t get any lemon and seafood at all? Maybe it’s just me having a weird tongue. It can’t be that different from the one I’ve got from Peony Teas S…

Or perhaps it’s just not suitable for western style at all. (Shame that…)

Autumn Hearth

Yay Azzrian! Angrboda, none to speak of but I’ll listen for it in the later infusions, I’m on six and it just picked up a buttery note :)

Angrboda

I think you would be past it by now if it was there. I got it at the very beginning of the cup when brewed western style and then it went away as it cooled. I can only think that there must be something off in my brewings. The small pot was definitely better than the large, so it may have to do with how much leaf I use. I can’t try short steeps until I get a new small pot.

Autumn Hearth

Gotcha! Yes, this one was particularly recommended in small quantities and short steeps: 4oz of water, less than 10 secs. I have another Wuyi from Adagio to brew, I don’t think it will really compare to Verdant’s but I’m planning on using the same parameters (which may actually use all the leaf in the tiny tin). I tried it in the shop western style and there might have been a lemony note, so we’ll see.

Helena

I’m jealous, I’m still waiting for mine :D oh well maybe it will come this week :D

Autumn Hearth

So comparing this to a couple other Wuyi’s (Adagio’s Fujian Rain which is also a Shui Xian and their Da Hong Pao:Big Red Robe) this takes the cake and is actually cheaper ($1.25 cheaper than Fujian and whopping $22 cheaper than the Da Hong Pao). And I just noticed Verdant is offering their teas in 7g quantities now!

Azzrian

Wow 7g that is interesting – how long have they done this? COOL!

Scatterbrain

That’s great. Now I’ll be able to try a lot more teas from them.

Spoonvonstup

The 7g samples must have just started, because I didn’t notice them yesterday morning… fun!

Spoonvonstup

Also: I agree, this is a killer Shui Xian- very exited that we get to stock up on this.

Helena

I just got my order and I am just waiting for it to cool down. It said to rinse first and steep time of max 10 seconds :D

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99

Oh dear gods, this jasmine, I don’t know where to begin! I used to think I liked jasmine when I first started working at Teavana, I didn’t like the silly blend they sampled, but the green pearls, scented oolong and Body & Mind (white, green pearl and tieguanyin blend) were some of my favorite indulgences, that is until I started having issues that first month or two with coughing due to tickles in my throat that I think I pinpointed to the jasmine teas, but then again it could have been severe nerves. So I gave up drinking jasmine at work, though I had to taste test the blend every morning I opened as it was a very temperamental tea.

So ever since then I have been hesitant about jasmine. I got an earlier harvest of this in my first or second order from Verdant, it was in the Budset Tasting Kit. I brought it into work as one of the girls loves jasmine and silver needle and was interested in trying teas from other companies. Now this was a day I was feeling really dizzy, I believe I actually had my brother in law pick me up because no one wanted me to drive. But I had our barista brew this up for Diane and I (and yes I let him have some too) then gifted her the rest of the leaves. She loved it, I remember it was really lovely despite not ideal brewing conditions (the water at work isn’t really that good and the teamakers get cruddy, go figure!).

Since that time I have ordered and fell in love with Verdant’s Eight Treasures Yabao, which also has jasmine in it, in fact it tastes to me like the same jasmine in this, so airy and fresh and cool and like lilies and so not perfumey, soapy or astringent. Can anyone at Verdant confirm that this is the same jasmine? Either way, the Yunnan silver needle it is with is amazing, sooo silky and sweet and with just a touch of cinnamon and pine, absolutely top notch.

So I used to think I liked jasmine, but this jasmine, this jasmine I adore! I’m going to do some tests to make sure I don’t have a reaction, which means drinking lots of this and talking to the husband who is on his way home. But if I don’t then I am definitely stocking up on this, it is the jasmine I want to have in my cupboard. I’m so glad I requested a sample of this and highly recommend everyone try this, as you can see for yourself from other’s tasting notes, many who are not jasmine fans love this, including the sourcing agent for this! It is giving me one of those rare spiritual tea experiences, well part spiritual, part sensual (you know when you sip a tea and your eyes roll back? Teasgasm!) and a little bit of tea drunkeness as well (similar to the effect of Yabao for me which is also at the top of my to stock up on list). Swoon

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 15 sec
tigress_al

Wow, what a review! I am awaiting this tea in my very first verdant order. I love jasmine, so expect to love this one! Hurry up Verdant!!

Invader Zim

This has been some of the very best jasmine I have ever had if not THE best. The only jasmine tea that comes close is Teavivre’s jasmine teas, all of which are just as ah-maze-ing!

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Bio

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.

Location

Baker Street, Berea, Ohio

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