300 Tasting Notes

95

Ohh goodness! Verdant’s chai blends are soo amazing! Such quality ingredients, both the base tea and the spices. It is apparent as soon as you open the pouch, both the aroma and the sight, heavenly and beautiful. And the taste oh my! So sweet, smooth, clean and balanced. The words elegant and fine keep coming to mind.

I don’t know why I was so hesitant about ordering this one late last winter, probably because I was burnt out on Teavana’s chai many of which are gritty, require sugar or honey and are just have none of the traits above.

I told myself I’d order some in the fall but with the special Zhu Rong Chai, I had to compare and David graciously allowed me to order by the half ounce so I could try lots of tea on my budget. An old friend of mine just placed her first order and got quite a bit of the Chocolate Phoenix Chai so we’ll be swapping in the near future, I’m relieved because while I will be placing an order soon it will be for three of my favorite teas that are low stock.

So back to this, it tastes a bit lighter bodied and sweeter than the Zhu Rong Chai which I prefered with milk, this one is definitely better straight. I love anything made from Laoshan black and green and this newest harvest is fantastic. I brewed this short which works wonderfully for my tastes, now off to reinfuse, next time I’ll play with longer infusions.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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91

Wow, what a wonderfully surprising tea. The smell of the dry leaf reminds me of Big Red Robe and the aroma of the wet leaves and liquor as well as the first sip had me fooled into believing this was Laoshan black, definitely dark chocolatey, how does Verdant manage to find these teas?! I wish I had taken the time to fully savor more of the first few steeps but a tugging toddler saying mommy I need you, I need you! Had me rush through my gonfu while the water was still over 200F. I need a cha hai (serving pitcher) instead of pouring right into my small bone china cups.

See I have a ritual, whenever I try a new high quality tea straight tea I pour out a good portion of the first three steeps (or the rinse and first two) in three cast iron dragon cups on a shelf above the sink. There are offerings to house spirits (think Shinto meets northern European ancestor veneration with a dash of Roman traditions regarding the Lares and Penates- spirits of the land and the pantry). The ritual of tea is one of hospitality to me, even if I have no living human guests. So yeah I leave myself a few sips of the first three steeps and in this case I was rushing more than usual and as such the tip of my tongue is a tad burnt.

But I did finally heed my toddler’s calling and he and I enjoyed the fourth infusion. There is so much going on in this tea beyond the initial cocoa. It turns savory in the second steep, a bit smokey in the third and has luscious honey and floral notes. In this fourth infusion I enjoyed all of the above plus toasted sesame notes and yes just a trace of avocado. I intend to taking my time with many more infusions and hope to come to a greater appreciation for the Mi Lan Dancong Oolong, which I personally have a difficult time with for whatever reason.

Edit: this got more oolongy in the 5th-7th steeps and is reminding me a a sheng pu-erh in this 8th infusion with some cool mintyness. Very nice.

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

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90

I could have sworn someone else had reviewed this tea, yet I cannot find it on the database and it is no longer on Verdant’s site, being a limited offering and all. So if anyone affiliated with Verdant would like to update the description, please do!

This though, this is so luxurious smelling and tasting. Its major spices that I think of when I think chai: cinnamon, clove, cardamon are not throwing their weight around. I find it hard to describe what I do taste, but it is exotic, silky and reminds me of Indian and Thai food.

I did not sweeten any of my infusions but all three were amazing with milk. I’m not usually an additives person, but my toddler asked for milk after dinner and I poured a glass for myself then decided what I really wanted was chai. I’m looking forward to the Laoshan Village Chai but I fear I may not be able to place an order before the Chocolate Phoenix Chai is gone.

Kittenna

I wish I had managed to get in on this one. At least the Phoenix chai sounds delicious!

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86

Enjoying this one after ramen. I have only had tusli in one other blend which was a rooibos chai so I was expecting something akin to cinnamon, but was greeted with wonderful fresh in your face mint upon opening the pouch. Brewed, this a very nicely balanced cup, I love the touch of fennel and I think I’m beginning to figure out what tusli might taste like by tapping into my sensory memories and doing a comparison. Regardless it is lovely and refreshing and reminds me a bit of chewing gum but without the pain on the jaw and the addition of a nice centering feeling traveling down the body. Good stuff this. I don’t really like rating herbals though, its delicious for what it is but I have a hard time rating it higher than a straight tea I really enjoyed.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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So yeah we went to a chinese buffet this evening, goodness I think its been over a year and I asked if they had oolong. The server said “Oolong? Uh hot tea?”, yes and I was brought out a cup and a metal pot. At first it was very non-descript, could have been a bland black tea. But then it got some personality, definitely oolong, a wuyi perhaps, it had some mineral notes. It grew assertive but never bitter, it got woody and then very aromatic with a nice honey sweetness and oh my goodness it was delicious. The pot never fully cooled, though I probably was drinking for an hour. I savored my last cup as the boys went up to pay. Sad that this chinese buffet tea had so much more character than any Teavana straight oolong. Unfortunately none of the servers seemed to speak English well and the anglo cashier girl probably wouldn’t have known. But it was nice to sit with a whole pot of tea.

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I have to apologize (mainly to myself) for not logging or even drinking much tea lately. I’m in a funk it seems, a combination of the heat, a kitchen that never manages to get fully clean, depression and working a few days at Teavana. I just haven’t felt like brewing most of July, which is a shame as I have a bunch of new Verdant Teas waiting to be tried :( Hopefully August will be a better month, but I’m not off to a good start, only drinking at work.

So this used to be one of my favorite dessert teas at work, I never bought any (heck I never bought any tea from work unless it was on sale) so I haven’t had any since April if not before then. Apparently it is now being promoted as a “top tier blend” with Maharaja Chai Oolong (another old favorite of mine). Our AGM made it for me with sugar of course, but it was good. Wafting the two teas together smells divine and it would be hard for any chai lover to resist, which is the point, its suggested for those that already love the Samurai/Ayurvedic combo. There are other suggestions for the samples that I am apparently going to have to learn, but that’s one I had several guests already coming back for, having smelled it early in the week. Sigh. Such mixed feelings, but tis a job.

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59

This is considerably better than the Ceylon and yet I’m not wowed. Will have to try this a bit stronger with cream or try making a London Fog, though I’m really not an additives person. Like another Steepsterite below said, it totally smells like Fruit Loops when you open the bag.

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38

Oh dear too much leaf! Bitter, bitter, bitter! Let’s try this again shall we? I need to drink down my Upton samples anyway and what better day to do so than the day of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies in London? There performance is to be called “Isles of Wonder”, that Anglophile in me is very excited and I may have to find some sort of live streaming source online in four hours, because 7:30 pm (EST) on NBC seems too far away ;)

Okay rebrewed with a pinch of rock sugar, a level teaspoon and I shaved off 5 degrees and 30 sec. Much better, though admittedly a tad light. It gets astringent very quickly in the cup though, perhaps because of the amount of sediment from the fine cut leaves that got through my best strainer. Cannot recommend this, but will drink it. I have another Upton Earl Grey but I think I may just switch over to Bergamot Rose Laoshan Black, that is until the husband comes home and we have some of his British blends.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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91

Hmm it seems I never properly logged this, just gave a comparison on the Full Leaf’s page, I went to edit my tasting note and it simply wasn’t there. So this is a backlog from yesterday which was my sipdown for this complimentary sample from Angel from over a month ago, when I drank it with the husband. I liked it much better yesterday follow the given parameters of 185 F water for just over 2 mins. It was smooth, sweet and a bit savory too. There are a few other black teas (Bai Lin Gongfu, Laoshan and a couple of wild picked Yunnans from Verdant) that I find either more complex or to my tastes, but make no mistake this is a very fine cup, that outshines the majority of blacks I’ve tried and is quite delicious. It also helped me with my migraine yesterday. I’ll be updating the other two versions as I finish them. but for today it will be British Blends for the Olympics!

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 15 sec

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99

I find it amusing that in my first tasting note for this tea five months I steeped it for 3 minutes. I have since shared this tea with several people, re-ordered the later autumn harvest and am now sipping on the Spring 2012 harvest brewed gongfu style starting at only 5 seconds. But this tea is amazing at a few seconds, 30 secs, 1 min or even 3. I have been infusing it all day, thinking I should eventually move on to an oolong our shu after dinner, but it just keeps on giving, I have no idea how many infusions I’ve done, but I’m now at a minute and a half and is just starting to smell of pine and hickory but still tastes so very sweet.

This spring batch is subtly different from the autumn, even the smell is a bit warmer and floral, while the autumn is cool and dark (yes I sniffed back and forth). It is still wonderfully sweet, malty and chocolaty but that sweetness is a bit different and again I think it comes back to warmth and I agree with the caramel description. It also seems to have less spice than I’ve experienced before. I don’t really get the floral notes in the taste but am excited to taste these different aspects in the Bergamot Rose and the Laoshan Village Chai blends I also ordered.

And don’t worry dear readers this is still the same Laoshan Black we know and love, just with different seasonal elements that I think are worth tasting. Also bumping up the rating, not because of this version per se, but because I’ve enjoyed all its incarnations many times and gotten more infusions out of this today than I have out of any other black tea.

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

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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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