300 Tasting Notes
Sigh I’m a week behind in posting, but I keep my notes on my phone: Okay lets get back to these samples shall we? Finally the white Ceylon! The leaves (buds) are slender, short and silvery with darker tips. Leaves smell like tea, black tea, like a golden needle or golden monkey with a strong, wait what? artichoke? after note? Yeah, artichoke shrug. None of that is in the brewed leaves that come out all shimmering silver, it’s all steamy and spa like (I do hope I’m not smelling chlorine in my water because I’ve gotten this pool scent on my whites before).
Regardless, I rinsed and did a quick steep and the liquor is very very clear but tasty! It’s sweet for sure but not in that vague light white tea way. It reminds me of the Kenyan white, maybe not as chocolatey but there is definitely some cocoa and honey and while I’ve never had agave it comes to mind as there is something kind of nectary about this without being fruity, no there’s dry cocoa again, figs maybe and currents? This is also quite similar to Golden Jade only you know white. Hmm I was skeptical about this being special but it is certainly very good and very sweet. Oh gosh I need to stop comparing and searching for something distinct about this and just enjoy, it’s delicious!
Second infusion is pretty meh and scratchy, not sweet, not vegetal, maybe a bit like the white Assam.
Third and fourth infusions bring forth that odd artichoke note I was smelling. It has a sour winey muscatel note, this feels very Darjeeling in all the good ways (it’s not dry or astringent). There are also some piney rosemary notes at the end. I did try this for seven infusions but didn’t take notes, sixth was bland as the leaves needed awakening, seventh was tasty.
Will probably try this with a longer second steep next time, but I love the first short steep to much to extend that to recommended western brewing times.
I’m the only one of all my co-workers who likes this, though I have some friends and guests who love it. During our tasting last fall I got both cups of this, sweetened and unsweetened. I must say the rock sugar gives it more of a holiday spice feel rather than the earthy culinary spice feel it has without. It is very clove and pepper dominant and leaves the whole body feeling warm and buzzing, this physical sensation is why I come back to it.
While for the last couple months I’ve been drinking mostly straight tea there are a few flavored oolongs I decide to brew every now and then. Monday it was French Spice Quartet. I was surprised to get three infusions out of it and Was pleased at how large the oolong leaves unfurled. I have yet to try a straight pu-erh though I have several samples, but there is a nice earthy punch in there that doesn’t seem to come from the oolong or spices. This time the blend was less warming and more churning, I had three 16 oz servings before a very late lunch and my stomach seemed to be nawing on itself, perhaps aided by the digestive properties of the oolong and pu-erh.
Overall a very interesting blend, not a chai masala and not a dessert spice tea. It is strong and not for everyone. I’m not sure if it will last past this year, but I’ll enjoy it while I can, next time after a meal.
I’ve had four or five sessions with this tea, two at tastings, and still haven’t sat down and written detailed notes of this, but thankfully there is plenty in my tin. Still it needs logging, so here we go. This is nice and light and bright and so very spring. I never thought to steep an oolong for 30 secs but it brings forth some interesting results (I tried it with Teavana’s Monkey Picked Tie Kuan Yin and it brings out a perfumeyness that seems almost artificial, though that fades after a three minute steep). It is greener both in leaf and cup than Teavana’s as well. There is a creaminess and a sweetness and it is very enjoyable. In later and longer steepings it doesn’t shine as much, it translates sure, but it just tastes like oolong. I will have to experiment with steep time more though. It wouldn’t really be fair to compare this to Verdant’s autumn harvest, though it is the freshest, due to being well, literally the freshest (more recently picked) and there are so many other weather, soil and growing factors. But yes very enjoyable.
Sigh, I am sadly out of you, but you are by far the freshest, greenest, smoothest, most complex Tieguanyin I’ve had the pleasure of drinking (though to be fair I’ve only had a few). I foolishly shared you, twice, but thankfully everyone appreciated you. I must order more, before you are sold out so I can compare you to your spring sister and I must try you gongfu style, but no longer will I just seek our first flushes when you have shown me what my favorite season has to offer, I thank you.
Mmmm I need to revisit this again, but today I feel the ick, so I shall backlog. This though, this was a beautiful balance of soft buttery mellow oolong with a nice punch of roasted Dan Cong. In fact this was right in between Teavana’s Emerald Dan Cong (which I love the buttery mouth feel of but lacks flavor) and their Phoenix Mountain Dan Cong (which is too roasty for me) and was by far my favorite of the three at the oolong tasting I hosted a month ago. This is definitely the Dan Cong I would return to and I shall, just not today.
I did not take detailed notes on you, either at my oolong tasting or with my husband, but you, my first Big Red Robe, you were roasty, toasty, sweet and delicious and thankfully there is a serving left of you in the sample pouch and this time its all for me. I look forward to seeing your long, dark, luxuriously twisted moist leaves again soon. Oh and what everyone else said.
These leaves while long and pressed flat are less uniform than the dragonwell I have experience with. There is variation in size, shape and a lovely contrast of fresh bright and lush dark green leaves, they are beautiful. The smell of the leaves don’t bring anything to mind except tea (lame I know, but there are too many other smells going on in the kitchen).
It is in the rinsing of the leaves that a strong vegetal aroma is released and stays for the first 15 sec steep. Very pale brew, with a tinge of blush against my white bone china cup, later steeps are near clear in my glass infuser mug. It is fresh and sweet with a hint of nut and evergreens. The taste isn’t an overwhelming sort of vegetal, it’s light, bright and smooth and just so very fresh, which is what I have come to expect from Verdant’s teas. The smell reminds me of matcha, the taste more of Gyokuro with such a nice sweet finish. As I reach the bottom of the first cup there is a bolder, thicker body .
I didn’t take notes for the second and third steeps which I also kept short, though I surely enjoyed them. Yes there was a bit of mint and even vanilla. Fourth was warm and pleasant (I had it with breakfast so don’t ask me about flavor) I let it steep a minute.
The fifth which I steeped for two mins had an interesting orchid note that of course brought to mind Tieguanyin and the sixth which I steeped for 3 mins was the least vegetal and the most sweet. I don’t really get the banana but then I didn’t read that last night but there is a desert quality, maybe like a meringue minus the lemon. Oh hey and there’s nice green tea flavor at the bottom of this cup. Let’s have another go shall we? Hmm bit of spice, tastes like a second or third steep of a tea that isn’t meant for multiple infusions. I’m sure I could have gotten more if I had kept to shorter steeps, but my toddler renders me impatient sometimes, but thankfully there is another servings worth left.
Of course I had to give in and try a yellow tea with my samples. I read a bit on the processing but the leaves look like nothing I could have imagined, their dark brown with cream streaks remind me of elongated sunflower seeds and even seem to have a similar density in the teaspoon. I brewed my first round Tuesday with shorter steeps, worried about the recommended 3 mins and thinking hey why not try this gongfu style albeit in a glass infuser mug. I neednt have worried though as today I am enjoying it with a full 3mins on the first round. The first infusion the other day was a bit more sweet and intense than today’s full yet more dull infusion. There was a really nice cocoa scent that didn’t really deliver much taste wise, but I enjoyed smelling it all the same. There was more nuttiness and yes a seaweed like note that others have mentioned. Today’s session smells like honey (mmm mead) but has a dryness in the finish that came out in later infusions. Second infusion has spice notes. The brewed leaves smell heavenly, taste disappoints. Did not hold up to a third infusion brewed either way.
Was not in the mood for anything either too heavy or too light, not an oolong, nothing flavored, not something I’ve never tried before and something I have plenty of in case I botch it in my grogginess.
Golden Jade it is, a green black mix I have tons of from Teavana’s Heavenly Sale. So I preheated the cast iron pot and looked under my hutch for one of the tins- gold with white cranes and jade green trees and yes I have two of them full. This should tell you I love this tea right?
Shrug it’s never gotten bitter for me and isn’t too vegetal which is why I sold lots of it when it was 75%. But I don’t think I’ve ever taken the tiTme to fully appreciate it, only brewing it at work a few times. So I thought I’d treat it right and hoped it would be as delicious as I said it was.
The leaves are fluffy and curly, soft grey and gold. Looks like moss, smells like sweetgrass. I recall its descibed as light bodied with cocoa and floral aroma, when has that ever meant anything? After experiencing Verdant’s Autumn Laoshan Black and surprisingly Upton’s Tinderet White I was prepared for Golden Jade to fall short of cocoa.
But it didn’t, those first two sips were full on sweet remarkable cocoa, fading to a nice smooth Chinese green nuttiness with a bit of veg and yeah I suppose a bit of floral, but nothing fragrant thank goodness because that might be weird, just a good clean soft floral. Sure it’s not as bold a dark chocolate as the Laoshan Black and it’s not as high a sweet as the Kenyan white. This is the middle ground, it’s got good body and the cocoa is definitely there though it doesn’t hang on for long. It kinda reminds me of kettle corn in an odd way without any dry saltiness.
I haven’t tried a second infusion, but I will, but for now I’ve got a pot on its warmer to enjoy and a boy who has just informed me he wants popcorn. Ironic. Toddler chugged my last cup and said “mmmm that’s good!”