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19 Tasting Notes

94

The best word to describe this tea: different. I mean that in the best way possible. It’s like going to work and looking out your window right before lunch to see a man crossing the street with a llama. Uhhh, what? Your taste buds get a similar vibe here with how unique and unexpected this tea is.

When I smelled the damp leaves after pouring some tea into the cup, I closed my eyes and was brought to the middle of an endless field of wheat. The smell of sesame seeds was distinct, and I loved knowing this was going to be a different tea experience than I am used to.

My first few cups were insane — sweet notes of grape, that sesame seed flavor, and a feel that I can only describe as being refreshing like a good vegetable. Not vegetal as is a flavor in greener teas, but a feeling akin to a very refreshing vegetable (I’m assuming this is me experiencing what others are referring to as the avocado notes). There is also a strong tingling texture on the tongue very similar to Big Red Robe. The aftertaste leaves a floral taste in the back that feels like a flowery mist.

On the third and fourth sweepings things mellowed out drastically. The flavor tasted like a light dancong with a hint of spice and sweetness. To be honest, I became a bit disappointed as everything died down severely (except the tingling texture) while some astringency became quite apparent. I figured it had turned into what tasted like an exasperated oolong.

Then, out of nowhere on the fifth or sixth steeping everything changed dramatically again. The astringency was for the most part gone, and an overwhelmingly full flavor of delicious dark chocolate took over. Think of the llama — Uhhh, what?? Yes. Dark chocolate with the malty qualities of black tea. The texture is weaker than in initial steepings, but it is still quite tingly. In a few more later sweepings, a slight citrusy aftertaste has developed.

All in all, this tea is truly rich. Like a generous man giving what he enjoys to his friends, this tea gives out all its various favors to all who come near. This is evidenced in the leaves as they go from black to green the more you steep them. In a beautiful way they selflessly give all they have to offer to willing drinkers.

Thank you for this tea, David. I now have a dilemma — on our honeymoon a few months ago my wife bought me a new yixing teapot. Do I use it for this tea or for Shui Xian? Ahh what a wonderful dilemma, indeed…

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C

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97

Wow, I don’t think I have experienced this combination of favors before in a tea. I’m so glad I ordered this, but I’m not so glad that I ordered only one ounce!

As I filled my 4 oz. gaiwan with 4-5 teaspoons, I could smell a mix of Big Red Robe with a dark fruitiness in the dry leaves. Since this came from the WuYi region, I was very curious as to how similar this would taste to Verdant’s Big Red Robe, which is known for its robust taste and vibrating texture.

After the rinse, I closed my eyes as I took the first infusion to my lips. When the tea hit my tongue, I literally thought I was drinking a whole milk cream with a distinct vanilla and sugar flavor. I was so convinced I just had to open my eyes and realize I was drinking a non-flavored Shui Xian. I couldn’t believe it. I also have been consistently noticing the notes of banana in the aftertaste, which I am quite fond of.

I am currently on my fifth steeping, and the favors have shifted a bit. The vanilla is more pronounced in the front, without the sugariness of the first two steepings. On this cup and the one before, I also started picking up on a particular flavor of marshmellow or perhaps the waffle cone (as mentioned on Verdant’s site) on the aftertaste with the banana. It tastes a little nutty as well.

Before I steeped this stuff, I watched David’s video on brewing it. One thing he mentioned is that it is a much lighter WuYi roast than it’s BRR counterpart. This is true, and I love it for that! As much as I loved Verdant’s BRR, I felt it’s strong flavor and texture fit cold seasons well, but not as much for warmer, brighter seasons. This Shui Xian fills that gap perfectly. This tea is great for cold nights, sunny seasons, and relaxing evenings after a long day at work. Given the vanilla flavor, this would definitely be a nice treat for a couple enjoying a date night, too!

Now where this tea reaches the stars with flavor, it’s texture is also on the lighter side. However, I did not find this to be an issue at all as this stuff is just so dang easy to drink up. I’m sure with an open mind and a curiosity for sweeter-tasting teas, you’ll be happy when drinking Shui Xian as it takes you to a sweet, tranquil state of mind.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C
TeaBrat

I just got mine today!

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80
drank Yunnan Jig by Adagio Teas
19 tasting notes

I adjusted the steep time down this time and yielded much better results without the bitterness. This is a great, inexpensive tea that has a good balance of smokiness, maltiness, and pepperiness. This specific Yunnan is lighter on the cocoa than other Yunnan blacks I’ve had.

Again, you’ll really only get one strong, robust cup of tea. The second cup tastes much weaker, and a third cup, while still having a dark liquor, has little flavor at all.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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96
drank Black Dragon Pearl by Teavana
19 tasting notes

After trying BDP batches from both Adagio and Teavana, my suspicions have been confirmed true — they taste exactly the same. As much as I love Teavana, you can get BDP for cheaper over at Adagio.

I did notice that the batch I just bought from Teavana has more malty notes than in the past, but that’s probably just a variation on this year’s harvest.

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90

A few months ago I started putting in 4-5 teaspoons in my 4 oz. gaiwan as Verdant recommended (as opposed to 2 teaspoons in the past), and the difference is massive.

The chocolate, dark fruity notes are still there, but this tea is definitely an experience in texture. The tongue feels a vibrating sensation, and that feeling of the brassy bell, noted on Verdant’s site, on the tongue is hard to miss.

The mineral flavor/aftertaste is also more apparent than my previous steeping methods. This tea is a delight and will be something I come back to in the future.

I’ve been able to measure I’ll get 10 strong, flavorful cups (5 regular, 8 oz. cups) of tea before the taste and aftertaste start dying down, forcing me to significantly adjust the steep time.

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

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90

So I have been drinking this stuff gong-fu style, and it is even better!!

I put 2 tsp. into my 4 oz. gaiwan (so it may not be true gong-fu, but it still worked well), and I managed to get six infusions out of it!! Of course, this makes for three regular cups of tea (at 8 oz. of water). My steepings were as follows…

Rinse, :40, 1:00, 1:30, 2:00, 2:45, 4:00

A lot of the flavors came out more, like the mineral rockiness and the complex sweetness. I got more of that orangey-sweetness in later steepings shown in the description. Also, I got a strong, delicious aftertaste each cup. It was a full, lingering mineral-roasty taste that kept me warm during the cold weather hitting north FL.

I bumped my score up to 90!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec
TeaBrat

It is a delicious tea!

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80
drank Monkey-Picked Oolong by Teavana
19 tasting notes

Creamy and buttery like many TGYs with a light vegetal aftertaste. Of the number of times I’ve had this tea, I’ve never really tasted any complex floral qualities that one notices in a high-quality Iron Goddess of Mercy.

This tea is good and will last for a couple infusions, but it is overpriced. If you want to have a delicious, complex TGY, check out Verdant Tea’s Spring batch (you’ll also save about $10). If you’re REALLY looking to buy some cheap Iron Goddess you could grab some very decently priced ones at Upton Teas and still get a taste as good as Teavana’s.

Still, this is a good tea. Just a bit overpriced for the quality.

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

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90

I received this tea as a free sample with my order, since the team over at Verdant Tea is so awesome.

If I had to describe this tea in one word: complex. When I first sipped the tea, I tasted a chilly, autumn evening from the view of my parents’ porch in the mountains of North Carolina. Was I actually there? No! But that was the experience this tea gave me as I sipped it up in my small apartment in Gainesville, FL. Quite remarkable.

On to the specific flavors, the first thing I noticed was the mineral taste. It had a good bit of astringency, but given its complexity the astringency was well-balanced. I also tasted a dark sweetness, like maybe a dark chocolate-covered orange or something. There was definitely a subtle woodsy-fruitiness as well, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I think I’ll need to order some more of this stuff to figure it out ;)

I brewed this Big Red Robe Western-style in my IngenuiTEA, so I used 2 tsp. / 8 oz. water. The tea yielded three strong cups, then it pretty much lost all flavor. This is about what I expected, so it’s definitely worth the price. Although I’m sure one could get another cup or two with more leaf or less water.

One thing did surprise me – it had absolutely no vegetal aftertaste that I find in so many oolongs (especially in the other Wuyi I’ve had before). You know how it’s often normal for oolongs to coat the inside of your mouth? I barely noticed that with this tea. It’s not a bad thing at all, I was just surprised by it.

Given the price of Da Hong Pao on most other websites, it seems like the quality and price from Verdant is a great deal. I’ve never had Big Red Robe before, but Verdant’s blend makes me want to come back for more!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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92

Ok, so I tried upping the tea amount and reducing the steep time, and it worked like a charm!

With 2 tsp. / 8 oz. water, I yielded 4 strong cups before the tea started to really weaken. It was great!

Also, on the second and third cup, the buttery flavor really started to come out with the sweetness, and I tasted a good amount of nuttiness in later steepings as well.

Again, this is the best TGY I’ve ever had!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 30 sec
David Duckler

Excellent! I am so glad to hear that those tips worked for you. That buttery saffron sweetness is such an interesting part of the tea that I am delighted to hear that you were able to experience it more fully this time around.

Spoonvonstup

Glad you got to taste the buttery profile of this tea now- it’s one of my favorite parts! Well, along with the key-lime pie after-taste and all the other things..
What are you using to steep? A mug/cup with a steeping basket in it, or a little 8oz teapot, or..? I’m just curious about how the tea stands up covered/uncovered, in different materials, etc. For reference, I usually make this in a covered gaiwan or in an yixing.

Brooklyn

I’m using an 8 oz. yixing teapot, so there’s no infuser basket.

However, I’m about to order a 4 oz. Gaiwan for some of the different oolongs I have/want to try.

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92

This is EASILY the best TGY I’ve ever had. I’m happy to have found Verdant Teas, for their teas are wonderful (and are getting pretty high ratings here on Steepster all around).

Brewing this Western-style (1 tsp / 8 oz. water), I managed to get 2-3 strong cups before the tea became significantly weak.

The first cup was yelling lilacs, to the point of being lightly perfumey. It was so good! I love those kinds of floral qualities, and the vegetal aftertaste complemented it extremely well. This tea is very smooth, making it even better for this time of year.

The second cup lacked much of the lilac power, but that’s when the umami and sweetness really jumped out. The vegetal aftertaste actually became stronger, which I personally appreciate.

The third cup, as I stated before, was when it started becoming watery. The vegetal qualities were still faintly there, but everything else had mostly died down. As per David’s advice (which, Verdant Tea’s customer service is better than most places you’ll ever go), I think next time I’ll try using more tea, and steep it for a shorter amount of time. One thing I did miss was the creamy-buttery flavor so many TGYs have, but perhaps with more tea next time I’ll be able to bring it out. Perhaps trying Gong-fu steeping would help as well.

I loved this TGY so much, I actually am dedicating a new Yixing I just received to it. If you even remotely like greener oolongs, you must buy this variety!!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Spoonvonstup

Hurray! I always love it when people try this tea, because I also think this is the best TGY out there by a long shot. I’m impressed you got so much out of this doing it western style in a larger pot. You will really love this one in a gaiwan or small teapot gongfu style (good choice, dedicating a pot to this! we’ve got two TGY pots at home that have been enjoying this tea). The smaller cups and shorter steep times with more leaf really shows off how much the tea changes over time, and wil reveal how creamy and buttery this tea really is (and it is!). It taste more like a mix of spring and autumn TGY in that way, actually, which is one of the reasons I like it so much. You will be so pleased when you drink this gong-fu style; I’m excited for you! Happy drinking!

Brooklyn

Thanks! I’ll definitely keep things posted as I drink more :D

Geoffrey

I concur with Spoonvonsup on this one. Gongfu is the way to go with this tea! You can steep it 20+ times with that method and it won’t stop giving. I can leave this tea in my gaiwan and steep it over and over for three days, remaining very happy with the results well into those later infusions. If you have a gaiwan, you might want to try this tea in that as well while you’re seasoning your new yixing teapot for it. In any case, happy drinking!

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Profile

Bio

I started drinking tea in February 2011, so I’d say I’m still pretty new to all this. What with all the flavors and health qualities of tea, I’ve fallen in love with the hobby!

My favorite teas are blacks from China’s Yunnan Province, but as I try more and more oolongs I notice that I’ve got a big taste for Wuyis and Dan Congs.

Location

Columbia, MO

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