672 Tasting Notes
Before it was gone, I had to have my favorite Chai one more time and ordered 4 oz.
Most of you are buried in snow (unless you’re in the Southern Hemisphere or West Coast of the USA). It’s -6 without windchill factored in today.
I looked at my email and it said (my email has a voice) “Your Verdant Tea has been delivered.”
“Oh Boy!, I answered, I get to put on all my Winter gear and march out to the mailbox
hub to get my Yu Lu Yan Chai, but it’s worth it!”
Most of you know the drill: Socks over tights (women do this), jeans…shirt and wool vest. Coat, ear muffs, gloves and boots. Scarf and my cane.
The sky was bright enough and we haven’t had tons of snow. We’re high and dry. About 8 inches or so in the last week is the most all year so far.
I scurried out and back, giggling at the feeling of my nose hairs turning into ice crystals. (The last time I felt that feeling was Winter -20 in Fairbanks Alaska).
What a perfect time for Chai! I’ve been indoors for a week!
So I forgot what I was doing after I poured water over the leaves in my brew basket.
I always cover my teapot with a tea cozy to keep the tea warm and forgot what I was doing. Tic tic tic…for at least 6 minutes.
The liquor was dark… and very peppery and DELICIOUS!
I LOVE THIS CHAI!
I would have bought all the Chai if I could…just for that great peppery cocoa/potato
Hope to see this again…but if not. I’ve had a wonderful taste experience.
Thank you Brenden for this sample tea!
I know it isn’t December, and I often have to be ‘in the mood’ for my smokier tea’s. It’s one of those things…
When a big snow storm is coming…or the first brisk winds of Fall followed by a downpour…give me a mug of bold smoky tea and something sweet like dark chocolate to enhance the experience.
That big snow is coming. We’ve been having no snow hardly at all and warm weather. The Continent has been dry one way and a wreck of a Winter the other with Colorado humming along with a dribble of an inch of snow here and there and temperatures up to the 50’s and 60’s. We have a lot of sunshine!
When I say big snow, I mean maybe 8-10 inches which isn’t that much.
(I’ve never seen ice)
So I finally brought out the Whispering Pines December tea that Brenden sent me from its hiding place. Another smoky little tea (I thought).
It smelled like smoke so I assumed it would taste like smoke.
Surprisingly, the taste was cocoa-smoky… smooth and lighter than I had expected. I hadn’t read Brendens review prior to my tasting and didn’t realize he had used the Fujian Black Tea.
As for his comment about the tea being brisk…and citrusy, um I can’t say that I found either. Smooth and borderline floral…with not a hint of smoky harshness.
I have to say this is one of the better smoked tea’s I’ve tasted. There’s a compromise for those who like dark chocolate with a little smokiness to it (but not lapsang souchong).
By the way, I’ve been snooping around and found a video of Brenden
He’s way cool!!! A young slack-line expert! He’s into photography also and loves animals. (No idea why my first take was of someone older…but he’s young. I’m quite impressed!)
Don’t you just love tea people!
Now that it’s no longer December…Brenden needs a new name for this tea.
It’s not a one month wonder.
I got a Google+ message from Eric:
“What…look…the leaves are HUGE!” with a picture attached showing the Zheng Shan Ziao Zhong Smoked Wuyi Black tea by Verdant (say that 3 times fast!).
I answered back,
“OK Eric, I’ll pick some up as soon as David Duckler makes it available on the Verdant website…”, which I did immediately.
Then, I got sick right after the tea arrived. Bah!
As soon as I was well enough to drive, I picked myself up and off I went with my one ounce of precious tea booty. (I also have a small amount of puerh aged in a brandy barrel from Oregon, a gift from Eric to try that’s amazing…but that’s another story)
This tasting was met with great anticipation by Eric, Joe, Andy, Sam and owner George.
After much swooning over the aroma of the leaves…(a light smoky, sweetness)…Joe deftly worked gongfu magic, pouring amber liquor into many tiny tasting cups.
The wet leaves smelled like bbq that had been marinated in a rich jammy Paso Robles Zinfindel. The scent was floral…right in the middle of all that meaty, sour ripeness.
Eric tasted the tea first.
“Ah, this is what a lapsang should taste like when it’s done right. It’s what I’ve heard about but never tasted. I could drink this every day!”
I took my time…and a sip.
Light smoke, almost not there but salty next to sweet vanilla (Eric said that’s from the pine) and camphor. Floral aroma and very light smoke. Smooth. Layered and complex. Cocoa…
I don’t think one tasting can honor such a tea, time is needed.
Everyone raved…yes…raved about the tea.
The smoked tea’s most of us are used to drinking are far different from a superior craft tea such as this one.
My highest rating goes to this Lapsang Souchong.
In my opinion it is the example…the standard, of what a smoked tea should and can be.
Thank you TeaFairy for sending me a sample of your favorite tea!
I tried to review this during the ‘Steepster Storm’ the other day…to no avail. Not letting me in by hook or crook!
There was one exciting day where I brought this tea to Happy Lucky’s for a side-by-side comparison with the Bao Zhong that they sell and serve there. Andy, Joe, Eric, Maggie, Sam and a few regular patrons were on hand. Aroma sets were used to extract full value from the leaves and the tasting was blind. A set on the left and one on the right with only Joe knowing which tea was which.
Left Light and slightly savory. There was a hint of sweetness. Quite smooth but no dryness or acidity. Light body overall. Hazy floral taste and aroma.
Right Pronounced floral aroma, rubbery…crocus, jujube. Sweet with a depth up front that rolls back slowly on the tongue. Sweet water, lingering floral. Interesting…makes me want to discover more.
Of the two, I chose the second as my favorite because it’s so interesting and has depth that makes me want to spend more time with the tea. I could spend time just on the aroma…or go on to any part of the tasting and freeze the moment for more reflection. Tea should be that life changing and lead to contemplation. When it happens in a crowd of people, that’s unusual.
Second tea was (tea on the right)… DRUMROLL…TeaFairy’s Bao Zhong (show’s what good taste we both have a-hum!)! Pat on the back for the great reveal! (So glad it worked out that way!)
I’m not that only one that loved her tea!
As things were winding down after the side-by-side tasting,a teashop regular and sweet young lady who loves old people like me…was keeping me from going home. She said that someone who works at the teahouse had something to tell me.
What could it be I wondered? So mysterious!
I waited…and pretty soon one of the tea servers approached and announced that he was officially seeing my young friend and that they both wanted my blessing.
How sweet! My blessing indeed! How old fashioned and delightful!
Tea and blessings! I couldn’t be happier!
Life goes on at the teahouse. People are falling in love and I’m the grandmother basking in the glow of their joy how blessed am I!
Message on a personal note…
I’ve been sick and apologize for the lack of reviews to anyone who has wondered. I mention this not for sympathy but because almost everyone knows somebody with an autoimmune disease or disorder such as mine. It’s only been a matter of months since there has been proof that fibromyalgia is a physiological and not a psychological disease. I’m only one of thousands that has had doctors belittle them as “needing counseling for anxiety” instead of realizing that the pain suffered was real.
If you know people like me with migraines, fibromyalgia, arthritis etc. they are not able feel good all the time. The disease throws you all over the place and you go along for the ride. It’s not emotional but effects the emotions. It’s physical…so understand and support them. http://c.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/steps-authentic-happiness-positive-psychology/2013/dec/29/fibromyalgia-solved-pathology-not-mind/
Thank you TeaFairy for this lovely tea surprise!
Oh how I delight in my tea friends!
TeaFairy sent me a Holiday gift with little notes and fabric flowers attached to brighten my day. What care in packaging! I feel special indeed.
In my delight…I took this tea especially to share with Eric at the tea house, wondering if he had seen any like it before.
He commented, “Why did they leave the oolong on the stem? Usually they pay someone to take it off.”
Ah, I thought…the oolong comes this way and when curled up is removed? So why did they leave it on the stem?
None of us could come up with a ‘tea’ logical answer for ‘why’ but agreed that the stems with the oolong tea did look rather stunning in the gaiwan (which was interesting).
As much as tea is TASTE, it is also EXPERIENCE. Taste, aroma, and visual input…contribute to one’s appreciation of tea.
I expected the taste to be stronger and earthier with the stems attached, but the tea was light and delicate. Gentle with a hint of floral and no bitter aftertaste.
The mouthfeel is light and thin. Cooling changes little in the thickness of this tea.
I’m reminded of sweet water with cuttings floating on top in early Spring. The edge of a field with low hanging trees and mountain water. New bulbs flowering nearby and scenting the air.
Thank you TeaFairy for such a lovely gift!
Thank you Brenden for this sample tea!
This morning while waiting for my teapot water to boil…I turned on the weather report just as Al Roker pronounced “49 States are experiencing below normal cold weather and most are within the Arctic Blast of sub-zero temperatures”.
All I can say is ‘I empathize with all of you…but it has been pretty good here in the Rocky’s’…business as usual so far. One day of snow. You get the WET stuff and WIND. We don’t. It’s dry.
If you have some of Brenden’s Elder Grove tea to keep you company, you’re in luck!
Sunday, I was in the teashop talking to Maggie. For anyone who’s been keeping up with the characters at my local shop (Happy Lucky’s) she’s new…and so is Rachel. (The shop keeps growing in popularity)
Maggie lived in Taiwan and had a tea business. It’s handy having a person around who can read the Chinese Labels that come into the shop. (And some that I bring in too)
Anyway, we were talking about how the Chinese put all sorts of things into tea. Maggie goes to a certain shop close to Denver for special plums to add to tea. I mentioned how Brenden puts pine needles and cedar chips into his blends to remember the spirit of woody places he loves. Other tea vendors use local rice for genmaicha and some are experimenting with aging puer in empty wine and bourbon barrels.
I love the creative energy in our emerging North American tea culture!
Tea houses, philanthropy, love of the natural world and support of community. That’s the most exciting part.
This tea…Elder Grove is smooth.
I let it steep really long and it didn’t become sour but stayed smooth.
I didn’t taste the Holy Basil, but the blend was like a mild chai with good body, smooth elderberry…just the way I like it. Sometimes elderberry can taste like hibiscus and sour…this doesn’t taste that way.
I added a little honey…a perfect compliment!
The more Whispering Pines Tea’s I’ve tasted recently, the more I appreciate Brenden’s hard work in reformulating his tea stock into blends that are unique. They tell a story and represent him and the countryside he loves. His blending skill has matured and I applaud him! Those who learn do well and he’s one to keep watching!
If you haven’t wandered through his tea’s lately, I recommend this and the Evergreen Spice for Winter. Try his new tea’s!
If you’re snowed in and have never watched ‘Foyles War’ on Netflix…it’s a fine series. ‘Call the Midwife’ is another good one. ‘Foyles’…for both men and women. Got the tip first from Joe at the teashop and he’s 29.
Stay warm my friends!
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!
I’m one of those people who spend New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day by myself. I’m probably not the only one…and after years and years, I don’t feel sorry for myself about it.
There was a time when I was forced to be around New Years events that I didn’t want to be around…and I ended up afraid of what could happen to me at the hand of an abusive person.
I’m so thankful in my present life to be safe!
Tonight I put on good music, made some dip and crackers…had a really good dinner too. Worked on my Pinterest Boards.
Now, here we are together…you, my friends on Steepster.
It’s just us with some tea.
If you’re alone like me…make some tea and I’ll tell you how this tea made me feel…how it took me back to another December.
Silicon Valley is a new title for the Valley I grew up in.
Once it was known as the ‘Prune Capitol of the World’ not the center of technology.
On one side of the Valley are the small Coast Range Mountains and then the Pacific Ocean.
At Christmas, my children Aaron, Annalisa and I would bundle up and head up narrow Black Road…winding our way through Ponderosa Pine and Redwood Forests..up, up through mountain mists until we reached our favorite tree farm.
The dirt entry off the paved road was perched above the tree farm. As we looked below us, we could see a low ranch house and a big rustic woodshed decorated with Christmas lights, candy canes and stars. A woodfire billowed sweet smelling smoke into the cold, damp air. A hidden machine blew bubbles like snow high into the sky. It was magical!
When we arrived a rotund, aproned Mrs.Claus greated us with laughter, hot cider and ginger cookies…then gave us instructions on how to cut our tree to protect the trunk for regrowth.
We tumbled laughing and yelling through rows and rows of fragrant trees, letting the branches swipe across our faces…rushing off here and there to be first to find the perfect tree.
Such delightful joy!
I often think that this was one of those moments that God allowed me to be a child…as it does now in the retelling of the story.
When I prepared this tea…the use of real Ponderosa Pine with ‘mild’ Yabao in the blend, transported me back those 30 years.
I could smell the sweet, fresh cut fir tree and the sap. It’s a sweet smell. Then, brown sugar, graham cracker…nutmeg and ginger.
Spot-on this tea takes me deep into the WINTER FOREST.
I’m a lover of raw innovation…bold creativity and high standards in blends. No spay-tan flavors to make-a-buck pseudo-tea for me.
One of the memories that lasts throughout your life is scent and taste. Cool isn’t it. All the tea will associate with places and people…woods and trees, love and celebrations.
Evergreen Spice allowed me to become myself 30 years ago with my young children in the Coastal Mountains cutting down a Christmas Tree with the scent of Redwoods and Pine. Spiced Cider and cookies…
How glorious is that!
Blessed 2014 to you all my beloved friends!
A note: Not a critic of real sugar here but I have a critical note for once below:
(No artificial sweetener…none…nada…it changes the yabao into soap so don’t please.)
(Yikes this is review 666 on New Years Eve…good thing that I have no fear! It’s funny!)
My granddaughter Schey is truly one of those special people (like MOST of you here on Steepster) with a giving heart…full of kindness and love. She loves me not in words, but with her time.
Nobody spends time with me other than her.
One of these days, she’ll be swept off her feet by someone that I know won’t be quite worthy of her…but that’s another story.
In the meantime, we have tea together, she calls me often…and yesterday she came over to bake with me.
Last year I decorated my home for Christmas and nobody came over. I felt bad. (This is something that happens to people when they get old) Young people are busy…(I know this) but it’s a hard reality to sit alone in a beautifully decorated room with your tea. Sigh…
I’ve learned to dig deeper into my heart this year. The source of my being happy is no longer dependent on having people around me, even though I do like it when I have a visit or when I go out to tea.
Schey is allergic to regular ‘Black Tea’. It makes her weep and she gets depressed and moody rather quickly. I’ve never seen anything like it. Puerh, green tea and oolong’s are all fine. I know the reason (too long to explain here).
When Schey arrived for our holiday baking, Pandora was set with classic crooners…Bing Crosby, Michael Buble, Nat King Cole…all the old tunes we could sing along ‘loudly’ in the kitchen. http://youtu.be/_ONkQD1uxkY
We made a double recipe of spice cake (grinding the spices ourselves) and then peanut butter chocolate fudge. http://flic.kr/p/ipxxdi
While the cakes were baking, we sat next to my Christmas tree and watched two recorded epidodes of Once-Upon-A-Time. http://flic.kr/p/ipwDAn
I made a combo tea: Peppermint Bark Herbal and loose Shu Puerh in a large pot.
I know this might sound strange to some people…but most chai’s and herbal blends taste great with loose puerh, especially with cream and honey or sugar. (This tea can be rebrewed once or twice)
The flavor of mint and spice with the puerh I chose (this one was mild) was festive. Perfect pairing for our afternoon! I brewed the tea 3 minutes…longish-yes…but I didn’t add lots of puerh, and the Herbal needs time to release (not the 1 minute suggested by Verdant).
Crafting a latte binds the herbal blend and puerh together into a rich, smooth holiday drink.
I took a picture of Schey. Her peanut butter chocolate dessert was going to both the servers at Happy Lucky’s Tea House and employees at the local Grocery Store. My cake is for tea with my 3 year old grandson’s.
Don’t you think that best memories we have are doing things with other people? This usually doesn’t cost much money, but takes some of our time.
Don’t forget to take pictures over the holidays. (So many people forget to record time with people they love and time is short!)
Wish I could bake together and have tea with all of you!
Tea Review: This is a day of Memorial and Celebration for many people around the World. I was up early, before dawn.
It’s not odd to drink a wonderfully light and celebratory tea to toast a great Grandfather of us all. I wrote much about my own feelings on my blog and if you like, you can read it beginning below.
This blend takes the Yabao that many have tried already and adds Holiday magic to zing it up!
In classic (now after several years I can say ‘classic’) Verdant fashion, the ingredients are blended in such a manor that no one ingredient screams out ‘Ginger’ or ‘Coriander’ or Birch Bark’.
If anything, there is a softness that I amped up a little by steeping longer than the recommended 1 minute.
Yabao tastes like light nutmeg to me. (It tastes like cardamom to David Duckler but what does he know, he’s a young man!)
Yes this is very ‘snickerdoodle’. BEWARE… our tastebuds are on overkill with cinnamon, peppermint and strongish flavors this time of year (love the goodies).
Yabao Snickerdoodle is light on the palate. I HIGHLY suggest adding sugar or mild honey to your tea (as well as steeping longer, and please don’t underleaf…LISTEN to GRANDMA!).
I would say (am saying) that I sipped a grand white wine or two in my day that were in the same league with this tea. Nutmeg, vanilla and ginger… sparkling sweet and delicious. (Murphy’s California)
Cheers to Mandeba!
I woke long before dawn to watch the news feed from South Africa this morning.
It is the day of Memorial for Nelson Mandela.
What shall I say? Some of you are not going to like what I say…
I warn you…
Yesterday, I tried to explain to my granddaughter Schey what it was like during the days of Apartheid and Civil Rights.
It’s not easy for young people to understand what it was like in the 1960′s-1980′s but I’ll keep on telling my grandmother stories no matter what.
As an interracial couple with two young children in the 1960′s and 1970′s, life for my husband and I was often dangerous. I worked in Civil Rights for many years in local projects, then as a Vista Volunteer in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.
I was living in the Nation’s Capitol when both Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were killed. Riots followed.
Shortly after the riots, my husband and most of the young Black men in the area were drafted. (This was during the Viet Nam War)
It was too dangerous, the Army said, for me to go ‘Down South’ with my husband because of the Klu Klux Klan, so I flew home to California until he was transfered a year later to Texas. (A Hard Place in 1970).
…the rest is on my blog…
Thank you Angel and Teavivre for this sample tea!
The Snow Queen has stretched her Wintry White Robe across most of North America.
Most of us Steepsterites hunker down with copious amounts of tea, hoping to melt the chill from her icy fingers. Burr!
I’ve been drinking Chai, Black Tea and Puerh by the buckets-full! My own additions of cinnamon or ginger to the Puerh warm me head to toe in no time.
Now and then, a reminder of Spring gladdens my heart, and it’s tea that’s able to take me to that golden, glowing place in no time.
While I prefer dark, roasty Oolongs that are cinder-fired and tightly rolled…I love those rare, buttery, floral/savory Oolongs that remind me of the awakening Earth in Spring.
Li Shan is such an Oolong.
Buttery and thickening as it cools, sweet, slightly floral and savory.
I’m not very fond of light Oolongs, but this is perfectly delicious. Not too light and or strong but just right with an aroma sweet enough to make you hunger for vanilla cake.
Winter may be upon us now, but we can remember warm, golden-hued Spring now, thanks to such a tea as this one.
Beethoven’s 6th Symphony http://youtu.be/34dU9RSWf28