662 Tasting Notes
Story more than review
Here’s my latest update on this amazing tea!
I brought some Earl of Anxi for my friends to taste after Church today, curious about how the Frankincense would be appreciated by a group of people who are familiar with the use and smell of this resin incense (although not in tea).
A few days ago I shared some with the guys who work at Happy Lucky’s Tea House and they loved it! We discovered that the incense resin really blooms beautifully at about the 3rd steeping.
Today, I set up my hot water kettle, small sipping cups and Gaiwan then waited for people (victims) to come by for a chat and tea.
One by one, I went through a round of steepings and then another…each time with great interest on the part of those sipping the tea and smelling the aroma with incense. Everyone loved the tea!
Finally, Fr. Evan came into the room…chatting with people and easing back towards me. (I know he saw my tea things, since we always have tea when we get together for our regular talks)
I steeped a last portion, steep #3, and poured tea into a tumbler. Then I handed the Gaiwan full of wet leaves to Fr. Evan and asked him to tell us what he smelled.
Everyone was watching…
….and something else…..Frankincense!”, he said with authority…not even doubtful for a minute.
He got it right! Wow! I know he’s a Greek Orthodox Priest but still, these were wet leaves and a mix you couldn’t look at and identify easily. Not bad!
I handed him the rest of my Verdant packet. Now I’m OUT! O U T!
More is on the way though. I knew I was going to need more. I gave some away to three people already so now I have to hoard more for my own enjoyment too.
Tea is my bridge to communicating with people face to face again. I’ve been scared, letting my disabilities hold me back. For the past two years I’ve avoided people other than going to my tea pub. This is my next step, sharing tea. Several people say they’d like to have tea with me at Happy Lucky’s. It’s time.
I ordered this tea just in the nick of time so it seems, because the stock has already sold out. I know that Verdant will blend some more as soon as the autumn harvest of Laoshan Green is in! Waiting, waiting, wanting!
When I read that Minnesota wild rice and Jasmine sticky rice were being roasted at Verdant to be blended with the superior Laoshan Green tea to make this Genmaicha, I was all in. My taste imagination recalled the buttery green bean smooth tea. Um, with a pairing of toasted rice how brilliant!
Laoshan green leaves are lovely to begin with, very small and curly. The white and black rice, slightly puffy from roasting, made a pretty speckled trio with the tea.
The scent was roasty, like sweet sticky rice and the aroma of buttered popcorn.
The taste didn’t disappoint me!
The flavor was my best experience with a 4 hour Wedding Banquet at the ‘Empress’ in Chinatown San Francisco, and the best day at the
Butte County Fair eating BBQ Corn dripping with Buddah’!
This tea rocks! (Now that’s something you’ve never heard me say!)
The tea is SAVORY and a little SWEET at the same time almost like kettle corn. You won’t be able to stop because of that sweet, savory addictive quality that begs you to have more and more.
I can hear my self now…“Hi, my name is Bonnie and I’m addicted to Laoshan Genmaicha.” …“Hello Bonnie”, thousands of voices respond with the same problem. Sigh. (I’ll have to fill the complimentary hot beverage containers in the back of the room with this tea hee hee!)
There is enough flavor to drink this with a meal. I love the way the taste lingers lazily, a long while after the sipping is done.
With a piece of toast and honey for a snack or at breakfast…yum.
Last night I stopped at my tea pub (Happy Lucky’s for those new to my stories) and brought Eric and Sam a sample of the new Verdant Earl of Anxi tea blend with the Frankincense in it. The evening crowds were gone (dinner time) all was quiet and I sat at the bar while they lined up tastings from a small Gaiwan.
The first was great, the second steeping also, but the THIRD…well that’s when the Frankincense began to bloom and meld with the Oolong into an aroma and flavor that amazed them and me.
What an awesome experience. I gave each a little sample to take home and then ordered a pot of Assam and a ginger cookie (Sam’s shift was over and he went home).
People began filling up the shop and I chatted with some, helping others while the lone Eric rushed to make tea orders. This lasted for an hour until another lull arrived.
Still sitting at the bar talking about tea while he frothed some milk, a long line of people came into the shop, behind the bar, past me and Eric and disappeared. “What’s going on?”, I asked surprised.
“Uh, oh, he chuckled, it’s the ghost walk.” “The what?, I answered, is this place supposed to be haunted?” “Well, you know this was a firehouse and had a jail in the back…but in the basement was solitary confinement,” Eric informed me. Yikes! And a few minutes later, a line of people came back up (about 25-30 in all) and filed past me again only this time I held up my hands and said BOO!
I watched the young couple on a date, the oldsters on a night out. The young couple with a baby enjoying Chai. Four friends playing a board game. Most of the people stayed to drink their tea as the sun went down and it became dark.
Never a dull moment at Happy Lucky’s Tea House! It’s beginning to be my Lake Wobegon.
I’ll have to share some of this Laoshan Genmaicha Tea too!
(but just a little since I only have an ounce!).
The sharing makes the tea taste even better I think!
I’ve been waiting for this tea to arrive, so curious about the use of Frankincense in tea. It is curious also that my new blog (soon) is called tea and incense and that the incense I use at home is the same type of resin incense used in the tea. FRANKINCENSE
When the tea arrived I wasted no time making a cup. The wet leaves were beyond amazing…with an aroma that transported me by scent association to ‘Places of Prayer’, ‘Honey Cake with Orange and Nutmeg’, ‘Ancient Holy Spaces’, ‘European Museums’, ‘Grandmothers Antiques’ and ‘Lightly Bergamot Scented Linen’.
I was stunned!
I took a sip of tea and the scent and flavor were one and the same.
What to do? The Oolong tea, orange, jasmine and goji berry were woven together so beautifully that the hint of saffron warmth and incense unfurled like an exquisite silk carpet full of intricate patterns.
Impusively, I called Verdant to leave a message of congratulations and David Duckler answered.
(I’m not going to pretend we’ve never talked before, we have. And I’ve chatted by e-mail with other Tea Company owners who make an effort to be friendly like Stacy, Garrett, Bo, Elise and many others.)
We talked about this tea, how he lets the tea (this Oolong) guide him as he pulls down one ingredient, then another in some mystical way until he has the final blend.
I kept telling him how beautiful the wet leaves were, the cream colored puffy jasmine with the dark green Oolong leaves set off by long rusty red goji berries.
Then the scent, perfectly peppery when cold…then almost nutmeg. I kept picking out pieces of jasmine to eat, then nodding my head down again to smell the aroma.
We spoke about my use of Frankincense and how older cultures used resin instead of chemical incense, how my brother uses a long censor with 12 bells on it to bless the people during Vespers on Saturday nights. With a flick of his wrist, out goes the censor using a technique that looks like he’d be super great with a YOYO.
(My brother is a Deacon)
In the cultures where this type of resin incense is used the smell goes into carpets, furniture, wood and fabrics usually creating an association with a ceremony, season of the year or holiday.
We went on to talk of other things, other tea’s and the trip to China in the near future. I kept coming back to this tea, however. I couldn’t help it.
I said, “David, I’ll probably review the Earl of Anxi tomorrow since I want to think about it to do it justice. It’s remarkable! Earl Grey lovers who love the strong taste are going to complain probably, but I think you were right to keep the bergamot very light! It’s in harmony with the other flavors!” He agreed that it was better this way, saying that the softer and lighter nuance doesn’t overpower the blend.
This was absolutely a mind-blowing and unique Verdant tea!
I LOVE THIS TEA
I had some more tea later in the day at my tea pub and by the 3rd steeping the Frankincense became more pronounced in a very fragrant, flavorful way which blended with the Oolong tea and Jasmine beautifully.
Thank you Stacy at Butiki for this sample tea!
I didn’t have any tea this morning because I slept in. Luxury!
It’s something I don’t do very often though.
Everyone thinks that one day when they retire, they’ll sleep in every day but it just doesn’t happen that way.
I’ve often wondered how I worked 8 hours a day, managed kids and bills and raking leaves on my own for the 10 years I was a single parent (I worked another 20 years besides that).
I got in a grove for 40 years like a slot car and off I went.
Last night one of my granddaughters said, “When I get to be an old lady, I’m going to have a blast and do all kinds of things with my grand-kids, drink tea like grandma and write music.” That did my heart good. She said that many of her friends say they hate old people.
I’m trying to show how them (and their friends) that getting older can be wonderful.
Most of the people reading these tea reviews (like you) are young. You’re parents or grandparents might be getting older. (Heck, everyone will be old one day.) I’ll tell you this…I’m free to be myself now, more than at any time in my life. Old isn’t bad, it’s a challenge at times and an adjustment. (My peeps landed on the moon, protested for Civil Rights and Woman’s Rights, invented and built the Computer Industry, the Beetles, Rolling Stones, Richard Gere (63) all from oldies. Talk to an oldster sometime. You’d be surprised at what they know.) It’s fantastic in many ways!
I chose this Butiki sample and was stunned at how wonderful the aroma of the wet leaves were. Savory, roasty and a little floral in a way that matches the best quality Oolongs I’ve tried. Stunning scent…hard for me to pull myself away from the dark moss green leaves.
Taking my first sip I wasn’t disappointed. The roasted flavor was smooth and rich, honey with a little potato mouth-feel thickness.
I remembered that this was the tea made sweet by leaf hoppers chewing on the tea tree leaves forcing the tree to work harder producing new leaves with more sugar in them. (The sweetness was lovely!)
Stacy has noted an apple, raw almond and lightly burned toast flavor…which I thought about for awhile. I could imagine a fragrant yellow apple, home grown…sweet and cold chopped and mixed with a little grilled white pork and sprinkled with some almonds. The meat would have to have some roasty bits from the bottom of the pan.
I get carried away….
Boy this is good tea! An Oolong that doesn’t get astringent, has just enough roasty, floral, fruity flavor too! This is not your average Oolong. It’s substantial!
This Fui Fei Oolong would be a great choice for Fall and Winter.
Tonight my daughter and two of my grandaughters (Megan and Kiah) came over and brought me presents! (not an occasion, just being nice!)
A new electric tea pot (stainless this time) and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel DVD! Yes!
I’ve already seen the movie and it’s really fun to see especially with Chai.
Because I knew the ladies were coming over I warmed this Chocolate Phoenix Chai in 56 oz. of milk slowly on the stove, adding honey just before straining and serving.
The tea was frothy and creamy smooth, full of caramel and cocoa.
The taste of natural, subtle vanilla had bloomed in the warm milk.
I had placed a bowl of ginger cookies on the coffee table to eat with the Chai. Dunk and eat or sip and take a bite, whatever the style, the pair went really well together. The Chai wasn’t too spicy so the cookie spiciness was perfect.
I had to make this second tasting note since we had such a great time sipping this Chai tonight, watching a good movie together.
What a great family!
I’d love to have a Chai holiday party. Everyone brings a hot Chai in a thermos so it doesn’t have to be heated. Has to be labeled and let the tasting begin.
Great Chai! Cheers!
Thank you mrmopar for this sample Pu-erh!
My education in Pu-erh has come from the generous people here on Steepster who share with me from their personal supplies of Pu-erh (like mrmopar, Roughage in the U.K. and others) and samples put in with my orders from so many vendors. Thank you all!
It’s funny to look back and remember my first experience with
They were so heavily flavored that I could barely detect the underlying earthiness…but it was there, and I developed a hunger for it.
This is where I began this morning. Thinking about the ignorance of the newcomer to Pu-erh. My ignorance, which I still have.
Recently on a discussion thread, someone took a shot at one of our vendors, then at me (for knowing nothing about Pu-erh).
When I read their linked blog comments they were also critical of ‘all’ of us on Steepster.
I was offended not so much for myself but everyone else.
The potshots at me were correct though. I ‘am’ a learner and I ’don’t’ know very much about tea yet.
My lack of humility suckered me into a dialog that I should have stayed out of. The people who made the comments don’t write reviews on Steepster. They just appeared out of the blue.
I’m learning about Pu-erh because of you wonderfully kind Steepster people.
One thing I swear I never want to be is a TEA SNOB! I’d rather stay right here and review tea than gain the respect of those who despise Steepsterites!
The Pu-erh for this morning:
The aroma of the wet leaves for every pour was mild shoe leather.
On all but the first steep the liquor was dark red-brown and clear.
1. After a 30 second rinse, the liquor was light brown. It was tight, compact bark waiting to open. The flavor was light cedar, a little rough and furry with a slight pepper on the tip of my tongue.
2. The flavor was much smoother but with an almost bitter chicory cedar taste. The other comparison was the thick bitter taste of dark rye bread. There was little saltiness or sweetness but lots of juice.
3. This steep produced a softer, milder cedar flavor and thickness. There was an alfalfa sprout scent and sweetness with the taste of water crackers. The earlier bitter edge was gone but the chicory was still there in a palatable mild form with a rich mouth-feel.
4. Up front there was pepper and juiciness. The flavor was similar to steeping #3 and smooth.
I thought about this Pu-erh, and even though this has been rated as ready to drink…it seems to me that it still hasn’t developed full depth. Maybe this is where it will remain though. If it were a wine I would liken it to a mild Merlot (and Merlot is NOT a dirty word, it just was overproduced in horrid amounts by every closet winemaker on earth!).
So much of what I love about Pu-erh comes from my Winery background and from living in Morgan Hill where we grew mushrooms, and were surrounded by farms and wineries. Living next to Gilroy, Salinas, Watsonville and Monterey with all the fruit, vegetables, mountains and Sea gave me a sense of what I look for in Pu-erh.
I may be wrong some of the time, or maybe all of the time but I’m certainly enjoying myself!
I have found what I really love to drink and I think the love shows.
Thank you Dhart 1214 for this sample tea
Earlier today I drank a delicate tea, the kind that reminds me of Spring and the first flowers in the garden, a soft warm breeze and iced tea. It was jasmine and peach.
This evening, I chose a blueberry black tea to drink while listening to the rain outside. Blueberry and black tea sounded good.
It was interesting to see big snowflakes falling higher up in the mountains so early while watching the News on TV. SNOW!
Then I remembered last year and the freaky snow storm in October that hit early before the trees had lost their leaves. We live in an age of unpredictability. Pretty soon…!
I enjoy making a pot of tea and fixing a tray in the evening.
I set the tray on my coffee table (which is really an extra long Pottery Barn bench the length of my sofa) and keep pouring cups of tea. My April Cornell tea cozy’s keep the tea hot. (You can get them online for $14 reversible and $7 on sale)
Wow this tea was strong. I’d almost swear this was a Scottish Breakfast tea with some blueberries. It was strong and a little smoky too. Not for the faint of heart to be sure.
Straight away milk was added and some sweetening which set things right. The blueberry flavor enhanced the black tea with a dark, ripe fruitiness without adding sweetness.
The briskness of my initial tasting was so strong that the additions were necessary in my opinion. They created a decent European style tea. (Going forward, I would choose this for my morning tea and not for the evening.)
I’m totally awake now and not likely to sleep for hours, so I’ll have to find a good English mystery on Netflix to finish the last cup with.
Good evening all!
Thank you Dhart1214 for this big tea sample!
Just opening the foil bag and inhaling the dry aroma of this tea was enough to tempt me this morning. Dry tea doesn’t impress me 90% of the time. I ‘LOVE’ the aroma of wet leaves! I can sit, letting my tea get cold while sniffing away at a bunch of stewed leaves, yes indeed.
Scents that do arouse interest are jasmine and osthmanthus. Add some peach and citrus…well…I’m all in, waiting for the steep to finish so that I can sip the heavenly ambrosiac nectar.
After I emerged from the scent cloud, I was ready to taste the soft peach colored tea.
The flavor was like a jasmine silver needle white tea with a blush of peach flavor and more predominate tangerine citrus taste just below the jasmine. I thought it was cleaver not to make the tea too peachy and predictable. The tangerine kept the tea bright.
I was going to serve some of this to granddaughter Schey but she won’t drink it. No peach for her ever.
She picked peaches for a week with her mom and sisters in Fresno one Summer as a part of Gleanings (where you pick fruit for Food Banks). She picked so many peaches in the hot sun that it makes her sick to look at peaches. (that and the bugs did it!)
My first job in High School was at a Dunkin Donut shop and I still don’t care for donuts so I understand!
I like this tea though. Pretty good and refreshing. Wish I had it earlier in the season though. It would make a good Spring/Summer tea. (I don’t see it listed on their site any longer.)
Thanks you Terri Harp Lady for this sample tea!
Rain, Rain finally Rain! I’m happy it’s here!
I just noticed that the condo entrance median outside has two apple trees filled with small apples that I hope have a chance of becoming something wonderful to eat before the snows this year!
I noticed the bushes have suddenly turned red and overnight,the big tree across the street turned bright yellow-gold.
Because I’m halfway up to the clouds here at 5000 feet, they seem grander and closer to the ground. Huge, billowy, purple blue monster clouds came rolling over the higher Rocky’s with Spielberg-like special effect movement, around 5PM. This has always been exciting to me. I knew what to expect when I saw the clouds forming in the distance earlier, so I rushed to the grocery store so that I wouldn’t have to leave home for a few days. (Milk for Chai was on the top of my list.)
For tonight, I made Peach Oolong for sipping before watching TV. (Revolution, (giving this series a look).
The scent and flavor of this tea were both mild even with a 3 minute steep. I thought sweetening might wake up the peach flavor, but even sweetening didn’t bring it out.
I tasted mild roasted leaf that wasn’t bitter, but it had an odd plywood taste.
Hum. What was the creator of the flavored tea trying to achieve? Possibly not the flavor of the peach but the peach skin. That would explain the mild, dry and woody taste. Could be. To me, there was hardly an oolong taste or peach flavor. Peach skin was the closest.
So, the rain is here. I’m ready with soup and tea in my cupboard! Cool weather is perfect for Chai and looking out the window at big clouds and watching a movie!
Better late than never…this blend is almost gone and I’ve been sitting on this first ounce of tea for a couple of weeks without tasting it. Then I saw the notice that only a pound was left so I ordered some more. It’s time to taste and review this Chai!
I’ve been tasting Chai’s lately from various sources, looking for different tastes and flavors, socking a few away for the Fall and Winter. I was sitting at my tea bar discussing this with Eric the other day. "Eric, every Chai I drink either has too much pepper or too much cardamon or the wrong kind of cinnamon that makes the Chai bitter. I think I need to make my own Chai, " I said. “That’s what I do,” he replied. And we both sighed.
Eric works at a tea shop! He’s tasted lots of Chai samples.
The only Chai’s I’ve liked so far are one from Butiki and the Verdant Chai blends.
(Some companies have Chai’s I can’t drink because they add Rooibos which I’m allergic to…so it’s not about not liking them, I can’t drink them!).
This brings me to the sadness of this tasting. An experience of a wonderful Chai that I should have ordered long ago but didn’t.
A Chai that is exactly what a Chai should taste like.
Wah! Sniffle! Stomp my Feet! Tantrum!
I threw the directions for brewing this Chai in smaller 8oz steepings out the window. I DISOBEYED VERDANT’S INSTRUCTIONS! Now I think I have to do a Verdant confession or something. Not sure.
So, what I did was make a whole pot of Chai…(yes I did indeed). I brewed 32 ounces of golden delight…honey spiced glee for me!
I poured 1 cup…warming my whole mouth with saffron and a mixture of cardamon, coriander, sweet vanilla and caramel. Luxurious!
I sipped for a bit…and could not wait.
This was not tea. I had to change how I was thinking about the whole experience!
Suddenly, I traveled to the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in India, http://youtu.be/dDY89LYxK0w becoming one of the characters draped in bright flowers. With Hindi music throbbing in the background (which I like), I added cream to my next cup of tea and honey in large amounts. YES! This was the way to drink this CHAI! WOW! Taste EXPLOSION!
The next cup I just added some honey. NO WAY! Nah!
Milk and honey…that ‘IS’ the proper way to enjoy this fine Chai. I’m not kidding. I’m going to steep the leaves in milk…to make the flavors even more silky and creamy and warming and cocoa vanilla.
The cardamon wasn’t overpowering and the chocolate from the Mi Lan was like the ‘Chocolate XXOO Love’ Bar’s produced here in Colorado.
Thick and Rich!
So why sad…wah! It’s gone…when I’m done with my stash…GONE!
I’m requesting a repeat next season from Verdant! This was a treat!
Goodbye My Chai Love! http://youtu.be/RUCiGqAHx4g Monsoon Wedding