676 Tasting Notes
First Tasting…from a sample I received with my last Verdant order. (Prior to my full cake purchase arriving.)
I didn’t realize at first that the sample I received with my order was the same as the 07 cake I later purchased. The label was marked 06 instead of 07.
I thought I had received one of those extra’s that are never going up on the Verdant site, or a future tea that might be released in a few weeks. You never know with tea, things are always changing.
Tasting at H.L.
So I took my little sample to Happy Lucky’s to taste with my tea friends, Sam and Joe, and my granddaughter Schey.
Joe set up a little Gaiwan and 4 cups, then rotated through 7 short steepings.
From the beginning I didn’t think he used enough leaf and the steep time was instant, but he thought otherwise.
The first steeping was tongue numbing, and tasted ashy. The smell was sweet tobacco. The Pu’er was never bitter or harsh, just ashy tasting and vegital.
That didn’t concern me, I knew how a first steeping was so often unreliable in judging what future steepings would taste like.
It took 3 additional steepings for the ash and tobacco taste to subside, finally allowing a lighter, green tea flavor to emerge with a slight astringency.
I determined then to spend time at home brewing this Pu’er ‘MY WAY’. Something wasn’t right.
Curious about my sample, I sent David Duckler an e-mail. He said the handwritten sample said ’06 but was really the 2007 Fuhai Sheng. Aha!
Now I knew how to brew!
I decided to do a Western Style brewing to get a larger amount of tea all at once to envelop myself in the aroma and flavor. I also wanted to use lots of leaf.
I used SPRING WATER!!! (I do believe this made a big difference)
Steep time….1 minute! 8 oz water 5 grams or so leaf
The aroma of the leaves was lightly vegital with a background scent of Grammer School paste.
The color remained pale yellow.
The scent of the tea changed in such a peculiar way. I smelled sweet tobacco in the beginning then sweet spiced pickle, cinnamon, savory and sweet green tea.
Second Tasting Western Style
With the very first sip I was stunned at how instantly the tea numbed my tongue. Not just the tip but under the tongue.
The flavor was an ash-vegital taste that wasn’t too salty. The Pu’er was never bitter or harsh and had a natural sweetness.
I had the sensation of cream without a thick mouth-feel.
As the tea cooled just slightly there was a growing presence of cinnamon.
I was pleased that my choice to brew Western Style using more leaf and longer steep time had worked out so well!
The second steep was like the first and the third was less ashy, dryer and a weaker cup.
I needed to make an adjustment!
At Stepping #4, I changed the time to 1 minute 45 seconds. Perfect!
Always the experimenter, and following a hunch…I took a small break, took a bite of chicken and came back to my tea (just seconds away to keep the tea hot).
By taking that break, I discovered the Pu’er’s Savory personality! Sipping the Pu’er was really good with my light chicken dish in a way that an excellent light savory broth would be.
I could still feel a bit of tingle, that numbing feeling in my mouth that was kind of cool and a green plantain starchy flavor that is a little sweet as it begins to ripen with a hint of cinnamon (super light). (The cinnamon was sometimes only on the nose)
For my first encounters with this Pu’er, I didn’t taste apricot or nut.
The environment often changes what you taste from one day to another too. This is why I seldom eat before tasting tea.
Perhaps in the future my experience will deepen and I will taste many things as the Pu’er itself changes.
My recommendation is to use the best water, don’t skimp on leaf and steep long enough to get good flavor. If at first you don’t succeed try again. I bought a cake and a sample size to play with. Sheng is not like Shu Puerh. This is not earthy, fishy or mushroom tasting.
Sheng are a whole different adventure in the world of Pu’er and I for one have a lot to learn.
Thanks mrmopar for this nice Puerh Sample!
Yesterday someone said in their review that it seems that overnight the trees had turned color without them noticing the change. Blink and it’s Autumn!
I agree! When I lived in California the seasons didn’t change as dramatically as they do here in Colorado.
I was just looking at the forecast this morning. 82 today dipping to 28 tonight (Obama and Romney better have Jackets in Denver) and on Saturday the daytime will be 37 degrees (that’s an almost 50 degree drop!). ‘The times they are a Changing’.
One September I went to visit my mother-in-law Selma in Fairbanks, Alaska and drove way out along the Pipeline towards Valdez. After you pass the Air Force Base around North Pole Alaska, you see few people or cars. After about an hour, if you pull to the side of the road and get out, there is a panorama of golden trees UNBELIEVABLE and not the sound of ANYTHING. No birds, bugs, people, cities or cars. Total quiet. (The birds have gone South and the animals are hunkering down for the Winter which would come within a week or two.)
On the return drive, as the night sky turned black, the Aurora Borealis lit up the sky with an iridencent green light show. Again, stopping and getting out of the car to hear the siren sound of the sky and see the amazing movement of light that only is visable twice a year.
Ah Autumn. http://flic.kr/p/dgv2Nm Fall Alaska Set
The color of the liquor for this Shu Puerh was first a golden honey brown and thereafter a clear dark red-brown.
Although I love to smell wet leaves, I didn’t find this to be a extremely potent or strong smelling Puerh. It was just a mellow, easy scent that was tame, a little earthy and pleasing.
After one 30 second rinse, I kept steepings at 30-45 seconds which was more than enough time for a rich broth.
The lightest (and first) steeping was like honey and Bing cherries with a light spicy finish. There wasn’t any earthy flavor or bread taste. I did find the sensation to be wet, not juicy.
My mind went off to thinking about water and then I came to my senses realizing how odd that was.
I poured another cup. This was more like the Puerh’s I was used to, like digging into rich, dark and chunky premium potting soil.
It tasted juicy and extremely smooth, becoming thick at the back of the palate.
There was something sweet about this Puerh. A cherry flavor and a creaminess during later steepings that I had not come across often in Shu’s. (I thought I was wacko about the cherry flavor but I tasted this tea over again the today and I’m convinced, though the Bing cherry taste is elusive.)
The other illusion that I had with this Shu was water.
As I sat sipping one round after the other I began to tea regress. Have you ever felt like tea is your shrink taking you back to your childhood? Well I have.
I thought about a night sitting on the beach in Santa Cruz, CA all alone. It was one of those starless nights when all you could hear were the waves crashing like thunder. Now and then, there was a glimmer of light from a wave but nothing else as I dug my toes deep into the still warm sand. I must have been 16 or 17 years old and a real dreamer. Fearless and full of wonder.
An older guy in his 20’s that I knew came along, sat down next to me and we began to verbally make up poetry in the dark. He said a line, then I made up a few, then he made up some more. A perfect romantic experience in the purest sense.
We never spoke again.
Tea can be a beautiful moment like that. Like a poem or a crashing wave.
Some are an experience that lingers for a little while.
My favorite ones are the tea’s you remember forever.
And some, well not so much.
This one was better than many I’ve had and will linger.
Story (I have a review of tea for the morning)
I’ve had quite a long day. My ex-Husband, needed me to get some legal paperwork together so that he could sell his house (not mine anymore). I had to prep and fax 47 pages off to California along with notarized proof of my name as a favor.
What did I do to relax afterwards? Go to Happy Lucky’s for tea!
I always know that it’s dead quiet around dinner time, nice time to relax at the tea pub.
Sam was about to get off work and Joe (the cute guy in the picture that some of you ladies commented on) was minding the shop alone.
After a few minutes at the bar, my granddaughter Schey came in with Purple Hair…very cute on her…and joined me for tea.
We really had a great time until….the ghost tour arrived again. The line of ladies (no men) filed behind the bar, downstairs, then up again…grabbing iced tea and back out the door.
We drank our pot of yummy puerh (this is a great and reliable, smooth and rich puerh! I’ve reviewed it twice before and this is my really tasty every day kind of puerh. Not fussy, makes a good latte too.)
So we’re drinking puerh and then Schey had a meeting and left.
All of a sudden, 7 women came up from the basement with purple, pink, black and blond wigs on…all dolled up. Older women looking like they’ve been up to something (no idea what though).
I have no idea where they came from.
Joe said, “Didn’t you see them go downstairs before?”
“No I didn’t!”, I answered. Which was true. I never saw them go with the other people and why were they coming upstairs long after the others had left?
Strange. Don’t you think that’s peculiar?
I pointed out the firehouse poll and said something really stupid.
“That’s where the employees pole dance.”
(“OH shut up Bonnie! Whatever are you saying!!!”, I thought, exasperated with my bad habit of speaking without thinking first.)
The next thing that happened was that each woman had their picture taken in a sexy pose with the firehouse poll in the middle of Happy Lucky’s. Yes. Of course they did this. It was almost my idea!
Joe was laughing, I was hoping he wasn’t going to be mad at me later for my big mouth! (I did give him some news though.)
Hope the word doesn’t get out. I’d hate Happy Lucky’s to be the place in town for pole pictures!
Such is life. Never a dull moment.
Good Puerh and an interesting way to end the day!
Thank you Terri HarpLady for this sample tea!
The London Tea Room is a local place where Terri meets her friends for tea and friendly conversation, sort of a fancier version of Happy Lucky’s Tea House with a food menu. I’ve seen some of her pictures and I can see how much fun she has!
When one of you Steepster people comments “I wish that I had a Happy Lucky’s by me”, or “I wish that I had a tea Pub”, I often look up your town or city…hoping to find somewhere for you to go. A special little place of your own to check out for tea. The internet isn’t always helpful unfortunately.
With her trips to The London Tea Room, Terri has acquired a good stash of their tea’s for her cupboard and has shared some in a swap with me. Thanks Terri, I need to buy your CD now!
I used more than the normal amount of leaves (on a whim, at least a tablespoon and a half) and steeped them for 3 minutes in 6 (not 8…again a whim) ounces of water.
The first steeping was a little bitter, harsh but fragrant. It tasted vegital and the coconut was a little strange tasting too.
I repeated the same 3 minute steeping with the same amount of water and voila’….perfect coconut Oolong tea!
There wasn’t any bitterness or harsh flavor, just a subtle, creamy coconut taste with an aroma that smelled like cream pie.
As the tea cooled down the creaminess increased and coated my tongue, my teeth, my lips…so eh cudnt tk! (pause)
This was REALLY CREAMY COCONUT OOLONG! And yes, I did sweeten mine!
Here’s the deal though…and don’t forget!
The first steep is YUCKY!
The second steep is YUMMY!
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.