Should I believe the hype? After reading many great reviews for Verdant Tea, and particularly for their Laoshan Black, I succombed to the pressure and ordered. Their website is excellent, being both clean and very informative. In addition, my order came with a hand-written thank you note. Nice touch. On to the tea!
The dry leaf scent screams chocolate. It’s almost like putting your nose in a tin of powdered cocoa. The wet leaf is more grainy and muted. The scent of the liquor is a real star with an aroma not dissimilar to a creamy hot chocolate. Sipping this tea, I’m a little surprised. It’s not as chocolatey as the liquor scent would suggest. There is a grainy-malty taste that wraps around the cocoa. Verdant describes this taste as barley and I won’t argue. Taking a second sniff of the liquor, I now get plenty of this barley in the scent; it sneakily escaped my nose the first time around. The malty-barley and chocolate dance and vibe great together. Rich. After swallowing, I get malty notes in the middle of the tongue and the chocolate notes in the back of the mouth and throat. Interesting combination. If I have one slight personal criticism, I find the graininess of the tea does begin to get a little tiresome toward the end of the pot. It gives me flashes at times of a crafty/hopsy beer. A beer or two is ok, but too much can be a problem.
I enjoyed drinking a pot of this tea. But having said that, for me, it’s not an everyday tea. It doesn’t have quite the strength and vigor I look for in a morning tea. Additionally, it’s graininess makes it too rough for a dessert tea. It’s something in that nebulous, undefinable, and opaque middle, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Update: Over several weeks of drinking this tea, I have really come to like it much more than my original tasting. The graininess of the tea has become an acquired taste. I must up my rating. This is good stuff.