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Recent Tasting Notes
Apologies that there is no photo nor proper write up on this tea, as it isn’t on the Verdant website yet. It just arrived as part of January’s TotM ph-erh selection from xingyang about which I am very excited.
I was flat on my back with flu-like symptoms from Monday mid-day until yesterday morning. Once able to be on my feet without my heart racing or my vision going black for more than 30 seconds at a stretch, I went ahead and decided to fight fire with fire and pulled out this tea to start cleansing the system.
I have a full brick of the Xingyang 2008 golden buds that I haven’t even gotten into yet, but I did review the 2002 a few weeks ago. This picked loose KT952 is a shockingly mellow cup that packs a massive chi wallop. The caffeine, the chi movement and the woogy flu symptoms got into this like cage match event and I was just kind of along for the ride. But 15 steeps and 6 hours later I was functional enough to go to my ballroom dance lesson.
I don’t want to talk too much about taste, as my tongue is a disaster when I’m ill, but the cup was extremely pleasant, and didn’t contain any obvious, strong or “stuff you get used to” type flavors that tend to keep a lot of people at arm’s length to pu-erh.
A former co-worker with family in Duyun has begun sending me samples of their local green tea with the hopes that we may, at some point, be in a position to sell it. Stay tuned.
2016 Sheng Olympics. This tea is pretty good too, although not quite as good as the 1800 year old tree. This was notably more bitter. It is, however, in my opinion just as fake as the 1800 year old tree. This is a tea that could easily have stood on it’s own to command a reasonable price. It has a nice, what would you say, mouth feel to it, very pleasant. There is some sweetness in here too, although not as much of the apricots of the 1800 year old tree. It is very nice to have tried this tea.
I steeped this tea 14 times in a 60ml gaiwan with 3.2g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1.5 min, 2 min, 2.5 min, and 3 min. If I wasn’t at my caffeine limit I’m sure I could easily get a few more steeps out of this tea. It was not finished. I was. This is another one where I wonder why they lied about it. They could have told the truth about the age of the tea and let it stand on it’s own.
Here’s Hoping Traveling Teabox – Round #5 – Tea #20
There is actually quite a pu-erh collection in the teabox. This one is a decent pu-erh but it’s tough for me to distinguish any unique characteristics to make it special. I think Verdant’s flavor description is just wacky. haha. The very small leaves are dark with touches of gold. The flavor is deep and dark, but not the deepest or darkest pu-erh I’ve tried, which is odd considering the tiny leaves. Only pleasant flavors, no pond or barn. But like I said, tough for me to pick anything out specifically. Mushrooms and coffee? Since it isn’t distinct with flavors, OR full of unpleasant flavors, I’m sad to say this pu-erh is only average.
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for a full mug// rinse // 7 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // couple minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 4 minute steep
I’m going to be honest here and admit that I’m quite picky about green tea and have only found a few over the years that I really liked. But I had high hopes for this one, because I really enjoyed the Laoshan Black. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. This certainly isn’t a bad tea…the leaves are tightly curled and unbroken and hold up to re-steeping and the tea is nice and smooth with no bitterness and little astringency. But the flavor just wasn’t my favorite. It has such a strong green bean taste, I felt like I was drinking the cooking water from a pot of beans! Definitely not something I’d repurchase, but I’m still glad I had the chance to try it.
Flavors: Green Beans
I have Steepster working on my phone!
Drinking this at work because it’s easy to brew and consistent with taste that isn’t great or bad. This tea takes little to no maitance for time or brewing style it seems. A bit salty with a small nut finish. Wish it was either lighter or wetter. Kind of drying after a bit and becomes stale tasting as you go deeper with more steeps… which is an odd way to describe a tea, but the leaf seems older and now not awakened as you brew it.
2016 Sheng Olympics sampler. This tea is really, really good. It had little bitterness and an apricoty sweetness from the beginning. It was very smooth. The only thing I wonder about this tea is why they bothered to lie about it’s age. Even if in reality it is from 40 or 50 year old trees it is good enough to stand on it’s own. They weren’t using the age claim to charge a premium so why did they bother. This is certainly among the best young sheng I have ever drank. It is right up there at the top. I gave this tea fourteen steeps in a 60ml gaiwan. If I wasn’t at my caffeine limit I bet it would have gone twenty steeps. Again, I wonder why they didn’t just let this tea stand on it’s own.
I steeped this tea fourteen times in a 60ml gaiwan with 3.1g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1.5 min, 2 min, 2.5 min and 3 min. Again if I wasn’t at my caffeine limit this tea would have easily gone twenty steeps. I seriously wonder why they felt the need to lie about it’s age. But there is little doubt in my mind that this is not from an 1800 year old tree. I think the thread on Transparency in the Tea Industry proved that.
Flavors: Apricot, Stonefruits, Sweet
I’ve had this tea since July 2015, but I’m just trying it now in February 2016. Whoops. According to Verdant’s website, you only use 4g of leaves whether you’re brewing Gongfu or Western. Gongfu brewing is recommended for 6 seconds and Western only 18 seconds. I decided to do Gongfu and am glad I followed the recommendations. I probably went about 10 seconds on the first infusion and the second cup I poured was noticeably darker than the first, in color and flavor, even though they were only a couple seconds apart. This tea steeps quickly!
The flavor is like the aroma: spicy and dark, warm and comforting. I’m not tasting any smoke as others did. But it does have a tendency to go bitter quickly, which is probably why even when brewing Western style, Verdant doesn’t recommend 1-2 minutes to start. While early infusions should be short, I recommend later infusions be long to get the most out of the leaves. I have to say, 4g of leaves doesn’t look like much. But it is plenty to create a very flavorful cup!
I’m making a mess today. I spilled water all over the counter and keep accidentally letting the tea brew a few seconds more than I intend. The tea is very savory and a bit floral, just as the website promises. This is a really lovely tea. It has a slightly honeyesque flavor as well, akin to lychee. It’s quite tasty. The leaves are very small and thin, which makes keeping them in the gaiwan when you pour difficult. But each cup is better than the last!
This is a tea that really develops over time. The lychee gives way to pear, which later transforms into pineapple. I can’t name all the nuances of flavor from each infusion to the next, but I highly recommend getting some and seeing for yourself. I feel that I’m drinking something truly special. 25g of this goes a long way! I think I’ll be enjoying this for months to come. While I can’t say for sure because I didn’t try it as soon as it arrived, age hasn’t seemed to affect it one bit. I may even like this more than Golden Fleece! Gasp! How is that possible??!
Although Verdant describes Golden Fleece as fruity and not Jin Jun Mei, I really feel like I taste much more fruitiness in the Jin Jun Mei. A funny thing happened around infusion six, the leaves started chirping! I think there were bubbles stuck underneath the saucer or something, but I swear it sounded like the tea was chirping! Once I shifted the saucer, it stopped. I’m glad I chose this tea to have today. I almost reached for my good ol’ Golden Fleece, but this tea caught my eye…and my heart. :) A new favorite! Take advantage of Verdant’s pre-order sale and get this tea at 10% off for a limited time!
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Lychee, Pear, Pineapple, Spicy
From their Tea of the Month Club (I’m allowed to splurg! :P)
I’m breaking in my gaiwan with this today! :D
The dry leaves smell like a musky flower; like a flower you’ve picked at the height of its pollen production, and it’s been sitting in a vase for a week. lol Smells a lot like Golden Needle, but not as floral.
The first steep is light and mostly vegetal with just a hint of that flower I picked earlier. A longer first steep starts to show it’s creamy side, and is sweeter. My favorite part! (Both the creamy and sweet.) Had to grab a third cup because, like I said, just meeting my new gaiwan—the longer of the first steeps went bitter. Oh, sad.
Second steep continues to be creamy and sweet. I’m going to try cooler water since that bitterness is trying to hang on. A bit astringent, too. Not terribly so, though. :) Hmm, the trick to pouring from a gaiwan without making a mess: Pour with confidence! Haha!
Third steep: I think this is the only way I like honey taste—saying hello from a plain tea leaf. With the honey comes a thicker brew, coats my mouth in the best way possible. It gets sweeter as it cools. Oh, could you IMAGINE ice tea with this! Brain explosion!
Steep 4: Did this one a bit long… such a PRETTY amber color. Squee! The leaves are really starting to unfold now. I’m exploring the idea of what “minerality” means in a tea taste. It’s not quite astringency, is it… but like when you taste hard water? Growing up, we had a deep well that tapped into an underground spring that ran through bedrock, and that water is what this tea reminds me of. :)
Steep 5: This tastes a lot like the Golden Needle I mentioned earlier, but it’s not quite so thick. And it’s floral, but not ridiculously so. It seems altogether balanced and an interesting combination of all the above tastes. Teehee! :) The later steeps go along the same lines as this one. Happiness!
Oh, my, I am messy. _ Thank goodness for tea towels. I decided not to get a full-blown tea table (yet?), but have a tea towel and bamboo bowl. :3
Flavors: Astringent, Floral, Honey, Mineral, Sweet
The baby is napping so it’s time to enjoy some Verdant Tea! This is another sample I’ve had in my cupboard for way too long. Well, today is the day, you lucky tea you! I checked Verdant’s website and I think this may be another discontinued tea. There are a couple with similar names, namely Shui Jin Gui Light Roast and Special Grade Shui Jin Gui. I know this isn’t the Special Grade because I also have that in my cupboard. Maybe it’s the Light Roast or a harvest or two prior to that? It’s okay either way because these dark rock oolongs aren’t always my favorite. Nonetheless, I’m excited to try it!
With my gaiwan and variable temperature kettle at the ready, I opted for 200°F water. The dry leaf aroma is mineral-y and familiar. The brewed tea flavor is rocky and a bit floral. I’m sure the tea would be more flavorful if I had enjoyed it sooner. I’m afraid the nuances have been lost, but I am still enjoying it now. These leaves have a surprising number of infusions left in them. I lost count as I sipped this tea for about an hour. A lovely way to spend an afternoon.
Flavors: Floral, Mineral
It’s my little girl’s one year birthday today, and it’s snowmageddon! We got about three feet of snow and they’ve declared it a blizzard because of the high winds. Luckily, we haven’t lost power yet because I really need a nice soothing, relaxing cup of tea! For times like these, it calls for Verdant Tea.
I’ve had this sample for I don’t know how long. Two years maybe? Well, you’d never know it from these beautiful leaves! They have a lovely hay aroma, dry and brewed. I decided to go for a gongfu brewing session because I don’t often get to do that with a little one running amok all day and getting into all kinds of trouble. Plus, I miss the tranquility of the gongfu ritual. This is a rare treat!
This tea is so lovely. Bai Mu Dan is one of my all-time favorite kinds of tea, and this is no exception to Verdant’s high quality products. It’s too bad it’s been discontinued because I could definitely use more of this! I had to up the brewing time much quicker than I normally would when brewing gongfu style. It’s probably due to the age of the leaf. That said, these leaves have quite a lot of life still in them! I think it makes a difference that I’m not using a strainer too. Little bits of leaf and down are ending up in each cup, and that helps to bring out a balanced, round flavor from the tea.
I’m impressed, as always, by Verdant. Now that my little baby is asleep, maybe I’ll enjoy another Verdant Tea after this one. It seems I never have a quiet moment to myself anymore, so I need to take advantage of these rare moments whenever I can!
Olivia and me at Christmas: https://www.instagram.com/p/_vBINvl-vR
This tea is so good. I just brewed in my tea mug with infuser basket instead of doing gongfu (Even though Gongfu is in the tea’s name.).
It was chocolate, bread, malty & sweet. Deeeeelicious! I am not sure what the big difference is between this one and the 1st picking Laoshan Black. Both are good but I might have to brew side by side to tell the difference.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Chocolate, Malt, Sweet
Tea Taste Comparison #1! The first thing that I thought of when I tried this tea was that it tasted a lot like W2T’s Poundcake. So, I decided to compare the two side by side. Here are my findings: I did not do a rinse. After the first two cups of each, I honestly found trouble finding a difference in taste. I found the same results after the third steep and fourth steeps. The color, taste, and aroma were pretty much identical. I’ll assume that that the rest of the steeps will be similar. For $7.50 a 100g cake, this was well worth the purchase. Like the Poundcake, it is creamy, slightly vegetal, smooth, sweet, and slightly fruity.
I have two big tea orders coming my way, so time to sip down my sample pile and make room! This was my breakfast tea of choice today. The leaf is pretty: small, dark, tightly-curled leaves. It brews up to a clear reddish-brown with a warm, malty scent. I often add milk to straight black tea, but this one is lovely all by itself: smooth and flavorful with notes of malt, plum, and dark cocoa. No bitterness or astringency even after a 4-minute steep. Delicious!
Flavors: Cocoa, Dark Bittersweet, Malt, Plums
Pulled sample of this out the other day with a smile because it’s quite old at this point. When ahead and washed it off a bit and began my sessions. The thickness of this tea doesn’t exist so for the darker liquor that it brews out, it’s disappointing that it just slides down without having a texture to leaves its taste in the drinkers mouth. Well, that was five steeps of thought so I brewed it longer… pulled out some dry and bitter tones, but still no texture so thankfully the bitterness didn’t linger. Maybe I wasn’t a fan of this, maybe this wasn’t a fan of me, maybe the sample was faulty… either way, I stopped under 10 steeps which means it wasn’t that enjoyable for a sheng.
I’m a strange person, not to say strange is bad or anything… just, what I do sometimes cannot be made sense of.
Yesterday I took this 2004 sheng and sprinkled some roasted mate ontop of it. The heck was thinking? Well, it was early morning so maybe I wasn’t.
I ended up steeping this through that way about eight times until it got funky. That was an odd experience.
Anyways: Today I brewed the remaining 8g(which is a lot for me) and steeped it 11 times to come to a conclusion that I don’t like the dark soup’ness to this tea that comes out in the fourth steep and continues to stay there. The stronger taste to this sheng ends up being a dry experience for me and that isn’t something I like about drinking tea of any kind which is why I’m picky about pu’erh and yancha. Since this already has some age on it, I don’t think it will really get any better :/
I’ll start out by saying I’m not fond of oolongs, but I had a sample of this and figured I’d try it. As far as oolongs go, this one is really good! It lacks that cardboard flatness that I find in many oolongs. It also has more depth than most, which is another reason I don’t like them; too many high notes and not enough base notes to round out the taste. I do get little hints of apricot. It gets the tiniest bit grassy in the aftertaste. My mouth is left feeling dry, but not in the gross way that rooibos does. As nice as this is, I think I’ll leave it for my husband who is often searching out (and failing to find) oolongs in my stash.
I’ve had a weird run with this tea. I got it because I’d read the reviews and the general consensus seemed to be chocolatey/cocoa/rich/honey, which are all very yummy words. To me, it just tastes very… tea-y. I can’t even really elaborate aside from “Yup it tastes like black tea”, like it would make a nice iced tea. So. Yeah. Next to all these glowing reviews, I feel like the D student who just doesn’t “get” Shakespeare.
I’m revisiting this tea now after having set it aside for several months. I wasn’t feeling it then – perhaps because I didn’t love the Zhu Rong Yunnan Black base – and was curious what I would think of it now. I have struggled with the few Dian Hongs I’ve tried, which I found surprising since the typical descriptions of them – “cinnamon sweet with orange,” to use Verdant’s words as an example – sound so delightful. I will try more. Verdant’s is the only Zhu Rong I’ve tasted, in more than one tea (though all were blends, as I recall), and it didn’t appeal to me in other forms either.
I really want to like this tea, but I’m still not feeling it. My brain is making sense of it as a more sophisticated chai – a complex spiced tea with unexpected flavors to observe and discover – and wanting to appreciate it for being interesting even if not particularly enjoyable.
Overall, the flavor was muted, despite what I would consider a hefty amount of leaf/spice. I drastically increased the steep time (Verdant recommended 30 sec) to coax more flavor. Perhaps the bottom of the bag contained a disproportionate amount of heavier spice and zest bits, which I imagine would infuse more slowly than leaves.
Through each steep, a cinnamon-like spiciness remained the most prominent aroma. The first flavor to surface was a light smokiness, I assume from the Zhu Rong leaves. A citrus note in my first steep (208°, 30 sec) offered a bright orange flavor and in my second and third steeps (212° 1:30 and 208° 2:30) became moderately bitter, like some of the pith fell in along with the orange zest. In the fourth steep (also 208° 2:30) the bitterness mellowed, making way for a smoother cup, though still not an infusion that I found interesting or enjoyable.
Still, I would not consider this a “bad” tea, simply one that didn’t align with my palate in this moment. Perhaps on a different day I would thoroughly enjoy it – which wouldn’t be the first time my experiences with the same tea radically varied. Every experience is unique, there is no replicating, no consistency no matter how scientifically controlled the parameters are. Change is the only constant. This I find to be a magnificent lesson offered in every bit of our experience, and for me, quite succinctly through tea.
Flavors: Bitter, Cinnamon, Orange Zest, Smoke, Spices