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Recent Tasting Notes
First of all let me just say that I think I put too much tea in. I used the entire 4ish grams for my little tiny gaiwan. As a result, the first four brews of this were extremely strong and bitter. As the water cooled and I did faster steeping times, the tea started to mellow out.
Regardless, I enjoyed this tea best at a lower temperature than the “factory recommendation” of 208. 195 seemed to pull better flavors out. These included a woody sort of toasted barley. Sometimes I would get hints of cinnamon or chocolate, but not often.
This is one of those teas that I can appreciate, but not love.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cinnamon, Mineral, Roasted Barley, Wood
This is one of the teas I used to be fond of back in the day when I first discovered jade oolongs. My palette has since evolved, but I can still appreciate this tea. It’s fragrant with a pleasant orchid flavor, that isn’t too cloying as TGY can sometimes be. There is a touch of lilac and rose and a subtle vegetal background. A sweet aftertaste lingers following the initial steeps. It can take boiling water without becoming bitter.
Verdant’s instructions call for short steeps which result in a fairly light-bodied tea. I recommend combining steeps for best flavor. This compares favorably to last year’s Early Spring TGY. The difference is this year’s harvest isn’t nearly as long lasting. There is a noticeable drop in flavor around the 4th or 5th steep.
Although I’ve mostly moved on from Tie Guan Yin, this is one I can see myself repurchasing in the future. It doesn’t beat you over the head with flowers and has the most balanced flavor profile of all the TGYs I’ve tried.
Flavors: Cream, Flowers, Orchid
I actually like this, I don’t usually enjoy roasted oolongs, for the first couple steeps, it tastes a lot like hay at first, and nice and earthy with subtle cocoa notes, even tastes a bit like pumpkin and some spices, kinda like pumpkin pie
Once it wakes up after 3 or 4 steeps, it gets some woody, darker, and thicker with stronger chocolate notes with moderate astringency, it has quite a nice, comforting body. The roastiness isn’t very.. Uhm isn’t very like .. Central in the flavour? Like you can tell that it’s roasted just like with the laoshan roasted oolong, just this is a bit more noticeably roasty if any of that makes any sense. It finally begins to taste like autumn leaves after maybe 8 or 9 steeps, and around that point the roastiness gets strong into a point where I don’t like the taste as much, and it loses most of its complexity around this time, it’s just sort of roasty, with autumn leaves and dark and earthy, with radish and carrot notes.
I was asked to provide two tea’s on one Sunday afternoon per month after Liturgy for a monastic practice of reading usually done at mealtimes when no one else speaks (but we’re just having tea).
Do you realize how hard it is for a tea nerd to narrow down mega mountains of possibilities to TWO tea’s?
“OK”, I thought, “One hot, one cold, one caffeinated and one herbal.”
That was easy.
I’ve had great success with a hot fruity herbal tea from Happy Luckys TeaHouse here in town (all natural and organic Harvest Moon).
The second choice was Verdant Early Spring Tieguanyin.
(Cold brewed overnight using spring water and beginning at room temperature.)
I chose this tea for its delicate combination of subtle floral and hint of clean savory flavors that dance lightly through your mouth. A perfect hot weather introduction to tieguanyin for those who have never had full leaf tea.
Each month, I’ll introduce two more tea’s. How fun for me! This is what I’ve been doing since Steepster (besides getting older!)…introducing people to tea.
I hope my old tea friends here are well!
this….is so much more like the LB i first had all those years ago. i will thoroughly enjoy this batch of LB i think. it’s not that dirt version from a couple years back. it’s also STILL not quite what it was…but then memory’s a fickle thing, so perhaps it’s just a stronger memory than the reality haha
It has taken me awhile to really get my thoughts together on this one. The first time I had this tea, I thought it was solid, but kind of simple. Every other time I have had it, however, it has just about blown me away. Today, I tried brewing this tea a couple of different ways and it continued to impress me. So, after all of that, there was nothing left for me to do but review it, so here goes.
I brewed this tea using a three step Western infusion. The temperature was set at 175 F. Note that while this temperature may seem too low for brewing an oolong, the merchant recommends it. Furthermore, with this being such a green oolong, keeping the temperature low ensures that the tea doesn’t develop any weird, bitter, and/or cooked flavors. The tea was then steeped in increments of 3, 5, and 7 minutes.
First Infusion: The infused liquor showed a pale greenish gold. Aromas of soybean, lettuce, spinach, honey, cream, and orange blossom were present on the nose. Strong flavors of soybean, lettuce, honey, cream, steamed buns, and orange blossom were underscored by notes of spinach, kale, minerals, and sticky rice. The finish had gorgeous orange blossom, honey, and cream notes with hints of minerality and leaf vegetables.
Second Infusion: The color of the liquor seemed to be pretty much unchanged. Floral, honey, and cream aromas really took center stage on the nose. The palate followed the nose, with robust, expressive notes of honey, orange blossom, and cream. I noticed that the mineral, steamed bun, and sticky rice notes were a little stronger here too. The vegetal notes took a backseat, but were still present enough to round things out a bit. The mineral notes were really apparent on the finish. I also noticed slight hay-like and buttery notes on the finish as well.
Third Infusion: The liquor was lighter in color here and appeared to be more gold. Very delicate aromas of cream, minerals, steamed buns, and sticky rice were noticeable on the nose. In the mouth, I picked up mild notes of kale, spinach, lettuce, and soybean balanced by steamed bun, sticky rice, and mineral notes. There was still a touch of honey and orange blossom, as well as what may have been hints hay and butter in the background. The finish was short, and really emphasized the interplay of cream and minerals.
Truthfully, I was tempted to attempt a fourth infusion of around 9-10 minutes, but decided to stick with my usual three. By the third infusion, the flavors were very mild and were starting to wash out more than a bit, so I stopped there. All in all, I really, really like this oolong. It is unique, very approachable, and to me, displays the best qualities of both a traditional tieguanyin and a Laoshan green tea. I would recommend this tea very highly to oolong neophytes and aficionados alike.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Hay, Honey, Kale, Lettuce, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Rice, Soybean, Spinach
Sipdown(1)? I’ve never done one of those before but this seems an appropriate tea to start on. Sorta. Anyway okay so this one’s been really strange for me, it’s probably the only tea I’ve ever had that I liked better western style than gongfu, and I don’t really know why.. But .. Well anyways,
2015 autumn harvest.. I think?
It’s very strongly cocoa for me, and lots of oats, maybe a little vanilla , hints of floral but very subtle ones. It’s quite astringent as well, gets a hint of citrus notes later, when the florality gets a little bit stronger, it still does have the darkness to it, with a bit of wet earthy notes, it has a nice thick, slightly creamy mouthfeel. It’s kind of reminiscent of an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, except if you used dark chocolate chips in it instead. But in later steeps, the astringency becomes so strong and the nice cocoa and vanilla notes are basically gone after like 5 steeps? It’s still sweet and oaty but that’s pretty much it, I don’t really see the reason for all the hype around this one, like it’s pretty decent but it’s not amazing for me.
Flavors: Astringent, Cocoa, Cookie, Dark Chocolate, Oats, Sweet, Vanilla, Wet Earth, Wood
Was labeled simply as “Laoshan Green”, and came in a sampler kit. I really wish I knew exactly what tea this was.
First steep was at 1:15 min with 2.5 g of tea. Smells very good. Like asparagus, artichokes, and seaweed. More like artichokes though than anything. The website recommended 4 g, but I thought that was too much.
Very clean flavor, very vegetal in a good way. Deep and does not taste like grass at all. No hints of bitterness. Absolutely love this tea (loved it so much I just spilled most of the cup on my keyboard). After the first steep, it feels like it could be my favorite everyday-green.
Second steep was for 1:30 min. The tea reminds me of a better version of the amazing green tea you get in authentic Chinese restaurants. The second steep was almost as good as the first. Definitely a favorite.
Flavors: Artichoke, Asparagus, Vegetal
I have been meaning to post a review of this one for a couple weeks now, but I’m only just now getting around to it. To kick this one off, let me just say that if anyone who reads this is not familiar with Dragonwell tea, then you really need to try it. Dragonwell is one of the most famous teas in all of China. In my opinion, it is also one of the most easily approachable green teas out there. Most Dragonwell teas sold in the West are actually more or less middle-of-the-road in terms of quality. The earlier pickings, however, are more highly valued in China, where they are renowned for their light, delicate aromas and flavors. This tea is an example of a high grade early picked Dragonwell.
To brew this tea, I used my usual method for green teas: a two step Western infusion with steep times of 2 and 3 minutes respectively. The temperature was set at 175 F. I also tried brewing this tea grandpa style. Before I move on to the actual review, allow me to state that this is the sort of green tea that I feel would really be best enjoyed gongfu style. I would have tried it this way as well, but unfortunately I am still waiting on my new gaiwan.
First Infusion: The infused liquor was a very, very pale yellowish green. In terms of color, this was one of the lightest steeps I have ever seen. Mild aromas of grass, straw, sweet corn, and honeydew were present on the nose. In the mouth, I immediately detected notes of sweet corn, freshly cut grass, straw, asparagus, peas, and bamboo underscored by honeydew, cream, and a slight minerality.
Second Infusion: The liquor produced was slightly darker and slightly more yellow than the first infusion. The aroma was very mild. I again detected grass and straw, but this time honeydew, cream, and mineral aromas showed up on the nose. In the mouth, mild notes of grass, peas, straw, asparagus, sweet corn, and bamboo were joined by more pronounced notes of honeydew, cream, and minerals that grew even stronger on the fade.
Okay, I like this tea. I tend to be a bit of a Dragonwell freak, and this one is very good, but I don’t think it’s my favorite. As I have mentioned in at least one previous review, I tend to like my Chinese green teas very vegetal, and this one is a little on the light and sweet side for my taste. Still, this is a very worthy higher end Dragonwell. I just think that I still prefer some of the others that I have tried.
Flavors: Asparagus, Bamboo, Corn Husk, Cream, Freshly Cut Grass, Honeydew, Mineral, Peas, Straw
Rinse and short multiple steeps.
Easy to drink, and thankfully not too much rose with that earthy note; more lightly floral than pungent perfume. It’s probably my least favourite shu that I’ve tried in the last little while, but you know? I haven’t had a negative experience with my big container of pu’er yet. I actually look forward to drinking them right now. Weird.
Flavors: Nuts, Olive Oil, Rose, Wet Earth
Seems a bit old, it came in a sample pack. Smells like roasted carrots almost. First brew was for 1:15 minutes at 200 F, with 1.5 tsp / 8 oz. Earthy sweet aroma, reminds me of roasted vegetables (carrots and beats). Initial impression is that it is similar to the other Tieguanyin, but does not taste like Japanese Sencha. Tastes more similar to black tea than green, which in this case is a good thing.
The more I drink this tea, the more I like it. The toasted rice taste is VERY subtle (doesn’t even come close to Genmaicha though).
Flavors: Honey, Roasted, Toasted Rice
Was just labeled as Tieguanyin from Verdant. The aroma is a very healthy fresh vegetal green smell. Mix between spinach, asparagus, and artichokes. An earthy vegetal smell.
Initial taste is very similar to Japanese Sencha (which I don’t like), but less grassy. Has a classic green tea taste to it. First steep was for 1 minute, although they recommended 20 seconds (always too low). No hints of bitterness. Too similar to Japanese Sencha for my tastes.
Second steep was for 3 minutes, and it had a deeper flavor. Tastes like a more oxidized Sencha. Would definitely recommend steeping for 2-3 min. A good tea, but not for me.
Flavors: Hay, Kale, Spinach
Very deep fragrance. Smells like burnt sugar (in a good way). Initial steep was for 30 seconds as directed at 205 F. Very light and refreshing taste when stepped for 30 seconds. Hints of brown sugar, very pleasant. I can’t decide if I want the tea stronger, or it is perfect the way it is.
The aromatics are very comforting and inviting.
Second steep was for 2 minutes. Didn’t change the flavor nor the strength. Potentially a first steep would be better longer. I think 1-1:30 minutes might be a better steep. Would need to experiment, but this was from a sample pack.
Update: Tried the tea a second time with a steep time of 1:20 and 3 grams of tea per 8 cups. I love it just as much as before, but think it could have steeped for less time (1 minute is probably the best). The strength at 3 grams is perfect.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Burnt Sugar, Molasses, Roasted, Wood
Hm, wasn’t really my taste personally. I had a hard time picking out flavors apart from the real heavy roast on this one, although it was very smooth. There was that standard mineral/rock personality and some sweetness, along with a bit of a cloying dry fruit-ish flavor, but it was kind of flat to me. Definitely had a buttery quality to it though, and it wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it again.
Flavors: Butter, Honey, Mineral, Roasted, Wet Rocks
I picked this tea up several months ago, during the big sales event, and am just finally getting around to it. I haven’t been in the mood to write reviews for several months, plus I wanted to sipdown some of the already opened teas that had already been reviewed multiple times, so now that’s coming along nicely, and I feel like I can open some of the newer packages. My friend Lisa came for breakfast yesterday, and it seemed like the perfect time to do so! Lisa fell in love with this tea immediately, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, so I’m sampling it again today, using the gongfu recommendations of:
5G + Gaiwan X 5 sec (+ 3 sec per each additional steep).
The dry leaves are tiny & very dark, with a faint aroma of tart fruit. I heated up my Gaiwan & let the leaf warm up and was rewarded with a richer, fruitier aroma, bringing memories of when I used to cook overnight wholegrain cereal in my crockpot, spiked with chunks of dried fruit, back in my Vegan days (yes I was a vegan for a long time…) The perfume is rich and sweet, tart dark plums, lychee, honey and a grainy malty toast. It rises thickly into my sinuses and lingers. There is also a peppery quality, but not enough to make me sneeze.
On with the steepings…
I’m not sure how to describe what I’m sipping, and I’m actually not sure if I like it. The first round is kind of bitter & peppery, like nasturtium leaves. It’s not what I expected at all, however by the end of the first cup a sweetness has begun to layer into my soft palate & throat with each sip, that has my mouth watering like Pavlov’s Dog. Gradually the steeps get sweeter: Lychee, dried plum, sorghum essence, a sweet incense like aroma that rises into the sinuses almost like some oolongs, but not as lingering. The color throughout is a beautiful dark orange.
The name of this tea translates as Concubine’s Smile, but this isn’t some girly girl. She’s bold, sweetly perfumed, but a little on the bitter side … like maybe she’s carrying a little vile of poison up her sleeve… you know… just in case you piss her off…
November 2015 Harvest
5g in 100ml porcelain teapot, gongfu style.
Dry leaf smells rather light. Can’t detect much aroma at all. That is, until I throw them into a prewarmed teapot and WOW is this tea leaf or warm cherries dipped in chocolate? This is before I even add water, by the way.
Verdant says this has notes of chocolate, cherry, sandalwood and vanilla. These flavours absolutely spot on.
A huge reason I bought this is because cherry is listed as one of the main notes. I haven’t had access to something like that since Cocoa Amore by Whispering Pines (will that ever come back?)
Laoshan Roasted Oolong is my Cocoa Amore replacement. And at a much better price point too.
Recommend recommend!! I may even buy a yixing pot just for this.
Puerh Tea TTB. This was a potent and somewhat bitter sheng. Gave it eight steeps. There were some sweet notes towards the end. Even apricots in nature.
I steeped this tea eight times in a 100ml gaiwan with 5.2g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 sec.
5 for $5 deal.
Despite the controversy surrounding Verdant, I’ve decided to base my purchasing decisions upon how much I enjoy their teas. After all, that is what tea is for. However, I do take all claims about origin and age with a grain of salt.
Unfamiliar with their steeping parameters for Western – always thought it would be a minimum of 2 minutes but Verdant recommends 20 seconds + 10 per extra infusion at 5g per 235ml. My Western teapot strainer is positioned in a way that I have to fill the water to the top, so at 350ml I am aware that there is too much water for too little leaf in this particular brew.
Buttery, grassy, floral, seaweed. Texture is slippery but a bit drying in the mouth.
Website does not specify which style or harvest this sampler is from. I only assumed it is the Traditional Tieguanyin. But as the site states graham cracker, caramelized banana, violet and cinnamon in their tasting notes (of which I can’t detect any of) – I may be wrong.
Why do they not specify this??
Enjoyed although it wasn’t all that exceptional to me. But I’m more of a roasted oolong kind of gal anyway.
2015 Autumn Laoshan Bilochun
Almost done my 25g bag of this, which therefore means I’ve had this tea quite a lot. I use 175F water and do the first steep at 25sec, adding 10sec each subsequent steep. I find the first steep to be the best with a buttery/vegetal taste and no astringency. The subsequent steeps tend to get a bit astringent, but still pretty good. Overall this is a bolder green than some of the other blends I’ve had from verdant. I do like it, but I don’t love it like I do Mrs. Li’s Dragonwell. Overall, really nice to try out Verdant; I’ve yet to have a bad experience :)
Flavors: Astringent, Butter, Vegetal