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Recent Tasting Notes
Did a side by side with this and some Bai Ji. This is by far more along my taste preference. Strong mineral presence with a beautiful hue to it. Still a bit pricey for what it is since there are no complex notes occurring throughout the session. Maybe my taste is looking for fruit and sweetness in places that they don’t exist so I don’t enjoy the tea as much… but there are wuyi like teas out there with plums and stonefruits. This just seems roasty with minerals which are good, but in terms of what would I buy… Laoshan Roasted Oolong and dancongs multiple times before this again.
Wow. This was a blast from the past. While organizing my tea cabinets yesterday, I discovered a pouch of this tea. I apparently bought it when Verdant had a sale going on a few months back and then promptly forgot about it. Naturally, I had to crack it open and give it a try. More than anything, I realized that this tea was from the Spring 2015 picking and was released to the public sometime between mid 2015 and early 2016. I did not want it to go to waste.
I decided to prepare this tea gongfu style. I started off by steeping 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 5 seconds. I followed this up with 14 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 8 seconds, 11 seconds, 14 seconds, 17 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse (I do not always rinse black teas, but decided to here. I figured that with the age of the tea a quick rinse might help it open a tad more), I was able to detect mild aromas of pine, smoke, mandarin orange, elderberry, and huckleberry. The rinse and the initial infusion brought out subtle aromas of blackberry, honey, and juniper as well. The first infusion started off with a strong combination of pine, elderberry, juniper berry, huckleberry, blackberry, and mandarin orange underscored by traces of honey, smoke, and minerals. There was also an almost sugary sweetness lingering in the background. Verdant describes it as rock candy, but that was not what I was getting. Subsequent infusions brought out the fruitiness and sweetness of the tea. The woodier, more savory characteristics faded a tad, while the aromas and flavors of elderberry, huckleberry, mandarin orange, blackberry, and honey were more heavily emphasized. I was able to better place the sugary sweetness at this point. It reminded me of both marzipan and light maple syrup. The mineral notes began to play a slightly larger role on the finish, but were not nearly as noticeable as I was expecting. Later infusions were unexpectedly smooth. I got mostly minerals and a touch of mandarin orange on the nose and in the mouth, though I could also detect touches of maple syrup, smoke, wood, honey, and marzipan.
This was a very refined, subtle tea with considerable staying power. I think I could have probably gotten away with using one more gram of loose tea. That may have provided a more intense and lasting set of aromas and flavors, but the preparation outlined above was still enjoyable. I have no clue how this tea compares to the regular Wuyi Gongfu Black, as I have yet to try it, and I also do not know if or how much this tea has faded over the course of the year. What I do know is that I found this tea to be pleasant, yet simpler and more straight-forward than I was expecting. I did not note a ton of change or anything really out of the ordinary over the course of the session. The tea lets the drinker know what to expect up front, lays everything out for them, and then fades. I prefer stronger, more robustly flavored black teas, and I guess I was kind of expecting this to be that kind of tea. My experience, however, suggested that it was not. In all honesty, I found myself drinking this more like a puerh after a certain point. Rather than looking for tons of change in the aroma and flavor components, I began drinking this exclusively for texture and overall feel. I think that is probably where I got the most out of this tea. In the end, I enjoyed this tea, but I also would have preferred something more robust. If you are the sort of person who gets a lot of mileage out of very subtle, reserved teas, then this may very well be up your alley. I think it is worth a shot regardless.
Flavors: Blackberry, Fruity, Huckleberry, Maple Syrup, Marzipan, Mineral, Orange, Pine, Smoke
I’m really sad that this one tore my stomach up. Now, full disclosure if you are new to my reviews, I have an auto-immune stomach disease (UC) and IBS. So, this may not actually be a harsh one on the belly for most.
But, I am sad about it because I had a really good session with this. The flavor was really solid through 8-9 steeps. I first noticed how creamy and apricot/peachy it tasted. Then a few steeps in I noticed slight bitterness. Around steep 6 it got a little peppery. But smooth the whole way through. I would have bought more of that based on flavor alone.
However, I don’t think it was meant to be for me with Sheng. Too Russian roulette like for me.
Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Black Pepper, Creamy, Peach
As I’m exploring teas I’m actually learning a lot about my tap water … there is a minerality to everything I try that is probably from that. Interesting. Will try filtered water or a different kettle.
I did a short rinse first and then steeped about 40 seconds in 8 oz, 200 F water.
The first impression was powdery nuts, maybe like walnuts or peanut shell. There is grassiness (I’m a novice tea drinker so I taste a lot of grass, leaves, etc. in everything, hah), some caramel, some lemon. Not a lot of fruit, the bitterness has me thinking only of sour citrus like lemon and grapefruit. Very nice savory, nutty cup that’s enjoyable to sip on a chilly fall night like this.
Flavors: Caramel, Lemon, Peanut, Walnut
I must say I really enjoyed this one:) I got it as a sample and am definitely adding this one to my next order. First impression is sweet, raisin, honey, molasses, prune, dry apricot nice notes of flowers and citrus. It has a lovely body and mouth-feel (tho I tend to brew my teas stronger). The consecutive steeps are more malty, nutty, oat, cream I still detect citrus and floral notes. Very nice tea! I’m on brew #5 right now and it still has a nice color and good taste and body. I would definitely recommend.
Flavors: Apricot, Citrus, Floral, Fruity, Honey, Nutty, Raisins
Aroma: cream, soybean, honey, grape
Flavor: soybean, corn, cream, green apple, mineral
Maybe my water was not quite the right temperature, but the recommended initial steep of 20 seconds (I actually did 30) yielded quite a weak tea. I wasn’t able to pick up many of the notes in the first infusion except the typical aroma of oolong. Of the teas in Verdant’s introductory sampler this is the least enjoyable so far, but they are still high quality teas.
Flavors: Corn Husk, Cream, Green Apple, Mineral, Soybean
This stuff is amazing. Tastes like shoestring potatoes in a can (potato stix) and nuts and roasted veggies and green tea and butter. Good for many steeps. Really nice conversation tea, something unique to share with friends. Also has a nice bold flavor for your friends who aren’t into picking up on light, subtle notes of light teas.
Dry leaves: malt, dried tobacco, chocolate, smoke, autumn leaf pile
Aroma: floral, melon, chocolate, tobacco, honey
Flavor: floral, melon, cherry shisha, stone fruit, toasted nuts, smoke, perfume, molasses, soybean
Taste: smooth, no bitterness, no astringency, toasty, savory
Great complex flavor that reminds me strongly of cherry pipe tobacco.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cherry, Molasses, Nutty, Plums, Stonefruits, Tobacco
First infusion: only brewed for 20 seconds per instructions from Verdant. Scent of the dry leaves is very crisp, autumnal and seaweedy. The scent of the liquor smells like honey and grass. Very low astringency. I taste green beans and barley on the front. I don’t catch caramel or chocolate notes.
Second infusion: My water was maybe a touch too cool. The dried green pea smell is stronger, taste is slightly more astringent and nutty. I would still say there is some clover honey there.
Overall: although greens like this are not my stylistic favorite, I appreciate how delicately this balances vegetable, grain, and sweet notes.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Grain, Grass, Green Beans, Honey, Honeydew, Nuts, Oats
To be honest, besides being able to classify different shou puerhs by flavor profile, I have never had a shou really stand out. This one is no exception. It’s a pleasant experience, to be sure, but I’ve never had a shou that knocks my socks off.
This shou fits into the predominantly woodsy profile, tasting like fresh, wet wood. There’s a sweet, creamy flavor as well as mouthfeel. Overall, quite nice.
Thanks traveling tea box!
It was 8:30pm downtown Philly and I was smoking hookah with two wonderful ladies talking about the experience we were about to have. In roughly 30 minutes we were going to drive into New Jersey to drink some serious teas; YQH, Chen Shen, private pressings, and some old oolongs I brought along. When we arrived, we knew… 9:15pm was only the first page.
Starting up the night with a roasted oolong because it was chilly out and I didn’t want to jump right into aged raw pu’erh. The 30 year old TGY from Verdant was a perfect choice because it provided a way for us all to taste a tea that has settled down over years to become something worth tasting and talking about among the 5 of us. The dying roast was like the depth of a tree slowly fading away as a new one replaces it. Mineral notes hidden behind a caramel coated roasted twig from a fire pit from a few weeks ago.
My memories of this night are hard to write about because we drank steep after steep of some YQH right after…. This session lasted until 2am in which I had the task of driving tea drunk, exhausted, and in a town that I don’t know. It was great.
Nothing like being tea drunk with people you don’t really know, but trust because all you want to do is drink until someone passes out.
This was also the session that got someone drunk for the first time in their life. This person has drank tea for more years than I have been alive, so it was a magical night to share this experience with them. Much laughter. Much happiness. Much peace.
A beautiful night that sparked something inside me to host these type of drinking experiences.
1.25 tsp in 250mL water @95C, steeped four minutes.
I’ve been really slack with my tea notes. The past spring and summer got wicked busy, and I had a few health issues. Throughout the summer, however, I’ve been thrilled with the Verdant Tea of the Month boxes. The different oolongs are an especial treat for me, and I’ve learned a TON about strip style versus rolled style … and I’m developing a new appreciation for toasty oolongs. I still prefer the lighter, floral ones, but hey, please Verdant, educate me.
That said, I’m reviewing the Wuyi Gongfu Black because it’s the one I drank most recently. I did not expect to enjoy such strong mineral notes with a cocoa-bike back tea, but I did. The mineral notes are almost sweet. I’ve enjoyed this tea while working; its not so arresting that I just sit and think only of the tea. My loss, I expect. Still, a delightful Chinese black tea, gentle yet nuanced.
So far I have had this tea grandpa style and gongfu, and it’s wonderful both ways.
The aroma is enticing: raisins, brown sugar, brown toast, cocoa.
The brew is also lovely, and reflects the aroma well. There’s raisins, brown sugar, cocoa, and toast. There’s also a bit of spice like cinnamon. The mouthfeel is thick, warm, and borderline creamy.
I can see all of the tasting notes being correct for this tea. Honey and barley. Someone in my office did mention that this tea tasted like pumpkin spice. The brightness could be orange. Bittersweet is also a good adjective for it. This tea is complex and oh so tasty.
I think I want to move to the Laoshan region, please.
I’ve enjoyed these Wuyis from Verdant, they are well made teas with fine structure, well balanced roasting, and processing. But I find them all too the same. This one has all the nice features of Wuyi but I did not freak on the florals which this tea builds its reputation on, it is also not that longlasting either in the mouth or in the steeps. Yet it is good tea
thanks kittenna for letting me try this one. I was surprised at how much i enjoyed this one. I really didn’t get any floral notes…it was mostly just sweet…and as it got colder, it struck me as being a little like a nice ceylon…but not sure where that was coming from. Given the likely priciness of this one, it’s not something that i see as being different enough to warrant keeping around, but it wasn’t bad. Maybe i just didn’t have particular expectations going in to this one either :)
Hey okay so we’re drinking some spring 2016 reserve tieguanyin today,
There’s a very typical green, bright, acidic aroma in the dry leaf,
I’m brewing at 98C
With the leaves in my warmed gaiwan, I get lots of lovely hazelnut, peanut buttery, cinnamon, and lots of woody notes. I’m excited for this one,
I gave it a 5 second rinse, and the aroma lifted into a bit of a greener smell, still peanuts and hazelnuts, but there’s also some walnuttiness, and the lightness, but then there’s some vague greens in the back.
mmmmmmh wow, it has all of the flavours that were in the aroma, plus like plums and creaminess.
This is seriously good tieguanyin, it’s so smooth and thick and satisfying. The second steep gave me more nuttiness, carrots, and blackberries
Further into the session, the tea has developed a sort of tonic-water feeling in the mouth, much of the same aromas, but there’s more berries than nuts now. It develops a sort of unpleasant grassiness around the 6th or 7th steep that slowly increases taking over the nuttiness and fruitiness until it’s not that enjoyable anymore. It still lasted quite long, I got 8 or 9 good ones. I wholeheartedly recommend this one.
This tea was just lovely, as it seems all the blacks are by Verdant. This one was one of the teas that wasn’t as described on the site, however—not to me anyway.
The predominating flavors were cocoa and bran, with a raisin and brown sugar kind of sweetness that was perfect with the other flavors.
There was a tiny bit of astringency and minerality, but they were not unpleasant.
The only thing I have to knock this tea for was that 90% of the life was sucked out of the leaves in the first steep (western). For the price, I would expect it to last at least two or three, so I am knocking some points off for that.
It’s time to backlog a bit. I finished the last of this tea several days ago, but had notes for a review sitting around for at least a week. Since it is now the weekend and I have a little time, I figured I would go ahead and post a review while my memory was still more or less fresh.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. I initially steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 8 seconds. I then followed this initial infusion up with 11 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 24 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 55 seconds, 1 minute 15 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to infusion, the dry leaves presented lovely aromas of cocoa, malt, oak, and orange. After infusion, the aromas of cocoa, malt, oak, and orange were still present, but were joined by traces of honey and vanilla. In the mouth, I detected a smooth integration of malt, cocoa, oak, honey, vanilla, and orange flavors. Subsequent infusions saw the aroma intensify slightly and a strong impression of sweet potato emerge on both the nose and the palate. By the final 3-4 infusions, most of the aromas and flavors had washed out and minerality had begun to dominate. Beneath the layers of mineral aromas and flavors, I could still detect faint impressions of oak, cocoa, vanilla, malt and sweet potato.
After finishing this tea, I came to the conclusion that there is something about all Laoshan teas that just works for me. It seems that I always enjoy them. This was another quality Laoshan offering from Verdant, although I prefer some of this merchant’s other Laoshan black teas. The integration of aromas and flavors was nice, but unfortunately, I thought the tea faded just a little too soon. In any event, this was still a very good tea, one that I would not hesitate to recommend to fans of Chinese black teas.
Flavors: Cocoa, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Oak wood, Orange, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla
I may be an old fuddy duddy, but I like my Tie Luohan to be smoky and deeply roasted. It grounds me as there can be no doubt that what I perceive to be Tie Luohan is that tobacco thick liquor that dries the tongue and pushes rock minerality into the crannies of my parotid glands till you cry uncle.
This tea I drank this morning is a sheep in wolves clothing. The heavy roast canine fur has been replaced with a softer wool and yet as much as my mouth wanted to reject the softer wool it, well, was a softer wool and who doesn’t like a softer wool! There are also some floral notes upfront and the dryness is there. So I guess I can live by this lighter style, yet sometimes I want a nasty smelling tongue numbing stogie instead of a kretek.
Spring 2016 harvest,
After really enjoying my last dark roasted oolong from master zhang, im quite interested to try this, also I’ve got like.. $250 worth in tea-related things in transit to me right now lol I’m losing my patience waiting for all of it
there’s kind of a dry burnt roasty .. woody earthy autumn leafy dry leaf aroma,
in my warmed gaiwan it’s a lot of the same, but there’s this.. chocolate, hazelnut thing behind, with some toothpastey mintiness .. This doesn’t seem like it’ll be as pleasant as the last one. too autumn-leafy, but hey we’ll give it a go,
I smelled the gaiwan after the first steep and it was like gross burnt tar, and like.. just like kitchen smoke, like seared food, and then it just sort of melted away to this lovely sweet brown sugar aroma.. That was a weird experience.
So I do get a lot of the autumn leaf in the taste, a very roasty kind of thing, again with the same sort of roastiness of a dan cong behind all of the dark charred flavours, with a very strong cooling sensation, there’s some sort of floralness and maybe some apricot notes, there’s a lingering astringency that leaves the front part of my tongue dry
I get a lot of honey and brown sugar in the second steep’s aroma. The autumn leaf is already starting to fade in the second steep, there’s definitely some mango as well, it kinda tastes like a mi lan xiang dancong to me right now, just.. over-roasted and burnt, and the cooling is very strong.
I’m very back and forth, there’s a lot of autumn leaves obviously, which I’m finding.. really unpleasant, but there’s some really nice feelings and a few good flavours and aromas occasionally, but sometimes it even smells like.. garbage,
It’s very slowly mellowing down, I think…. I get some sort of lemon on the fifth steep, but I think i’ve decided that I don’t like this. It’s too woody and burnt tasting and it’s all the things I always find wrong with dark roasted oolongs, there’s a bit of redemption in the mouthfeel and in the later aromas – peach, apricot, lemon, some hazelnut and chocolate, but I can’t get past the taste, and in the end that’s all that matters
I think I’m done with the session, if you’re reading this because you want to get some dark roasted oolong from verdant, go get the Qilan instead.
After focusing on unflavored black teas for the past couple of days, I wanted to shake things up a bit. It had been awhile since I had reviewed an oolong, so I was kind of in the mood to do that, but I did not want an oolong that I had tried before. Enter this Huang Mei Gui from Verdant Tea. First, I absolutely adore Wuyi oolongs, so naturally, this would appeal to me. Second, Huang Mei Gui (Yellow Rose) is a newish tea varietal that is not all that well known in the West and I had never tried an oolong of this type before. Doing a session with this tea was a no-brainer.
I prepared this tea gongu style. Following a quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 5 seconds. This was followed by 11 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 8 seconds, 11 seconds, 14 seconds, 17 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted a wonderfully floral, fruity aroma with touches of earth and vegetables. After the rinse, I detected a strong aroma of jasmine, as well as aromas of earth, char, plums, and roasted vegetables. In the mouth, I easily detected notes of roasted vegetables, earth, tobacco, char, leather, and plums. Oddly, I did not get much of a floral presence in the mouth. The expected Wuyi minerality was also subtler than anticipated. Subsequent infusions saw the floral character emerge in a big way. Jasmine came first, but was soon followed by a touch of rose as the earthier and more roasted qualities started to take a back seat. The mineral note began to emerge more at this point. Touches of corn husk and orange peel also began to emerge. By the time I got to the last infusions, the minerals dominated, though I could still detect faint impressions of corn husk, flowers, roasted vegetables, orange peel, and plums.
This was one of the stranger oolongs I have tried over the course of the year. It was not unpleasant by any means, just odd. The combination of vegetal, earthy, fruity, and floral qualities was really unexpected. I did not expect it to work at all. I was constantly waiting for the tea to turn unpleasant, but it never did. I do feel that it faded maybe an infusion or two sooner than I would have liked, but still, this was far from a bad experience. I kind of hope to try a version with a somewhat lighter roast some day. I am curious as to how a slightly greener version of this tea would smell and taste. In the end, I would recommend this tea to open-minded oolong drinkers wanting to try something a little different.
Flavors: Char, Corn Husk, Earth, Floral, Jasmine, Leather, Mineral, Orange, Plums, Rose, Tobacco, Vegetal
I picked this up a couple years ago and it unfortunately landed itself in the back of my tea cupboard. Today I finally dug it out and decided to try it. This is an amazing spring tea – very floral and fruity and just reminds me of sunshine. There’s a few grassy notes as well, which is a huge reason I love oolongs.
I brewed this western style because I haven’t perfected my gong fu technique yet.
Edited to add: This tea keeps going and going. I got 6 infusions out of the first scoop of leaves! I haven’t gotten as many out of the second scoop because I left the leaves for a couple days before continuing the infusions.