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Recent Tasting Notes
Backlog 4 January 2016
Sample from eastkyteaguy
See, I failed already. I didn’t live up to the daily review as planned. Hahaha.
A nice solid sweet jasmine white tea. Smooth & full of the much expected jasmine flavor. Verdant is usually hit or miss, but when it hits, it hits hard.
(There’s my review from yesterday ;))
Flavors: Jasmine, Smooth, Sweet
I love the base of this tea, it’s robust without being astringent with notes of wood and cocoa. The flavours don’t sound like they should work together much less with a base that has so much character of it’s own, but the flavour blending is deft enough that the it has just the right spiciness, the right amount of sweet vanilla, the right degree of citrusy tang that it just works. It also holds up to resteeping quite well. It’s kind of a shame that Verdant Tea has changed to unflavoured teas (although it’s also great that they’re bringing single source Chinese teas to the N. American market, and area of tea production that has been underserved in my opinion) as I would be totally willing to buy more of this tea.
I love this tea! The leaves are large and have a mineral floral profile when dry, but add water and the magic happens. This one is very forgiving also, I have brewed gong-fu, western style and even long steepings ( 5 mins or more ) without bitterness or astringency and have found it interesting each time. The nose has a typical underlying oolong profile, floral ( plumeria, jasmine, some vegetal notes ). The palate is remarkable, same florals ( in spades ), with aloeswood, minerality, allspice, ripe peach, licorice, roasted parsnips, molasses, sweet, it just goes on and on. While the mouth feel is sparkling, spare and dry, it has a sweetness that lingers on the tip of the tongue and at the back of the throat. The finish goes on for hours ( really, not exaggerating here — I even could taste it after lunch! ). This might be an excellent candidate for good aging.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Chestnut, Dates, Fig, Jasmine, Licorice, Mineral, Molasses, Osmanthus, Peach, Toasted Rice, Wet Rocks
This one is a bit of a disappointment for me. Dry leaves are earthy some what loosely rolled. Nose is delicate very earthy, much like pu-erh that I have had, humic and fungal with some sweet floral notes. Palate I get top soil humus, mushroom, hay, slightly floral. Very light, no matter how long I steeped or how much heat ( even boiling ), I could not get this one to open up. I also do not care for pu-erh ( maybe I just haven’t had good pu-erh yet ), so this one will not come back…
I have been a lurker on this site for a while and, while I have been drinking good Chinese and Japanese tea for about 25 years, I have gotten into it more lately. I also have a lot of experience with fine European wines — so that is how I approach tea…
On the nose I get honey, sweet oranges and some incense like aloeswood, on the palate I got oranges and orange blossom, red raspberry, another light floral note violets maybe? also some nutmeg and graham cracker. I found the tea over several steepings did not change character too much, and was rather delicate. Not your typical black tea. I liked it.
Flavors: Orange Blossom
This is an interesting tea with a rather atypical profile for a green oolong. Unlike other teas in this category, it’s not floral and instead has a savory/fruity character.
It’s hard to believe at first that this is an unroasted tea. The dry leaves in a heated gaiwan smell very spicy. There are also mineral and burnt wood aromas. The first steep is toasty and savory, with some spice from the aroma in the aftertaste. In the second steep, the taste of the tea becomes clearer. A melon like sweetness begins to settle in and it finally tastes like a a green oolong. There’s a savory undertone to it that helps balance the tea. Third steep onwards it becomes smoother and more fruity as the melon sweetness intensifies.
While I liked this tea, I found it to be quite similar to Verdant’s Ruan Zhi. Overall, a light and balanced tea that’s a welcome change from flowery teas.
Flavors: Melon, Spices
BigDaddy graciously had my wife and I join him for this session. This was a real treat. The dried leaves smell like velvety dark chocolate. True artistry went into the processing of these leaves. Wet leaves have a thick aroma of stewed peaches, milk chocolate, and roasted walnuts. It brewed a clear orange tea soup with a thick, velvety texture. I was impressed the aroma was carried over into the tea soup.
The initial steeps are highly floral and fruity with hints of maple, vanilla bean, and chocolate in the background. These background notes moved to the front, competing with the ripe peach, apricot, and floral notes for my attention. I could smell the fragrance while the tea sat in my mouth. Syrup-like viscosity continued with each steep without showing signs of waning until the 9th steep. This is something to set some time aside for and really savor.
Another of the autumn 2015 and spring 2016 teas that I have been desperately trying to finish up before moving on to the more recent harvests, this Jin Guanyin is one that I have been looking forward to reviewing for some time now. I didn’t mean to put off reviewing it for so long, it’s just that I ended up with a little more of it than I had planned. Overall, I found this to be an excellent and resilient green oolong that struck an admirable balance between savory and floral characteristics.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 11 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry leaves emitted strongly savory and floral aromas of cream, butter, and lilac. After the rinse, I picked up more pronounced aromas of cream, butter, and lilac coupled with scents of violet, steamed rice, and honeysuckle. The first infusion produced a similar, though more balanced aroma. I also began to note emerging impressions of gardenia and citrus on the nose. In the mouth, the entry was dominated by savory notes of steamed rice, cream, and butter, though floral notes of lilac, gardenia, violet, and honeysuckle were quick to provide a little balance. A little bit of sweetgrass also emerged toward the finish. Subsequent infusions were more floral on the nose and in the mouth, offering more pronounced aromas and flavors of lilac, gardenia, violet, and honeysuckle. The citrus emerged fully at this point, as the tea began to display an impression of lime zest beneath the floral aromas and flavors. The sweetgrass on the finish slightly intensified and was joined by a subtle note of minerals. Later infusions were very mild and washed out, offering dominant aromas and flavors of butter, cream, minerals, and sweetgrass, though I could still detect a distant floral impression on the finish. The tea also acquired a faint nutty character at this point, as I kept getting a very distant note of hazelnut.
I have had this tea at several different points over the past couple of months, and unlike the 2015 Green Goddess from Floating Leaves, I can tell that this one has mellowed just a tad. Still, the tea was very bright and lively in the mouth with strong savory and floral aromas and flavors. Despite this tea’s age, it was still an excellent drinking experience. I would recommend this tea to fans of contemporary green finish Anxi oolongs who are looking for amplified versions of the savory and floral characteristics displayed by both Huang Jin Gui and Tieguanyin.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Hazelnut, Honeysuckle, Lime, Mineral, Rice, Violet
Thanks so much for this one a while back, JakeB! Am I the only person so write a tasting note for this one? Sheng is a bit tough for me to decipher sometimes other than saying I liked it or I didn’t (and usually that is probably just because I mess up the steeping of a sheng…) But I liked this one! I was surprised at the creamy texture it had. Otherwise, it is a sweet tasting sheng. Even the third steep at just boiled it still had a sweet, creamy flavor. So this sheng is a win. Basically if the sheng has a unique flavor that I don’t ruin quickly, it’s a delicious sheng to me. Usually only the first steep of a sheng tastes like the third steep of this one. It’s a shame there is no evidence of any other Steepsterers loving this pu-erh.
Steep #1 // 22 minutes after boiling // 35 second steep
Steep #2 // 20 minutes after boiling // 40 second steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 35 second steep
5g to 200mL water @95C, rinsed and brewed gongfu style in bone china
1st infusion 30 seconds
I have great respect for Master Zhang. I’ve learned so much about oolongs from his work. And today, I didn’t just learn something, I experienced it. The first sip felt musical; I heard singing.
I enjoy floral tieguanyins, This one has floral notes, plus some distant ginseng (and that ginseng zip on the tongue). I wish I had the vocabulary to better convey this tea, which is the most sublime and beautiful tea I’ve ever tasted.
I’m in awe.
So far, I have spent my New Year’s Eve finishing up some of the tea samples I have collected over the course of the year. This was one I had forgotten about entirely. I bought it towards the end of the summer right before Verdant seemed to run out of stock. It was around the time I tried and reviewed their Traditional Anxi Dan Gui. Anyway, Dan Gui is a newer cultivar mostly used in strip style Wuyi oolongs, but also used for rolled oolongs and green tea. From what I gather, it is one of those cultivars that has managed to become popular in China in recent years, but has not yet been as successful with Western tea drinkers.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 11 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 14 seconds, 17 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, I took a whiff of the dry tea leaves and immediately noted aromas of watercress, sweetgrass, eucalyptus, lilac, and hyacinth. After the rinse, I picked up intense aromas of watercress, sweetgrass, eucalyptus, lilac, and hyacinth balanced by aromas of cilantro, elderflower, and nutmeg. The first proper infusion produced a similar, though slightly spicier and more floral aroma. In the mouth, the floral notes were fairly thin and mostly supported robust notes of sweetgrass, watercress, eucalyptus, cilantro, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Even at this stage, there was a slight mineral presence on the finish that made me question how long this tea would last. Subsequent infusions, however, saw the floral aromas and flavors intensify. The vegetal character was still present, but was now effectively offset by aromas and flavors of lilac, hyacinth, cream, butter, and elderflower. Cinnamon, nutmeg, eucalyptus, and mineral notes continued to leave a mild tingle on the finish. Later infusions saw the floral aromas and flavors recede. In their place, aromas and flavors of cream, butter, watercress, sweetgrass, and minerals asserted themselves, though a faint floral character was still just barely detectable on the nose. On the finish, I could still detect ghostly impressions of cinnamon, nutmeg, and eucalyptus before the minerals once again dominated.
This was an odd, but very enjoyable Anxi oolong. I know that I have expressed a degree of antipathy toward some of the Anxi takes on Wuyi oolong cultivars in the past, but this one was very nice. I especially appreciated the fact that some of the spice and mineral notes that seem to be most strongly associated with traditional Wuyi takes on this cultivar were not completely obscured here. I could tell that the green finish that has become the norm for many Anxi oolongs brought out the tea’s more floral, savory, and vegetal qualities, but the subtle spice, herb, and mineral touches kept reminding me that I was drinking a cultivar that has become strongly associated with the Wuyi Mountains. Due to this tea’s approachability, as well as its unique aroma and flavor profiles, I would strongly recommend it to oolong drinkers looking for something new or curious as to how changes in terroir and processing affect specific tea cultivars.
Flavors: Butter, Cinnamon, Cream, Eucalyptus, Floral, Grass, Mineral, Nutmeg, Vegetal
One of the more recent additions to Li Xiangxi’s collection, this Big Red Robe is harvested from some of the older tea plants in her care. Compared to Verdant’s regular Big Red Robe (a tea which I admittedly have not had since March), this one comes across as spicier and quirkier. I found that I enjoyed it, though I did enjoy the sweeter, fruitier regular Big Red Robe slightly more.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 8 seconds, 11 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute 5 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted a spicy aroma reminiscent of a combination of char, limestone, and ginger. After the rinse, I detected slightly more distinct aromas of limestone, ginger, char, moist wood, earth, and leather. There was also a slightly floral presence that reminded me a little of osmanthus, though I do not feel that comparison is remotely accurate. The first infusion produced a similar, albeit more mellow, settled aroma. In the mouth, I immediately detected mineral, brown sugar, tobacco, leather, elderberry, earth, moist wood, and char notes. There was an earthy spiciness on the finish reminiscent of ginger and a floral, resinous quality that reminded me a bit of the aloeswood incense I used to buy as an undergraduate. I also continued to pick up a somewhat vague floral note that I could not place. Subsequent infusions were spicier, earthier, fruitier, and more floral, introducing more pronounced notes of ginger, minerals, brown sugar, elderberry, and aloeswood accompanied by notes of golden raisin and stewed apricot. The vague floral character began to merge with a fresh vegetal quality that immediately put me in mind of daylily shoots. Later infusions were very mellow, presenting a mix of minerals and ginger underscored by traces of aloeswood, char, moist wood, and daylily. I also began to note a buttery, starchy quality that I found to be very reminiscent of popcorn.
I’ve had several Big Red Robes fairly recently and this one stood out to me for its quirkiness and complex layers of aromas and flavors. I am not certain that I would feel comfortable recommending this tea to someone new to this style or to Wuyi oolongs in general, but I do feel that this tea made for an extremely interesting contrast with Verdant’s regular Big Red Robe. In the end, I enjoyed this one, but found it difficult to rate.
Flavors: Apricot, Brown Sugar, Char, Earth, Floral, Fruity, Ginger, Leather, Mineral, Osmanthus, Popcorn, Raisins, Spicy, Tobacco, Wood
I wrote a review for this tea yesterday. Then I was making a correction on it and wiped the whole thing out. I hate when that happens.
Verdant sent me a sample of this tea with my order in December and I was pretty excited to try it. This is a herbal tea and it’s supposed to be something like their Laoshan green. I love green tea. If I could drink green tea in the evenings I would; but for me all caffeine is cut off late afternoon and I switch to herbal teas. I thought this tea was going to be a replacement for a green; but I don’t think that’s the case. It is a very different tea on it’s own.
Dry, the leaves certainly look like Laoshan Green. You can see that on Verdant’s website. They don’t smell the same though and brewed up it’s very different. I brewed this gongfu method following Verdant’s methods on their website. First infusion was very strong of roasted flavour. Like roasted barley, toasted rice, & roasted nuts. I am not a fan of roasted teas but I will enjoy them occasionally. I just found it was a bit strong. By infusion 4 the roasted flavour toned down a bit and it was a little more vegetal.
I wasn’t overly impressed with the tea but anyone who loves roasted flavour will love this. I also would like to know what plant this tea is from and what are the health benefits/concerns with drinking it. On Verdant’s website they say it’s from the Jujube leaves. When I do a search for Jujube it’s mostly about eating the fruit of the plant and never the leaves.
Flavors: Roast nuts, Roasted Barley, Toasted Rice, Vegetal
If chocolate existed in tea form, I imagine this is what it would taste like. The aroma and taste of this tea is of pure chocolate. The first steep was warm, sweet hot cocoa goodness. There’s a soft toasted marshmallow going on too. Almost no tannins to speak of. As the tea progresses, the chocolate moves to the background and faint notes of toffee and caramel appear.
This tea really deserves the hype its received on Steepster. It’s very delicious and comforting. I’ve already set aside a permanent tin for it because it’s going to be a perennial buy for sure.
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Malt, Marshmallow
This is a rather fussy dan cong that is easy to mess up if not brewed with precision. Flash infusions using very hot water are the way to go here. Verdant’s generic method of 20s steeps plus 10s guarantees bitterness. Hojo’s brewing instructions for dan cong worked best here: 3g of tea for a 120 ml gaiwan, quick rinse followed by a 10s steep and “touch and go” from there on out.
When steeped right, the flavor is smooth and very refined. Juicy white peaches and honey greet the palette in the early steeps. Later infusions have sandalwood, a little minerality, and fruitiness. The roasting is here is subtle and doesn’t hit you over the head. Compared to Yunnan Sourcing’s Mi Liang Xiang, it’s not as roasty and has a bit more depth.
A lovely, exquisite tea that showcases what dan cong can and should be.
Flavors: Fruity, Honey, Peach, Wood
This tea has a beautiful yellow color liquor, smells of pollenating flowers, and the empty cup has the sweetest aroma. I could. not. stop. huffing the empty cup!
1st steeping – very floral and honeyed, no bitterness or astringency
2nd steeping – very floral, slight astringency at the end; aroma of the wet leaves in the gaiwan isn’t very appealing at all but there is something about the aroma inside the lid and of the liquor… it takes me back to being in my dad’s pollen sheds although not as strong a smell as those were – maybe his pollen sheds when nothing was in them. (Side note: my dad was, for lack of a better descriptor, a pollen collector. He harvested pollen, cleaned it, and sold it to pharmaceutical companies who then used it for meds. Hence the reference to my dad’s pollen sheds.) The empty cup has a mesmerizing caramel smell.
3rd/4th steepings – increasing astringency lasting after the sip, not unpleasant; cannot stop huffing the empty cup (was the most intoxicating after steeps 2/3)
7th steeping – astringency slightly increasing with each steep, leaving my mouth pleasantly numbed out; this tea is giving me happiness and a lingering sweetness at the top of my mouth and throat, can’t shake the nostaligic feeling the scent has given me; ordered 3 more cakes. :)
8th steeping – leaves rested about an hour since last steeping, flavor has died a little, maybe needed to steep longer?
9th steeping – full minute, still less flavorful but pleasant to sip; gave up on it for this round
Flavors: Caramel, Floral, Honey
The dry leaves smell slightly fruity and floral like a lighter dan cong. The leaves are really nice quality appearance-wise, with large full leaves and so far no leaf fragments.
Really nice roast tone on the rinsed leaves, with a floral tone peaking through. More charcoal tone on this than expected from the name and the dry leaf aroma, which I’m pleasantly surprised about.
The first steep bring out more of the fruit and florals over the lovely charcoal tone. The flavor is sweet and minerally with subtle slightly masculine floral notes retronasally.
The second steep really bumps up the aromatics with strong orchid aroma and bright fruit tones (not exactly citrus, but it is a brighter more terpenous fruitiness, so I get where Verdant is coming from with their description). There’s some crisp acidity to the thick brew that compliments the charcoal minerality, sweetness, and aromatics.
Third steep and beyond brings out more nutty-chocolaty charcoal roast tones bringing the fruits and orchids into balance, with an expected slow fade out to 7 steeps. Interestingly around the fourth steep a lighter, more feminine floral twist (gardenia or jasmine or something) sets in modulating the orchid aroma a bit, before fading out in the next steep to mostly complex mineral character. Maybe a little black pepper setting in late.
All in all this is a pretty nice yancha. Very pleasant to drink.
I am always happy to try a new Laoshan tea. Unfortunately, I am starting to run low again. After finishing the sample of this tea that I received from Verdant, I only have two more left (I have another spring green and a spring black from another vendor). I won’t be able to order any more for the foreseeable future due to upcoming medical expenses, but I guarantee that I will acquire more Laoshan tea as soon as I am able. This one is definitely on my shopping list.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse (I do not always rinse green tea, but wanted to make sure I washed away the grit and leaf dust with this one), I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 175 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 10 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, I noted that the dry tea leaves emitted mild aromas of sweetgrass, asparagus, soybeans, and hay. After the rinse, the aroma became intensely vegetal with a hint of nuttiness. The first infusion produced a similar, albeit slightly more balanced aroma. In the mouth, notes of sweetgrass, hay, soybean, asparagus, and spinach were immediately detectable. I also picked up on an indistinct nuttiness that I could not immediately place. Subsequent infusions were more robustly grassy and nutty on the nose and in the mouth. I began to pick up distinct impressions of chestnut at this point. I also began to note aromas and flavors of corn husk, lime zest, and honey. Later infusions were mild, offering predominantly sweetgrass, corn husk, and chestnut aromas and flavors underscored by minerals, asparagus, and soybean.
Normally, I enjoy the later harvests more than the spring harvest when it comes to green teas, but here I found that I enjoyed the spring harvest more than the autumn harvest. Compared to Verdant’s Autumn Laoshan Green, I found this tea to be more robustly vegetal and grassy, but with just enough nuttiness and underlying fruitiness to keep it interesting over the course of a session. I like my green teas to be really vegetal, so this hit the spot for me.
Flavors: Asparagus, Chestnut, Corn Husk, Grass, Hay, Honey, Lime, Mineral, Soybean, Spinach
This is a weird tea, and I don’t know what to think of it. Going by the description on the site, there is no way I would have bought this. It was a sample from a friend.
The first steep was a nice roast flavor on top of a green oolong flavor, which is interesting because there is nothing green about this tea. After the leaves have opened up a bit, that bright, lime flavor starts to come through. You probably know by now my disdain for citrus.
I’m kind of both ways on this tea. It’s…odd.
.. I have no idea how to describe the dry leaf aroma. It’s fine,
Warm pot: smells just like lychee, lovely.
First steep: gummy berries, cream, bread, thickness in the throat, peach, it’s soo nice it tastes like candy :)
Second steep is more creamy/buttery/bready, malty with notes of lychee and peach still, a bit tangy.
Moves to more citrus, toast, peach, with some dryness in the 4th steep, then more mango/citrus in the 5th with like an assam-like feeling and now that I think about it, there’s some of that indian floral there. No more cream/butter
Definitely starting to taste like a darjeeling, which isn’t my favourite flavour profile. But it’s like a bit thicker and more decadent, and I’m still enjoying it. Mostly.
If that fruitiness and creaminess had stayed longer this could’ve been one of my favourites.
Sooo excited to try my first bai ji guan! ever since I saw that Meileaf video about it I haven’t stopped wanting it so yay!!!!! :D
The dry leaf looks just like in the pic, and smells pretty much like a roasty green tea
in my warm gaiwan it smells .. sorta like iced tea powder, grass, honey,
Oh my god I could just sit here sniffing this wet leaf for hours, orange/peanuts, with some greens, I’m so happy.
First steep: bit of a thin body, uh some gummy taste, super smooth, a nice tingle in the mouth, grass, it’s so fruity, I love this.
the second steep brings out more orange, and a sort of vague nuttiness in the aftertaste
Third steep was a little bland if im honest
the fourth actually tastes like the later part of a session of some kind of green tea, the familiar dryness on the tongue. If you fed me that blind I would’ve thought it was green tea.
It’s very dry, very green tea-ey. I’m pretty sure the typical verdant recommended 98C/208F is too high. I’m trying 95 for the next.. now it just feel too thin, lowered it further, even worse, and I just.. I don’t know what to do anymore. I shoulda just kept smelling the wet leaf after the rinse. The first steep was good. The rest was kinda eh. :(