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Recent Tasting Notes
It’s hard for me to believe, but I put off trying this one for nearly a month. Master Zhang’s two other Anxi County takes on traditional Wuyi oolongs did little for me, so I really was not interested in rushing to try another. The thing about this one though, is that I really could not bring any baggage along with me when I tried it. When I tried the rolled, roasted Anxi-style takes on Rou Gui and Qilan, I was already at least a little familiar with both varietals. Dan Gui, on the other hand, is a newer varietal, and until today, I had never tried it. My lack of familiarity with this varietal meant that I could not impose any previous impressions on it, and that most likely played a big role in my enjoyment of this tea. Another factor that contributed to my enjoyment of this tea is the fact that I thought this tea just flat out tasted better than the Anxi Rou Gui and Qilan.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. I once again followed Verdant Tea’s suggested brewing method closely. Following a quick rinse (approximately 3-4 seconds), I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 10 seconds. I then conducted nine additional infusions, increasing the steep time by 2 seconds per infusion. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 14 seconds, 16 seconds, 18 seconds, 20 seconds, 22 seconds, 24 seconds, 26 seconds, and 28 seconds.
Prior to the rinse, I sniffed the dry leaves and noted mildly spicy aromas with a hint of vegetal character. After the rinse, I again sniffed the leaves. This time I noted clearer aromas of clove and cinnamon. I also noted scents of wood and butter, as well as an indistinct touch of fruit. The first infusion produced a similar, though slightly more focused aroma. In the mouth, I picked up on a fairly well-integrated mix of cinnamon, clove, wood, butter, sweetgrass, honeydew, and toasted rice notes. For me, the next 4 infusions emphasized the fruity character of the tea. I noted a spicy, buttery aroma on the nose, as well as notes of spices, butter, wood, toasted rice, and sweetgrass in the mouth, though fruity notes of honeydew, canary melon, and cantaloupe really began to pop at this point. I also began to note a slight mineral taste that was most apparent on the finish. The next three infusions saw the aromas and flavors merge once again. I noted that the butter, wood, sweetgrass, and mineral notes were slightly more amplified. The final two infusions were very mild, offering mostly grassy, buttery aromas and flavors balanced by minerality and fleeting impressions of melon and spices.
I found this to be a rather interesting tea that was also very pleasant to drink. I kind of wish the spice character had been a little stronger, but I really did not expect it to be. One of the effects of Daping’s terroir on these Wuyi oolongs seems to be a reduction in the spice and mineral characters and an amplification of fruity, vegetal, and floral characters. With that in mind, I was expecting a fairly mild, balanced tea with a somewhat more pronounced sweetness than its Wuyi counterpart, and that is exactly what I got. Compared to the Qilan and the Rou Gui, this tea worked for me because the combination of aromas and flavors was novel and relatively harmonious. I just wish that they had been a little more pronounced and stuck around slightly longer.
Flavors: Butter, Cantaloupe, Cinnamon, Cloves, Fruity, Grass, Honeydew, Mineral, Rice, Wood
Rou Gui is generally known as a strip style oolong from the Wuyi Mountains, yet it is grown and harvested elsewhere. I have noticed that Verdant, or at least the individual tea producers who supply them, have gotten into experimenting with the effects of different terroir and different production methods in the production of some of their oolongs. This tea and the Dark Roast Anxi Qilan are both Anxi County takes on traditional Wuyi oolongs, while the new Wuyi Jin Guanyin is a Wuyi take on a new Anxi varietal. As with Qilan, I have come to discover that I tend to prefer Rou Gui as produced in the traditional manner.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse (about 4-5 seconds for this one), I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 10 seconds. I followed Verdant Tea’s gongfu method very closely this time around. I conducted 9 subsequent infusions, increasing the steep time by 2 seconds per infusion. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 14 seconds, 16 seconds, 18 seconds, 20 seconds, 22 seconds, 24 seconds, 26 seconds, and 28 seconds.
Prior to the rinse, I noted that the dry leaves emitted a mild aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg with a light vegetal undertone. After the rinse, I noted a strong spicy aroma. The first infusion produced lovely aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, honey, and flowers. In the mouth, however, the taste of the tea did not follow the aroma. I got strong notes of grass, basil, and Buttercrunch lettuce underscored by mild traces of cinnamon, nutmeg, honey, marigold, and chrysanthemum. The next several infusions heavily emphasized aromas and flavors of honey, chrysanthemum, marigold, cinnamon, and nutmeg underscored by lettuce, basil, and grass. At this point, I began to note that the tea was settling and fading faster than I would have liked. The final series of infusions began to wash out quickly, though I could still detect distinct impressions of grass, basil, lettuce, marigold, and spices underscored by traces of honey and minerality.
To be perfectly honest, this oolong did not do much for me. Again, I tend to like oolongs produced in the traditional manner. It was quite obvious to me that the influence of Daping’s terroir produced a much milder, more floral tea, and that is not really what I look for in a Rou Gui. I can understand why some people may like this tea-I suppose that if you find the spice notes of traditional Wuyi Rou Gui overpowering, then a milder, smoother version such as this may hit the spot. For me, however, I just do not see the point. I’m glad I had the opportunity to try this experiment, but I think I will stick with traditionally produced Wuyi Rou Gui variants from here on out.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Floral, Grass, Herbs, Honey, Lettuce, Mineral, Nutmeg
Oh no, I am almost out of Laoshan tea! It always makes me so sad when I don’t have something from Laoshan in my tea cabinet. Now that this one is gone, I only have small amounts of four other Laoshan teas remaining. Anyway, this tea is yet another strong offering from the He family. So far, the 2016 harvests have yielded some strong teas.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse (2-3 seconds), I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 8 seconds. I followed this up with 10 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 15 seconds, 19 seconds, 22 seconds, 26 seconds, 29 seconds, 33 seconds, 36 seconds, 40 seconds, and 50 seconds.
Prior to the rinse, the dry leaves gave off a dusty aroma that momentarily obscured rich scents of malt, dark chocolate, roasted grain, and black cherry. After the rinse, the malt, cherry, chocolate, and roasted grain aromas became much more focused. The first infusion yielded a similar, yet even richer aroma. In the mouth, I picked up robust notes of roasted grain, dark chocolate, black cherry, malt, orange, and honey underscored by a hint of caramel. The following 5 infusions produced a tea that was more mellow in both aroma and taste. The caramel notes became more pronounced, providing a nice balance to the touches of black cherry, dark chocolate, roasted grain, malt, orange, and honey. I also noticed a slight creaminess chased by very light minerality on the finish. The final series of infusions presented delicate aromas and flavors of malt, roasted grain, cream, honey, black cherry, and dark chocolate. The orange notes became increasingly floral and fragile. The minerality was also amped up somewhat, though not significantly.More often than not, I am very impressed by Verdant Tea’s Laoshan offerings. Although there are a few l like less than the others, for the most part, this is a very consistent and rewarding collection of teas. This tea is yet another strong addition to the portfolio. If you are a fan of the other iterations of Verdant’s Laoshan Black, I am willing to bet that you will also enjoy this tea.
Flavors: Cherry, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Grain, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Orange
After surprising myself with how much I enjoyed the Autumn 2015 Laoshan Gongfu Black, I decided to power through the Spring 2016 version of this tea. I found that I did not enjoy it nearly as much, though it was quite likable in its own way. It struck me as a smoother and subtler tea overall.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. Following a quick 2-3 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 5 seconds. I followed this infusion with 9 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, and 50 seconds.
Prior to the rinse, I noted that the dry leaves produced a delicate and slightly dusty chocolaty aroma. At that point, I could already tell that this tea was going to be quite different from the Autumn release. After the rinse, I noted the expected chocolate aroma, as well as delicate scents of toast, malt, and orange peel. The first infusion produced a similarly malty, citrusy, chocolaty aroma. In the mouth, I detected a smooth blend of malt, cream, toast, dark chocolate, candied orange peel, and honey. The next four infusions were fruitier. The expected chocolate, toast, malt, and orange peel aromas and flavors remained, as did the honey and cream notes, though I also detected traces of golden raisin, fig, and dates. A mineral presence had already started to emerge by this point as well. The final series of infusions was increasingly mild, as the tea faded earlier than I expected and wanted. By the final infusion, I was picking up on mostly fleeting toast, mineral, orange peel, honey, and raisin aromas and flavors balanced by a lingering hint of dark chocolate.
In my experience, this tea lacked the staying power of the previous release, yet I still found it at least somewhat enjoyable in its own way. It is a far smoother, fruitier, and subtler tea, lacking the robust char and roasted grain aromas and flavors of the Autumn 2015 version. It is a very balanced tea, though I do wish it retained its character a little longer. Of the two, I definitely prefer the Autumn release, though this was also pretty good. I think people who enjoy very balanced teas that present subtle, graceful variations in aroma and flavor over the course of a single session would perhaps find quite a bit to like in this one.
Flavors: Cream, Dark Chocolate, Dates, Fig, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Orange, Raisins, Toast
I have been looking forward to this one for awhile now. While I liked Mrs. Li’s First Picking Shi Feng Dragonwell, I tend to prefer the stronger aromas and flavors presented by the later pickings. I know that the Chinese generally feel that the first picking is the highest quality, but I tend to like heavier, more vegetal green teas, so a tea like this is far more appealing to me. I am a big fan of Dragonwell, and predictably, I really enjoyed this tea.
I prepared this tea using a two step Western infusion. I tend to use this method for most Chinese green teas. I do not perform a third infusion since I find that I normally like the first two infusions best. I steeped 4 grams of this tea in 8 ounces of 175 F water for 2 minutes and then performed a 3 minute second infusion.
On the first infusion, the aroma of the liquor was lovely. I picked up strong scents of grass, asparagus, green beans, chestnut, hazelnut, and cashew. I also thought I detected a very subtle floral touch. In the mouth, I detected lovely, well-integrated notes of grass, straw, asparagus, artichoke, green beans, chestnut, hazelnut, and cashew with slight mineral, honey, and floral underpinnings. The second infusion produced an aroma that was much lighter. I noted mild aromas of green beans, grass, asparagus, and straw balanced by nuts and minerals. In the mouth, the nutty, grassy, and vegetal notes remained, though the mineral presence was much stronger.
I really like this tea, but then again, I almost always enjoy Dragonwell. This one, at least, is a very nice one. The layering of aromas and flavors is superb, and the tea displays a very pleasant, lingering aftertaste. I would have no problem recommending this tea to anyone looking for a tasty, reliable Dragonwell to use for regular drinking.
Flavors: Artichoke, Asparagus, Chestnut, Floral, Grass, Green Beans, Hazelnut, Honey, Mineral, Straw
mmmmm okay, it starts off with some delicious white chocolate, wood, earth and a bit of spearmint, but with a meat-like quality that’s vaguely reminiscent of turkey. It brews a very light orange-yellow, much lighter in colour than the 5 other dancongs from the August 2016 Verdant club box. It’s silky smooth to drink and as it develops, bitter flowers, orange zest, grapefruit, lemon and lychee begin to present themselves, and it develops a nice creamy texture. Throughout, the tea soup and the wet leaves have the toasty cocoa aroma that all of these verdant dancongs have had, but again without any of this in the taste. I get further notes of grapes, carrots and beets in the mid-late session. This one’s soo tasty, it’s kinda like a cross between the Ya Shi that I adored, and the Wu Dong Shan Mi Lan Xiang. Finally as it fades out, I get notes of cabbage, spinach, and zucchini, with some more lychee at the end.
I’m very interested to try some dancong from other farmers and regions to see just how good these new Verdant ones are :) I think this provided me with a nice amount of experience to know that I want more of this in my life!
I did a 7ish second rinse and then I used 100C water for the first steep, 99C for the second and third, and 98C from there on out, cause it worked well on the previous ones, and it’s good to have consistency to compare them. I filled the gaiwan about 2/3 of the way.
Flavors: Carrot, Cocoa, Creamy, Earth, Flowers, Grapefruit, Grapes, Lemon, Lychee, Meat, Orange Zest, Spearmint, Spinach, Toasty, Vegetal, White Chocolate, Wood, Zucchini
I have been meaning to get a review of this tea up for awhile now. I was just looking back over my notes and realized that I should probably go ahead and post this while I have the time. This review references the Autumn 2015 edition of this tea.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. I more or less followed Verdant Tea’s suggested gongfu brewing method, though I did make a few slight alterations. Rather than using 205 F water, I used 208 F water. I did not really mean to do this, but unfortunately I just glanced at the suggested temperature and ended up misreading the number. I did not realize my mistake until after I had finished the session. After a very quick rinse (approximately 2-3 seconds), I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 5 seconds. I followed this infusion with 10 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 8 seconds, 11 seconds, 14 seconds, 17 seconds, 20 seconds, 23 seconds, 26 seconds, 29 seconds, 32 seconds, and 35 seconds. I could have easily gotten 1-2 more infusions out of this tea, but decided to cut it off a little early since I did not see any surprises coming down the pipe.
Prior to the rinse, the dry leaves presented a slightly dusty aroma. There were also fairly strong scents of dark chocolate, black cherry, and roasted grain. Following the rinse, I picked up on strong cherry, chocolate, roasted grain, malt, and toast aromas. The first infusion presented a similar aroma, though there was a slight honey presence that I did not pick up on before. In the mouth, forceful notes of dark chocolate, roasted grain, black toast, toffee, char, black cherry, clover honey, and marshmallow swirled around the palate. Subsequent infusions saw the roasted aromas and flavors recede momentarily, allowing a balance of dark chocolate, black cherry, clover honey, toffee, and marshmallow to envelope the palate. By the fifth or sixth infusion, this had turned into a very mellow tea, presenting a balance of the aromas and flavors previously described and a hint of minerality on the finish. The final series of infusions saw the tea gently fade. It lost a good deal of its grainy character, as milder aromas and flavors of toast, malt, cherry, chocolate, honey, and minerals flitted across the palate. By the final infusion, everything I was picking up on was very mild, though the tea was not quite flat.
I am a little bit surprised to see that this tea has an aggregate score that is substantially lower than the regular Laoshan Black here on Steepster. I found this to be a very good and very interesting tea despite a few rough edges. To me, this tea seemed a little more focused and a little more powerful than the regular Laoshan Black, though I also felt that it had a bit more heavy-handed of a grainy, toasty presence that I could see being a turnoff to people looking for a sweeter, lighter tea. Still, I thought this one had a lot to offer.
Flavors: Brown Toast, Char, Cherry, Dark Chocolate, Grain, Honey, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Toffee
On nights when I have on-call duty, I like to have something caffeinated in the evening. Since I need to sleep lightly and be up and out the door on a moment’s notice, it’s a good idea for me to drink something that gives me enough energy to get the job done. Yesterday, this unique black tea was my evening tea. I had put off trying it for nearly a month, but after spending the better part of a week drinking flavored teas, I wanted something light, sweet, and fruity that was unflavored. This was the best choice I had.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. Since I have been experimenting with my gongfu preparation lately, I did not specifically follow Verdant Tea’s suggestions. Following a very quick rinse (approximately 2-3 seconds), I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 6 seconds. I performed 11 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 15 seconds, 18 seconds, 21 seconds, 25 seconds, 29 seconds, 34 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, and 1 minute 15 seconds.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves gave off powerful aromas of clementine, lychee, cantaloupe, and honey. After the rinse, I detected even more powerful aromas of lychee, honey, cantaloupe, and clementine. I also picked up a faint aroma of peach. The first infusion provided the expected pronounced fruitiness on the nose. In the mouth, robust notes of honey, cantaloupe, lychee, clementine, peach, rose, and wood filled the mouth. The second infusion provided a fruity nose with a more floral touch. In the mouth, I noted exceptionally strong, yet balanced notes of lychee, cantaloupe, peach, clementine, honey, and rose underscored by touches of wood, herbs, and a subtle toastiness. The following series of infusions played up strongly integrated aromas and flavors of clementine, lychee, rose, cantaloupe, and honey balanced by toast, herb, peach, and wood notes. Later infusions saw the fruitiness fade a tad and more pronounced touches of honey, rose, herbs, toast, and wood emerge. By the final 2-3 infusions, touches of lychee, peach, and cantaloupe remained, though the clementine presence was still quite detectable. There were still aromas and flavors of toast, herbs, and wood hanging around too. I also noted a very subtle mineral presence.
I really enjoyed this tea. Its aroma and flavor profiles are incredibly unique. I could see this going over well with fans of sweeter, more fruit forward teas, but I could also see this working for fans of traditional Chinese black teas as well.
Flavors: Cantaloupe, Citrus, Herbs, Honey, Lychee, Mineral, Peach, Rose, Toast, Wood
Well the first steep was really thin and didnt taste like uh.. well I tried to think of notes but I couldn’t come up with anything, so we’re gonna ignore that, the first infusion’s colour was really light too, so I guess it was just not opened enough, so the second steep is really bready, with subtle plum, i want to say it tastes like gin or uh white rum; it’s really quite alcoholly, which I don’t appreciate, and a minty taste, maybe it tastes like a mojito. Toasted rice, seaweed, with grassiness, ooo okay I wasn’t really liking this but here, steep 5 is really nice, creamy, notes of potato, spinach, green beans, celery it’s very vegetal, it leaves a very astringent aftertaste, like if you just decided to like eat some basil leaves, the way that feels. I honestly am not really enjoying this though, its sharp and thin and tastes like herbs, there’s a slight hint of lychee, which would be the mi lan xiang-ness (?) (I’m basing that on my 2 mi lan xiangs ever, tasting like lychee), but other than that this tastes very very different from the one I had yesterday, I quite preferred that one, this one’s much more delicate tasting, though this might be more of a pure lychee kind of taste showing up later in the session, as opposed to the lychee-jelly sort of taste from the mi lan xiang yesterday, a bit of honey and some florals are coming through now, It’s starting to get better, there’s still a lot of spearmint that I’m not too happy about, it kinda fades down from there,
This one was only okay for me, I think it was objectively good, but definitely not for me. Also I burnt the roof of my mouth halfway through the session on some spring rolls :l
I did a 5ish second rinse (I think I should’ve done 2 rinses though, just to open it up a bit more before having at it) and then I used 100C water for the first steep, 99C for the second and third, and 98C from there on out, cause it worked well on the previous ones, and it’s good to have consistency to compare them. I filled the gaiwan about 2/3 of the way.
This tastes like some sort of sour green apple candy, in an amazing way. woody, earth, lychee, during the second cup I feel so relaxed and calm that I was having a hard time moving my cup all the way up to my mouth, there’s definitely some florals here and what I almost want to say is honey, but the texture.. Okay the texture is incredible, it’s so silky smooth but it’s also thick, tonguing it a little before swallowing feels like I’m moving my tongue through hot, thick air, also there is a lot more lychee in steep 4 than when I first noticed the note, that’s wonderful. This tea looks thicker, the colour is a bit more opaque than the others that I’ve tried, a nice thick yellow-orange, as opposed to the mustard yellow I’ve been seeing, the lychee turns into something like pear with some.. pineapple? maybe guava, with a bit of toastiness, the tropical fruit only lasted one steep, it moves to a sweeter, deeper red appley kind of taste, even slightly reminiscent of apple pie, there’s still lychee there though, through it all. I get a peachy lemony lychee brew after that.
this one was so deliciously fruity! I love that I had the chocolatey dark one, the ya shi, the floral one, da wu ye, and now this. I really was expecting these to taste a lot more like eachother than they have been, considering my inexperience (the first time I tried a few different pu’ers they all tasted the same to me) all of this variety from one farm, plus the next 2 that I have to get to, (the two that came in 10g sizes, vs the 15g and one 25g, which makes me think/hope they’ll be the fanciest) smell lighter and very aromatic and different so I’m definitely excited to get to one of those tomorrow :)
I did a 5ish second rinse and then I used 100C water for the first steep, 99C for the second and third, and 98C from there on out, cause it seemed to work well on the previous ones, and I guess it’s good to have consistency to compare them. I filled the gaiwan about 2/3 of the way this time
yay dancong oolong
Flavors: Apple, Floral, Fruity, Green Apple, Guava, Honey, Lemon, Lychee, Peach, Pear, Pineapple, Toasty, Wood
This is the 4th of the 6 dancongs from Verdant’s August 2016 box that I’ve tried, and this one straight away stands out as being the most different from the others. I almost don’t know how to describe it, it’s quite floral, almost reminiscent of a shou mei, with a similar sort of light thin earthiness, and pretty prominent orange notes. it’s also quite woody with that I want to call a woody texture, at first. It’s got a wonderful full body, this is something I’ve been really appreciating about these dancongs. They all have had really nice mouthfeels, but also different textures with each one, which I’m loving to explore. I got more notes of sour cherry, lemon, apricot, flower stems, there’s a decent amount of dark chocolate in the aroma, but I can’t find any in the taste.
I struggled to really find any new flavours after the 5th(ish?) steep, but it becomes light, with sharp florals, tangerine, apricot,and a bit of seaweed, with bitterness I can’t seem to avoid.
I did prefer the darker, chocolatier dancongs, but this was also thoroughly enjoyable
I did a 7-8 second rinse (woulda been shorter but I’m not used to the new kettle, it pours slow) and then I used 100C water for the first steep, 99 for the second and 98 from there on out, cause it seemed to work well on the Ya Shi I drank yesterday. I filled the gaiwan about 3/4 of the way this time
I was so excited when they got more Gan Zao Ye in stock- that’s my favourite tea I’ve bought from Verdant yet. When I stocked up on that I also decided to try this tea out as well seeing as it’s another caffeine free tea :).
Brewed up always at 200F with 8oz of water, close to 5grams of tea (my scale isn’t sensitive enough to tell the exact amount). I’ve tried the first steeping, subsequent steeps, long steeps and short steeps, and to me it tastes like a very mild black tea without astringency (or caffeine). Maybe similar to a Darjeeling? My palate isn’t in tune to black teas very much seeing as how I cannot handle them. I did enjoy this tea though, and it did not hurt my stomach :).
Yet another of the oolong samples Verdant sent to me, this is an Anxi County take on a traditional Wuyi oolong varietal. The tea maker utilized a dark roast and presents this tea as a rolled rather than strip style oolong. The result is a tea that is radically different from a typical Wuyi Qilan, but I’m not sure that this presentation really produces a tea that favorably compares to these more traditional teas.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. As usual, I used the suggested protocol from the people at Verdant Tea. Following a 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 10 seconds. I followed this infusion with 9 subsequent infusions, increasing the steep time by 2 seconds per infusion. Steep times were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 14 seconds, 16 seconds, 18 seconds, 20 seconds, 22 seconds, 24 seconds, 26 seconds, and 28 seconds.
Prior to the rinse, I took a whiff of the dry leaves and was greeted by, well, very little. I got hints of ripe fruit and spice, maybe a little woodiness, but not all that much of anything in particular. The rinse allowed more pronounced aromas of dark fruits (elderberry, blackberry, raisin, and fig) to come forward, as well as a pronounced orchid aroma and hints of wood, roasted grain, and cedar. The first infusion produced a similar aroma, while offering notes of ripe blackberry, elderberry, fig, raisin, orchid, minerals, juniper, cedar, roasted grain, char, and wood. I noticed that this Anxi Qilan was significantly smoother and milder than some of the Wuyi Qilans that I have tried in recent months. Subsequent infusions seemed to amp up the fruit, cedar, juniper, orchid, and mineral presence, though by the last three infusions, I was mostly picking up a combination of minerals, grain, wood, and char on the nose and in the mouth.
To be completely honest, this one did not do much for me. I like the more traditional Wuyi Qilans and appreciate that Master Zhang (the producer of this particular tea) was going for something a little different here, but I am really not sure that this tea stands up to some of the more traditional Qilans. If you have ever had a good Wuyi Qilan and then try this tea, you can really appreciate the difference in terroir between the Wuyi Mountains and Daping, Anxi County. This tea lacks the pronounced spiciness of its Wuyi counterparts and the dark roast seems to bring out more touches of dark fruit than I would typically expect. To me, the effect was almost jam-like. Though I like Qilan, what I appreciate so much about the Wuyi style is that the spiciness really balances the pronounced floral and fruity qualities of this particular varietal. I am just not getting that here.
Flavors: Blackberry, Cedar, Char, Fig, Fruity, Grain, Mineral, Orchid, Raisins, Wood
I’m steadily making my way through the incredible number of samples Verdant sent me a month or so ago. This tea is the reserve version of the Traditional Tieguanyin Verdant made available earlier in the year. I loved the regular version, and while I thought this version was milder, I really like this one too.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. Again, I followed the suggestions on Verdant Tea’s website. Following a 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 10 seconds. I followed this initial infusion up with 11 subsequent infusions, increasing the steep time by 2 seconds per infusion. Steep times were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 14 seconds, 16 seconds, 18 seconds, 20 seconds, 22 seconds, 24 seconds, 26 seconds, 28 seconds, 30 seconds, 32 seconds, and 34 seconds.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves displayed a mild aroma reminiscent of a mixture of ripe plantain, graham cracker, cinnamon, wood, and dried flowers. Following the rinse, the wet leaves displayed aromas of caramelized plantains, white grapes, violets, graham cracker, coffee, wood, cream, and butter. The first infusion produced a similar aroma, as well as strong savory notes of cream, butter, and vanilla bean balanced by floral touches of violet, saffron, chrysanthemum, and marigold, as well as hints of leaf vegetables, coffee, caramelized plantains, cinnamon, graham cracker, white grape, and wood. The next 3 infusions saw the floral aromas increase in strength, as well as hints of spiciness more fully emerge. I detected notes of cream, butter, vanilla bean, caramelized plantains, coffee, graham cracker, wood, chrysanthemum, saffron, marigold, and violet joined by a much clearer touch of white grape, as well as subtle flavors of cracked pepper, minerals, cinnamon, and cardamom. On the next several infusions, the spiciness emerged more fully on the nose, while the fruity notes of white grape began to increase in strength. The savory aromas and flavors remained, though the floral aromas and flavors began to fade a bit. The vegetal undercurrent that I had briefly noted on the first infusion also began to make itself more known. The flavor somewhat reminded me of cooked lettuce. On the final 2-3 infusions, I noticed that the cream, butter, and white grape notes remained, balanced by notes of lettuce, minerals, cinnamon, wood, cardamom, and perhaps a touch of vanilla bean and coffee.
I really like this oolong. Compared to Verdant’s regular Traditional Tieguanyin, this is smoother. I could see fans of traditional roasted oolongs being into this one.
Flavors: Butter, Cardamon, Cinnamon, Coffee, Cream, Floral, Fruity, Graham, Lettuce, Mineral, Pepper, Saffron, Vanilla, Violet, White Grapes, Wood
dug this out of ancient storage/abandonment, and took a while digging through e-mail receipts to figure out what i had this whole canister of, from years ago… :P
dry leaf smelled rich-dried-fruity and spicy, but still a bit shou-y, which is kinda what i felt like this morning.
it’s very nice! i was a bit dubious, given that i’d essentially ignored it in my house for a few years. early steeps are sweet with a good amount of rounded flavours; maybe baked goods? some warm spices. slight damp undertone coming out but nothing crazy; just enough to give it an edge. very cozy, like warm wood. perfect for this cool not-yet-autumn-but-it-feels-like-it-darnit morning.
Since I have been on a roll with oolongs lately, let’s keep this train chugging along. This oolong is one of the more recent offerings from Verdant Tea. Part of Master Zhang’s collection, this Mao Xie is crafted in the traditional style in Daping, Anxi County, Fujian Province.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. Once again, I followed the procedure outlined by the folks at Verdant Tea. Following a 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water. The initial infusion lasted 10 seconds. I followed this up with 9 additional infusions with an increase of 2 seconds per infusion. Steep times were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 14 seconds, 16 seconds, 18 seconds, 20 seconds, 22 seconds, 24 seconds, 26 seconds, and 28 seconds.
Following the rinse, the wet leaves displayed mild creamy, toasty, vegetal, and fruity aromas. In my experience, Mao Xie has a very unique aroma, but this was very smooth. Obviously, the roast was very light compared to a traditional Tieguanyin or something along those lines. The first infusion yielded a mild aroma with a somewhat toasty and fruity character. In the mouth, I picked up integrated notes of sesame, cream, butter, almond, green apple, pear, lychee, white grape, sage, and lettuce. The following 4 infusions heavily emphasized savory and fruity aromas and flavors. They were particularly heavy on the sage, cream, butter, sesame, apple, pear, and grape notes. The final series of infusions saw an increase in minerality. The fruity notes faded and cream, butter, lettuce, almond, and sesame remained.
This is the third Mao Xie I have had from Verdant this year. Each has been very different. I really enjoyed the vigor and quirkiness of the regular green Mao Xie, while I thought the Reserve Mao Xie lacked punch. This one falls somewhere between those two. All in all, I don’t find it to be a bad oolong, just maybe a little too soft and smooth for my tastes.
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Cream, Green Apple, Lettuce, Lychee, Mineral, Pear, Sage, White Grapes
This is another of the oolongs the folks at Verdant Tea were gracious enough to allow me to sample at no charge. I have to say that regardless of whether or not one believes some of their (admittedly rather ridiculous) claims, I do have to say that they really stand behind their products and care about their customers. So, I would like to thank the people at Verdant for helping me out with some issues with a previous order and giving me the opportunity to try some of their newer oolongs.
Ruan Zhi is a tea varietal about which I know very little. I do know that it is more popular in Thailand and Taiwan than in China. According to the people at Verdant, it is used in Taiwan to produce both Baozhong and Dong Ding oolongs, and in Thailand to produce Doi Mai Salong. Since I am a fan of both Taiwanese and Thai oolongs, I couldn’t wait to try a more traditional Chinese take on this varietal.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. As usual, I followed the suggestions of the people at Verdant Tea. Following a 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 10 seconds. I followed this initial infusion with 10 additional infusions, with an increase of 2 seconds per infusion. Steep times were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 14 seconds, 16 seconds, 18 seconds, 20 seconds, 22 seconds, 24 seconds, 26 seconds, 28 seconds, and 30 seconds.
Following the rinse, I noticed that this oolong smelled like no other oolong I have tried to this point. The aroma of the wet leaves was simultaneously bready, creamy, fruity, and floral. After infusion, I detected complex aromas of fresh baked bread, cream, custard, lilac, violets, wood, and minerals. In the mouth, notes of cream, custard, fresh baked bread, lilac, violet, wood, and minerals were very much evident. I did not pick up on the honey described in Verdant’s tasting note, though there was a very fruity sweetness there and a hint of floral character I found virtually impossible to identify. The only thing that came to mind was gardenia, but I don’t really feel that description fits what I was experiencing. The second and third infusions brought out lovely aromas and flavors of orange that meshed perfectly with the somewhat intensified aromas and flavors found in the first infusion. From the fourth infusion on, I noticed that the floral aromas and flavors started to fade as the mineral, cream, custard, bread, wood, and orange aromas and flavors began to slowly take center stage. I also noticed a subtle hint of white pepper began to emerge at this point. By the final two infusions, the tea had very little in the way of an aroma, but I continued to note flavors of cream, custard, wood, minerals, pepper, and orange underscored by fleeting sensations of flowers.
Now that I have had a day to process my experience with this tea, I can say that I found it to be lovely, though not perfect. I really enjoyed the mix of aromas and flavors on display in this tea. They work very well together, and I found that Verdant’s tasting note was amazingly accurate. I also appreciate that this is a very unique tea. It has a character all its own. Still, some of the most appealing aromas and flavors faded just a tad sooner than I would have preferred. If those floral aromas and flavors had lasted through maybe one or two more infusions, I would be giving this tea an incredible rating. Since that is not the case, a score of 90 feels about right to me because this is still very, very good.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Mineral, Orange, Pepper, Violet, Wood
Decided to steep this western style today. While this isn’t that bad it is not as good as the crassicolumna sheng. It’s got a main note that is sort of a sour fruit note and I am not too fond of it. At least it is caffeine free.
I brewed this one time in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 4 tsp leaf and 200 degree water for 3 minutes.
Got this as a sample from the $5 sample deal a while back, haven’t had the urge to try it with the prompt ensuing hong storm until now. Approximately 6 grams of leaf in here, I’d say, the leaf looking suitably “wild” and flyaway in appearance, being almost completely intact and only slightly twisted leaves. Kind of reminds me of wuyi in appearance, except not roasted, and attractively speckled with lighter colors in the leaves. I dumped it all in my 100 ml gaiwan and poured boiling-ish water over the sucker.
It is more aromatic and floral than I expect from black, which is reflected in the taste as well as on the inhale. Mild flavored malt, some astringency in the background to match the higher notes and flavors, there isn’t much bitterness to this one, but there is more of a green-ish bite than I would have expected from a black. Overall lighter than I expected, but it was interesting and pretty good. Not really my favorite flavor profile, though.
Flavors: Drying, Flowers, Malt, Mineral
Superb Longjing. Subtle, very subtle without traces of bitter, a subtle sweetness and a very pleasant aftertaste.
We must consider that is a first pick. This mean that it has a very subtle odor and flavor.
Leaves are very small green brownish color. The leaves smells vegetal and sweet.
I brewed in grandpa style. First steep color yellow pale and flavor a little weak. Second steep shows it’s sweetnes, corn flavor, nutty flavor, a little fruity and a long lasting aftertaste. In the thirth steep rthe sweetnes is increasing, it remains a subtle nutty flavor. Fourth and fifth steep shows a subtle sweetness but never lose it´s flavor.
Consider, if you want a more strong flavor to try another longjing, but if you like sweetness and friutness you will like this excellent tea.
The difference with other type of longjing is it´s persistent flavor and longer aftertaste.
I recommend it for a special tea session. It´s not an every day tea.
Congratulations to Mrs. Li from Mexico
Flavors: Fruity, Nutty
This is my second oolong from Verdant. It comes in cute little red plastic bags, each containing 5 ounces. They say Tieguanyintea, along with Chinese characters that I can’t read. I assume Master Zhang used a Tieguanyin bag because that’s what he grows the most of. I know it is actually Rougui because of the aroma.
I bought 25 ounces, five measures. I’m on my last measure now.
I’ve typically been drinking it in a 10-ounce teacup, making two steepings at a time in a gaiwan, pouring them into the cup, and then drinking them. Ten seconds, then about five seconds more each time.
The leaves are rolled tightly in the Anxi style. The flavor is very dark and deep. The aroma is spicy. I guess it must be the aroma of Chinese cinnamon, but I haven’t smelled that before, as far as I know. It’s slightly reminiscent of coffee with its bracing aroma, but not as bitter. A big contrast with the light roast qilan that I’ve been drinking on alternate days.
Occasionally I notice a slight floral aroma reminiscent of paperwhite narcissus. I like that scent myself, though I know other people don’t.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Earth, Narcissus
Every Laoshan Black that I have tasted has been excellent. I simply love the chocolate notes and burnt caramel undertones. This one is no different. I would say that this one leans more towards the honey/caramel side than previous Laoshan Blacks that I have tried (I believe I tasted last year’s autumn version). The chocolate flavor, although very present, is not as dominant as the caramel and burnt sugar flavors and aromas.
Flavors: Burnt, Caramel, Chocolate