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Recent Tasting Notes
Comparative Tasting (Verdant Original Tieguanyin vs. Autumn Tieguanyin):
I’ve recently been trying to taste similar teas together, to help me better appreciate their subtelties. Tonight, I brew two tieguanyin oolongs by Master Zhang. Both teas are brewed gongfu style in small quantities (2g each).
Steeping 1 (original tieguanyin) — Liquor has a nice fresh smell. Sip opens with savory base note, chestnut feels very plausible. After a moment, I notice a slight tingling on the tip of my tounge and a subtle liquorish flavor further back, especially when I exhale. Creamy texture. There’s a some floral/vegetal smell, but it isn’t really coming through when I actually taste the tea.
Steeping 1 (autumn tieguanyin) — I think I didn’t steep this long enough. It has a kind of generic light oolong taste: creamy texture and some floral notes. It’s quite nice, but not very special. Leaves have barely unfurled. None of the tangerine Verdant mentions. :/ Hopefully I’ll get some better luck on the next steeping.
Steeping 2 (original tieguanyin) — Floral and vegetal notes have come out more. I can just barely make out a liquorish flavor. Still a slight tingling at the tip of the tongue.
Steeping 2 (autumn tieguanyin) — Nice creamy flavor. Didn’t leave a very strong impression otherwise.
Steeping 3 (original tieguanyin) — Mostly generic light oolong. Slight spicy note, liquorish. I can’t taste the chestnut at all anymore.
Steeping 3 (autumn tieguanyin) — Mostly generic light oolong. I can kind of taste a citrusy note, but it’s a bit of a stretch.
Conclusion — Both teas are very nice light oolongs, with original slightly darker than autumn. Original had some very unique notes on the first steep, but they seemed to fade pretty quickly. Autumn was more generic, but the characteristic creamy notes of light oolong were particularly emphasized.
starting off with a quick 5s wash. The smell is an absolutely wonderful mixture of honey, steamed buns, walnut, vanilla, and cocoa. The color looks of a ‘deep honey’.
I put about 4g of leaves in around 200 F water.
Infusion times were as follows: 7s, 9s, 12s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 1min30s, 3min
The first couple steeps keep a fulfilling steam bun, vanilla, and honey taste. The third steep had a slight ‘darker’, cocoa like hint to it. Later steeps headed towards being more mild in nature while keeping the steam bun, vanilla, honey trinity taste stable and upfront. Latest steeps get quite smooth and a little malty, but that depends on steep time.
Quite a pleasant tea whose flavour tastes the same as the tea smells. It is consistent throughout the session and is one of my go-to teas at the moment.
Flavors: Cocoa, Honey, Roasted, Vanilla
Typing this review while drinking the tea at the same time.
I started this tea off with a flash infusion / wash of 5s. The flavour from the tea scent smelled quite like mesquite wood, which was very pleasant.
I recommend brewing this tea slightly under boiling. This removes the bitter taste present at higher temperatures and makes the tea more mellow overall.
On the first cup, after letting the temperature cool down more, the flavour changes and actually gets stronger despite no changes being done to it. A strong ‘wet wood’ flavour comes out. It surprisingly adopts a slightly sweet taste, not unlike raw sugarcane.
Second steep initially tastes like wet wood, dry grass, and sugarcane mixed together. Not bitter and not overpowering, just mellow and soothing. So far, brewing this tea at a lower temperature really makes it taste much better (did some steeping at around boiling, was not sweet and generally bitter, not recommended). The after taste, tastes strongly like a ‘sweet mesquite’. Rather pleasant.
Letting the temperature drop, the flavour becomes less powerful, but sweeter instead. It’s almost like this tea can’t make up its mind.
Using around 140mL for the third steep, so letting it sit for about a minute. Tastes like the previous steep, just a bit stronger and a very very slight apricot hint in the back. Steep 3 is actually the ‘sweetest’ of them all; it is still a subtle sweetness but it still is there. A slight bitterness starts emerging as the tea cools, but that might be due to the 1 min steep time.
Overall not a bad young sheng. Not a huge fan for grass-like pu-erhs, but this one was quite relaxing with no real bitterness.
Flavors: Camphor, Earth, Grass, Sugarcane, Sweet, Vegetal, Wet Wood
My new favorite tea, I always had a soft spot for white tea, especially bai mu dan. This is now my new favorite white. After doing a very short steep about 30 seconds in a 110 ml gaiwan. I got an almost clear liquor, but the aroma coming from it was absolutely divine. And as soon as I sipped it, I got this intense, floral, jasmine sweetness, without even a hint of any astringency, it was so smooth and easy to drink.
Im… stunned.. this is my new favorite tea.. its mellow, but at the same time its got intense flavor and aroma but its never overpowering. Im getting more and more impressed with Verdant tea as I have not been disappointed with anything ive gotten from them including the samples.
In subsequent resteeps it keeps it’s aroma and flavor very impressively. I still get the intensity even after third and fourth steep. I know silver needle always holds up well, but still im again pleasantly surprised, if you ever order from them, do yourself a favor and get a sample of this, as the price is incredibly reasonable too.
Flavors: Floral, Jasmine, Sweet, Vegetal
10 seconds hot water; rinse
Steep 1: 175 mL, 10 seconds
Flavour strongly reminds me of green or white tea, but emphasis on the TEA. For a herbal, this really does taste like tea, probably because this plant is related. Slightly vegetal, spicy like chili peppers
Steep 2: 175mL, 10 seconds
Smell/taste is more strongly resembling puerh or aged white tea.
The leaves have unfurled and are really beautiful and colourful. Some of the leaves are dark spinach green, others are light grass green, tan, or dark brown.
Steep 3: 200mL, 15 seconds
Smells slightly of fermentation. Tastes a bit like pu’erh, but at the beginning of the sip is sweetness, followed by the taste of something spicy, honey, and ending in tea flavour.
Flavors: Drying, Fruity, Green, Honey, Sweet, Tea, Vegetable Broth
600 mL of 96 deg water with 1 tsp leaf
Steep 1: 2 minutes
Light flavour of toasty, hay, dried grass, and root vegetables.
Steep 2: 4 minutes
The flavour strongly resembles unseasoned potato chips. Slightly sweet, no salt, flavours of vegetable broth, canned peas, dried lichen, toasted chickpeas, and toasted green tea. This is an extremely interesting herbal. It is quite savoury, but since it is also sweet, toasty (not roasted/smokey), and woody, it is enjoyable as a beverage.
Steep 3: 3 minutes
A lot of woody flavours, but not pine/sap. More like dried wood shavings. Liquor is much darker in colour (previously light tan, now moderate amber) and more flavourful. It tastes like fries or those potato rings (Hula Hoops Potato Crisps). It is really interesting. I have mixed feelings about this tea. Will post another tasting note when I’ve brewed a few more pots. I might be caught up on the main flavours and missing a lot of subtitles. I tend to find new flavours in teas once I’m familiar with them.
Flavors: Brown Toast, Cherry Wood, Hot hay, Peas, Potato, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Toasted, Toasty, Vegetable Broth
I’ve been pretty thrilled with this month’s club box from Verdant. A Dian Hong (Yunnan Golden Buds), a pu’er pressed with honeysuckle, and this sheng-style Moonlight White. I’m usually not a big fan of either sheng pu-er or white teas, so I was surprised to enjoy this so much. The brewed tea has a rich aroma and color, some of the grassy and earthy flavors I associate with pu-er, but none of the dustiness. The texture is juicy, not drying. Drinking it gives me an oddly satiated feeling, as if I’ve had a snack rather than just a drink.
When I choose to drink this, it lasts me all afternoon with strong re-steepings
First tasting of the day is Rou Gui Medium roast and this is very nice, its has a very strong roasted flavor and scent. It practically pops from the cup. A nice sweet aftertaste follows , the aroma of caramel and wood.
I didnt get some of the subtler flavors mentioned in the tea description, there is a strong sweet, roasted and wood aroma’s and flavors, but I didnt pick up on the other flavors or aroma’s mentioned.
Its very nice though and easy drinking, a dark almost caramel liquor is produced, and it holds up to multiple steepings well. The caffeine level seems about moderate which is pretty normal for an oolong. The tea leaves are incredibly dark, almost reminiscent of a black tea.
I would recommend this tea, though I wish I had gotten some of the subtler flavors, maybe on the next tasting.
Flavors: Caramel, Mineral, Roasted, Wood
Second tasting of the day brings us spring 2006 Longyuanhao Ji Xiang Shu. This is an interesting tea as when I got it out of the pack it was very crumbly and required 2 washes to get the particles out. After that with a 15 second steep, I got a dark caramel, almost chocolate colored liquor.
The first scents that hit me was smokey caramel, this was almost overpowering any other tastes or aromas. Sipping it I got a nice vegetal and mineral taste to it as well. Not as much sweetness as I would have expected considering the strong caramel aroma.
A second infusion produced very similiar results to the first, with strong emphasis on the smokey sweet flavors and aromas. There are other subtler flavors and aroma’s there, but I cant quite pick them out.
I will probably do a follow up tasting in a few more days.
Flavors: Caramel, Mineral, Smoke, Vegetal
2 tsp (roughly, tea is fluffy) for 500 mL water @95C, steeped four minutes.
Dry leaf is golden, long, and downy. Wet leaf is medium brown and remains tight after the first steep. Liquor is tan with gold.
I adore dian hong. This one is a touch sweet — though it can get bitter if left too long to steep, as I found out yesterday — with notes of cream, malt, and a slight leathery finish. None of the peppery bite I like so much in some dian hong. Some slight astringence. Smooth and soothing. Re-steeps well; I got three infusions yesterday and expect the same today.
First tasting of the day, and its a old tree sheng. This is leaves from one older tree mixed with leaves from a younger tree to present a more balanced taste profile.
Brewed in a gaiwan with 205 water, starting with a quick wash to open then leaves, then brewed for 20 seconds for the first infusion and 30 seconds for the second. My taste buds and nose are still failing me with my inexperience.
I get a slightly sour fruity scent and taste, not unpleasant, like a good sweetish sour fruit, but its not lemon or orange. Also a pretty good vegetal taste and aroma as well. There is a slight bit of astringency and bitterness but not overpowering.
Now this one does have a complex taste profile and I get the feeling Im missing some of it. I have an entire 100 grams loose, so I figure I will have more tastings with this soon before I put the rest away for aging for a few years.
Their website says fruit, savory, and floral are the primary flavors with a bit of vegetal. Now I get the fruit and the vegetal but Im not picking up the savory and the floral. I do find this interesting that different people pick up different flavors like that, but then again some of it is brewing, I dont have a yixing yet and that could influence the flavor. Ill report on it again once I do.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Fruity, Sweet, Vegetal
First tasting today is Jin Guayin from Verdant tea. The first thing that struck me both in scent and taste is butter, its also quite smooth and easy to drink with a nice thick mouth feel. There is just the bare hint of vegatal in it as well, as well as a floral scent, that I cant quite pin down.
I really like this tea, and I made a bit of an oops in the third steeping I oversteeped it because my eggs were burning. This didnt actually change the flavor profile at all, Im guessing because oolong teas are pretty forgiving for steeping. I know they are often used in grandpa style brewing because of that. The primary flavors are still floral, butter and sweet.
There are other scents and flavors in this , but I think Im going to need to wait for a second tasting for that. And I really need a yixing teapot… lol.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Sweet
The buds in this tea are fuzzy and plump. The dry smell in the bag isn’t too interesting – just smells like a typical white tea. In the warmed gaiwan, the leaves smell like soft fresh linen. With the first steep, I get a steamed edamame smell from the lid – just like Verdant’s 2016 Bai Mu Dan and Shou Mei. The liquor is nearly clear and has a light sweetness to it.
The second steep is much thicker and a bit stronger. This stuff lingers on the tongue. The flavor is springy and vegetal. It tastes like snapping the stem of some sort of thick fresh sweet spring grass in half and having a lick.
Four steeps in and I feel like this tea would probably do better with some more heat. Steeped at 195F, the gaiwan lid smells like a fresh sweet pastry. The softness of the liquor is a little bit diminished but it’s fuller bodied. I think I prefer this tea at about 180-185F.
This tea is solid but (this may be sacrilege) I think their Bai Mu Dan is a better tea and it’s less than half the price of this stuff. The first steep of the Bai Mu Dan tastes very similar to this tea, but the Bai Mu Dan evolves significantly over the course of the session. This tea retains that first steep flavor all the way through – nothing wrong with that but I think the Bai Mu Dan is a more interesting and fun to drink tea.
Flavors: Grass, Smooth, Sweet, Vegetal
Second tasting of the day, laoshan black from verdant tea, I got this as part of their sample pack for 5$. Now I usually dont like black teas all that much, well other than chai. But I was incredibly impressed with this one.
The first thing that struck me as I poured the water into my gaiwan is nutty smokey scents. Very strong and very nice after letting it swirl on my pallet a little, I got a bit more smooth sweetness. I didnt pick up the cream or butter flavors that are often reported for this tea.
I brewed this in a 100ml gaiwan for 30 seconds, tasted the first steeping and then the second. The second was slightly darker and sweeter. A third infusion was closer to the first. Im guessing the leaves needed to open up a little with the first infusion with the short steeps I was doing.
Im very pleased with this tea and wont hesitate to place an order for a full package on my next order. Give it a try if you like nutty, sweet black teas without a hint of bitterness.
fourth and fifth steepings, I got a bit of astringency and moderate burnt/toasted sugar or caramel from it.
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Nutty, Smoked, Smooth, Sweet
I didn’t get enough steeps. I used an 8 oz gaiwan (first mistake). I only had 4.5 g left from my 5 teas for $5 order. I did 6 sec for initial steep then additional 6 sec each infusion. It went bland around the 4th infusion. It probably would have lasted longer if I used my 70ml gaiwan. Live and learn. The wet leaves weren’t as aromatic as the liquor. It smelled like brown sugar. It had cream finish.
Aw man… Steepster deleted the first 2/3 of this review while it was “saving” it. Bummer. I’ll leave the end up I guess!
The later steeps are stronger but less complex and a bit drying. The sweetness at the sides of the mouth reminds me of buttered popcorn. Once you get past the ~1m30s mark, about 7 or 8 steeps for me, the liquor thickens up quite well. It’s got some legs as well – you can easily get 10-15 steeps out of 5g of this stuff. It’s not really my thing, but I did enjoy drinking this tea and may come back to it if I’m in an odd mood. Recommended for floral oolong lovers.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Green, Popcorn, Roasted, Sweet
Thank you to Mackie for this sample! I already put in a Verdant order a few days back, but I might need to make another one soon after I try all these samples.
Spring 2016 harvest of Laoshan black (He family collection) from Jimo City, Qingdao Shandong, China.
The looseleaf smells of burnt food, cherry wood, and tobacco.
~6g looseleaf, 150 mL of 92*C water, 10 second steep
Steep 1: Flavour is roasty, minerals, savoury, toasty, charcoal, nice tea flavour, no bitterness at all
Steep 2: 150 mL of 90*C water, 7 second steep
Very roasty/charcoal, tobacco smoke, burnt food, leather.
Steep 3: 150 mL of 90*C water, 7 second steep
Lots of tea/tannins, burnt sugar, tanned leather, oxidized tea, lots of tea flavour, honey
Steep 4: 150 mL of 90*C water, 10 second steep
Malty, burnt sugar, cocoa, dark wood, toasted grain, miso, honey
I’m sure this is a fine tea from great origins, but to me, it just tasted like burnt food and chewing on a tanned leather belt. The whole charcoal roasted/smoked thing doesn’t appeal to me. Because I dislike this type of tea, I’m not going to rate it because I feel it would be unfairly low.
Flavors: Burnt, Burnt Food, Burnt Sugar, Char, Honey, Leather, Mineral, Soy sauce, Tea, Toasted Rice, Tobacco
Gongfu Style. 190F 5g to 150 mL water.
Reduced temperature to 180F for later steepings (3, 4, 5…)
Malt, dried apple, peat, tannic finish. Faint dried cranberry and wine overtones in later lower-temp infusions.
Flavors: Apple, Cranberry, Dried Fruit, Malt, Peat, Red Wine, Tannic
This review is for the Laoshan Gongfu Black of Autumn 2016 from Verdant Tea.
Preparation style: Gongfu in Gaiwan with 5gr of tea to 150 ml with multiple infusions in 205F water at a consistent 10 seconds each.
With notes of burnt sugar, malt, and dried currant and apple cider, the first infusions show a full-bodied tea with a darker flavor, without bitterness.
The primary aroma is a combination of burnt sugar and tart apple — think home-made candied apple and you’re close. The flavor, however, is less sweet and fruity than many (esp. Taiwanese) hong cha. I like this tea, and infused correctly it could easily become a favorite.
This tea can easily be over-steeped and the lovely fruit notes and sugar will be lost in a murky dark brew. In other tastings found 12 seconds bring out an overly dark tea, whe re the tannin profile tends toward darkly astringent without bitterness.
I would recommend this for small-pot western style brewing only with careful attention to the short steeping time and quick tea basket removal.
Flavors: Black Currant, Burnt Sugar, Dried Fruit, Malt
Less-floral than some of this variety, this is a pretty straight-forward Tieguanyin. Light florality in the nose. Faint sweetness, very mild vegetal and mineral notes.
We brewed this western style in small pot (5 grams to 450 ML water at 190F).
This is a good everyday, Tieguanyin. Not overly complex, none of the flavors predominate.
Flavors: Floral, Mineral, Vegetal
Small-pot brewing method (400ml with 5 grams tea). Temp at 205F.
This is a nice fully-oxidized tea, with a balanced flavor. It’s got a bit of tannin zing—or briskness—but the astringecy is not strong and it finishes without bitterness.
Not a complex tea, and not as fruity as some hong cha, but a choice for black tea lovers who might want to step up to a solid loose leaf black without bitterness.
Flavors: Leather, Rosehips, Tea
I’m still not sure how I feel about shu/ripe puerh. Over the past few months I’ve definitely gained an appreciation for sheng – especially young sheng – but shu just still feels too.. musty to me? I don’t know. So I thought I would try a sample of an older shu to see how it goes. I got this as a sample from Verdant’s black friday sale during their “Pu-erh Monday”. When I opened the bag the sample was really crumbly, so already we’re on a bad foot…
And… I don’t know. This tea isn’t bad. It’s smooth and rich. I just think maybe it’s a little too rich? I’m getting lots of coffee and tobacco notes and it makes me think that this would be a GREAT tea to use to introduce a coffee drinker to to get them to “come to the dark side”. The tea holds up for a LOT of infusions too. I don’t know, it’s just not doing anything for me. But I also have complicated feelings about shu so don’t take my word for it.
Speaking of coffee, with my last couple infusions I decided to try my hand at making “bulletproof tea” with this since I thought it would make a good base. For those that don’t know, this is a play on Bulletproof Coffee which is coffee + MCT oil + butter and is supposed to be really good for fasting. Yeah it’s probably some BS but I thought I would give it a try. And…. still kinda meh about this tea. And now it just tastes like warm butter. Eh, I tried.