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Recent Tasting Notes
I had a really good experience with one of YS’s purple varietal black teas, and we all know I’m a fan of Li Xiangxi’s work, so I’m very hopeful for this one.
Dry leaf: berries and hay
In the warm pot: Marshmallows, crackers, chocolate.. mmmmmmmmmmmmm
Brewing at 98C with 5 or 6 grams in my 150ml yixing teapot.
Mmm, yum! nice, whipped cream-y decadence, and kinda like cheesecake, wood, grass/hay. Bready, a nice thick feeling in the throat, chesnut/peanut, it’s quite soft, higher grape notes as well, and very tingly on the tongue. It has the same weird fruit as the 2013 aged wuyi black I drank last night, more citrus in this one though.
Oh yay! this one has that lumpy thickness in the throat that the other purple black tea I mentioned had. I like that
I also feel a little drunk, everything’s a bit heavy and slow
In the later session, it became more of a fuzzy peach, with a tingle.
Beautiful dry leaves that are firm in the hand.
Wet leaf leans to the darker spectrum: cocoa, earth and malt with bits of vanilla.
The liquor has much sweeter aromatics. Most evident is creme brulee, then honey and malt. Bit of smoked sweet potato and black cardamom, but this is overpowered by the sweeter elements.
Creamy and smooth on the palate
This is very nice
Okay well I’m going to blindly trust verdant wholeheartedly here. My teapot is ~5oz and the sample I got is apparently 5g and thats that they say for this one. the leaf looks like less than 5g, but I mean.. it’s all I got so its ok.
The dry leaf looks nice, big, dark, twisty, pretty typical looking black leaves. I’m brewing at the verdant recommended 98C, so here we go.
This is the most expensive black tea I’ve ever tried. (I think)
The dry leaf smells a little smokey and really mushroomy
Okay in the warm pot, it’s .. very powerful smelling, still mushroomy, but like.. barbecue sauce and uh definitely like smokey wood, but in a pretty classy way, not like aggressively smokey, just pretty balanced, it’s quite nice smelling, very powerful. excited
After the rinse, aroma of burnt meat, more like a campfire, but sweeter
It’s starting to smell just like their lapsang souchong.
The colour of the brew is on the yellower side, with a hint of orange
OK it’s really thick feeling, after 2 sips, my whole throat is feeling coated, it tastes a lot like their lapsang souchong right now, but super thick with this cooling sensation, and seriously it feels different to swallow now, what is this stuff?
Anyway okay the first steep is really sweet, a bit of cocoa, almost some dandelion, sweet smokiness, there’s definitely more florals there way behind everything
Second steep: very active on the tongue, still smokey aroma, definitely still some florals, still so thick, but it’s also kinda zesty
3rd: kinda tastes a bit like my supposedly-orange-flavoured-vitamins, smoke is mostly gone which is nice, there’s some fruitiness that I’m not sure what to call.. it’s slightly orangey or grapey or uh I dont know honestly. There’s some tingle on the back of the tongue.
4th: mmm that fruitiness has started coating the front of my mouth in this sweet, slightly sour thing that is spectacular. The tea has the very odd effect of even though it’s hot, it feels kinda cold in the mouth, the fruitiness has become a metallic feeling on the back of my teeth by drinking enough of this steep. This is so weird.
5th: the smokiness is definitely completely gone now, it’s just sweet, thick, weird fruit now.
6+ kinda milk flavour, weird fruit, and some mango, tangy blueberries, its so fruity mmh. It only lasted like 9 steeps, the last one wasn’t very drinkable. I fed some of it to my piggy pet.
So weird tea. I don’t know how I uh.. There was a bit of a qi that I noticed at the end. I don’t think it’s worth $17/oz. But it was really good. But it was weird. That’s how I feel about it..
So I heard a rumor that aged oolongs can get one “Tea drunk” so I decided to fire this up and see how it goes. This is also my first aged oolong. Tea drunk aside, this oolong is delicious!! I normally am not a huge fan of TGY because they’re too light but this is really really good. I decided to break out the setup and do it gongfu the best I can. I’ve read other tasting notes and it seems that other people are using yixing, but I decided to just use my ol’ reliable “easy gaiwan”.
There’s definitely a lot of roasted notes and nuttiness in this tea. I wouldn’t describe it as light at all. It’s also a little sweet although not overly so. It’s definitely more on the savory side, which I actually appreciate. On the verdant website they describe it as having a “sticky rice” taste and I definitely agree.
I’m following the parameters on verdant’s site of 6 oz of water per 6g of tea (or more like 5g since that’s all my sample was for). Doing 10s infusions + 3sec for each one. I’m on my third infusion and so far each one tastes similar, but I’m curious to see how the tastes evolve. I’ll definitely be seeking out more aged oolongs in the future!
Where to begin with this one? Bai Ji Guan is a classic Wuyi oolong cultivar. Along with Da Hong Pao, Tie Luohan, and Shui Jin Gui, it is one of the Four Famous Bushes. Of the four, it is often believed to be the least popular, at least in the West. Being a big fan of Wuyi oolongs, I jumped at the opportunity to try this one since I had never been able to try this cultivar before.
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 5 seconds. I followed this initial infusion up with 12 additional 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, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves gave off a vegetal scent somewhat reminiscent of a Japanese green tea. Verdant describes it as a matcha-like aroma, and I can see that being at least somewhat accurate. I also picked up the same aromas of hay, sweetgrass, and watercress noted by the folks at Verdant, as well as a slightly herbal scent. After the rinse, the intense vegetal aromas were still present, though I also noted the emergence of subtle roasted nut and mineral aromas. The first infusion produced a notably more balanced aroma that also displayed a hint of citrus. In the mouth, the vegetal notes dominated the entry. The expected touches of hay, sweetgrass, and watercress were there, though there was also something that reminded me a little of radish. Once the vegetal notes calmed, I immediately picked up notes of basil, sage, roasted nuts, and minerals. Subsequent infusions saw the vegetal character mellow, as fruitier qualities began to emerge. Aromas and flavors of honey, mandarin orange, green apple, nectarine, golden raisin, and lime zest presented themselves, creating an interesting contrast with the tea’s more vegetal and savory qualities. Later infusions saw the vegetal character return, though mostly to frame the now suddenly more pronounced aromas and flavors of minerals, sage, roasted nuts, and basil.
Now that I have had some time to process this, I am left with the impression of a busy, complex tea with surprising depth. I found the integration of aromas and flavors to be masterful. Compared to some of the other Wuyi oolongs I have consumed, this almost came across as a hybrid of a green tea and a traditional oolong. Indeed, I found it to display some of the best characteristics of both. Though this is the first Bai Ji Guan I have tried and I have no idea how this one compares to some of the others on the market, I feel that if I was able to enjoy this one as much as I did, then this cultivar and I are going to get along famously. I think I could confidently recommend this tea to those who are fans of both oolongs and green teas and who wouldn’t mind the idea of trying something a little different.
Flavors: Grain, Grass, Green Apple, Hay, Herbs, Honey, Mineral, Orange, Raisins, Roast nuts, Sage, Vegetal
First Saturday off in 6 weeks :). Enjoying this tea and relaxing for a while before tackling the to do list. My 21h/week job starts monday and I therefore know that I’m going to have a lot of time on my hands other days, but I still feel like I should keep my hands busy.
I’ve had this tea 3-4 times now. Always 8oz of 175F water, 3 steeps (about 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min). Buttery and Vegetal- delish. I find when I overleaf I get a bitter taste so I’ve been cautious. Otherwise a really lovely tea. As mentioned, now that I will have more days off for a while I will be enjoying more of these delicious teas :)
Flavors: Butter, Vegetal
Alright, it’s Friday and I want to drink something unique or good. My first thought was some Pubertea, but I don’t feel so happy about some BS shipping on it so I’ll wait till the sour feeling goes away. I went to the stuff I’ve bought and found this 2016 single tree sample I bought for those who helped with the Sheng Olympiad because I didn’t want to have another year of controversial tea; even if the highest end was great. Whatever I write about this please know that Verdant provides great service to me as a customer and I value the teas they bring to the community regardless of claims. I drink for myself and at the end of this session I’ll let you know how I feel.
First thing, 100g is $49.00! That’s a hefty price on a sheng; not to mention 100g cakes are pretty much just an enlarged beenghole. Opened up my 5g sample and saw this was maocha from which makes sense for sample portions and all but I wonder if that changes the taste. Either way, brewing will be much easier. From the looks of the leaf, this has the look of terrible Dacong or some ugly mocha from 4 years ago; like the stuff I bought on Aliexpress once. Not the best first impression, but shou looks like cow patty so who’s to say looks will determine anything. So here go!
Steep one and I can smell the darker notes on this rather than the lighter ones of fruit. I suspect there will be some medicinal taste within some forest elements of damp wood if the smell aligns to the taste.
It was at this very sentence that I decided to stop taking notes. Then it was this sentence that I got back to my computer to let you know that I ate oreos with milk after the 6th steep because my mouth and throat were feeling dry. Also, just so you know, I decided to go back to this sheng after the sugary snack… what am I doing to myself?
So this session lasted roughly three hours by time I was done and only 16 steeps; not sure if I pushed the heck out of this or if it goes that long. The look of this leaf is just pure ugly. I had a huge stick going through my pot the entire time with many stems showing me their side that the sun never saw. Just not appealing looking. The aroma stays constant of wet leaf steam and light mossy bark. There’s no taste of moss, but the medicinal taste is somewhat like what you get when a little aloe for a sunburn gets in your mouth. A little cooling feeling and a little ‘oh that is nasssssssssssssssssssty’ going on.
For me, this tea is 100% void of bitterness which is awesome for a sheng. Admittedly, I’m not sure if this is the same type of material being picked as others due to the look and taste. With no sort of feel at all, other than wanting some oreos, and the look I’m kind of suspicious. The taste never has a sweet side to it and the to the best of my ability I would say this taste like a girl cologne; you know that kind marketed towards a ‘sporty’ man but it smells kind of sweet like whoever is wearing it wants to smell like the candy at the bar around beers. Anyways, I tried this tea and pushed it pretty hard because I had one shot at it. With that said, I wouldn’t want to revisit it within the next year but I am also curious to how easily the cakes break or if they were pressed very loose like the Bill Clinton I have downstairs. I wonder if someone could name a cake Bill Clinton or Snookie… wait, there should be a loosely pressed shou named Snookie.
Verdant has the best roasted oolong period when it comes to the Autumn Laoshan Roasted Oolong and some great black teas for someone who isn’t a black tea drinker, but this is just not my thing. The tea they put out in the spring that was older than the USA was pretty good and had the notes of fruit I enjoy… it’s just this is for a different set of taste buds.
I’m all out of my favorite teas, and finally got the order from Verdant in with some samples :)
This one was the first one up. The dry leaves smell fantastic, chocolaty and toasty. The first brew is full of Honey and rock sugar notes. Its very balanced, nice color, no bitterness or astringency even when brewed strong. Its a nice tea, not overly complicated, I can see myself drinking on daily basis.
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Dates, Honey, Sweet Potatoes
The first time I tried this tea, I didn’t care for it at all. Despite the enchanting cream and honeysuckle aroma, the tea itself was flat, insipid, and utterly lacking in flavor. It tasted muted, like a stale TGY and was more savory than sweet. Mind you, this was following the flash steeping instructions from Verdant.
Luckily I had a second sample because otherwise I might have never bothered with this tea again. This time I brewed it longer with steep times of 50s/40s/50s/60s/90s/2m/3m/5m. The first couple of steeps were bitter, probably because I used boiling water . But from the 3rd steep onwards, I used water just under boiling and that’s when its flavor began to come out: a honey graham cracker savory-sweet flavor with some vanilla and light maple. The aftertaste was syrupy and later steeps became sweeter but lost a bit of the biscuit taste.
This is one of the better Chinese green oolongs I’ve tried. It’s not obnoxiously floral as some of them tend to be and in many ways, actually resembles a Taiwanese Jin Xuan.
Flavors: Cream, Graham Cracker, Maple, Sweet, Vanilla
For the past couple of days, I have been rabidly digging through my sample hoard and polishing off some of the Verdant samples I have accumulated over the past several months. My most recent sipdown was this Jin Jun Mei. Part of Li Xiangxi’s collection, this tea was picked on May 9, 2016. It is one of several Jin Jun Mei variants currently offered as part of this collection. I found it to be an interesting take on the style.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 6 seconds. I followed this infusion up with 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 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, a sniff of the dry tea leaves revealed strong aromas of nuts, ginger, honey, and bready malt. After the rinse, the honey and ginger aromas intensified and were joined by a trace of vanilla bean. The first infusion produced a similar, though slightly more balanced aroma. In the mouth, I easily detected notes of malt, cream, honey, vanilla bean, ginger, and roasted nuts. Subsequent infusions saw the ginger aroma and flavor begin to fade and the nuttiness more fully emerge. At this point, I detected a complex of black walnut, hazelnut, and roasted almond notes. Later infusions were mild, smooth, and somewhat malty. I did not pick up on much of a mineral presence at all, which was more than somewhat surprising considering this is a Wuyi black tea.
I found this to be a nice Jin Jun Mei. I would have liked to see a little stronger of a honey presence and I would have preferred that the somewhat spicy ginger character stuck around longer, but this was still very enjoyable. Compared to some other teas of this type that I have tried, this one was drier, subtler, and more balanced. I could see this going over well with fans of traditional Chinese black teas or those looking for a balanced tea with some depth.
Flavors: Almond, Cream, Ginger, Hazelnut, Honey, Malt, Vanilla, Walnut
Lovely flavor – definitely has hints of chocolate, which I loved. Very smooth, fragrant, full. Followed the directions and steeped 5g at 20 sec., with increases in 10 sec. per steep. Extremely satisfied and content with this tea! Absolutely lovely.
Flavors: Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Flowers
The number of Tieguanyin variants released by Verdant Tea always overwhelms me. This is at least the eighth I have tried this year and I know I have at least five others tucked away in one of my tea cabinets. This specific version is the spring 2016 Tieguanyin finished with a traditional roast. Compared to the fall version, I found this one to be lighter, more vegetal, and a little less woody.
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. I followed this initial infusion up with 11 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 14 seconds, 16 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 noted that the dry tea leaves gave off mild woody, spicy aromas. There were also touches of flowers and grain. After the rinse, I noted more distinct aromas of wood, cream, grain, lychee, violet, gardenia, lilac, and honeysuckle. The first infusion produced a similar, albeit slightly more floral aroma with a touch of jasmine. In the mouth, the floral notes were thin, but fairly distinct. I also noted touches of wood, cinnamon, honey, lychee, cream, barley, grass, and some kind of vegetable. Verdant’s tasting note described it as jicama, but I did not quite agree with that. Subsequent infusions saw the perfumey floral aromas and flavors swell. The fruit and honey presences were somewhat more amplified. I noted the emergence of white grape and aloe at this point. Later infusions were mild and smooth, featuring very little of the mineral presence I get from many oolongs. There was still a touch of fresh flowers and fruit on the nose and in the mouth, though the tea turned decidedly grassier and more vegetal at this point. When I focused, I could still just barely detect traces of barley, white grape, lychee, and cream.
This was a nice, though very mild and subtle Tieguanyin. It was not quite as flavorful as the Traditional Tieguanyin Verdant offered last fall, but there was still nice depth and complexity on the nose and in the mouth. While I was not wowed by the green Spring Tieguanyin, feeling that the floral presence was overwhelming and the body was too light, this was a surprisingly delightful upgrade. I would recommend this tea highly to anyone looking for a respectable traditional take on this cultivar.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Cream, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Honey, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Lychee, Mineral, Roasted Barley, Violet, White Grapes, Wood
Flavors: Cinnamon, Hay, Melon, Mint, Spicy
At first I thought that the language was a little flowery for this shou’s writeup, but the more steeps I get through, the more I notice that it does taste a bit like pastry and barley.
It starts out dark and woody, with hints of chocolate. As it steeps out, it has a nice, savory breadiness to it. It’s very cozy and warming.
I never did get the vanilla and other things they described in their writeup, but regardless, this tea was a nice way to start the morning.
The autumn version of this tea is delicious. Similar to regular laoshan green but nuttier and with fruity overtones. The nuttiness reminds me of oats and basmati rice. Sometimes I get a little chestnut or toasted rice type of flavor too. The liquor is a pale green color and has a green bean like taste. The mouthfeel is thick, buttery, and sweet. Steeped at lower temps, around <175 F, it’s sweet and fruity. Higher temps produce a more savory flavor profile.
A fine green tea typical of the Laoshan style though not as complex nor full flavored as the spring reserve bilochun was.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Green Beans
As I’m pulling out Christmas decorations, I’m sipping down some of my oolong samples from my tea friend.
This tea is also dark and a little toasty, which is a nice warming flavor for a winter night. There’s a light floral flavor that, when combined with the roast, kind of tastes like roasted flowers. It works.
What I didn’t care for in this tea was the fruit element. The site says it’s lychee. I wouldn’t know, having never tried lychee. To me it’s that wild kind of funk that is translated by my brain as chemical. It’s tolerable, but not my favorite flavor.
I got a sample of this from a tea friend. That being said, this is not a tea I would have picked out for myself.
The roast and the dark flavors of the tea remind me of a really dark, heavy cereal of some kind, like a brown bread crossed with an oatmeal. Perhaps it’s the cold weather getting to me.
Then there’s another flavor on top of that. I had to look at the tasting notes to get an idea of what I could call it. Rye? Caraway? Something seedy and a little bitter tasting. A kind of odd funk that I can’t quite put a name to. I’m not much of a fan.
There isn’t a touch of astringency for me though, which is nice. It’s a pretty decent, warming tea.
From the Autumn 2015 stock…
I steeped this at 190 degrees with 5 grams of tea. The taste was very typical oolong, but very very good. The flavor was very buttery, full, and sweet. Strong taste of honey. Very smooth without a bit of astringency. I would highly recommend for any oolong lover.
Flavors: Butter, Honey
I’m going to be that guy. I bought this tea knowing it was smoked. But I also bought a bit more than I normally might because the top note was described as chocolate. I thought, “Hey! A chocolate-y, smokey tea? I’m in!”
I opened this tea up and it smelled delightfully smokey in that it was faint. Like you came across a camp that someone abandoned a few days earlier and there is still a faint whisp of wood smoke in the air. I brewed it up promptly.
The smell of the liquid also carried that faint campfire scent. So far, so good. But when I took a sip, expecting to be hit with a smoked chocolate flavor, I was a bit let down. The smoke was there, though not overpowering, but the chocolate note was not to be found. There is a bit of cinnamon on the back end. I’m on my third gongfu steep and while this tea is nice, I don’t feel it is quite as advertised.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Pine, Smoke
From the look of the leaf to the aroma it produced in the open air around it, this is one wonderful tea.
I use about 6g per 100ml which is heavy or me, but there is just something about the rich mineral content that comes through this fireroastedmaddess that I call a warming cup of tea.
Out of most 2016 productions this may be one of the top 10 because 2016 and oolong variations did not get along; and I will also chime in and say the 2016 Japanese green season wasn’t all that great either, but I only tried 12 variations and over 30 oolongs from China and Taiwan so maybe I’m not a good picking man anymore.
Was my side comment longer than my actual tasting note?