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Recent Tasting Notes
Yeah…this one just tastes roasty to me. I don’t understand…it’s like whenever I try aged oolongs, they just end up roasted. And everyone’s tasting notes are seem to have all the flavors in them. How do I not get any of those teas? XD
I have no idea…Oh well…Maybe they are just not for me.
Thanks for the sample, Darby!
My first adventure with cocoa flavored tea, odd a first but had me thinking about it all day and craving more half way through the week. Robust flavor with the perfect balance of toasted rice and cocoa flavors, like drinking a cocoa coated rice ball. A blend that really sticks on the roof of your mouth and is perfect for that late night snack.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Toasted, Toasted Rice
I gave the first cup of this to a friend at work and am now enjoying the second steep myself. It’s light in body but that is probably to be expected as it’s the second cup. Since I’m so unfamiliar with cistus oil, I did a little reading to find out just what it is. I won’t go into all the details here, but it seems to have quite a few beneficial properties. For anyone who is interested, here is one website that seemed to have some good information about it.
I have to admit, I became a little afraid of this one when I first opened the pouch. The aroma is so strong and pungent and absolutely unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I’m not even sure I know how to describe it. Verdant’s description compares this to an Earl Grey, but I’m not getting that at all. My only guess is that this scent belongs to the Cistus oil, a product that I am entirely unfamiliar with. So I’ve held this one back to try as my last sample from Verdant’s January blends box.
I must say that the tea itself is beautiful – there are long, dark, twisted pieces filling up the bag and pops of pink from the rose petals mixed in. The fragrance tones itself down upon steeping and the tea becomes a very pleasant and warming cup of flavorful black tea. I can’t say that I taste the rose or rooibos here, but I can still smell what I believe to be the Cistus oil. It is faint and serves to add another dimension to the already remarkable black tea base. This might be my favorite out of the whole box, which surprises me since it’s the one I was must uncertain about.
And then today, I was intrigued to try my other Verdant sample. I have a box of DHP from my boss at the clinic, and I know that (like most roasted oolongs) it’s not my usual preference. They’re growing on me, certainly, and I think I’m getting better at identifying the more nuanced flavours, but I’d still always rather have a green oolong.
That said, on my second most recent visit to the clinic, the only oolong I had access to was the same style of DHP that he gave me. I made myself some up and, though it still probably wasn’t my tea of choice, it was good and it made me curious about the one from Verdant.
So, today, I finally conceded to that curiosity and gave it a go. I used my lovely Yixing Gaiwan (the inside is glazed, though) from Butiki and used half of the Verdant sample sachet – that felt about right as this particular DHP (as the photo shows) is quite loose and the Gaiwan was around 1/3 full by that point. I’d guess it had a limit of no more than 120 ml, but 100 ml was probably all I used.
Anyway, after doing all of the prerequisite heating of Gaiwan, pitcher and cups, I gave the tea a rinse and left it to sit for a minute or two whilst my Mum helped me do some interview prep. Then, during the course of the various practice questions we drilled, I started to make and drink this tea.
The first infusion must have been for no more than 10 seconds. And that was certainly enough for me!! The infusion was caramel coloured and certainly very tasty – and, if I’m honest, much nicer than the other DHP I made. I think that was massively aided by brewing method and more exact quantities of everything, though. This tea was smooth, roasty and definitely had those “classic” caramel/dark-toffee notes. And to Verdant’s credit, I actually do get the tingly-metal-and-mineral note that they try to describe. I didn’t read their blurb for this tea, beforehand (just the Brewing guidance), as I feel it usually biases me, but on retrospective reading, I could definitely get that idea!
Later infusions were longer and milder. The caramel flavour did build up over the first few steeps, though, as the roastiness subsided. It was definitely a smoother drink and all of the infusions were quite sweet, which I did enjoy and appreciate.
I’m still not 100% sure dark-roasted oolongs are for me. I know that this is the classic way to prepare most fine oolongs and it’s the most traditional, etc, but I’m just so enamoured by the greener ones that I’m becoming biased against anything else :P For those who like DHPs, this one seemed like a really good quality product. I certainly couldn’t offer any objective fault. The leaves looked really lovely in my Gaiwan – full, beautiful leaves. They had a really charming mix of dark-purple and dark-green, too.
So yeah… Roasty oolong lovers – give it a go!
(PS: I’m also finally confident enough about the number of such oolongs I’ve tried that I’m gonna offer a score for this. It did seem like a really high quality product and I could see no real reason to not offer it a pretty high, within my usual parameters. I may revise it, as I gain more experience, but it certainly seems fair for now!)
Flavors: Caramel, Metallic, Mineral
So after trying a really strong green from the Canton Tea Co. that just wasn’t for me (I mean – it was so vegetal. It was like pure asparagus. Sooooo strong), I’ve kept away from straight, Chinese greens for quite a while. I haven’t fancied them and I haven’t really wanted to try them.
But I had a sachet of this sitting in my room, from when I made my first Verdant order in… October or November. After my recent run of wonderful experiences with green oolongs (particularly Verdant’s exceptional Tieguanyin), I had a bit of a craving for something else green and thought I’d give this one a whirl. The reviews on here seemed to fall either into the category that tried it the “Dragonwell style” (or the variant of Grandpa style – or, as my boss at the clinic says, the “usual style” for green tea) or who tried lots of short steeps.
Given the Verdant sample sachet containing ~4 or 5 g, I think I’d just do lots of short steeps of this tea, as is my general preference for non-black teas. I emptied the whole 5 g into a glass pot that takes, at the absolute limit, 200 ml water. Using water that was as close to 175 degrees F as you can get from estimation, I got started!
My first steep was literally a matter of seconds. With that much leaf, in such little water, I knew it would pack a punch. So I poured on the water quickly and carefully, transported my pot into the sitting room, and then poured it all off. Tbh, even this may have been a little too long – the resulting brew was certainly flavoursome! It was sooooo vegetal. But, y’know, it fit what I was craving. As I poured from my pitcher into my cups, let it cool, and drank it down, it really hit the spot. Buttery, sweet vegetables with a lovely floral note.
I tried to be a little faster with the second infusion and I probably managed it – the resultant drink was refreshing and light, but still packing those delicious vegetal and floral notes. Really good stuff!
I must have done a further 4 or 5 pot fulls, before I finished, throughout the course of the day. As they progressed, I slowly increased the steeping time (and drastically increased it for the final one). The tea was always tasty, refreshing and light. Each successive infusion grew sweeter and lighter, with the floral notes becoming more dominant.
I’m still not sure I’d want to choose a “normal” green over a green oolong, atm, but I know I enjoyed this more than I probably would have done two or three months ago. And I’m 100% certain that my boss in the clinic will love this tea. As soon as the first 2015 harvest becomes available, I’ll be ordering some as a gift for him and his family!
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Vegetal
My first tea on this overcast January morning. With the weather as it is, I fully expect to have more than one cup today.
This tea came to me as part of Verdant’s January blends box. There is plenty of fennel in the mix as well as a little mint and some rooibos. The scent is mostly mint, but I’m also catching a glimpse of the sarsaparilla.
It amazes me that after only thirty seconds of steeping this tea has such a rich color. I guess I’m used to steeping dark teas for several minutes to achieve that kind of richness and flavor. Perhaps this is due to the high quality of the tea? Whatever it is, I’m impressed. The flavor is mint, though I wouldn’t call this a mint tea. It’s barely there, kind of hanging out on the edge of the cup. I’m also not tasting any of the fennel or the sarsaparilla here. It actually feels a bit one-dimensional. This is a very straightforward and uncomplicated tea, light-bodied but certainly not lacking in flavor.
Flavors: Mint, Sarsaparilla
This one is a really interesting one! It comes courtesy of the SSTTB #2. I have kind of been holding off on trying this one, because of the name…Summer Blend….and it’s winter. But I guess it was calling to me, so I made some today to take with me on my walk to get some acupuncture.
I did add milk and sugar to this because I was not sure whether it would need it or not, and I had to leave then, or be late, and it was too hot at that point to tell whether it was needed. I think it was fine with the milk, but probably would have been fine without it. I did make a second cup once I got home, and attempted to omit the milk, but it was too hot and I was impatient, so I added some to cool it down and I regret it, because this steep is less rich than the first. The first though, was malty and chocolatey, with some nice sweet notes…someone had said vanilla and caramel notes, and I could go with that.
I think that this tea will be a nice summer breakfast tea, and I am curious to see how it will cold steep in warmer weather. I’m not sure if I will drink this much in the colder weather, as much, because I think I will want to try it again once spring nears.
This tea is a treat. Drink this by itself.
I put on some perpetual groove from 2012 and sat down for a session.
The dry leaf smells amazing. Cocoa. Toffee. It seriously smells like brownie mix. So sweet.
Wet leaf changes to a more roasty bark smell. With some coffee type notes.
Dry leaf is rolled and opens up quite a bit. Single leaf. No stems.
The liquor is amazing. I’m picking up all the smells of the dry and wet leaf combined. Slight astringency. Not much at all. I’m flash brewing in a gaiwan btw.
The liquor is a wonderful dark caramel color. Smells sweet and roasty. Wet leaf is dark dark brown. Dark as a shou puerh. I’m tasting earth, bark, toffee, cocoa, and something I can’t place and it’s driving me crazy. Almost like roasted macadamia nut.
I’ll keep going on this and save this tea for special occasions.
This is my second time to try this blend. I see cloves and peppercorns in this cup so I’m hoping it’s a little spicy. I can smell the spices, but it’s also smelling a little sweet. I’m always worried about teas with sarsaparilla because I’m afraid it’s going to taste like hot root beer, but that hasn’t been my experience with this tea so far.
The aroma as it’s steeping is almost entirely rooibos. Sweetened with honey, it tastes very slightly spiced – not enough to determine which spice I’m actually tasting. It’s mostly rooibos which is what I experienced the first time around. I used too much water I think so next time I’ll try less and see if that strengthens the flavors. I’m thinking this might be better cold, maybe made like a southern iced tea with sugar.
8 ounces water + 200 degrees + 4 minutes
I’m attempting to re-steep this though I’m nut sure if you are actually supposed to re-steep rooibos. I noticed that the liquid started to color very quickly within the first few seconds, but it didn’t get much darker after that. The liquid does smell spicier this time, like cinnamon. I can taste the cinnamon now too. It still tastes watered down (since I forgot to use less water), but the spices are more prominent this time.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Rooibos, Spices, Sweet
This blend is my first to sample of the three teas that arrived today in Verdant’s January blends box.
Upon opening the pouch, I notice first that the tea smells spiced. There is also a scent there that I can’t recognize. It reminds me of the soaps and essential oils section at my local health food store. Perhaps it’s the neroli? I’m not familiar with it so I cannot say for sure. I can see cloves, cacao nibs, and a small amount of rooibos. The rooibos definitely comes out while steeping and makes the tea smell almost sweet. I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed that I can’t taste any of the spices. It really just tastes like a straight rooibos tea to me, though it certainly is a good rooibos.
Flavors: Rooibos, Spices, Sweet
I decided I’d give this tea a trial by fire. So I steeped 100 ml for 6 minutes at 95 C. The taste? Wonderful. The negative, the tea states that it is a genmaicha but I do not get any of the traditional genmaicha notes, other than a generic’roasted’ taste. But that is not a bad thing at all. There is a beer like maltiness to this tea, almost like a strong ale. The dark chocolate notes dominate and meld beautifully with the roasty malty flavours. This is a triumph of a tea. I really enjoy it steeped for this amount of time, even though Verdant tea recommends 4 oz for 30 seconds …
So in closing. Roasted beer flavoured chocolate tea … when steeped for 6 minutes with 100 ml of water.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Chocolate, Malt, Roasted
This was a free sample with my latest order, which I think was back in October. The brewed tea aroma is heavenly! It smells like warm monkey bread fresh from the oven. Mmmm! The flavor is very similar to the aroma. I taste cinnamon and bread, vanilla and cream, and some other wonderful mixture of complementing flavors. This is so delicious!
Even though cinnamon bread is the predominant flavor I keep coming back to, this doesn’t strike me as a heavily cinnamon spiced tea. It truly blends with the other ingredients to make a whole new taste. The slower you drink it, the easier it is to identify the other flavors. I also detect a hint of something citrus-y in the aftertaste. Mmm, but I’m enjoying this so much it’s kind of hard to drink it slowly. I keep gulping it down, haha!
I don’t know why, but I was kind of put off by the name. I expected smoke and strong, harsh flavors. This is delicately balanced and very nuanced. It’s soft and potent at the same time. I really really love this! I think I may have to place an order…I know, I know! I’m really not supposed to! But this is too good to be true. I am so in love. It loses just one point for the name; I’d rename this blend “Monkey Bread.” It tastes exactly like the monkey bread my mother-in-law makes except in tea form. Yum!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Citrusy, Cream, Vanilla
Bit of a backlog.
Think of George Takei saying, “Oh myyyyyy!” and you’ll have a good idea of how I feel about this tea. It is VERY good. I’ve never had it before, yet it tastes very familiar (perhaps because it’s reminding me of Yu Lu Yan Cha?)
The dry leaves are beautiful. They are so long and twisted, black with gold woven into them. Just looking at them looks delicious.
I didn’t take enough notes to post a super-detailed review, but the tea has a warm, dark, sweet potato/yam/etc. essence with hints of something desserty, possibly cacao. But there’s just a little bit of spunk. I don’t know what it is. It’s not spice, it’s not astringency, it’s just… spunk. It’s exactly the right amount of accessible, exactly the right amount of complex, exactly the right amount of comforting, exactly the right amount of interesting.
After I lambasted Verdant’s Laoshan Green in a tasting note a long while back (to which Lily Duckler responded in the most gracious and professional manner possible), I’ve been looking for things to appreciate about their teas, and I’m truly impressed with how many times they just knock it out of the park. This is one of those times.
I’m enjoying a rare quiet afternoon, several students have cancelled today, for various reasons (mostly probably because they didn’t practice over the break, & don’t feel like going out in the cold). So I’m cuddled up at my desk with this tea, & I’m loving it. It’s rich & thick, with a deep quality to it, a depth whose essence makes me think of the deep color of mahogany, or the sound quality of a bassoon. It’s not really something I can put into words, but it is much much more than taste, or even texture. It’s a beautiful thing :)
Hmm. So this was not quite as good as I had envisioned, though it was definitely still tasty. I guess I was expecting something with a more aged than roasty profile (or, a more strongly roasty profile), and this is more of a combination. Which I suppose the name indicates, but whatever :P Anyhow, the roastiness here is reasonably gentle, at least in comparison to a few teas I’ve had, and the oolong flavour is good, but a bit mild. I did have problems with astringency in my first cup, but I think I overleafed. I usually use a 3/4 tsp and measure out two per cup, but I grabbed the 1 tsp measure at my parents’ place, and neglected to remember the difference. Whoops. Oh well, lots of tea to try again :)
Note – this was originally posted in the wrong spot. Verdant had another version of a cornfields shou in a bird nest shape. I deleted that and moved it here, to the correct place.
I’m a little bummed. All the reviews on this are amazeballs, but I really didn’t care for it. I don’t know that I got the same thing as previous stock. The pic shows little bird nests, but mine are a flat disc and the wrapper is different. The little discs were very tightly compacted and had a pretty heavy fermentation flavor.
I did a rinse and rest to let the cake expand, and I used very short steeps. Oh well. You win some, you lose some.