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Before I start this review, allow me to state that I was not familiar with this style of tea prior to trying this version. I knew that this was a black tea harvested from the same tea varietal used to make Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, a.k.a. lapsang souchong. That was about the extent of my knowledge pertaining to this particular tea. Apparently, there are two major distinctions between this tea and lapsang souchong. The first is that this tea is produced from the young buds and smaller leaves of the plant, while the more familiar lapsang is normally made using the larger leaves. The second is that this tea is not pine smoked.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. Again, I used Verdant’s suggestions as a starting point and then went with my gut. I started by steeping 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 5 seconds. I followed this infusion with 11 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 8 seconds, 11 seconds, 14 seconds, 17 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 30 seconds, and 2 minutes.
Prior to infusion, the dry tea leaves gave off a wonderful aroma that reminded me of a combination of cocoa, brown sugar, and vanilla bean. After infusion, I noted strong scents of roasted grain, cocoa, brown sugar, cream, and vanilla bean. In the mouth, there were pleasantly robust notes of cocoa, brown sugar, cream, vanilla bean, and roasted grain. I also noted a trace of minerals that was most apparent on the finish. Subsequent infusions displayed a slightly enhanced minerality, while black walnut, hazelnut, and maple syrup joined the aromas and flavors detailed above. The final series of infusions was very mineral heavy, offering fleeting impressions of cream, vanilla, maple, and cocoa on the nose and in the mouth.
This was a nice black tea. It kind of reminded me of a less honeyed Jin Jun Mei. I did, however, wish that the flavors separated slightly more and that they displayed greater staying power. Still, I could see myself reaching for this if I were in the mood for a lighter, sweeter black tea. I could also see myself recommending this to people looking to branch out from some of the more common Chinese black teas.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Cocoa, Cream, Grain, Hazelnut, Maple Syrup, Mineral, Vanilla, Walnut
Continuing my mission to plow through more unflavored teas, I came to this green tea from Shandong Province. A product of the He family in Laoshan Village, this is one of the more unique green teas that they produce. Knowing that I had yet to have a tea from the He family that I found to be bad, I figured I would enjoy this one. I was right.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. Rather than following Verdant’s guidelines, I used them as a starting point and then just let the tea tell me where to go from there. I started with 5 grams of loose tea leaves and steeped them in 4 ounces of 175 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 11 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 13 seconds, 17 seconds, 21 seconds, 25 seconds, 35 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
The dry leaves had a wonderfully vegetal, grassy aroma. It was like a combination of soybean, snap peas, kale, lettuce, spinach, and freshly cut grass. After infusion, the grassy, vegetal aroma intensified and was joined by a subtle hint of spice. In the mouth, I picked up strong notes of soybean, lettuce, snap peas, kale, spinach, butter, cream, grass, vanilla, and minerals. Subsequent infusions saw the vegetal notes increase in strength and the minerality play a slightly larger role on the finish. The later infusions were increasingly mild, creamy, and buttery, offering delicate notes of lettuce, butter, vanilla, cream, and minerals with faint traces of soybean, spinach, and snap pea in the background.
I was greatly impressed with this green tea. I found its strength and complexity very appealing. I am always on the lookout for savory, vegetal Chinese green teas and this one is definitely that type of tea. I would recommend it highly to those who enjoy more vegetal green teas.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Grass, Kale, Lettuce, Mineral, Peas, Soybean, Spinach, Vanilla
I don’t know if any of you purchased this one for the new spring 2016 harvest when verdant was doing their preorders, but this one took a bit longer than they expected for verdant to get it, so they replaced it in my order with a black buds jjm, and then refunded my purchase of this and on top of that, they sent me this along with an extra 5g sample once they’d received it, and on top of that, they gave me $5 of tea cash! I wasn’t even really upset that the order was taking a bit longer. I really appreciate Verdant tea right now. I kinda think they lost money from that purchase of mine because I’d had $10 of teacash and .. Well anyways. They’re good people. (they also sent me 2×15g packages of this tea instead of the 25g I originally ordered.)
okay so the dry leaf is a lot of fresh cherries and earthy cocoa, a bit of wood. It looks black and twisty but they’re smaller than average twisted leaves
The wet leaf is like a laoshan black but more milk chocolatey and less of that sort of medicinality..
It has this intense creaminess, lots of chocolate, it tastes like hot chocolate on the way down, but then the aroma is a lovely, fruity, cooked apple and peach, god this is my kinda tea, the same milkiness as the zheng shan xiao zhong from li xiangxi, only with an aroma that I’m much more fond of personally, it is missing a lot of complexity, there’s maybe 2 or 3 notes that you can really find, milk, cocoa, cooked apples, I don’t know what else. Maybe a bit of a breadiness?
Okay this is an increadible hot-chocolate tasting lovely desserty tea, but it’s not keeping me interested too much, it’s not shifting between steeps, and the flavours are a bit muddied, and hard to distinguish, I get some barley later into the session, and a rocky astringency that’s quite nice and pretty consistent.
This is something I would keep around all of the time cause like.. damn but it’s kinda like a muddy version of my Ming Jian. It’s a decently affordable daily desserty tea.
Before sitting down to write this review, I found myself wondering “whatever happened to the Xingyang Collective?” When Verdant Tea first started offering products from this enigmatic team of teamakers in November 2015, their work seemed to catch on quickly with fans of Verdant’s offerings. Then all of a sudden, it seemed like all of their products went out of stock. For a short while, it even seemed like there was no active listing for Xingyang on Verdant’s website. It was strange to me that all of their products were out of stock. I really liked several of the Xingyang offerings, and I was a little dismayed at the thought of not being able to procure them again. Fortunately, it appears that I was worried over nothing. Verdant’s listing for Xingyang is once again active and it looks like they have a few products in stock. I’m guessing that’s a good sign. Hopefully more will follow. If they bring this green tea back, I’m snagging as much of it as I can.
I didn’t have much of this tea with which to start. I only had a 5 gram sample packet left in the cupboard, and since I had yet to post a review for this tea, I used that for this session. I prepared this tea gongfu style. Note that I am not really comfortable gongfuing green tea, but I still wanted to give it a shot. I started with a 10 second steep in 4 ounces of 175 F water. I followed this initial infusion with 9 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 20 seconds, 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 3 minutes, and 4 minutes. Obviously, I could have timed these better. That would have allowed me to stretch out this session a little more, but the results I obtained from the method detailed above were still very pleasing to me.
I did not get much of an aroma from the dry tea leaves. All I got was a kind of mildly grassy, vegetal scent. Truthfully, the first infusion wasn’t much better in terms of aroma. I got a more pronounced grassiness, but that was about it. In the mouth, there were mild notes of grass, hay, straw, oats, cream, malt, and green beans. The next 4 infusions were a different story. The vegetal, grassy aroma was more focused and pronounced. I could now pick up on malt and oatmeal scents, as well as a strong aroma of citrus. In the mouth, the grass, hay, straw, green bean, oat, malt, and cream notes were joined by a strong flavor of tangerine and a hint of lime zest. At this point, I noticed that Verdant’s tasting note for this tea was very accurate, though I was not picking up any hints of basil. The next couple of infusions added a pronounced chestnut aroma and flavor. I thought I detected a hint of hazelnut as well. The final infusions were mostly nutty, grassy, and malty with undertones of cream and citrus as well as a hint of minerals. I also detected a trace of corn husk in the aroma and flavor at this point.
This was nice. For some reason, I did not go into this session with high expectations, but ended up very pleased with my experience with this tea. I found it to be very unique, but also very approachable. The unexpected citrus aromas and flavors were great. I do not usually expect such a pronounced fruity quality from a green tea. I also loved how this tea added new aromas and flavors over the course of the session before mellowing and fading. It had a pleasant depth, but also did not overstay its welcome. Honestly, I would recommend this tea to anyone looking for an everyday green tea with a unique, unexpected mix of aromas and flavors.
Flavors: Chestnut, Citrus, Corn Husk, Cream, Grass, Green Beans, Hay, Hazelnut, Lime, Malt, Mineral, Oats, Straw
Drank this during the late night Google Hangouts at 9pm on Monday.
This is not the kind of Dancong I was wanting : (
But, anyways; This tea strikes me as a dry liquor sort of tea in the way that it’s got this hint of rye or some sort of dry wheat to the taste that makes it unique but also for a certain type of drinker. The liquid comes out a bit darker than would be expected, but it’s the taste I’m after. Solid resteeping value here as you can pick up on the more cologne notes rather than the perfume ones being of floral notes. I find myself thinking of a refined leather while drinking this. While it is my personal preference here, it might be possible that those who like higher roasted, dryer, and more astringent teas might find the subtle notes that I’m unable to pick up because of my sensitive tongue.
Okay I admit I didn’t actually know that this was smoked tea when I purchased it, I wouldn’t have done so if i had known. I mean I should’ve known but anyway, it’s fine I actually really enjoyed this.
The dry leaf smells like .. (drumroll please) pine smoke. maybe with a slight.. vanilla
After the rinse I get an aroma that’s more complex, pine smoke that’s sort of beneath more savoury notes, sort of a salty dark chocolate, and cinnamon, and almonds, there’s notions of greens and florals behind it all but nothing that’s identifiable
Most of the smokiness is contained in the aroma, the taste is much more of a salty milk chocolate, cherries, a sort of dusty feeling, there’s a distinct creaminess, but the moment I breathe out after the sip, everything is replaced with a sweet pine smokey aroma, it’s so thick, and it actually tastes milky.
The second steep yields a much more diluted aroma, far less smoke and I get a varied aroma, quite similar to the taste of the first steep, and the taste has more vanilla, and some earthiness and honey-sweetness. It really tastes and feels like warm milk.. I’ve never experienced tea with such a true milkiness.
Also, the tea brews up a beautiful vibrant orange-yellow, pics:
More chocolate in the third, the strong smokiness mostly (never completely) goes away pretty quickly and then it’s like drinking some weak hot chocolate with some really lovely pine wood and smoke. Not too complex anymore but it is gooooooood. seriously I have never enjoyed a smoke lapsang souchong before but man, Li Xiangxi knows what’s up.
Oh I forgot to mention, the dryness it leaves is specifically on the tongue which is the exact same thing warm milk does to me, which is a large part of the reason for the warm milk effect. I had this in the morning last time, and that was a mistake, this is definitely a late night sort of tea.
I guess I have to try .. all of Li Xiangxi’s teas now. These people have me thoroughly enjoying a smoked black tea, who knows what else is possible!
The famous Zhu Rong! I’m excited to add my say to this much loved tea,
Dry leaf aroma of.. lots of spices, flowers and fruit but they’re so jumbled I don’t know where to begin.. Although it does definitely remind me of vitamins that had when I was a kid.
I’ve kinda been only drinking red teas for the past few weeks, it’s all I ever seem to want.
Dry leaf is beautiful, twisty, big whole leaf mixture of maybe 70/30 black/gold leaves:
In the warmed gaiwan, I get a very distinctly s’mores aroma, with caramel and vanilla and it’s just like every dessert ever, with some very nice subtle florals.
From the rinse, I get a very burnt chocolate aroma, maybe some toast or graham crackers, some vanilla.
It’s a very strange tasting tea. Definitely graham crackers, and whipped cream, a sort of blueberry or strawberry tartness, dark chocolate, it has a crackery texture. It has a bit of a purple tea taste to it, that thick blueberry-ness. The aroma is much darker and more burnt than the taste.
It’s more strawberry in the second steep, it’s very thick and coats the roof of the mouth, tongue and throat. leaves a syrupy feeling in the throat,
Sour peach entering in the third, even thicker and more syrupy, a salty lime flavour, still with the strawberry and blueberries, but much less, if any, of the chocolate and graham cracker, that was a dramatic change over 2 steeps, it lost somr of the berries and gained a more floral prominence, even some grassiness and a bit of cream, there’s really fruits that I can’t place in this.
The fifth is more grassy, thinner, berries, its got a sour patch kids thing going on, but it’s darkened, like a dark roast oolong, with a thick astringency and a bitterness of a low quality pu’erh.
6: even more of that dark, roasty .. darkness, maybe some raspberry, sourness, loses most of its complexity after that, I normally don’t write about every individual steep but it kept shifting so much, (which I love that it does), it fades to a bitter, dry, woody black hinting at berries and florals and chocolate, but it’s grown thin and it’s not very satisfying past steep 8 or 9. This is really tasty, really quite unique, I really really like this. I think this is the Spring 2016 harvest
Oh dear this is incredibly darkly roasted. I’ve not yet enjoyed a once-green oolong that’s anywhere near this darkly roasted
Alright it’s not that bad, it’s chocolatey and roasty and uh slightly reminiscent of dancong actually, a familiar kinda of fruitiness, like lychee, there’s a minty cooling feeling as well, along with some plum, and apricot
Why am I loving this?
This is so weird because like 2 months ago, around the time I made this verdant pre-order, (This was included as the free sample) I was really into green oolong, which I ordered some of, but I only seem to like darker teas now. That was a really sudden change.. I should’ve drank my dayulin more often.
There’s some blueberry notes.. I think. It’s sort of a hard to place berry note, this has such a nice cooling sensation, and some very nice astringency. Oh there’s some lemoniness .. lemony… lemon notes. It sorta weakened like 4 steeps in and I can’t get the strength back, it’s growing more earthy and minty and delicate.
That was suprisingly enjoyable. Who am I?
I remember doing several gongfu sessions with this tea back in July or thereabouts, but apparently never posted a tasting note/review. I was unable to find drafts of my session notes, but did discover a numerical rating of 82 that I had scrawled in a notebook. I recall this tea displaying pleasant cream, osmanthus, jasmine, and citrus aromas and flavors with hints of leaf vegetables and minerals in the later infusions. I tend to not be a huge fan of Huang Jin Gui, as I tend to find it pleasant, yet somewhat two-dimensional, but I apparently rather liked this one.
P.S. I finally managed to write a short tasting note. Aren’t you all proud of me?
Flavors: Citrus, Cream, Jasmine, Mineral, Osmanthus, Vegetables
It’s time to start cleaning out the backlog again. The sipdown of this tea came last night. I was a bit jittery due to an upcoming outing with my vocational rehabilitation clients and was having a lot of trouble getting settled for the evening. Naturally, I decided to add more caffeine to the fire. Even when I’m jittery, a nice gongfu session always seems to do the trick, and I end up out like a light when I should probably be bouncing off the walls and/or babbling incoherently in a corner somewhere. It took me awhile, but I finally fell asleep and woke up as ready to face the day as could possibly be expected given the circumstances.
My rambling should have made it obvious that I prepared this tea gongfu style. I followed Verdant’s guidelines for this one. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 4 seconds. I followed this initial infusion with 10 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 13 seconds, 16 seconds, 19 seconds, 22 seconds, 25 seconds, 28 seconds, 31 seconds, and 34 seconds. I probably could have gotten at least one or two more infusions out of this, but stopped where I did because it was late and I needed to get some sleep.
Prior to the rinse, the dry leaves gave off a mild smoky scent with hints of spice and chocolate. After the rinse, I noted strong aromas of chocolate, cinnamon, pine needles, and smoke. The first infusion produced a similarly intense nose. In the mouth, there were distinct impressions of chocolate, cinnamon, pine, smoke, and sage. There was also a slight sweetness left on the back of the throat. Subsequent infusions were similarly spicy, smoky, and savory, though they were also incredibly balanced. I noted the emergence of toast, honey, elderberry, and malt notes underneath the dominant flavors of sage, pine, smoke, and chocolate. Boy, Verdant’s taste profile was more or less dead on with this one. The later infusions were mild and smooth, though traces of chocolate, pine, toast, smoke, and cinnamon were still evident. There was also the expected Wuyi minerality that became more pronounced on these final infusions.
I’ve had nearly a full day to process my thoughts on this tea, and to be honest, I am glad I did not try to post this review last night. Immediately after finishing the session, I was a bit disappointed that this lapsang was not smokier. I was also a little disappointed that the flavors faded a little sooner than I would have preferred (I was kind of nitpicking though-I did manage to get eleven infusions out of 5 grams of this tea, and at least 7-8 of them were very good). In retrospect, however, this was a very sophisticated, balanced lapsang souchong that did not resort to over-the-top and/or artificial smokiness.
Flavors: Chocolate, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Pine, Sage, Smoke, Toast
Okay, I am going to try to keep this one short. Knowing me, I will probably fail. I have been working on a small sample bag of this tea for the past two days and should finish it by tomorrow. Since I find writing about yabao difficult, I’m just going to record my first impressions as clearly and succinctly as possible in this review.
I brewed this one gongfu style. I followed Verdant’s gongfu guidelines closely this time around. Following the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose buds in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 10 seconds. I performed eleven additional infusions, increasing the steep time by 10 seconds per infusion. So, steep times on the additional infusions ranged from 20 seconds to 2 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry buds gave off a subtle aroma that reminded me of spices and herbs. After the rinse, I noted a combination of spices, herbs, pine, juniper, cedar, and citrus on the nose, but I was not particularly able to pick out clear impressions. In the mouth, I noted a blend of straw, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, pine, juniper berry, cedar, eucalyptus, clove, and lemon on the early infusions. The middle infusions were sweeter and fruitier. I began to note impressions of peach, apricot, yellow plum, oatmeal, and marshmallow beneath the woody, spicy, and herbal sensations. Later infusions continued to emphasize sweeter aromas and flavors, though I could still detect impressions of oatmeal, straw, pine, cedar, lemon, and juniper lurking in the background. I also noted a subtle minerality on these infusions, though it was not particularly distracting.
Well, now that I have completely failed at writing a short review, allow me to state that I found this tea to be very enjoyable. I’m still not particularly familiar with yabao, so I do not know what separates a decent one from a great one, but I did very much enjoy this offering. As a matter of fact, I have only had one other tea of this type (the yabao offered by Whispering Pines), and I have to say that I found this one to be the better and more accessible of the two. In the end, I would recommend this tea to drinkers specifically looking for something subtle, graceful, deep, and challenging.
Flavors: Apricot, Cardamon, Cedar, Cinnamon, Clove, Eucalyptus, Lemon, Marshmallow, Mineral, Nutmeg, Oats, Peach, Pine, Plums, Straw
Let me start off this review by saying that I’m not a giant fan of greener oolongs. I have found many to be obnoxiously floral yet thin. Also, they make me dizzy the way green tea does sometimes (except for matcha as it’s more processed and therefore removes some of the ‘freshness’ which causes dizziness in certain people.)
This wasn’t bad. First four steeps were creamy with a decent, lasting aroma. Nothing distinguishes this Jin Guan Yin too much from the average green oolong, only that everything tastes more balanced.
However, after four steeps it seemed to disintegrate into some overly savoury, fishy, grassy flavours which totally put me off.
If I discount that last steep, it wasn’t bad, but I can’t see myself reaching often for this over my beloved roasted oolongs.
Sometimes I allow curiosity to get the better of me, but other times I err on the side of caution and deny myself the opportunity to try new things. As a rule of thumb, I tend to steer clear of anything that sounds too good to be true, so when Verdant Tea released a caffeine-free tisane that was supposed to taste very similar to a quality Laoshan green tea, I was highly skeptical. I was, in fact, so skeptical that I simply dismissed this new product. I couldn’t find much information on Ziziphus Jujuba, so I figured it must be one of Verdant’s patented 1000+ year old tree deals and promptly moved on with my life.
Fast forward a few months and I decided to order a bunch of samples from Verdant. When my package arrived, I sorted through the nice new packets of various Chinese black and oolong teas, curious to see what my free sample would be. It ended up being 5 grams of the Spring 2016 Wild Laoshan Gan Zao Ye. Last night, curiosity finally got the better of me and I tore into the sample. Well, it turns out that sometimes the marketing doesn’t exaggerate as much I expect it to. That was certainly the situation here.
Since I had no idea how to brew this tea, I closely followed Verdant’s gongfu guidelines. I steeped 5 grams of loose leaves in 4 ounces of 175 F water for 8 seconds. I followed this initial infusion up with 11 additional infusions, increasing the steep time by 4 seconds per infusion. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 24 seconds, 28 seconds, 32 seconds, 36 seconds, 40 seconds, 44 seconds, 48 seconds, and 52 seconds. At this point, I would also like to add that I dropped the lid of my favorite gaiwan at the end of this session and chipped it in two places. GRRRR!!!
After a quick examination of the dry leaves, I could have sworn that this was an actual Laoshan green tea. A sniff of the dry leaves, however, revealed the difference. I noted a pronounced nutty, vegetal aroma that reminded me of walnut, toasted rice, and cooked peas. I couldn’t recall any of the Laoshan greens giving off such a nutty aroma from the get go. After infusion, the leaves emitted even stronger aromas of roasted nuts, cooked peas, and toasted rice. There was also a grainy scent reminiscent of roasted barley. The liquor produced was much darker and cloudier than I expected. In the mouth, I noted incredibly robust notes of roasted walnuts, roasted chestnuts, roasted barley, cooked peas, and toasted rice. The next three infusions produced similar results both on the nose and in the mouth. From the fifth infusion on, the roasted barley, nut, and toasted rice sensations mellowed and faded just enough to allow some other impressions to shine through the murk. I picked up on subtle aromas and flavors of wood, butter, hay, bitter chocolate, and what can only be described as vegetable broth. There was also just the slightest hint of sweetness on the back of the throat. The folks at Verdant described it as honey, but that’s not what I would call it. In fact, I have no idea how to describe it. I also noted that the color of the liquor changed substantially over the course of the session. Early infusions were dark and hazy, while the later infusions were a clear yellow-green. Even though I probably could have pushed on with at least one or two more infusions, I decided to call it quits after number twelve.
Honestly, I regret not trying this tisane sooner. I found it to be exceptional, and though part of me is annoyed by the idea of assigning an herbal tea a numerical score higher than any proper tea I have reviewed to this point, I really did find this one to be that good. Seriously, if I were able to drink this every single day, I probably would. While I would not say that this Gan Zao Ye is identical to a Laoshan green tea, I would concede that there are more than enough similarities to please or at least intrigue fans of Verdant’s Laoshan greens. Even if you are not a fan of Verdant’s Laoshan green teas, I would still encourage you to try this tisane because I would take it over any of them most days.
Flavors: Butter, Chestnut, Dark Chocolate, Hay, Peas, Roasted Barley, Toasted Rice, Vegetable Broth, Walnut, Wood
Although I haven’t been drinking much oolong lately, I do love wuyi oolongs and have a pretty nice collection of them. My neglect is not for lack of love, but for lack of time. I don’t really like to bring them out to play unless I have time to load up the yixing & savor cup after cup of wonderful nuance. But lately I’ve been thinking about them more, like dear friends I don’t see often. Sometimes my feeling that I don’t have enough time to drink certain teas is probably just a figment of my imagination. I mean, I’m self-employed, I’m home most of the day, unless I have a gig somewhere, and although I’m usually busy with one project or another, they are a perfect afternoon tea for me, especially when I have students coming and going, with the short steep time, the smaller cup, & the wonderful wonderfulness.
I like to preheat my yixing & then let the leaf sit in there for a minute to really release it’s aroma, and I was not disappointed from the moment I opened the lid & sniffed. ahhhh….
Tart like hibiscus, sweet, tart & juicy but slightly under-ripe stone fruits, but this tea also has a bass note that really appeals to me, because I tend to favor bolder teas. Kind of a dark unsweetened chocolate with a hint of coffee.
I started with 7G + yixing 5/8/11/15/20/25/30 seconds, then the flavor started to lighten, so I went to minutes 1/2/3 /5 Overall the flavor stayed the same throughout, just building layers & then fading down, until by the last steep, it was a mineral rich soup, with a pleasant chocolate bitterness & a little tanginess remaining.
Ensemble: Upright Bass, Bass Clarinet, Cello, Clarinet, Viola, Flute & Oboe & some high brass, sparingly. And Harp, of course! :)
Dry smell: Walnut and pumpkin with a faint hint of wood smoke.
Steeped smell: Autumn leaves, summer squash
1st steeping flavor: Cedar & mineral with a just a bit of maple
2nd steeping: chocolate, caramel, mineral and the ceder has changed into pine
This is from the spring 2016 harvest.
Flavors: Cedar, Maple, Mineral
Dry: The leaves smell faintly of chocolate almond biscotti. The aroma is very faint.
As it’s steeping: It smells of fresh tobacco and wood smoke. The liquor is a dark golden brown.
Flavor: Incredibly smooth and balanced. Almost, but not quite, sweet. Caramel with autumn leaves, oak wood, and some slight umami. Very refined with sweet fruitiness coming out in later steepings.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Caramel, Oak wood, Sweet, Umami
This is from the Spring 2016 harvest.
Dry smell: gingerbread (yum!)
Brewed smell: wood smoke, soil, petrichor, summer squash
Flavor: Summer squash, green leaves
This was a sampler I purchased from Verdant tea. It was nice, with some aroma of a dark oolong but with the flavor of a green oolong.
Flavors: Vegetal, Zucchini
This is from the Spring 2015 harvest.
Dry: It’s very floral with concord grape, orange and clove and a big wiff of cut grass
Wet smell: lettuce, roasted wheat, caramel
Flavor: Barley and copper. When Smelling the dry leaves i was so excited to try this but the flavor profile was pretty insipid and a let down.
Flavors: Roasted Barley
I have been working on this tea for some time now. This differs from Verdant Tea’s regular Qilan in that the teamaker utilized a much lighter roast in order to bring out the pronounced notes of spice and orchid that are so common to this particular varietal. I think fans of traditional Wuyi oolongs would really appreciate this one.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. As I’m still playing with my brewing method a bit, I did not follow Verdant Tea’s brewing outline all that closely. I started off following their suggestions, but just went with my gut after a point. For this session, I started off with a quick rinse and then steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 5 seconds. Additional infusions were conducted at 8 seconds, 11 seconds, 14 seconds, 17 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute 15 seconds, and 2 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry leaves emitted mild, yet intriguing aromas of plum, raisin, sandalwood, and dried flowers. After the rinse, the orchid aroma really emerged. The first infusion produced a pronounced orchid and sandalwood aroma underscored by minerals and a subtle fruitiness. In the mouth, there was a pleasant blend of orchid, raisin, plum, lychee, sandalwood, and mineral notes. The second and third infusions produced much heavier aromas and flavors of orchid and sandalwood. Infusions 4-6 saw the floral quality reigned in significantly, while mineral, raisin, plum, and lychee notes began to push to the fore. There was also something of a wet stone quality on the finish. Steeps 7-9 saw the tea fade earlier and faster than I wanted. I still noted mild sandalwood, orchid, and mineral aromas, as well as mild flavors of sandalwood, raisin, and orchid beneath the stone and mineral notes. Steeps 10-12 saw the tea continue to wind down. There was a slight mineral tinge on the nose, while mineral and stone notes dominated the mouth from start to finish. I found that I could still just barely detect hints of raisin, orchid, plum, and sandalwood when I really focused. I ended the session at this point.
For me, this tea was a hard one to properly evaluate. On the one hand, those early steeps were so wonderful, but on the other hand, this tea did not retain much of its character for the length of time I generally prefer. I think what saved this one for me was that unmistakable Wuyi rock texture in the mouth. It stuck around from start to finish, focusing the robust flavors of the early steeps and the ghostly flavor sensations of the last infusions. In the end, I’ll grade this one rather liberally just for that.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Lychee, Mineral, Orchid, Plums, Raisins, Wet Rocks