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Recent Tasting Notes
As black teas go, this is pretty nice. The scent is just a classic black, but the flavor gives hints of chocolate and orange. By no means pronounced, those notes still add more dimension than most blacks have. I’d be interested to see what would happen if the same leaves were made into an oolong.
Flavors: Chocolate, Malt, Orange
I was really excited to try this mao xie, but honestly I was pretty disappointed by it. I have the autumn 2015 harvest, which went out of stock about right when I bought this.
At first, it’s sorta apple skinny, creamy, but there’s a bit of acidity too. Vanilla, edamame, there’s a lot of roasty heartburny acidity, (this is the bit that disappointed me) lemongrass, regular grass, metallics, light astringency, spinach, wet rocks.
It reminds me of when you’re licking gravel and then it gives you heartburn, you know?
Tea headache. Do you guys get tea headaches from certain teas?
This tea gives me one of the worst headaches. I’m slightly dizzy.
The roasty acid rockiness becomes overpowering in the middle of the session. It basically becomes this taste, and then slowly fades out, gaining a tiny bit of sweetness in later steeps.
Head still hurts :(
Flavors: Apple Skins, Cream, Creamy, Grass, Lemongrass, Metallic, Roasted, Soybean, Spinach, Vanilla, Wet Rocks
The last of my “5 for $5” sampler from Verdant Tea. Also, the first young sheng I’ve really enjoyed.
I took some advice from /r/tea over on Reddit and brewed this one at lower temp, like an oolong. The result was less bitter and astringent than I associate with young sheng.
The flavors were vegetal, with some camphor, dry grass and sweetness. A very pleasant, mellow sort of drink.
Flavors: Camphor, Dry Grass, Sweet, Vegetal
Really smooth, grainy and earthy tea. Extremely pleasant tea. Don’t pick up on much of the sweetness or sweet potatoes that other people have. Would definitely buy again.
Flavors: Earth, Grain, Malt, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Smooth, Toasty
Yawn. I find black teas are often pretty boring, and this is no exception. While I did get interesting wafts of orange, it was pretty much a run-of-the-mill nice black. Happy to drink it, but there’s nothing dazzling here.
Flavors: Malt, Orange
This was included in my latest Laoshan Black order and I have to say, it’s quite delicious. The chocolate notes that dominate the flavor profile of the Laoshan are sublimated in favor of a deliciously sweet caramelized sugar taste. It’s also more effervescent and complex than the Laoshan Black, which can sometimes overwhelm me with its strong cocoa flavor.
I honestly don’t know why others have reviewed this well or why Verdant’s site claims so many flavor notes to it. It’s a nice tea, smooth, and with a slight minerality, but it’s incredibly subtle in flavor. And I steeped it EXACTLY as Verdant spelled out on their site. For what equates to $1/gram, I’d hope for something far more interesting. I was totally underwhelmed. I almost feel like they packaged the wrong tea.
Oh. My. Goodness.
I pre-ordered this tea more than a month ago and I got it yesterday. Verdant is already out of stock. Why didn’t I buy more (I only ordered 50g)? I had never heard of Gan Zao Ye (Wild Jujube) before and I checked amazon, etsy and googling it but it appears to be a rarity. This tea is sooooooo delicious. Brewed 5 cups (I recommend stopping around 4) using 4g, 20 sec to start and adding 10 sec each time in 8oz of 175 F water. It tastes like roasted nuts, veggies and butter; no bitterness/astringency. This tea is divine and caffeine free so I can enjoy a green tea taste without caffeine! This is sooo much better than any decaf green I’ve had. Highly, Highly recommend this. If Verdant finds more of this tea to source I’m buying a ton of it-even after having only a couple cups. I love this tea.
Flavors: Butter, Roast nuts, Vegetable Broth
This tea is a lightly roasted oolong that is light amber in color with an inviting aroma. This tea is a little spicy with a hint of cinnamon and has a little creaminess to it. The flavor is unique to me and I am a little on the fence of rather I liked it a little or a lot. It also has a nice lingering aftertaste.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Creamy
This tea is a dark oolong with an amber color and a roasted floral aroma. It tastes of orange zest and roses with a light roasted quality and Wuyi minerality to the aftertaste. I am not the biggest fan of fruitiness in my tea so this is not in my wheelhouse, but it is a decent cup of tea.
Flavors: Orange Zest, Rose
The scent reminds me of candied Corsican clementines I used to buy all the time in Paris + wafts of lychee. The flavor, too, is a mix of those scents, together with a minerality and pleasantly smooth wave of heavy oxidation. I love it. It’s unlike any other tea in my collection. I’ll be stocking up on it with my next order from Verdant.
Flavors: Candy, Citrus Zest, Lychee
Looking at the number of tasting notes for this tea, it is doubtful that I need to add another one, but I’m going to go ahead and do so. This is one of those teas that you just have to talk about, one of those teas on which you absolutely have to share your thoughts. Readers will perhaps examine the above sentences and conclude that I really love this tea. If they were to come to that conclusion, they would be 100% correct.
I prepared this tea using the gongfu method outlined on the Verdant Tea website. I only made two small modifications. Rather than using a 5 ounce gaiwan, I resorted to my trusty 4 ounce gaiwan that I have been favoring for many of my review sessions lately. I wanted to both really focus the flavor and brew this tea strong. The first infusion was 10 seconds in 205 F water. This infusion was followed by eight additional infusions at 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, and 26 seconds. This was the only other modification that I made, as Verdant suggests an initial steep of 2-3 seconds followed by 3 seconds on each additional infusion. In truth, I prepared this more like an oolong because I wanted a strong first impression followed by a series of subtle contrasts.
The initial infusions were amazingly aromatic with cocoa, toasted grain, vanilla, raisin, and fig aromas jumping out of the glass. In the mouth, there was an incredible mixture of malt, vanilla bean, raisin, fig, prune, cocoa, dried black cherry, sweet potato, and toasted grain flavors with a long, smooth chocolaty fade that highlighted a hint of creaminess. Later infusions, saw the chocolate recede somewhat and grain and fruit flavors come forward. On these infusions, I noted a nice mix of dried fruit underscored by hints of toasted grain and vanilla on the finish.
As I said, I really love this tea. It is far from the most complex black tea I have had, but the aromas and flavors this tea presents are strong and work very well together. I would like to see a little more depth in the layering of flavors, but as is, this tea is very, very good. There is a reason so many people like this tea. Go out and try it if you have yet to do so.
Flavors: Cherry, Cocoa, Creamy, Fig, Fruity, Grain, Malt, Raisins, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla
Last night I decided to do something a bit different. Rather than continue my recent oolong binge, I mixed things up a bit and broke out a pu-erh for the first time in months. Though I like pu-erh, I do not drink or review it that often because: a.) there are so many people here on Steepster that have so much more experience with pu-erh than I do, and from what I have seen, these individuals have much more of an ability to properly describe the experience of drinking pu-erh than I do, and b.) the recent surge of interest in pu-erh has left me with the perhaps false impression that other quality teas are being neglected. With this in mind, I tend to focus primarily on green, black, and oolong teas, and will throw the occasional white tea in for good measure. I tend to drink these types of teas more frequently anyway, so it makes sense for me to review them more often as I have more experience preparing and drinking them. To condense all of this rambling, pu-erh is like a once in a blue moon thing for me and I lack the confidence to review it with regularity. Anyway, all of that being said, I do really like this shu.
I prepared this tea using a slightly modified version of the gongfu method outlined on Verdant Tea’s website. The suggested temperature of 205 F seemed slightly low to me. On the rare occasions I prepare and drink pu-erh I tend to keep the temperature around 207-208 F. That seems to work best for me. For this session, I set the temperature at 208 F. I also increased the suggested amount of loose tea from 3 grams to 5 grams because I only had a 5 gram sample of this from a recent order and what am I really going to do with 2 grams of tea anyway? Honestly, I like my pu-erh really strong, so I decided to make it really strong. Otherwise, I pretty much followed Verdant’s suggested brewing method. I performed a total of 8 infusions. I probably could have carried on, but it was late and I was already tea drunk, so I went to bed.
The initial infusions left the impression of a very earthy, savory tea with aromas of forest floor, sauteed mushrooms, old books, wood, molasses, must, and moist earth. I picked up the same flavors in the mouth, though I also detected slightly herbal, spicy notes reminiscent of a mixture of anise, licorice, pine, and perhaps juniper berry. Later infusions saw the earthiness fade and spiciness and sweetness come to the fore. I noted that flavors somewhat resembling dark chocolate and caramel began to emerge. I also began to note what I can only describe as a lemon peel flavor on the finish that really outlined the lingering notes of herbs, wood, and spices.
As stated earlier, I really like this shu pu-erh. On the rare occasions I drink pu-erh, I tend to prefer sheng over shu, but lately I have been leaning a little more toward shu. I kind of like the earthy, musty funk and it’s fun for me to try to identify contrasting flavor elements as they emerge. I’m thinking of buying more of this so I can tinker around with my brewing methods a little more.
Flavors: Anise, Caramel, Dark Chocolate, Forest Floor, Lemon, Licorice, Molasses, Mushrooms, Musty, Pine, Spicy, Wet Earth, Wood
oh. I never reviewed this one. Oops.
I just heard about all the 2016 spring laoshan teas verdant just got in, and since I told myself no more buying tea until I get my cupboard down to 50 teas, I got really motivated to get a move on, so I can get all my laoshan teas. This was almost empty, so. Also, THERES WAY TOO MANY TEAS TO TRY. I want them all. Why must I have such expensive tastes?
God I love laoshan greens, I don’t think this one was quite as good as the 2015 pine needle green, it’s a bit rougher around the edges, but it’s still so delicious! I’m so excited to try all the fresh 2016 spring teas, so I gotta get drinking
Flavors: Astringent, Creamy, Green Beans, Lettuce, Soybean, Spinach
I’m still working through the oolongs I have acquired in recent months. This is one of my more recent purchases from Verdant and it has not been in my collection all that long, so I know it is still fresh. I’m beginning to notice that Verdant’s teas are very hit or miss for me, although the hits (Reserve Tieguanyin, Autumn Tieguanyin, Huang Jin Gui, Mao Xie, Autumn Laoshan Green, First Picking Shi Feng Dragonwell, Dark Roast 10 Year Aged Tieguanyin, Yunnan White Jasmine, and Laoshan Green Oolong) far outnumber the outright misses (Qianjiazhai Wild Picked Yunnan Black, Zi Mu Dan). Unfortunately, this tea was another miss for me.
I prepared this tea using the gongfu method outlined on the Verdant Tea website. I did, however, make one necessary modification. I used the same small gaiwan I used for the Mao Xie to brew this tea, so I adjusted the amount of tea I used (approximately 5-6 grams for the 4 ounce gaiwan). If I were to guess, I would say I probably used closer to 6 grams of loose leaves rather than 5. The tea was steeped for 10 seconds in 208 F water initially. This infusion was followed by subsequent infusions at 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, and 24 seconds. I know that some people recommend that you try to get a minimum of 10-12 steeps out of Tieguanyin, but I rarely have the time, so I just end my sessions when I feel it is necessary. In the case of this tea, I chose not to press forward because I really wasn’t all that excited about where it was going.
At first, the tea presents a slight, but lovely aroma of flowers (orchid, violet, lilac, rose, jasmine), cream, custard, and vanilla. The initial infusions display a delicate, subtle combination of rose, orchid, violet, lilac, jasmine, cream, custard, and vanilla notes underpinned by a faint minerality. Later infusions see the floral notes fade, as the cream, custard, vanilla, and mineral notes are joined by subtle flavors of butter, hay, and grass. I did not pick up the almond, tangerine, or sweet snap pea notes described by the folks at Verdant. I mostly got flowers, cream, custard, vanilla, and minerals with butter, grass, and hay.
If the autumn harvest of Tieguanyin is the most robust and flavorful, then it stands to reason that the spring harvests are probably much less so. If that is the case, then my experience with this particular tea is not an anomaly. I generally love Tieguanyin, but this one did not move me in the least. It is so light and delicate that it is hard for me to muster much of a reaction to it. I know that quite a few people really liked this tea, but I just don’t see the appeal. I feel like its lightness and simplicity forced me to work so hard to figure out what is going on flavorwise that I didn’t really get the opportunity to enjoy it. That feeling coupled with my opinion that the tea doesn’t really offer any surprises over the course of a session (I did not notice any significant changes in aroma or flavor with each subsequent infusion, just a steady and prolonged fade) leaves me unimpressed. At one point I even noted that drinking this was like drinking spring air. That may seem like something, but I don’t mean it as a compliment. I mean that this tea was so light that it seemed to lack substance. In essence, I went looking for some depth and character with this tea, and quite frankly, did not find enough to suit me. Maybe I expected too much or maybe I missed the point entirely. I’ll leave that for anyone who reads this review to decide.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Custard, Floral, Grass, Hay, Jasmine, Mineral, Orchid, Rose, Vanilla, Violet
Very fresh, beachy grass smell. Smells like my great grandmother’s garden at the beach. Very fresh and clean smell. Slightly aromatic while steeping, a bit like fresh seaweed and hints of freshly cut wood. Definitely smells like a reserve tea and is very floral.
First steep was for 1:30 minutes @ 195F, with 5 grams for 8 ounces. The best first impression I have is that it tastes very uniform. Is very fresh tasting and clean. Has a perfect mouth feel and does not leave any odd textures in your mouth, perfectly wetting. 1:30 minutes is definitely the way to go. It tastes very green, yet is still distinctly an oolong tea. Amazing high end tea, where every sip is better than the last.
Second steep was for 1:45 minutes. The tea noticeably smells more like a classic oolong tea. The taste is just a more mild version of the first steep, with the same mouth feel. However, the first steep is definitely the best by far. Still very good. Third steep is doable, but would not recommend a fourth.
Flavors: Floral, Green Wood, Seaweed, Wet Wood
I’m starting to fall behind on my reviews again. It’s always amazing to me how I can go from being caught up on a project to behind in the space of a couple days. I actually finished the last of this oolong earlier in the week, but had a rough draft of a review written at least 2-3 days before that. Oh well, I still have a review for Verdant’s Huang Jin Gui from two weeks ago that I need to post. Anyway, on to this tea.
I tried steeping this tea a couple different ways, however, the method that worked best for me is the basis of this review. Rather than using my 5.5 and 6 ounce gaiwans, I decided to use my small 4 ounce gaiwan. I was torn on whether to use 5 or 6 grams of leaves, but after trying it both ways, I went with 6 because the 5 tasted slightly weak to me. I followed the gongfu method outlined on Verdant’s website once again, so an initial infusion of 10 seconds in 208 F water followed by a series of 2 second infusions. I carried this one out to nine infusions (10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26 seconds).
Initially, this tea presented a creamy, floral, and slightly fruity nose with a hint of toasted character. Initial infusions emphasized toasted sesame, ginseng, cream, custard, green apple, pear, honeysuckle, lilac, and jasmine notes underpinned by a slightly grassy vegetal character. The tasting notes on Verdant’s website also described nori, apple brandy, rosemary, and alfalfa flavors, but I didn’t get any of those, at least at first. Later infusions saw the floral, sesame, and ginseng notes fade and the cream, custard, orchard fruit, and vegetal notes emerge more fully. I detected alfalfa and hay specifically. I also began to notice a slight citrus note on the finish that reminded me of lime zest. The final couple of infusions were mostly creamy and vegetal. I probably could have gotten at least 1-2 more infusions out of this tea, but decided to cut it off at nine as I didn’t see the flavor radically changing or anything new emerging at that point.
The first time I tried this I was impressed, but my opinion of this tea wavered after a couple more sessions. Over my last couple of sessions, I began to feel like I had gotten it right again and I once again began to really enjoy this tea. Compared to many of the other green oolongs that are available, this has a really unique aroma and flavor profile. I kind of doubt it will be for everyone, but for me, it has all of the savory, creamy, vegetal, fruity, and floral notes I love on one level or another. If you’re a fan of newer style Chinese oolongs, then I think there is a good chance you will greatly enjoy this tea. It is definitely worth checking out regardless.
Flavors: Cream, Custard, Floral, Grass, Green Apple, Hay, Herbs, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Lime, Pear, Vegetal