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Recent Tasting Notes
I forgot how wonderful Verdant Teas could be. I haven’t been able to afford them for awhile, and this sample came with a recent Steepster select shipment, so I brewed up and re-steeped several times to make the very best of the leaves.
Nice clean taste with excellent tones of Cacao, honey and dried fruit. Golden brew with a heavenly aroma and flavor. Three steeps, and more joy in one cup that you really have to savor slowly. So very, very good. :)
Flavors: Cacao, Dried Fruit, Honey
I had some friends over to play a boardgame (Lords of Waterdeep, highly recommended), which meant that I had to clean up, and in particular had to clear alllll the crap off my table. So now they’re gone and I have a nice clean table, which means I finally have room to set up my kettle and gaiwan and associated paraphernalia. I’m testing out the new gaiwan that I got from Verdant as well (this one: http://verdanttea.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/gaiwan_dripglaze_springblossom_110-LARGE.jpg). It’s bigger than the little 100ml one that I’m used to, which is now missing a lid thanks to my dog. :/ It holds anywhere from 120-200ml depending on how full I fill it. I think it’ll be very useful for when I have friends over for tea, but it’s a bit too large for just me. I’m also still figuring out how to pour from it without spilling everywhere, lol.
This is a really lovely tea, though! The aroma when you first open the bag and stick your nose in is amazingly sweet and fresh, and the aroma of the wet leaves is similar, but more vegetal and beany and savoury. The first few steepings in particular were very sweet and creamy, and I can definitely see where the “vanilla soymilk” comparison comes from. As the steepings progress, more soybean and then crisp vegetal notes arise, but very little astrigency or bitterness. I was expecting it to be energizing, but I’m actually finding it to be quite relaxing. Wow, these fresh spring harvest green teas have been a bit of a revelation to me, because I usually favour blacks and oolongs, but this and Verdant’s Dragonwell were both super delicious.
Flavors: Creamy, Garden Peas, Soybean, Sweet, Vanilla, Vegetal
Dialing down my rating after a few lackluster steeps. I’ve found this tea to be wildly inconsistent. Sometimes it’s floral. Other times I get a blast of cardamom or the lemongrass flavor will dominate. It seems the taste of each brew depends on the pieces of flavoring and how many you them you scoop up.
A fantastic scented tea from Verdant. The dry leaf is fragrant and big chrysantheum flowers, cardamom, and lemongrass are visible in it. It smells quite similar to their Earl of Anxi tea, a an otherwise great tea spoiled by frankencense. This tea is a different story though. The floral notes of the tieguanyin pair beautifully with the chrsantheum flowers and accented with lemongrass and a hint of citrus. The cardamom is absent though. I think giving the cardamom pods a whack with a pestle and mortar before brewing will help release their flavor.
Flavors: Flowers, Lemongrass
Mostly high quality small, lighter-colored leaves, but not the most uniform in size, shape, or color. It’s not bad, by any means, but not the highest quality Longjing/Dragonwell.
Not many people know, but the varietal used in Laoshan is the same as what is grown in Longjing. The Laoshan tea plants were actually imported from the West lake area. So, other than territorial growing differences, such as, climate and soil, they’re basically the same thing.
A solid, middle of the road Wuyi oolong. I received a sample of this with my Shui Xian order and I prefer the latter of the two. This is a roasty tea with an oak wood aroma and flavor, and a mild sweetness. It takes a steeping or two for the fruity flavors of the tea to shine through. Overall a good tea, but doesn’t blow my socks off.
Flavors: Dried Fruit, Malt, Oak wood, Roasted, Smooth
When I saw this new offering on Verdant’s website I just HAD to try it. I’ve really enjoyed their Laoshan Green, and Tieguanyin, and this I expected to be a combination of the two.
To my delight, it landed right on the mark. The only thing I’d fault it on, is I wouldn’t mind it being a bit more floral. What I think I’m going to try next is mixing it with the Early Spring Tieguanyin. To be honest, I found this year’s Tieguanyin to be a little too light for my tastes. It’s a bit closer to white tea. Mixing the two together should produce a near perfect combination.
On the taste, I found this to be remarkably similar to a cross between Longjing and Tamaryokucha, but more nutty, and less grassy. A worthy alternative to those who’d prefer a less grassy tea liquor. It tastes more like a green tea than a Oolong. And, I definitely recommend using more leaf than usual.
My brewing method was simple. I used 8 oz leaf to 4 oz of boiling filtered water, 1 quick rinse, and 3 seconds steep in a gaiwan.
The flavor is quite juicy, and enjoyable. I could easily see this being a regular tea for me, as it captures all of the qualities I like in my daily sipping.
Edit: OK… So, I tried mixing it, TWICE, and found that the TGY totally overpowers the Laoshan Green, unless adding very very little TGY. Just think of this as more of a green tea, but with a slight oolong quality to it. Easy does it on adding florals. Next time, I think I’ll add some Yabao, and see how that compares to the TGY. So much fun to experiment.
Flavors: Asparagus, Berries, Cream, Cucumber, Cut grass, Green Beans, Lettuce, Nutty, Soybean, Spinach, Zucchini
This is a very interesting and great tasting shou. There are a lot of shous out there that taste exactly the same. This shou is a very very smooth tasting shou. Now I don’t know if that’s the bottle of cava talking. Nonetheless, great tasting and smooth shou. I am getting notes of honey and almonds.
Flavors: Almond, Caramel, Honey
This is a free sample with my teaware purchase. Woot! The dry leaf aroma is heavenly. I love green oolongs. The leaves are tightly furled and dark green. I’ve only ever had Tieguanyin brewed Western style, so I am going to make this in my gaiwan!
I did a quick rinse and then a 3 second steep. The liquor is a pale yellow. The brewed tea aroma is salty. It’s so hot it’s hard to taste. It tastes slightly salty too but mostly it’s green and a bit grassy. It’s naturally sweet. I probably should be straining this because little bits of leaves are getting in my cup. I’m also finding it difficult to handle because it’s so hot. I’m wearing a rubber kitchen glove to hold the cups. :P
The second infusion is a bit more floral. I’m getting lilac I think. The leaves have unfurled quite a bit and some have long stems attached. Third infusion is a lot more developed now. I’m getting a lovely sweet grass flavor that’s surprisingly similar to Long Jing. The lilac is more pronounced as well. No longer a pale yellow, the liquor is getting progressively darker with each infusion. There’s also a bit of a metallic tang to it that I’ve tasted in past harvests of Verdant Tea’s Autumn Tieguanyin.
I’m still making quite the mess with these Gongfu brewing sessions. There’s just no easy way to do this without getting water everywhere. This is a lovely tea but I don’t think anything special is added to it by Gongfu brewing. I think I’ll stick to Western style brewing in the future. In fact, I think these leaves have a long way to go. I’m going to switch over to Western style brewing now! I seem to recall getting as many as four Western style infusions out of it in the past.
This really is lovely! I enjoy floral green oolongs, although maybe not as much as I used to. This one is less creamy and more metallic than some others I’ve tried. Not to say those are negative things, but they are worth mentioning. I actually don’t think this is creamy at all. I’m sure this tea would have been even better when it was just picked. As it is, these leaves are from the Autumn 2014 harvest and I’m enjoying them in Summer 2015. Phew, someone hit me with a tired stick! I’m off to bed!
Flavors: Floral, Green, Sweet
I could never place this tea in a flavor category but I know when I taste it, it just feels great to swish around my mouth. It’s spicy but also tender, the body has a slick thickness to it that I really enjoy and with just a little bit of honey it tastes totally different. I also love how you can make a cocktail out of this tea with a little bit of gin. Definitely something I will be coming back to again and again.
Flavors: Ginger, Smooth, Spicy
My preorder came! Yummy! I cracked it open right away.
I brewed this in my gaiwan, 1/3 full of leaves, pour in, pour out.
First steep: Sugar snap peas in cream! Lovely!
Second steep: Nuttier, with a sweeter scent and aftertaste. Beautiful emerald green liquid. Still creamy.
Third steep: More nutty, even. Very slight astringency.
Fourth steep: More astringent, but beanier.
Fifth steep: Amplified version of the fourth steep.
Sixth steep: Fading, but that makes it sweeter again, and less astringent.
Overall I’m quite happy with this purchase. It is a good, fresh, obvious green tea. Boyfriend even liked it!
Flavors: Beany, Creamy, Nutty, Peas, Sweet
Had some friends over for dinner, and Dinosara was able to join me a bit early to enjoy some tea!
I started with a rinse, then 10 second steeps of this tea for 5 steeps, then up to a minute for another three. Throughout it was much more buttery than the Spring harvest, but still sweet, thick and lightly floral. Really nice.
One more note, between the first five and the last three I let it sit some while I prepared some parts of the dinner. I could taste the oxidization as a slightly sulfurous overtone. I should avoid that in the future (bag it if I need to take a break).
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Sweet
I’ve searched far and wide for a Wuyi oolong that doesn’t taste like burnt toast and after trying many teas, I found what I was looking for in this light roasted Wuyi from Verdant which has gone on to become my favorite dark oolong. It is an incredibly rich and complex tea – roasty and woodsy but without any hint of bitterness or ashy charcoal taste. The mouthfeel is smooth and coats the tongue with a lingering honey and dried fruit sweetness.
I brew it gongfu style per Verdant Tea’s instructions and then chill it to make a fantastic iced tea. For hot tea, I use a little less about 2 grams. It gives about 3-4 good steepings before the flavor runs out. This definitely goes on my short list of teas that I want to keep on hand at all times.
Flavors: Honey, Oak wood, Raisins, Roasted
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Flavors: Oak wood, Roasted, Smooth
This is an incredibly sweet tea that fills your mouth leaving a syrupy coating that you need a glass of water to wash out. Seriously, I had to put down the gaiwan after a few cups and reach for something salty to cleanse my palette. Verdant aptly describes the flavor of this tea as “sweet lingering…juicy lychee”. This tea is heavy on the sweeter notes and if you pay attention, there is a bit of floral background and some mineral notes that begin to emerge with subsequent steepings.
Overall I liked this tea but wasn’t blown away by it. It’s high quality for sure but is a little lacking in complexity. Yunnan’s Wu Liang Gao Shan Oolong (last year’s harvest) remains my favorite green oolong. Like Verdant, it’s intensely sweet, but that sweetness is balanced with creamy vanilla and florals.
I brewed this gongfu style per Verdant’s instructions (5g of leaf, 205 F water, short steeps) and found it lackluster. It fared much better when brewed western style following a quick rinse at a slightly lower temperature.
Flavors: Honey, Lychee, Nectar
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Flavors: Creamy, Flowers, Vanilla
Inhaling long, deep breaths of the dry leaf aroma has transported me to heaven. I’m so glad I bought samples of both Mrs. Li’s Dragonwells! To avoid confusion, I’m going to call this one “Early Spring” and the other “Shi Feng” (even though they both have Shi Feng in the name; only one has Early Spring!). I was expecting them to taste basically the same. In fact, I was expecting to have difficulty tasting a difference. But wow, these are so different!
I thought the Shi Feng one was actually a tad bitter. I didn’t put that in my review because I assumed I messed up the brewing parameters somehow since it was my first gaiwan experience. But now I think it may have been a little bit of the tea’s fault too. That tea was good, much greener and clean tasting. This one is creamy, buttery, and luscious! I much prefer this Early Spring version!
They both definitely have watercress notes, but Verdant Tea hit the nail on the head describing the Shi Feng as silky and the Early Spring as creamy. Oh yes, creamy!!! And buttery!! Oh, so good! Nom nom nom!
So I didn’t read the directions properly and started this at 10 second infusions instead of 4 seconds. The first two infusions were definitely the best. I felt the tea lost flavor surprisingly quickly in later infusions, but this could be due to those longer early steeps. I tried to compensate by doing longer later infusions and that’s when the Early Spring got a tad bitter. But that’s the first time any bitterness could be detected, and I’m 100% sure it’s because I oversteeped the leaves. As soon as I decreased the infusion time again, all traces of bitterness vanished.
Wow, I am so loving Long Jing!! It’s hard to believe there was a time when I drank a cup of Dragonwell and thought, “Yuck!” This is not yuck. This is pure decadence in a cup. I read through Verdant’s description of this one again and I found where it recommends eating the leaves after the tea is steeped out. I would not have thought of doing that!! I popped a bud in my mouth and sure enough, Verdant didn’t lead me astray. It is sweet and tender and delicious! OMG, I think I found a new love. My husband may have to share me because I want to marry this tea. AAHHHH!!! So good! I love this tea!!!!
Flavors: Butter, Creamy
The dry leaf aroma is dark chocolate, malt, and walnut. The aroma of the wet leaves is rock and mineral. The taste is a lovely combination of the two aromas. It’s at first mineral-y with a great, oaky, rock oolong flavor. Then it becomes silky smooth with a bit of caramel or honey. There’s even more honey in the second infusion and now a creamy vanilla note is seeping in.
I don’t usually like rock oolongs but this is delicious! It’s more honey and oak than mineral, which is a plus in my book. The tea liquor is a gorgeous amber. I’m gongfu brewing this in my gaiwan, slowly increasing the infusions by 5-10 seconds. I just fed the baby before starting this and luckily she’s being good for the moment. Thank you for allowing me to enjoy some tea, my darling!
Of course, the second I typed that she started fussing. ;) Now I’m carrying her in my Ergo and bouncing while the tea steeps. I think I’ll be enjoying the rest of these infusions with a baby strapped to my chest. :) This is great tea and I’d say the leaves are probably a good year old. I think Fujian oolongs are growing on me!
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Honey, Mineral, Oak wood, Vanilla, Walnut
It wasn’t there with the first sip, but now I taste it distinctly: smoke. With the next sip, it’s gone and again I taste a mellow green tea. Next, I taste a slight seaweed flavor. Each sip tastes different than the last, just like each dry leaf looks different than the one beside it. This is a mysterious and capricious tea.
I have to confess that lighter tasting green teas aren’t usually my preference, but this one was at least an adventure.
Flavors: Seaweed, Smoke, Vegetal