This tea was a gamble for me. I am not really a fan of Mi Lan Dancong oolongs so much, but I figured, what the heck I’m getting more and more into Chinese black teas, so I might as well give this one a go. I included a sample size of it in my most recent order.
When I first smelled the leaves I got just an aroma of slight chocolate and toasted grains, kind of like dark oolong. Then I exhaled into my teapot and inhaled immediately afterward and I got the most amazing apricot/plum/stone fruit aroma coming back at me. It was quite surprising!
I looked at the steeping instructions on Verdant’s website, and even the western instructions were not that western. I decided to go with the gong-fu instructions and bust out my tiny teapot/gaiwan hybrid for the first time since I returned from Madagascar. My pot is 6oz, so I used the entire 7g sample in it, which filled it about halfway as recommended on Verdant’s site. Two rinses, as instructed, and then the first steep, just a couple of seconds. The wet leaf smells crazy minerally with hints of cooked spinach, and the tea itself smells completely unexpectedly like the woods, like trees, like cinnamon. Actually I’m impressed that I detected that cinnamon note without reading about it first in the description, because I often don’t really find things like that until I go looking for them specifically. The tea is creamy and honeyed, though I don’t find it to be fruity. Never mind, my last, lukewarm sip of the first steep was a tiny stone-fruity. Overall a pretty oolongy steep.
After the second quick steep, the inside of the lid of my teapot and the wet leaf both yield a surprisingly strong floral note, but I would call it gardenia instead of jasmine. The liquor smells sweeter, more cinnamony and less earthy-vegetal, though the florals err on the vegetal side of things. The flavor is again honeyed and more floral this time, in an oolongy way, not a particularly flowery way. I get an aftertaste of asparagus, and as the second steep builds in my mouth the mineral flavor returns.
Overall I would echo others who say this tea seems very oolongy. I guess it’s hard to put a line down on oolong versus black tea sometimes, and this tea definitely straddles that line. Am I glad I tasted it? Absolutely. It was a fun experiment. But I doubt I’ll be picking more up since I’ve never really gotten into those dancong oolongs in the first place. Someone who was would no doubt find this tea very intriguing.