2042 Tasting Notes

98

I was excited when Angel said this one would be in my next round of samples because I’ve never had a black pearl tea before, but (not to sound like a broken record), since I am getting into Chinese black teas lately I really wanted to try them.

The pearls are so big! Compared to jasmine pearls, that is. They dark with lots of golden streaks and they smell kind of molasses-grainy, but also like hay. I kind of used my perfect teaspoon to dish them out (3 per scoop!) and ended up with 5 pearls for my 12 oz mug, which seems to be similar to what others have used and is in the middle of Teavivre’s brewing recommendations.

My pearls pretty much completely unraveled after two minutes, which I didn’t really expect! Brewed, I smell toasted semi-sweet chocolate, like when there are chocolate chips on the bottom or edge of the chocolate chip cookie and they get a tiny bit burnt. And maybe there’s a bit of that hay in the steeped aroma, too. I am sipping it while it is still too hot for me to taste much of the tea itself, but there is an incredible sweet aftertaste to it. Cooling, cooling… I just can’t help but keep coming back to it before it’s cool enough. Now I’m getting definite sweet chocolate flavors, actually incredibly sweet, which is funny because as I have been smelling the steeped tea I have decided it doesn’t smell sweet at all. But it tastes very sweet, and honeyed, which I love. There’s some other note there coming out now that seems familiar but I can’t place. There’s almost a savory note underneath the sweet note, oddly enough, and it works well.

Love it, love it, love it. I also love that I know that Teavivre has such great prices and quality that I don’t need to shop around for other black pearls. In the end this would probably just be my favorite anyway. Thanks so much for the sample, Angel!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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94
drank Golden Fleece by Verdant Tea
2042 tasting notes

I feel like I’ve been avoiding this tea subconciously. As if it’s too much of a big deal or something… I went ahead and order 2oz of it, but I don’t want to mess it up or anything. I mean, those two ounces cost me a pretty penny. But I’m going to go for it now, and I’m going to steep it western style (following the instructions on Verdant’s site) because it’s somehow less stressful to me at this point.

The dry leaf is beautiful and smells like very fragrant sweet potato chips. I took a big whif and was like, woah! sweet potatoes! Someone came into my office moments after I poured the water on these leaves and asked if I could unlock a door for them, which put me in a panic because I only had a minute to play with. I had a moment of indecision: do I tell them to wait one minute until the steep is done, but the door is just around the corner and that would sound odd anyway. So I walked briskly and I arrived back at my office with 5 seconds to go! Whew.

The steeped tea has some of that sweet potato-y aroma, and maybe the slightest hint of vanilla and spices. First sip, after it’s cooled a bit: woah. woah. Sweet, like brown sugar on a baked sweet potato. Sooooo smooth. Just a luxurious, silky, creamy feel to it. With a little tingle in the aftertaste. In the first part of the sip its straight up sweet potato, one that’s been baked to perfection and still has those fresh notes. Then the brown sugar and spices come sliding in… I mean, not spices so much as the faint hint of allspice perhaps. The after taste is light, and more of a sensation than a taste, a light tingling that is really intriguing. Really an amazing Dian Hong, and if you are a fan of that varietal you owe it to yourself to get a bit of this tea. Can’t wait to gong fu this one and see its performance there!

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 0 sec
CHAroma

I see your hesitation. At $30/2 oz. I’d be afraid of messing it up too! I just might have to make a purchase too though…your tasting note has sold me, and I love Dian Hong!

TeaBrat

The price tag of this scared me away…

Bonnie

So worth it! I’ve gone to a movie and spent money in 2 hours that is less satisfying and gone faster! $30 for this…it really is special! Some new tea’s are coming out…a White and a Pu-er.

TeaBrat

I have a serious need to slash my tea budget unfortunately. Need to stay away from the fancy pants stuff until I drink more of what i already have. :-/

Fjellrev

This sounds so awesome. But it really does put things into perspective when you start comparing the price to how much people would spend when going out to a movie and/or restaurant. Sounds like it would be money well spent here.

Dinosara

Yeah, I haven’t been buying new tea lately (or much of anything, actually!), so I didn’t feel so bad about dropping the money on the tea. There are certain teas that are just worth it.

TeaBrat

Hey, no judgments here… :)

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69

I definitely jumped on the chance to get some free samples from Fong Mong Tea, especially after early reviews for their teas were coming back really positive. I asked for this one in order to further my education of black teas! I’ve never had a black tea from Taiwan. The leaves are very long and spindly and difficult to dish out, but hopefully I got the right amount in my cup. They smell kind of chocolatey, but also kind of roasted and they remind me a bit of a dark oolong in aroma.

After steeping the scent is fairly different from the black teas I’ve been drinking regularly. Almost floral? It’s kind of weird, but I think it’s just cause I’m not used to a black tea smelling floral. What a unique tea! It’s like I can taste more standard black tea flavors underneath it, but over top there is a flavor profile I am just not used to. I agree that I get the sensation of mint without actual mintiness. The chocolatey-ness comes out, but there are some… florals? I guess? It’s hard to put my finger on. Maybe piney and minerally, the way some dark oolongs are piney and minerally. Maybe a bit resin-y, like a retisna wine. I think I might have used a little much leaf as this cup has the tiniest hint of bitterness to it, mostly in the aftertaste.

I reall appreciate the chance to try this tea, thank you Fong Mong! It isn’t a flavor profile I normally go for but I am definitely enjoying the cup.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Scott B

Wow, it seems their shipping is really fast.

Bonnie

It must be something in the soil or trees or I don’t know… that is giving this mint coolness illusion in these tea’s…so interesting.

CHAroma

I’ve had that cooling sensation in an oolong before but not a black tea. I’ll have to check this one out! Unfortunately, I was one day too late for the free samples. :(

Dinosara

Yes it’s very oolongy for a black tea!

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87

I couldn’t help it, I had to try this one right away in comparison. First off, the dry leaf smells much less strongly milky and creamy; it’s more fresh and green. You can certainly tell which one is flavored by smelling the dry leaf!

This one smells more floral as well, and I do have to say that I think this one has more of an inherant sweetness and creamy mouthfeel that is just not as present in the flavored variety. Though both are tasty, I do prefer this one. I think these two are very good illustration of flavored vs. unflavored milk oolongs and what shows up in each variety. The flavored was very similar to lots of milk oolongs I’ve had before… all flash in the high notes with not much to back it up. This one is more reserved up front, but overall sweeter and creamier when brewed the exact same way. I’m also interested to see how they both fare in gong fu (but that’s for another day!)

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec
Cheryl

Thanks for the comparison. This is the one I chose to test, so more hopeful now : )

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80

I recently received another round of free samples from Teavivre… Angel Chen and the folks at Teavivre are really too generous! And with such great tea. Anyway I’ve had their unflavored Jin Xuan before and loved it, but I was wondering how this one would taste. It’s not often a tea company specifies about milk oolong flavoring, and I am excited to try this one.

In the pouch the dry leaf smells incredibly milky, buttery, a bit fruity, as expected. Even milk oolongs that brew up pretty un-milky start out smelling milky, but this one is more amped up than usual. The steeped tea smells more floral, almost magnolia-ish, with a nice sweet creamy background note. If I smell really deeply I get a cooked-greens note in the lingering about as well. It doesn’t have a really rich baked-buttery aroma to it, it’s a bit fresher scented.

Early sips of this yield a nicely sweet-cream, slightly peachy flavor. You know, for all the flavoring it’s pretty light, and it tastes much like some of the other milk oolongs I’ve tried in the past. It’s pretty tasty, but I’m also pretty sure I prefer their unflavored variety. I will have to try that one again now (I still have some sample packs left from my sample of it) to compare because I am curious. I can’t say exactly why except this one seems less creamy which is surprising because it’s the flavored one! But it just kind of seems like the creaminess is on the surface, not melding with the flavor of the tea itself. I’m unsure because it’s been a while since I’ve had the unflavored.

Thanks so much for the opporunity to try this one, Angel and Teavivre!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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97
drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
2042 tasting notes

Ah, back to my tea. Some day I will have a variable-temp tea kettle at home, and maybe air conditioning for hot days, and I will drink more tea at home. Right now its way easier for me to drink it at work!

Once I started getting into black teas I knew this would be high on my list of teas to try. I mean, just looking at the notes on Verdant’s site were enough make me excited. The dry leaf has those molasses-grainy notes I love from Fujian teas, so that’s a good sign already. I followed the instructions for western brewing of this tea on Verdant’s site exactly, which means I used a lot more leaf than I usually do (1 Tbsp per 8oz), but the leaf was pretty fluffy so it probably evens out.

After steeping the tea smells really great. Chocolatey, or maybe more properly cocoa-y, like the smell of my dark cocoa powder. Also a bit grainy, but mostly cocoa-y. The flavor is also very cocoa-y, in that same, unsweetened cocoa kind of way. There’s definitely an immediate aftertaste of having eaten something chocolatey. It’s certainly not bitter in the typical way tea is bitter, but it does give the impression of bittersweet chocolate. It was kind of a distracting morning so I didn’t get to spend a ton of quality time with this tea like usual, but it’s definitely delish. Wish I could have written a more thorough review, but I guess I can save it for next time!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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78

Well I just got in from out of town and I have been inundated with tea! Samples from Teavivre and Fong Mong, and my order from Verdant. I didn’t really know where to start. I did order the Golden Fleece from Verdant but I didn’t want to dive into that one just yet. I decided I wanted to go for a black tea, western steep, from Verdant, and I chose this one. As I’ve mentioned before I’ve been getting into Chinese black teas lately, so I was already intrigued by this tea. Then I also read about it’s namesake and I can’t resist a dagger-wielding warrior woman, so that clinched the order.

The dry leaves are very nice looking, dark with golden streaks, spindley and curly. I can’t smell the dry leaf too well but what I do get smells nice grainy and malty. I steeped exactly according to the instructions on the website for this tea (western style). It smells heavenly. Dark chocolate, molasses, grains, malt, and there’s almost a spiciness that tingles in your nostrils when you take a deep sniff, like sniffing cayenne pepper.

The first part of the sip is sweet, almost honeyed, with chocolate notes that kind of shift from a sweeter chocolate at the beginning to a much darker chocolate toward the end. The flavors that build in the latter part of the sip are rougher, less refined than the first flavors. These are a little bit of wood, a little bit of smoke even that tingles in my mouth. Not smoky even like a keemun is smoky, but more the faintest whisp of smoke or maybe like the woody notes are a little charred. As it cools those flavors toward the end of the sip become stronger, making the whole thing a little prickly in the mouthfeel.

I enjoy this tea a lot, but I have a feeling I will enjoy the other black teas I bought from Verdant more. We shall see! It has a rough quality about it that I’ve found in other fine black teas; it doesn’t really keep me from enjoying the tea, but it’s not my favorite character in black teas, at least at this point.

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec
Bonnie

Nice review! I really loved this one finding it with the Laoshan Black and Teavivre Black my top three favorites. Don’t get me wrong though, it doesn’t have to be your favorite! Seems like we got our shipments of the same samples at the same time which will make for interesting comparisons!

TeaBrat

Always fun!

Dinosara

Yes, I’m enjoying seeing everyone reviewing these teas around the same time right now!

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88

I’ve been traveling recently, which is why I’ve been so quiet again. This is another short trip, though, so I’ll be back in action relatively soon.

My parents don’t have a tea kettle so I have to boil water in a pan on the stovetop, which isn’t so bad with a small pan. I’ve been tea deprived for several days now, so it’s nice to settle down after violent thunderstorms with a hot cup of Dammann tea (in an air conditioned house, of course… it was over 90°F before the storms!). I love having these tea bags around for traveling.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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81

After reading ashmanra’s tasting notes on this one it has been on my shopping list, and so I was thrilled when there was a sample in my package from SimplyJenW. You are too good to me! I opened the pouch and woah: total milk oolong aroma. Milky, buttery, a little sweet corn, it smells really yummy. It looks like an oolong, too, with it’s little balls of leaf. I kind of don’t believe that this is a “green” tea at all. Green oolong, yes.

Steeped with the parameters that some others have used. The steeped tea has those buttery, creamy scents, along with a hint of a floral note. Definitely that sweet corn/kettle corn scents as well. Flavors start out as leafy, vegetal, not very strong, but as it cools more buttery notes come out as well as a fruitiness (peaches? nectarines? some kind of stone fruit maybe). It definitely gets sweeter as it cools, as well. The mouthfeel is not as creamy as I might have hoped, but overall it’s a very tasty tea. I would definitely call this a milk oolong (not shocking as it’s origin is Taiwan), and it’s a pretty good one at that.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

It definitely looks like an oolong, have no idea why they call it a green tea but now I’m glad I didn’t buy any. :)

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74
drank Keemun Mao Feng by Harney & Sons
2042 tasting notes

A while ago I would read tasting notes for unflavored black teas with descriptions of notes of chocolate and such, and I would wonder what on earth these people were tasting because I never tasted that when I tried black teas. I’m pretty sure I tried this tea at the Harney Soho store ages ago after reading notes on here about it, and I didn’t really get it. Now I’ve gotten into Tan Yangs and other Fujian blacks, and lately I’ve come across a lot of tasting notes about Tan Yangs talking about how a particular tea is like a Keemun minus the smoke. Thanks to SimplyJenW, I get to try this Keemun again now and make the comparisons!

Honestly, the descriptions of smoky notes in Keemuns have me figuring I won’t like them as much because I’m not a big fan of smoke in my teas. And the steeped tea certainly smells smoky! It reminds me a tad of the wood-fired tieguanyin I had once in levels of smokiness… not like a campfire, but something roasted on one, perhaps. I do also smell more Tan Yang-like chocolate and molasses notes underneath it. The flavor delivers on the scent, and I can definitely see the resemblance to a Tan Yang. I first taste very delicious chocolatey and molasses-y notes, and then the light smokiness grows in the latter part of the sip. Definite sweetness present here.

This is partly rated on the fact that I can objectively tell that this is a very good tea and I can appreciate it as such. But it also falls into the range of teas that I wouldn’t seek out again… I’m just not a fan of smoky notes in my teas. But I’m really thankful to get to try this tea to further my tea education and also narrow my black tea searching!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
SimplyJenW

I did think you needed it for comparison. I did not really think it would be your cuppa, but you are right that it is good to be exposed to those flavors and be able to taste the differences.

Dinosara

Yeah I’m so glad I got to try this one in quick succession after the Tan Yangs. Palate education!

Vortegne

Oh, I like smoky ones. And you’ve made me curious about this one :)

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Profile

Bio

I am tea obsessed, with the stash to match. I tend to really enjoy green oolongs, Chinese blacks, and flavored teas with high quality bases, especially florals, bergamot-based teas, and chocolate teas.

In my free time I am a birder, baker, and music/movie/tv addict.

Here are my rating categories, FYI:
100-90: Mind-blowingly good, just right for my palate, and teas that just take me to a happy place.
89-86: I really really like these teas and will keep most of them in the permanent collection, but they’re not quite as spectacular as the top category
85-80: Pretty tasty teas that I enjoy well enough, but definitely won’t rebuy when I run out.
79-70: Teas that I would probably drink again, but only if there were no preferrable options.
69-50: Teas that I don’t really enjoy all that much and wouldn’t drink another cup of.
49 and below: Mega yuck. This tea is just disgusting to me.
Unrated: Usually I feel unqualified to rate these teas because they are types of teas that I tend to not like in general. Sometimes user error or tea brewed under poor conditions.

Location

Ohio, US

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