2098 Tasting Notes
My samples of the new spring harvest of green teas from Teavivre finally arrived yesterday! I picked through them this morning and pulled a pouch of this tea out to have first because this was my favorite of last year’s harvest.
Mmm, there are few things like a really fresh green tea for spring. It’s kind of amazing. And this Huang Shan Mao Feng is just delicious. One thing I love is the intense notes of buttery chestnuts in this. Those are what first hits you, followed by the fresh green flavor of crisp snap peas. There is a light sweetness that grows as you drink the cup. I was glancing through some of the new flavors, and I liked sugarcane as a possibility because when you chew on sugarcane it’s not just sweet, it’s got a planty-ness to it as well from the cane. The sweetness isn’t as intense, but it has the same quality to it.
Definitely still love this one and glad to have some of it again!
Flavors: Butter, Chestnut, Peas, Sugarcane
I’ve finally gotten through all the Verdant Blends club blends (save one herbal) that I’m going to try, which means I’ve finally gotten through my cupboard for reals. And this is a sipdown of my sample from OMGsrsly, so I’m actually below 120 (momentarily).
Even though the recommended steep parameters have a much lower leaf to water ratio than normal, this tea is just as tasty steeped to my normal ratio too. No bitterness, no astringency. The base is somewhat different (not sure what it is), but it’s pleasant and robust without being too overwhelming or bitter. There is perhaps less vanilla when steeped at full strength; I have to admit I forgot this was supposed to be an Earl Grey Cream of sorts. But it is tasty anyway, and a nice way to start the day.
Flavors: Bergamot, Malt, Vanilla
So, this tea. I was a little apprehensive about this tea because although I love tieguanyin and I love sarsparilla, the smell of the dry leaf was a bit off-putting. So much fennel, why?? Also I was unsure about hot root beer (essentially).
But brewed up, it’s much nicer. Not so much fennel. It reminds me a touch of Master Zhang’s Genmaicha in the scent, but it’s not so toasty in the flavor. At first it mainly tastes like tieguanyin, but as it cools, the distinctive note of sarsparilla makes itself known. I don’t mind it hot, actually. It’s not a blend I would want to buy more of, but I also won’t have trouble drinking it up. Just wish the fennel was absent.
BTW, I got an email recently saying that my flavor suggestions (from ages ago) have been added to the database, and I’ve noticed a ton more flavors lately!
Flavors: Butter, Sarsaparilla, Toasted, Vegetal
This tea is the perfect example of why I didn’t continue the blends club. White Peony Bouquet sounds like something I would like, and initially the ingredients seemed to confirm that: white tea, roses, marigold… check… then we get to peppermint? why?? plus lemongrass?? (citrus and mint are two things that should never go together in my mind) and then top the whole thing off with star anise… blech! The dry tea smells like licorice and mint. Note that I plucked the star anise out of my brew basket before steeping.
After steeping it does not smell pleasant. It’s familiar but I can’t place it. Over cooked spinach? Like really cooked into the ground so it gets that super vegetal sour smell? That’s what this smells like. I think it’s the mint and lemongrass working together. I can almost pick them apart in the aroma, but they are also blending in an odd way. It’s hard for me to take a sip.
Yeah, this tea is super not for me. White tea can be hit or miss for me as it is, and the mint and lemongrass do NOT bring out the flavors I like in this. Also it still tastes faintly like licorice. For those concerned about rose: don’t worry, it’s undetectable (rose seems to be a flavor that can get overwhelmed by others easily). I will say, for those who enjoy licorice, mint, and lemongrass, this would probably be good. But this tea for me can be summed up by this gif: http://www.reactiongifs.com/nope-nope-nope-octopus/
I know that was a super ringing endorsement, but if anyone wants this it’s going into my stash sales post.
I drank this one yesterday while grading exams, but forgot to log it. Initially I was apprehensive about this blend because it has a lot of odd herbs and barks and stuff in it, but I wanted to give it a try. The dry leaf smelled pretty decent, like chocolatey black tea and yabao, which is to say slightly spiced and slightly resiny.
I actually really enjoyed this tea. It was sweet, chocolatey, and mildly spiced, with some added interest from the yabao. I will have to drink another cup when I’m paying attention more to really figure out what’s going on, but right now I’m digging it. And I’m glad that I didn’t remember that Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong was a smoked black tea. I tried a subtle roast version back in the reserve club days, and it was too smoky for me (which is to say, it was smoky at all), and yet I got no smoke at all from this blend. Hope I don’t taste it now that I know it’s supposed to be there.
This one got me doubting my withdrawl from the blends club, but I have a feeling that the next one (sitting next to me now, waiting to be drunk) will cure me of that.
I don’t remember what was in this blend and I added it this morning at work, so I don’t have the info sheet with me. Dragonwell, obviously, and it looks like jasmine blossoms, sunflower/safflower petals, and lemongrass? We’ll see!
Ok, yeah, this is a nicely lemony dragonwell. Hints of jasmine, but not too floral. Buttery, fresh, and pleasant. Will be interested to know if there is anything else in here that I’m not tasting, but otherwise it is a nice spring tea.
So I did end up canceling my blends club (even though I have enjoyed these teas) because I was looking them all again, and one tea of three a month is just not worth it to me. Clearly my taste buds are just a little bit different from the folks at Verdant (they love fennel and mint!), which is funny because I have enjoyed so many of their blends that have been offered for sale on the site. Guess I will stick to those for now on.
There have been a ton of “bouquet” blends in the club lately; lucky for me I do enjoy floral teas, otherwise I would have been really disappointed. I didn’t look at this one closely before I brewed it so I didn’t realize it was a white tea, but it seems to have turned out pretty well.
I get some fresh jasmine, notes of hay and apple from the chamomile, and a bright tartness from the goji berry. The white tea gives the whole thing a smooth, marshmallowy sweetness that is very pleasant. I do happen to like this tea a lot.
So my goal this weekend is to try all my Verdant Blends Club blends that I have neglected and make a decision on whether to continue the club or not. I like the idea in theory, on the whole I’ve not been overly thrilled with the blends. Some of them I’m super glad to have (Jolly Earl, Master Zhang’s Genmaicha), but others are super not for me (Licorice Mint Herbal, the tulsi box). I’m just not sure if it is worth it; not the money, but the accumulating pile of tea that I won’t drink.
Side note: sometimes I feel like I’m one of the only ones in the Blends Club (with CelebriTEA, haha). I usually add all the teas to the database right when I get them, but I didn’t this month and I just had to add one of the May teas today.
Of course, I started with this one and it’s pretty good. I think I need more leaf, but it’s a nice blend. Rich, chocolatey tones from the Zhu Rong and the cacao husks, bright, tart fruitiness from the goji berry. Blends like these tempt me to stay in the club, and the fact that the blends that I love never actually make it to the blends page of the site. Then again, if I love it and then can never get more of it, what’s the point? The reserve club was educational, and I drank all of those teas happily (plus there actually was a way to get more of those). Then there’s the fact that it seems like half the teas contain things that I strongly dislike (licorice, mint, fennel), or can’t drink (rooibos).
So anyway, this tea was tasty, but I seem to be talking myself out of the blends club. We’ll see how the rest of the tastings go!
I steeped the rest of this sample a little longer because I wanted a bit more flavor from it last time. That may not have been the bestest of ideas for me.
See, this tea already had some of the notes that I don’t like in Taiwanese black teas, the specific fruitiness that doesn’t agree with me. In the weaker brew they weren’t enough to turn me off, but I didn’t think about the fact that in the stronger brew they might become more prominent. BUT I still find the overall tea tasty. Fruity, honeyed. If you like Butiki’s Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black it might be worth checking this one out as well.
I suppose it is time to start working on sipping down some old teas in my stash. Starting with this one! I remembered that I only had a bit of this left, so I decided to make it a sipdown. I used a bit more leaf (but it is quite old), and hopefully left behind the tea crumbs in the bottom of the bag. I also looked at some old tasting notes that mentioned a bit of bitterness in this, so I went full green tea with my steeping temp.
It seems to have worked pretty well. Nicely almondy, no bitterness. Not much interest from the base teas either, but it’s hard to win with a black/green blend. Nice to finally get this one out of my cupboard, it’s been in there forever!