92

So excited to try this! I’ll need to try different brewing methods, but went with 205 degree F water for each of the five infusions, which were durations of 45s, 1:30, 2:15, 3:00 and …longer (I forgot about it). ~2 tsp of tea in my 1 cup brewing apparatus.

The dry tea doesn’t have a great deal of scent, unlike the other three teas I received from Verdant. Mostly, it smells a bit floral and green (and tea-like), but I find with actual tea, the smell of the dry tea doesn’t necessarily reflect on the infused flavour at all.

First infusion:
There’s a light floral aroma, and the flavour is buttery, rich, and very thick-tasting; that is, the mouthfeel is that of a thicker liquid than steeped tea usually has. There’s a bit of a vegetal flavour, but just barely a hint. Mostly it’s just creamy and tasty.

Second infusion:
The floral aroma is a bit stronger, and the butteriness/creaminess has slightly subsided, but this is still a delicate, delicious, smooth cup of tea. As a consequence of the reduced creaminess, I’m tasting the boiled vegetal and tea flavours somewhat more, which makes the cup seem a little sharper, and more flavourful.

Third infusion:
There’s a deeper, darker flavour in this cup. We’ve moved away from vegetal, floral, and buttery, to almost a bit of a woody, rounder flavour. That makes it sound bad; it’s quite nice though. Definitely stronger-tasting at the end of the sip, and leaves a pleasant aftertaste. There’s still a floral quality, which is different from what I’ve experienced with other teas, where it dissipates almost entirely by the third infusion.

Fourth infusion:
This cup is mellow and definitely on the woody side of things. I want to say that there’s the barest hint of astringency, but it’s not quite there, and not at all unpleasant. It’s just a taste that I think I usually associate with astringency. I think this infusion has less flavour, so it takes more effort to taste its complexity, but there’s a lovely and unmistakeable lingering aftertaste.

Fifth infusion:
Uh, when did this become sweet?! I wasn’t expecting this. All of a sudden there’s a general sweetness in the cup that I don’t remember before. Slightly honey-like. Mild, but definitely there. I wasn’t expecting much from this one, and only continued because the steeped leaves retained a tasty smell and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give it another shot. The sweetness is almost fruity, but not quite there.

The leaves are still sitting in my infuser downstairs, so perhaps I’ll try an additional infusion later or tomorrow. I have to note that this tea has the biggest, most whole leaves I’ve ever come across! And wow, do they ever expand! Glad I used my little infuser-basket thingy so they could expand all they wanted – that 2 tsp has nearly expanded to fill the entire cup’s worth (plus airspace, of course).

So, I definitely am not catching all the flavours that I’ve heard this tea described as, but then again, my brewing method was probably atypical. I was sharing this with my roommate and thought that going with 15-second infusions might be overwhelming for her, but at the same time, I didn’t want to go completely Western-style, so went with IMO a happy medium. I’m not displeased with the results, but really want to try this gong-fu style, or at least, in a series of 15-second infusions. Luckily I have enough left for a couple more experiments before making my next Verdant order (which will probably be on April 1, so as to leave March’s budget alone).

Overall, definitely enjoyable, but I don’t have enough experience to say it’s miles beyond other tieguanyins or anything like that. I am impressed at the number of infusions I did get, and am pretty sure I’ll enjoy the next time I try this, so I’m looking forward to it, although it will have to wait until I’ve tried the other two oolongs and Yunnan White Jasmine!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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I have always been a tea fan (primarily herbals and Japanese greens/oolongs) but in the last year or so, tea has become increasingly more appealing as not only a delicious, calming drink, but as a relatively cheap, healthy reward or treat to give myself when I deserve something. I should clarify that, however; the reward is expanding my tea cupboard, not drinking tea – I place no restrictions on myself in terms of drinking anything from my cupboard as that would defeat my many goals!

My DavidsTea addiction was born in late 2011, despite having spent nearly a year intentionally avoiding their local mall location (but apparently it was just avoiding the inevitable!). I seem to have some desire to try every tea they’ve ever had, so much of my stash is from there, although I’ve recently branched out and ordered from numerous other companies.

I like to try and drink all my teas unaltered, as one of the main reasons I’m drinking tea other than for the flavour is to be healthy and increase my water intake without adding too many calories! I’ve found that the trick in this regard is to be very careful about steeping time, as most teas are quite pleasant to drink straight as long as they haven’t been oversteeped. However, I tend to be forgetful (particularly at work) when I don’t set a timer, resulting in a few horrors (The Earl’s Garden is not so pleasant after, say, 7+ minutes of steeping).

I’m currently trying to figure out which types of teas are my favourites. Herbals are no longer at the top; oolongs have thoroughly taken over that spot, with greens a reasonably close second. My preference is for straight versions of both, but I do love a good flavoured oolong (flavoured greens are really hit or miss for me). Herbals I do love iced/cold-brewed, but I drink few routinely (Mulberry Magic from DavidsTea being a notable exception). I’m learning to like straight black teas thanks to the chocolatey, malty, delicious Laoshan Black from Verdant Tea, and malty, caramelly flavoured blacks work for me, but I’m pretty picky about anything with astringency. Lately I’ve found red rooibos to be rather medicinal, which I dislike, but green rooibos and honeybush blends are tolerable. I haven’t explored pu’erh, mate, or guayasa a great deal (although I have a few options in my cupboard).

I’ve decided to institute a rating system so my ratings will be more consistent. Following the smiley/frowny faces Steepster gives us:

100: This tea is amazing and I will go out of my way to keep it in stock.

85-99: My core collection (or a tea that would be, if I was allowing myself to restock everything!) Teas I get cravings for, and drink often.

75-84: Good but not amazing; I might keep these in stock sparingly depending on current preferences.

67-74: Not bad, I’ll happily finish what I have but probably won’t ever buy it again as there’s likely something rated more highly that I prefer.

51-66: Drinkable and maybe has some aspect that I like, but not really worth picking up again.

34-50: Not for me, but I can see why others might like it. I’ll make it through the cup and maybe experiment with the rest to get rid of it.

0-33: It’s a struggle to get through the cup, if I do at all. I will not willingly consume this one again, and will attempt to get rid of the rest of the tea if I have any left.

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