102 Tasting Notes
I have to say Laoshan greens are beginning to rival TGY as my favorite teas from Verdant. I was blown away by the spring harvest and waited with great anticipation for my autumn order to arrive.
I steeped a scant teaspoon of leaves in a 4 oz gaiwan at 165 F for 1 minute with the lid off. This is my usual method for brewing Chinese green teas. I feel lower temperatures bring out more of the sweetness of green tea and less of the swampy/brothy flavor it can sometimes have.
The flavor of the tea is marvelous. Creamy soymilk, fresh, very clean and crisp from start to finish. There is a nutty undertone that I can’t quite put my finger on. Verdant describes it as oats and wild rice but to me it evokes the flavor of coriander or sesame seeds. The mouthfeel is dry and extremely smooth. I was struck by the distinct soymilk flavor which I haven’t encountered before with other green teas. It dominates the early steeps before transitioning to a more vegetal taste.
Compared to last spring’s tea, this one is more on the savory side. Spring laoshan was sweeter and full of bright spring vegetables. I preferred the spring picking but the autumn is a wonderful tea in its own right. It gets you a lot more mileage. It keeps going strong for several steepings and perfect for grandpa brewing.
Flavors: Coriander Seed, Milk, Soybean
Ok, I’m issuing a retraction: this tea isn’t bad once you adjust the quantity of leaf. Like with most dark oolongs, I couldn’t drink a full on brew and had to use 1/3 of the amount of tea leaves I usually do.
It tasted a lot better this time around. The earthy notes are softer and sweeter and I can actually pick up some of the fruitiness. I get notes of honey and caramel/burnt sugar in later steepings which are quite delicious.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from it, but I’m happy to have found a way to make GABA oolong work for me. The relaxation effect is for real and I and I can tell this will become my go-to nighttime tea and insomnia cure.
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Fruity, Honey, Raisins
I spent my entire stash trying to figure out a way to brew this tea without bitterness and on my last cup I finally got it. Very brief steeps mixed together bring out the depth that was missing. The tea somehow became brighter and cleaner and the strong vegetalness faded. A very enjoyable oolong tea indeed!
If you like oriental beauty, then GABA oolong may be the tea for you. It’s got that black tea-ish flavor which I don’t really care for. Actually reminds me of darjeeling, with a slight sourness and woodsy tobacco kind of flavor. Though I don’t normally use sweetener, I found a little honey helped take the edge off the tea.
As for its calming effects, I did feel this light almost giddy sensation afterwards followed by drowsiness. I don’t know if that was the GABA doing its thing or a placebo effect.
I’ve got my half-spent leaves cold steeping right now and am hoping it will taste better iced. Overall, this is not my cup of tea but I’m intrigued by the medicinal effects. I think underleafing and adding some spices along with sugar would help make this more palatable.
Flavors: Tobacco, Wood
I’d never heard of Pomelo flowers, but this tea caught my attention as I was browsing Taiwan Tea Crafts. Its description sounded similar to orange blossoms from which perfumey orange flower water is derived and just happens to be one of my all-time favorite culinary flavorings. It’s a flavor I’ve long sought in tea but alas most teas labeled orange blossom are actually flavored with citrus fruit, not flowers.
TTC’s citrus flower oolong didn’t taste like what I imagined but that doesn’t matter because the flavor is unique and enjoyable on its own. This tea smells and tastes like a bouquet of wildflowers. Subtle notes of jasmine float in the background and hints of crisp citrus emerge as it cools. A very pleasant and refreshing tea that leaves behind a syrupy, flowered aftertaste.
Getting the steeping parameters down is important to getting the most out of this tea. The wildflower tones, while delightful, can be almost cloying if you overleaf as I initially did. After some experimentation, I settled on 1.5 tsp of tea per 4 oz for steep times of 50s/40s/50s/60s/70s/90s.
Kudos to TTC for another impressive floral scented tea!
Flavors: Flowers, Honey, Jasmine
Received this in a swap with LiquidProust.
This is a buttery high mountain oolong with a sweet, thick liquor. It has a subtle pear like fruitiness and faint floral notes. It’s similar to BTT’s LiShan but this one has a heavier body. Steeped gongfu, I got nearly two pitchers out of it which is pretty good. This is probably my favorite BTT oolong so far. However like many of their teas I felt it lacked a bit of complexity. It’s overall a very pleasant cup, but with so many impressive offerings out there from other oolong players, it’s just not something I’d stock up on.
Flavors: Mineral, Pear, Sweet
Despite my meh feeling towards roasted oolongs, I still buy Wuyi because I like it in bubble tea and a few have been quite memorable. This tea wasn’t much to brag about initially until I ignored brewing directions and dialed the leaf quantity way down to about 1 tsp/1 gram.
That may be weak for some, but for me it was perfect. It brought out the tea’s best flavor without the overbearing roastiness that can ruin it. There is a smooth, roasty oak flavor complemented with a slightly sweet minerality and notes of cacao nibs. I’ve noticed the latter is characteristic of many of Verdant teas. As it cools, it develops more sweetness and complexity.
Bumping up my rating as I now enjoy this after finally getting the steeping right.
This Red Leaf matcha has a very unique flavor and aroma. It is strikingly floral and sweet, without the grassiness or vegetal flavors that typify most matchas. If you could grind a floral green oolong into powder form, I imagine this is what it would taste like.
Appearance wise, it leaves a bit to be desired. The color is a rather unappetizing mossy green unlike the nice, bright green Japanese matcha I’m used to. When prepared, it’s thin-ish with little viscosity and barely any froth.
Looks aside, this made a fantastic matcha latte. Deliciously sweet and luscious floral. It’s a real nice change of pace from grassy matchas. At $2.39 for a 15g sample it’s an incredible value and organic to boot.
Flavors: Floral, Honey, Sweet
This year I’ve really expanded my tea horizons and dove head first into the world of oolongs and fine Chinese greens. It’s been an exciting journey but sadly in the process I’ve neglected my first tea love, Japanese green tea.
Seeking to rectify the situation, I recently ordered a few samples from Yunomi. The teas I got were decent but nothing to write home about. So I went back to Yuuki-cha, one of my favorite pre-Steepster tea companies. Unfortunately most of the teas I was interested in were sold out so I rolled the dice on this mid-range sencha.
I’m glad I took a chance on this one because this is one delicious tea. It brews up emerald green with a crisp and vibrant green flavor. The wet leaf aroma is reminiscent of fresh cut, damp grass. Unlike the Yunomi teas which tended towards a savory umami flavor, this one has a bright, grassy sweetness to it that coats the mouth a little.
Overall a quality tea experience that’s revived my interest in Japanese green teas!
Flavors: Freshly Cut Grass, Sweet
You could be forgiven for mistaking this for a flavored tea. The fruity, tropical notes are the first thing to hit your tongue. All of the flavor descriptors that Whispering Pines gives are present. There are pineapple, peach, and coconut tones complimented by a buttery body and subtle milkiness.
This tea has none of the floral or mineral taste that I’m used to with green oolongs. It’s all tropical fruit and cream. It took a few sips but my palette quickly acclimated to the unique taste of this tea. This is a very pleasant after dinner tea and fantastic iced.
Flavors: Coconut, Creamy, Peach, Pineapple, Tropical