153 Tasting Notes

92

Lovely aroma, refined and delicate jasmine flavor. This is a top shelf jasmine tea that has a very natural taste. It’s not overly perfumey nor fake-tasting like many other varieties of Jasmine tea. The silver needles are in a harmonious balance with the jasmine. It’s the perfect tea for grandpa steeping or cold brewing.

If I had to fault anything, it would be that it doesn’t really distinguish itself from the upper echelon of jasmine teas. Yunnan Sourcing and Verdant’s silver needles taste very similar. Between these three, you could close your eyes and pick any tea and it will still be more or less the same.

Flavors: Cream, Floral, Jasmine, Vanilla

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C

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83

Backlog.

I’ve been on a dragon well binge this spring and this is the latest installment. I am a bit unsure about how to rate this tea because my experiences have been very mixed.

In the beginning, the tea was wonderful. Smooth and crisp with a nice body and zero bitterness. Subtle notes of creamed spinach and green bean could be detected along with a classic, soft chestnut. The flavor was well balanced and clean.

But alas the lovely fresh flavor of this tea didn’t last long. Within a few weeks, there was a noticeable drop in flavor. The tea went from sublime and smooth to tasting like chicken soup. Not sure what made it go south so fast, but it seems this one loses its freshness pretty quickly.

Flavors: Cream, Grass, Green Beans, Spinach

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 g

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66

I’ve never a met a Bao Zhong I didn’t like – until I tried this one. Picked it up because it was inexpensive and like with most things, got what I paid for.

It’s not a bad tea per se, but it just doesn’t measure up to the other more exquisite versions of this tea that I’ve had. It’s got a generic bao zhong flavor profile – honey and orchid fragrance, buttery body, and light sweetness. However, it’s missing the fresh flowery notes of lilac, hyacinth, and gardenia. Overall I find the taste to be insipid and lacking the sophistication and subtleties of BTT and TTC’s higher grade bao zhongs.

Flavors: Orchid

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C

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95

I picked this up up on a whim while ordering from Verdant because it sounded intriguing and I’m glad I did. This is one freaking delicious tea. As a fan of their Laoshan green teas, I consider this an upgrade. It has the characteristic Laoshan flavor but it’s richer and more complex.

The dry leaf has a deep vegetal and nutty aroma. In a heated gaiwan, that changes to a stronger umami like fragrance. The wet leaf smells like fresh steamed green vegetables – spinach, asparagus, and chard. Tea brews up like regular Laoshan green tea, but thicker and fuller bodied. Flavor is creamy, sweet, and lightly floral with a pleasant nuttiness hanging in the background. There’s a grassiness to it reminiscent of Japanese green tea that I love and balanced with an element of fresh green vegetables. It’s also really good cold steeped and amps up floral flavor.

This is easily the best bi luo chun I’ve ever had. I continue to be impressed by Verdant’s green teas. Every single one I’ve tried so far has been nothing short of phenomenal and this was no exception. Their tasting notes for this one were totally on point.

Flavors: Asparagus, Floral, Grass, Lettuce, Spinach

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 5 OZ / 150 ML

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85

I was hesitant about trying this sample because the thought of coffee and tea together made me recoil. Today I felt a little adventurous and decided to try it out.

The dry aroma is of caramel and hazelnut coffee. When wet, it smells like ground coffee beans. I was expecting the coffee flavor to dominate, but to my surprise this tasted like a nice roasty da hong pao. The coffee flavor is there but not up front and center. You taste the warm toasty jin xuan first and then a little char from the coffee that complements it nicely. Shared it with my better half who thought it was weird at first, but liked it the more she sipped.

Really grateful to have tried this tea as it’s an unusual combination that I would never have picked out for myself. After having this and Watermelon Baozhong, I’m legitimately impressed by Andrew’s mad skills at tea blending. Looking forward to future LP creations.

Flavors: Caramel, Coffee, Roasted nuts

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec 7 g 10 OZ / 295 ML

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74

This was one of the more interesting green teas I’ve tried recently. The leaves are shaped like little snails with streaks of soft, downy white hairs. The first time I steeped it grandpa style with a pinch of buds. The taste was sweet, creamy and minty leaving an unexpected menthol like tingling sensation in the throat. There’s some fruitiness and a hint of astringency towards the end. When gongfu’d, it produces an assertive brew with some pungency, a viscous body and a snap pea vegetal flavor that stays in your mouth.

Flavors: Garden Peas, Menthol, Vegetable Broth

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 45 sec 2 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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78

Steeped this western style a couple of times and found it fairly unremarkable. It tasted a lot better gongfu’d. Smooth and light bodied with notes of tender green beans, vegetable broth, and umami. There’s some marine/seaweed flavor in the background, though not off-putting, that fades after the first couple of steeps. It finishes with a nice peppery aftertaste.

Although I prefer Laoshan and other green teas, this is still a good, approachable Yunnan green tea – just make sure not to overbrew it.

Flavors: Green Beans, Marine, Pepper, Umami, Vegetable Broth

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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88

If there was ever a tea made for cold steeping, this Watermelon Baozhong from Liquid Proust is it. The cold steeped tea is a delicious medley of flowers, grass, cucumber, and of course watermelon – just a hint of it as it goes down. I tend to find most flavored teas overbearing but this one preserves the integrity of the base oolong while accenting it with a touch of fruity flavor.

When steeped hot, the watermelon flavoring dominates the delicate flavor of the bao zhong. The taste of the warm tea is reminiscent of watermelon bubblegum which is also what the dry leaf smells like. I hot steeped it once and decided I liked it better cold.

Kudos to Liquid Proust for a refreshing summer time tea!

Flavors: Cucumber, Flowers, Melon

Preparation
Iced 2 g 10 OZ / 295 ML

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89

Backlog. I tried a number of different spring green teas from Teavivre recently and this was my favorite of the bunch. The pine needle shaped leaves are bright forest green and exude a fresh green and floral aroma. The taste is sweet and crisp like lettuce with a light body. This is a very clean tasting tea with little to no grassiness or heavy vegetal flavor and no bitterness. I didn’t mind getting leaves in my mouth because like the Shi Qian dragon well, the leaves were quite tasty. I think this would be a good choice for people trying green tea for the first time.

Thank you to Teavivre for the sample!

Flavors: Lettuce, Vegetables

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C

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92

This is one of the teas I used to be fond of back in the day when I first discovered jade oolongs. My palette has since evolved, but I can still appreciate this tea. It’s fragrant with a pleasant orchid flavor, that isn’t too cloying as TGY can sometimes be. There is a touch of lilac and rose and a subtle vegetal background. A sweet aftertaste lingers following the initial steeps. It can take boiling water without becoming bitter.

Verdant’s instructions call for short steeps which result in a fairly light-bodied tea. I recommend combining steeps for best flavor. This compares favorably to last year’s Early Spring TGY. The difference is this year’s harvest isn’t nearly as long lasting. There is a noticeable drop in flavor around the 4th or 5th steep.

Although I’ve mostly moved on from Tie Guan Yin, this is one I can see myself repurchasing in the future. It doesn’t beat you over the head with flowers and has the most balanced flavor profile of all the TGYs I’ve tried.

Flavors: Cream, Flowers, Orchid

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Profile

Bio

Fell into tea years ago, and for a while my palette was limited to just Japanese greens and a few flavored teas. My tea epiphany came a couple of years ago when I discovered jade oolongs. That was the gateway drug to the world of fine tea and teaware.

I mostly drink straight teas however there are a handful of flavored teas that I can’t go without. I’m on an oolong kick these days but will always have a soft spot for green tea. Love fresh green and floral flavors. I also enjoy white tea, flowering teas, and tissanes. Still have not acquired a taste for blacks and puerhs.

Other non-tea interests include: cooking and being a foodie, reading, traveling when I can, alternative medicine, nature, and of course putzing around on the interwebs.

Location

Chicago

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