I just love this tea. That it’s been on clearance, and I was able to squirrel away 4 oz. for a very reasonable price, makes it all the better.
I originally was introduced to it through Verdant’s Green Tea Sampler, also a good value. At the time it was 3 teas: this Laoshan Green, Dragonwell Style Laoshan & a Sun Dried Jingshan Green. The latter and Dragonwell didn’t work for me so much, but this one really grew on me.
I think Verdant Teas require one to slow down and pause if you want to truly appreciate what they have to offer. Drinking as much tea as I do, it’s easy to fall into the routine of just brew and drink. But like mindfullness meditation, when I’ve steeped a tea as exquisite as this, I have to pause and breathe into the moment.
My preferred method for brewing this tea is in my glass tea infuser. The infuser is a 12 oz. pitcher with inner glass cup. One brews the tea in the inner cup and then you slowly lift it out. Pulling the inner cup upward creates a vacuum and the brewed tea drains into the surrounding pitcher through small slits at the bottom. The yield is about 8 oz. of tea per steep.
I follow the Verdant instructions and brew this tea with about 175 °F water. Sometimes the temp may be a little lower, as low as 165-170. Either way the results are satisfying. I introduce about a teaspoon and a half of tea on top of the water, and using glass allows one to really observe the tea as it drops, unfolds and lightly dances.
I can’t tell you exactly what the brewing time has been. I’ve mostly based my timing on color and the action of the leaves. The first steep is probably about two minutes or less I’d guess. Most of the leaves settle immediately, while about a quarter remain stubborn on the top. The lower leaves start unraveling, expanding and stretching out, while the color reaches a lovely yellowish green glow (but not too deep). After a few of the stubborn upper leaves begin to descend, I decant the resulting infusion.
And what a lovely result it is. To borrow from Verdant’s description, there was indeed a similar mouthfeel one might get from a smooth matcha, as well as kind of grassiness, but less like wheat grass and more like rich butter lettuce. I get this whole “green bean flavor” people talk about with Laoshan greens, and I particularly appreciate it here. As far as there being any chocolate notes, I’m afraid they are lost on me.
The way I brew it, there is a wonderful back of the mouth tingling and mild memory of astringency. If there’s any bitterness, it goes by a different name here. Finally my palate is left with a subtle lingering sweetness, almost saccharine, if saccharine was a good thing.
The subsequent steepings (upwards of 3 or 4) continue to expound on what’s been introduced. I tend to steep shorter on my second steeping, as I find the wet leaves, after sitting between cups, are fairly ripe to steep. The vegetal qualities begin to wain and each infusion tends to get dryer for me. With that the mouthfeel grows more intense, going from softer and rounder in it’s feel to more vibrant and alive. The tingling on my palate expands from the back of my tongue and spreads around the periphery, leaving me wanting more.
The caffeine punch is so far from a punch, and much closer to a warm hug than anything. I’m gathering the theanine content of this tea, if tested, would be fairly high. I’m left alert, and aware, but calm and relaxed. For an “Autumn” tea, this is somewhat contrary to my understanding of theanine being higher in spring teas, but I’ll leave that to the scientists.
The 3rd steep usually means reheating my water, which then requires me to bring it back down to temp by pouring it back and forth from the pitcher to my drinking glass. My steeping time returns to about 2 minutes, but I depend more on smell now. As the tea is fully expanded, the color is hard to identify at this point. When decanted it retains it’s glow.
The experience of the 3rd and 4th steepings verge on a totally unique new tea, and that’s one of the characteristics I love about this Laoshan Green; such a complex profile. These latter steepings retain the subtle sweet aftertaste with every sip, but just grab hold of your taste buds and pull on them. A grassy nose remains, but it’s more about the dry notes which feel as though they are wringing my taste buds out. Here, a kind of bitterness might enter the equation, but I don’t mind. Combined with the mouthfeel and physical play on my tongue, it all comes together.
24 oz. yield, over multiple infusions, from about a teaspoon and a half of tea, is pretty good in my book. I’d dare say 32 oz. but maybe that’s pushing it. I’m happy to push it.