Featured & New Tasting Notes
Alright, it’s Friday and I want to drink something unique or good. My first thought was some Pubertea, but I don’t feel so happy about some BS shipping on it so I’ll wait till the sour feeling goes away. I went to the stuff I’ve bought and found this 2016 single tree sample I bought for those who helped with the Sheng Olympiad because I didn’t want to have another year of controversial tea; even if the highest end was great. Whatever I write about this please know that Verdant provides great service to me as a customer and I value the teas they bring to the community regardless of claims. I drink for myself and at the end of this session I’ll let you know how I feel.
First thing, 100g is $49.00! That’s a hefty price on a sheng; not to mention 100g cakes are pretty much just an enlarged beenghole. Opened up my 5g sample and saw this was maocha from which makes sense for sample portions and all but I wonder if that changes the taste. Either way, brewing will be much easier. From the looks of the leaf, this has the look of terrible Dacong or some ugly mocha from 4 years ago; like the stuff I bought on Aliexpress once. Not the best first impression, but shou looks like cow patty so who’s to say looks will determine anything. So here go!
Steep one and I can smell the darker notes on this rather than the lighter ones of fruit. I suspect there will be some medicinal taste within some forest elements of damp wood if the smell aligns to the taste.
It was at this very sentence that I decided to stop taking notes. Then it was this sentence that I got back to my computer to let you know that I ate oreos with milk after the 6th steep because my mouth and throat were feeling dry. Also, just so you know, I decided to go back to this sheng after the sugary snack… what am I doing to myself?
So this session lasted roughly three hours by time I was done and only 16 steeps; not sure if I pushed the heck out of this or if it goes that long. The look of this leaf is just pure ugly. I had a huge stick going through my pot the entire time with many stems showing me their side that the sun never saw. Just not appealing looking. The aroma stays constant of wet leaf steam and light mossy bark. There’s no taste of moss, but the medicinal taste is somewhat like what you get when a little aloe for a sunburn gets in your mouth. A little cooling feeling and a little ‘oh that is nasssssssssssssssssssty’ going on.
For me, this tea is 100% void of bitterness which is awesome for a sheng. Admittedly, I’m not sure if this is the same type of material being picked as others due to the look and taste. With no sort of feel at all, other than wanting some oreos, and the look I’m kind of suspicious. The taste never has a sweet side to it and the to the best of my ability I would say this taste like a girl cologne; you know that kind marketed towards a ‘sporty’ man but it smells kind of sweet like whoever is wearing it wants to smell like the candy at the bar around beers. Anyways, I tried this tea and pushed it pretty hard because I had one shot at it. With that said, I wouldn’t want to revisit it within the next year but I am also curious to how easily the cakes break or if they were pressed very loose like the Bill Clinton I have downstairs. I wonder if someone could name a cake Bill Clinton or Snookie… wait, there should be a loosely pressed shou named Snookie.
Verdant has the best roasted oolong period when it comes to the Autumn Laoshan Roasted Oolong and some great black teas for someone who isn’t a black tea drinker, but this is just not my thing. The tea they put out in the spring that was older than the USA was pretty good and had the notes of fruit I enjoy… it’s just this is for a different set of taste buds.
GCTTB DAY 1
Second tea I’m sampling today, this one caught my attention because I like Stash teas but I’ve never seen this one being sold in store. The concept sounds intriguing, and I figured the salted caramel theme might be appropriate for the holiday season. I only left the bag in for about 2 minutes because the tea turned dark quite quickly and I can smell a slight herbal bitterness to it (the mate?) so better safe than sorry.
The aroma does smell like caramel, but it’s mixed in with that strange ashy note that I can only assume belongs to the mate. It almost reminds be of the earthiness of puerh, but not the same type, if that makes any sense.
I couldn’t really taste the salted caramel in the tea. It was overpowered by the earthy/herbal notes that gave off a slightly ashy aroma. It was faint, and only in the background. Overall it just wasn’t for me. I didn’t really expect the flavour of mate to overwhelm everything else. I’m glad I at least didn’t leave it for be recommended 3-5 minutes!
Unsmoked or mildly smoky Lapsang Souchong counts among my favourite teas but I can still love a smoky Lapsang when it is done well. There needs to be a nice balance between the flavours from the smoke and the flavour of the underlying tea. This one is quite enjoyable. The tea itself has a silky oolong like texture in the mouth and in early steeps is intensely sweet. This contrasts nicely with the cooling menthol like notes from the pine. For a smoky tea the aftertaste is actually quite refreshing and even cooling. Thank you so much Angel for the sample I quite enjoyed it.
2.5 g in 110ml of water at boiling
The dry leaf is moderately broken colour mostly dull dark chocolate brown some stems.
The smell is quite smoky but with a sweet pine tar smell mixed with a sweet caramel fruity note in the tea. It smells like fall at my cousins cottage on Georgian bay. It is a mix of syrup, forest and maple notes.
First steep 45s. The first flavour note is sweet caramel mixed with tart stone fruit that opens up to a spicy woody pine/ menthol note mixed with mild smoke which afterwards blends into an even sweeter almost birch syrup ( cooler maple) note. It finishes with very refreshing note in the mouth.
The tea feels very soft and silky in the mouth. The colour is a slightly red toned caramel.
2nd steep. The scent is less smoky more of an aged spicy wood scent that is sweet like a cedar lined sauna. There is a slightly thicker feeling in the mouth with a mild astringency. The tea is slightly more fruity with a touch of malt added to the mix above. Once again a very bright cooling aftertaste is present.
3rd steep. The smoke and pine/cedar wood scent smells more like spent incense. The colour of the tea is more red than caramel. This steep returned to a creamy silky feeling on the tongue. There is a taste of caramel complete with hints of vanilla and hints of ripe plum. It still ends with a cooling feeling on the tongue and an aftertaste of spice and incense.
4th steep. The flavour is fruity and incense like. The tea remains cooling on the tongue. The caramel sweetness is less apparent. You can still taste pine on the edge of the flavour notes.
5th steep. The tea still has a nice body but the flavours are waning.
I didn’t realise this one had such bad ratings until today, which strikes me as odd because while it’s brewing it smells really nice. Fruity, sweet, plummy. I used 1 bag for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water, no additions.
To taste, it’s pretty okay. The plum is very apparent, but it’s not artificial tasting in the way I expected it to be. It’s actually quite juicy and natural, as if actual plum juice had been squeezed into a cup of earl grey. The bergamot isn’t too strong, which is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. It’s a floral/citrus tang in the background, and there it stays. The black tea base is smooth, with no bitterness or astringency. On the whole, I’d say it’s a successful cup.
I’m not the greatest fan of Twinings, or of bagged tea generally, but this one is better than average. It lives up to its name, and the flavouring is pretty true-to-life. I’d happily drink this one again, which is good because I have another 11…
I got a sample bag of this as an add-on in a swap with somebody. I used the whole 7g in a 100mL gaiwan. The dry leaf smelled weirdly sweet and herbal – must have been the smell of ginseng – not sure I’ve ever smelled or consumed that before.
Turns out ginseng is gross – to me anyways. It was sickeningly sweet with a weird almost medicinal vibe. Also left a very strange feeling in my mouth. Sort of like menthol, but also I tasted that funky sweetness every time I inhaled – like the ginseng powder coated the inside of my mouth. I only made it through around 3 steeps, as it wasn’t good and was starting to make me feel slightly unwell.
Maybe it’s for some people, but it’s definitely not for me.
Flavors: Medicinal, Menthol, Sweet
About a month ago I tried Tao’s Banzhang and last week I tried the Lao Ban Zhang. Taking some time apart from reviewing it because I really felt something off of this and I wanted to make sure it was the tea and not just my overall upbeat mood that day.
Turns out, either I’m really susceptible to tea giving me awesome feelings or this is some serious ‘feels’ tea. It doesn’t have a good taste; something like a factory cake from 2007 to 2009 ’ish, but the feels got me.
That’s about all I can say for this one.
From Puerh TTB
I was unable to pick out the notes for a few steeps in. However, after alternating the amount of water to leaf, the tea became noticeable. This tea has a sweet floral and a hint mushroom in the taste. At first, I hadn’t tasted much. The tea had subtle notes of something, but I was unable to claim the flavors.
I will note that even after the session is completed, the mushroom notes are still lingering behind. Definitely an unusual tea, but I think I can drink this again.
Flavors: Floral, Mushrooms, Sweet
This. Is. EXCEPTIONAL. Somehow the second steep is even better than the first. My guess is that the base tea is inherently buttery. The flavoring is soft cinnamon and cream. It’s maybe more sweet potato than squash but entirely delicious. I love how the flavor is robust and delicate at the same time – it’s substantial but not cloying or overly sweet or artificial. I’m glad that this has held up so well!
It’s that time of year again. Work really picks up from the end of November right through to February now, pretty much, and then there’s Christmas and all the associated hoo-ha that comes along with, and this year I’m also half-way through buying a flat. So I’m tired, and stressed, and a bit grumpy right now. And I have to do reception this morning as well as my own work (try concentrating when you’re being interrupted every ten fucking seconds), so that’s already put me in a fairly disgusting mood and today’s work day is only 10 minutes old.
Mate is what I usually turn to from mid-December until the Christmas break starts on the 23rd. I’m looking forward to having 10 days off more than it’s possible to communicate in words. I plan to sleep a lot, and be at least a little bit selfish. Until then, I’ve got this. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water.
It’s good. Maybe the best mate blend I’ve tried in a while. I like the freshness of the orange. It’s juicy and fruity and walks the perfect line between sweet and sharp. There’s also a hint of papaya, and just a touch of pineapple, but it’s mostly orange. Like orange juice orange. Orange perfection. The mate is a little earthy, but it works, somehow, and I’m really appreciating the energy boost. On the whole? A really good ’un. Love this.
I pulled a wee sample of this tea out of the Puerh TTB when it stopped at my house. I was mostly skipping on the shou from the box, but I had heard enough about this tuo that it piqued my interest. My chunk was a rather compressed piece – it didn’t want to open up at all. I let it steam in the gaiwan a bit, but that didn’t help a great deal. Anyways, the dry leaf had a slightly moist and earthy smell. After a rinse, it smelled similar, but a little bit stronger.
This one was quite different from any other shou I’ve tried. It didn’t have any fermentation flavor, but there was some moistness to the tea, probably from storage. It tasted like a moist basement early on – very earthy. I could also pick up slightly woody notes along with some wet autumn leaf. Toward the end of the session, I started to pick out a very slight chocolatey note, but it was not present for the majority.
This tea was pretty decent, and unique in my shou experience. I’m not particularly sad that it’s no longer available. Liquid Basement!
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Wet Wood
I’m finding that I can tolerate these older shengs, but this is the first one that I actually enjoy.
I would have to agree with Liquid Proust on this tea in that it is quite smoky and smooth. There is a bit of astringency on the back of the palate, but just a tiny bit. There’s just a hint of woodsiness, like cedar?
Leaves my palate all tingly after I swallow!!
I guess I just have a thing for bricks or bings that are 1kg or larger. I have bought both 2kg bricks sold by Yunnan Soourcing and another off Taobao. So when I saw an expensive 1 kg bing from Shuangjiang Mengku on King Tea I bought it, only to be told by John that he was out of stock of that bing. John offered a substitution for that bing and it was another 1 kg brick from Shuangjiang Mengku, a more expensive one. The one I had paid for was around $150, this one, the substitution was $259 so taking it was a no brainer. As to the tea. This is a very nice ripe tea. It had a fair amount of fermentation taste to it, about what you would expect from a 2009 tea. The fermentation was only a factor for four or five steeps. It was slightly bittersweet in the first few steepings and there was a bit of a sour note in the first two steepings. After this it was a nice semi sweet ripe tea. I think I could say there had been some chocolate notes earlier in the mix and it would not be too far a stretch to say it developed a bit of a fruity flavor in latter steeps although I couldn’t pin down a specific fruit. Overall this was very good tea.
I steeped this tea eleven times in a 195ml silver teapot with 14.2g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, and 1.5 min. I could have gotten a couple more steeps out of the leaves but eleven steeps with a 195ml teapot is a lot of tea. Despite the fact this was good tea I really didn’t want to continue.
Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Sweet
This has to be one of the older blends in my cupboard…it’s been there more than a year, maybe closer to two? The fact that I can’t remember isn’t a good sign. I think I bought it off the back of a 52Teas cucumber blend that I really enjoyed a couple of summers ago…and then promptly forgot about it. It’s been sealed, though, and the scent is still good, so today it finally sees the light.
The dry leaf looks a little crusty, but at this point I’m really not surprised. There are pieces of dried lime zest and small cubes of freeze-dried cucumber, a lot of peppermint, plus the green tea base (apparently both straight green – sencha? – and jasmine green). It’s pre-sweetened with stevia, which I’m usually against, but if it helps to create a mojito kind of vibe then I might be on side…
I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees. This blend reminds me a lot of Bluebird’s MojiTEA, which is a good thing because I like that one. On the other hand, they’re not sufficiently different for me to want to keep both around, and I wouldn’t replace the Bluebird with this one because (for me, in the UK) Bluebird is more readily accessible anyway.
This one has strong lime notes, followed by cool, dank peppermint. There’s an edge of sweetness from the stevia, but it’s not overdone and it doesn’t strike me as “artificial” in any way. It’s just a touch of (welcome) background sugariness. The green tea base is smooth, a little vegetal. I can’t taste the jasmine at all, which is a bonus for me because I’m not over keen on floral greens. I’m guessing this one would be better iced or cold brewed, but it’s hardly the season for that at the moment. I might try and hang on to some leaf for next summer…but then this one really will be an antique by then, so maybe not.
I’d like to get to a place with my cupboard where most of my tea is less than a year old, and where the amount I’ve got around seems manageable rather than overwhelming. I’m conscious that I’m neglecting stuff, which makes me feel bad, and I don’t want it to be like that. I’ve been pretty good at not buying anything new lately, but the temptation is growing as it always seems to once my cupboard gets under 200. I’d like it to be under 100…maybe within the next year? I guess we’ll see! And at least I know what my New Year’s Resolution is going to be…
I just updated this one after some research. It has older tea leaf in this cake. Stored as MaoCha and then they were pressed into cakes.
I pulled 9 grams off the cake to start with and gave a 5 second rinse. There is color in the rinse that would support the older material.
I started steeping at 5 second increments. The color on th e brews is a nice golden. The aroma has the camphor humid type note to it. This is confirmed upon drinking the tea. You can taste the humidity and the camphor notes along with some mineral in there. The leaf was pretty tightly pressed and there is some bitterness in there as well. This thing is very similar in profile to EoT’s Baotang. It has good storage without being too wet. It gives some tongue tingle and it exudes mintiness breathing it in and out for a minute or so. This thing feels almost like a supercharged ‘7542’ hits all the good notes for me.
This was loads better than the Menghai ’Old Tree Round" I had a while back. Maybe Menghai is something that can be drank without a 5 year or so aging process. I have a couple of more in this same style production to try as well from Menghai.
Flavors: Camphor, Mineral, Mint
well i was PRETTY sure this would not be something that would be up my alley, so i’m not going to rate it. VariaTEA let me have this sample…likely because they like tormenting me, knowing i’ll try anything and everything…even blergamot teas!
This tastes like rosewater smells. It’s like drinking a mouthful of rose potpourri. Gross. So not for me…though i’m thinking that it might be something that our friend keychange might enjoy.
Final Count: 70
This is the same as their house 2010 Bingdao Shou 200g cake, but in a smaller and cheaper waffle brick form.
Really good shou – super clean, sweet, date, dark chocolate, walnut, mineral, all with a really heavy thick texture. This shou still has a bit of green in the leaf too! However, this is a pretty expensive shou, it was $26 CND for this 75gram waffle brick.
Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/2010-puerh-mini-waffle-brick-shou-treasure-green-tea-company/
This tea now is approaching a year old, but the smallest bit of remaining leaf has been tucked away safely in a tin in a cold dark cupboard.When I last had it some time ago, I wasn’t impressed, so I didn’t have high hopes. But today, perhaps I added the slightest bit more dry leaf and steeped it just right and omgwow! The banana is gentle but present enough to whisper banana through every sip. It’s all very nutty, as in walnut/pecan type nutty, including that slight bitterness of walnut or pecan skin flavour. All wrapped up with a hint of maple sweetness. Beautiful.
Very much enjoying this cup. Well done, Lauren.
Now do I dare hope for the same euphoria in my next cup?
Flavors: banana, Pecan, Sweet, Walnut
What have I done?! I just uncovered this tea hiding behind some tins. I’m not sure how long it has been hiding there, but it was long enough for the coconut to take on the slightly soapy taste that coconut does as it ages. It feels like an abuse of tea, especially a Butiki! Luckily it isn’t too far gone and I can overlook the taste while focusing on the other flavors. I can pick out the banana for sure. It is very aromatic making for a nice aftertaste. It is lighter than I usually prefer, favoring heartier blacks, but still very enjoyable.
Today at work was horrible. Horrible. Luckily I was able to brew a cup of this on my afternoon break. I don’t know why I love this one so much. It’s probably not the height of tea. But it has a solid black base that is neither astringent nor bitter. The teensy little candy canes add a fun, whimsical touch of sweetness. Work would have gone much worse without this tea to get me through. It’s a good thing I like it so well, as I ordered 100 grams of it. :)
I really thought I’d reviewed this tea already, but apparently not… I didn’t enjoy it as much this time around, brewed western style, as I usually do, brewed gongfu style. I have no idea what it is about this tea that makes me want to gongfu it, but in the past that is usually how I’ve drank it. Both of my gaiwans are in storage at the moment, so western is the only method I have right now, but I did still enjoy this tea. At first, I was a little disappointed as I couldn’t really pick any flavours out of the ‘herbal’ taste, but as it cooled I began to really enjoy it. The flavours are still not as distinct as when I brew it gong fu, when the flavours of the oolong and elderflower are very prominent, but the more it cools the more the elderflower comes out at the end of the sip, and I do get the feeling that I’m drinking champagne in tea form. My rating reflects the sessions I’ve had with this tea brewed in my gaiwan.
You know what is just a glorious thing, heated blankets. I was able to get a good deal for a new one thanks to Black Friday sales and it was ready to be picked up from JC Penney today, which Ben and I did. It is wonderfully fuzzy and of course wonderfully warm, much better than my usual heating pad usage since it is bigger and not as scalding. I get angry at the heating pad since even on the lowest setting it can be intense, but the heated blanket is like taking a nice hot…dry…bath, perfect for me! It also means I can go longer without opening the dreaded heating vent!!
Today, you might notice, is a Sunday and not one of the days I usually blog, but I was in the mood to write and have many teas piling up that need their story told, so why not? So I decided to delve into my new favorite company, Tea-Historic, a tea company…you guessed it…themed around dinosaurs! It is quite literally the perfect company for me to geek out over, and not just because thanks to this company existing I now have an ammonoid filled fossil tray and jade cup. They were a birthday present for myself, but along with these awesome pieces came some teas to review!
Presenting Mesozoic Malt, a GFOP Assam from Chota Tingrai Estate, being both sustainable and organic. Before I get into the tea, let us have a brief side rant into Paleontology…for once it is actually topical! The name Mesozoic is one of geology’s laziest names ever, one of two Geological Eras, smack between the Paleozoic (ancient life) and Cenozoic (new life) with Mesozoic’s name being ‘middle life’ which definitely sounds cooler in Greek. It is marked by extinctions, starting after the Great Dying and ending with the K-Pg event, called the ‘Age of Reptiles’ which is cooler than middle life, but not really correct since it was really dominated by dinosaurs. Or proto-birds if you feel creative. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Paleozoic, it has many of my favorite animals and of course my favorite extinction event, but my real passion has always been the Mesozoic! So, this tea, sniffing it I can say this is one of the sweetest Assams I have sniffed! This made me happy, you probably notice I don’t drink a ton of Assam, usually I find the brisk and woody notes too strong and the sweetness absent, so having an Assam that has the familiar brisk and woody notes, but also an immensely strong malt and a drizzling of brown sugar made for a happy nose.
I tossed the leaves into my steeping apparatus for the steeping time, I had to set a timer on my phone because I gongfu so much that I will wander off if I brew western style! The aroma is still very sweet, notes of strong malt and molasses with a touch of sweet honey and distant woodiness. There is also a touch of starchy molasses cookies, which adds to the sweetness. The liquid is surprisingly nutty and malty, with an undertone of brown sugar and molasses which again, reminds me of molasses cookies…yum!
The moment of truth, does the sweetness linger…yeah, yeah it does. The description on the website says this is a very sweet Assam and it is not an exaggeration, notes of brown sugar and molasses mix with rich malt and an underyling nuttiness that lingers on in the aftertaste. As I said earlier, usually I am not a huge Assam fan because of its overwhelming briskness (the same can be said of a lot of Ceylon and African black teas) but this one has gentle briskness and a wonderful mellow quality that had me downing this cup super quick! Also it goes for two strong steeps, which is fantastic. The website says this makes an excellent iced tea and I am tempted to get a bunch to send to my iced tea loving grandmother in the South to enjoy.
Drank this one earlier in the week on shift;
This particular shift I didn’t end up crossing anything off the list for Project Tea Wall because I spent the whole shift in the back stock room working on various projects, so this was the only tea I drank that day.
I made it up for myself as a Soy Latte though because I was craving a latte, but wanted to try something familiar and, at the same time, that I normally wouldn’t think to make as a latte. It was between this one and Mango Madness but I can always make Mango Madness at home, and I wasn’t 100% confidant that all the citrus in the latter wouldn’t curdle the milk.
This was definitely different as a latte; but not bad. It still had that special brightness to it, but mostly it was creamy cherry with rose/floral undertones. The coconut didn’t come through at all, really. It definitely satisfied the craving I had in that moment, and I appreciated the nice level of sweetness it had overall too. Even if it’s not my favourite latte I’ve ever had, it wasn’t the worst either.
Friendly reminder that I’m not currently numerically rating DAVIDsTEA blends as I’m currently seasonally employed there and it would be an obvious conflict of interest. Any blends you see with numerical ratings were rated prior to my employment there. These reviews are a reflection of my personal thoughts regarding the teas, and not the company’s.