19 Tasting Notes

90

Many thanks to David, Weiwei, and the rest of Verdant Tea for such a delicious sample. I was initially greeted by jasmine. A nice surprise! But, then there was apricot, which combines well with the jasmine to add just a slight hint of vanilla. Touches of hard wood and honeysuckle ballances things out nicely, and crafts a very smooth and lingering aftertaste.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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93
drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
19 tasting notes

This is a truely remarkable tea. There is absolutely no bitterness to speak of. It tastes more like a oolong than a black, but with a stronger flavor and aroma. It reminds me of Big Red Robe, and other Wuyi mountain oolongs. There is also a slight bean flavor. It’s like roasted soy nuts, only without the bitterness. Could it be from the fertilizer? One of my biggest complaints with oolong is that it’s flavor is a little too light, for my tastes. This tea is a perfect alternative for anybody seeking a stronger flavor and aroma, but without the typical bitterness found in other black teas. It combines the best of both worlds, and would be an excellent way to begin any day.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec
potatowedges

Love this tea. It’s truly a gift.

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83

I was actually pretty excited to try this one. I must admit, it’s lighter than I expected. Still, quite complex. There’s a little honey suckle. Some definate floral, fruity, tangyness. Sandlewood. The finish is actually a little bitter. I recommend a second wash. Maybe a slightly cooler water temp, as well. 2nd & 3rd steeps: Less wood, more floral, finish is still a bit bitter. I’m not sure about this one. The woodsy and floral notes are pronounced, and that’s great. But, it could stand to be a bit sweeter, by my standards. Also, it’s a little drying. Perhaps, I’m just not in a oolong mood, today?

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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86

I like this shu better than the nuggets. It’s less sedimenty, and more smooth. This tastes more like a beverage, and less like dirt. I don’t know if other folks would enjoy it, if they like the sediment flavor, but I prefer it. It’s very smooth, and light, but flavorful. The color is a very nice redish-brown. 1st & 2nd steeps: The flavor is like old wood. It makes me wonder if it was keep around rotten wood, or something. Not at all bitter. Just rotten old wood. 3rd steep: Old wood, and now leather. No more sediment, at all. Just lots of leather. Like chewing on an old belt. 4th steep (slightly cooler temp): Strangely, sediment is makin a come-back. Leather is fading. Less everything. I’ll have to use higher temp, next. 5th: Lighter flavor, but the leather taste is back. This one feels flatter, and less tangy. I think the water might be getting stale. It’s time to replenish the kettle, anyhow. 6th: Wood and leather are stronger, again. Sorta tangy, too. The aroma is getting a bit smokey. It’s not quite like sheng, though. 7th: I increased the temp a little, and the steep time a lot. The flavor is hanging in there. It’s still wood and leather, though. No new developements, except in the after-taste. It’s like portabello mushrooms, and was rather brief. 8th: Steeped at boiling for 2.5 mins. More of the same, and I’m bored. Over-all, I’m glad I tried this one. There was no fishy odor, and the sediment was minimal. This is a very smooth and approachable shu. Although, it was a little one-dimensional, to me. I enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t get too excited about having it again. However, if my goal were to drink shu on a regular basis, and I wanted to avoid anything gross. This would be an excellent choice. Although, I doubt it would keep me interested for long.

EDIT: Oh! I forgot to mention that I was doing double steepings. So actually, I drank around 16 steepings. By double steepings, I mean that I was steeping once into my cup, and again into my pitcher, and counting that as one steeping, but it’s in fact two. Sorry for the confusion.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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89
drank Autumn Laoshan Green by Verdant Tea
19 tasting notes

This has the most amazing aroma. I only wish it tasted a bit more like it smells. It really is quite good, but I guess I’m used to sencha. One thing I found distinctly remarkable is that I was getting that tangy-sweet flavor in later steepings, simluar to that experienced in later steepings of sheng. It was definately intriguing. The smell, alone, is by far one of the best aromas I’ve ever encountered. I tried it western-style length, in gaiwan, and it was definately too strong. Therefore, I might’ve liked it better had I not over-done it.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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87

Being my first shu, I can’t really rate this by any measure, other than my general impressions. I have to admit, to me, this actually tastes simular to a dark roasted oolong, or black tea, except that it has an earthy, sedimenty… something. I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy it when I first smelled it. But thankfully, it doesn’t taste like it smells. I can deffinately see why it’s an aquired taste. Although, I do find it enjoyable. I can totally see why people like shu. Again, I can’t vouch for this one in particular, being my first. However, I can say that I like it. I chose it as my first, mainly because it was sent as a sample in a plastic baggy and exposed to the light. So, I worried about its shelf life. Also, I figured it would be the least popular out of all the shu samples I received, and I didn’t want to spoil myself, and give it a prejudiced rating. I never read anyone else’s ratings, or reviews, and so I can’t compare it to what other people’ve said. I thought I’d go the unbiased route with all of my samples from Verdant. As good as this one is, I’m looking forward to trying the others. If they’re any better, then I’m certain I’ll enjoy them, too.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec
potatowedges

I’ve been getting into shu, and it’s a pretty marvelous world…have fun!

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96

Once again, a TGY from Verdant has stolen my heart. I really loved the sample from spring, and this was also a delight. I love how green it tastes. I certainly prefer this style.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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99

I loved this tea! I received it as a sample from Verdant Tea. Thanks David! This is a relatively green tieguanyin, and not bitter, at all. It’s robustly floral, creamy and sweet. Not thinking, I used boiling water, and so I didn’t make it to 30 steeps (It was a long day, and I was pretty brain dead). However, it didn’t hurt a thing, and it was still quite excellent, and not bitter, at all. In fact, there was a distinct evergreen, sort of pine, flavor and aroma. It was most delicious, and a big part of why I rated this so high. After a dozen or so steepings, the floral and evergreen flavors started to taper-off, and the sweet, creamy flavor began to take center stage. After 15 or so, this started to take on more of a classical tieguanyin flavor. It’s very clean and smooth, and the beautiful color really held on, well into the later steepings. The sweetness lingers in my mouth, and keeps it watering. I can totally see this becoming a favorite!

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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97

Wow! Now, this being my first pu-erh, I was a little nervous, because so many times people say that it’s an acquired taste. What are they smoking? This is awesome! I liked it right away. It has a brisk, oolong-like, taste. It has very appealing color, too. It’s sort of blush, like apple cider. In earlier steepings, I noticed a faint earthy, sort of mushroom-like, background. It wasn’t musty, though. It was still sweet, and floral. I can sort of taste the sweet tobacco flavor, too, but it doesn’t have that sharp bite. It’s very smoothe. In mid-later steepings, just when I thought it was done, judging by the lighter color, it was not giving up! In fact, it took on a honey, raisin-like flavor that is soooo good. It’s now taking on an even more floral, plum, tangy, somewhat citrus, flavor. It just keeps getting better! I can probably push it even further, still. I guess, we shall see. ::sip sip:: mmmm

::Edit::
So, I got to around 20 or so steepings (lost count), and the flavor is still there. I have to steep so long the water cools, now. That’s my fault, however, because I’m not very skilled at gongfu cha, yet. Some of my steepings were too long, and tasted slightly bitter. I was over-focused on the color. Now, that I know that it’s OK for it to lighten, and it’ll still pack a flavorful punch, I think I probably could’ve managed 30+ steepings out of this. I’ll have to chalk that up to live and learn, I spoze. Definitely worth the experimentation! Plus, there’s still plenty left. This is a very delicious, and flavorful tea. I totally enjoy it better than oolong.

The only thing missing in the experience, is that intense cleansing, centering feeling I get from drinking sencha. It’s more fun, though. Due to the fact that it requires so many steepings, and some skill, I can’t call it the perfect tea. The perfect sheng pu-erh, however? Definitely maybe. Even though, I haven’t experienced anything else to compare it to, I can’t imagine it being any better.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec
David Duckler

Hi Chad! I am really happy that you like the Artisan Revival. This is one that I am tempted to get a tong (stack of seven bricks) to age just for myself. Having played around with steeping a lot on the sheng pu’ers, I have some suggestions to get the most out of them. I have definitely done 30+ steeping on this tea. First, I use what seems like a lot of leaf. Usually enough to fill the gaiwan 1/4 of the way up. This is a light fluffy tea, so 4 grams, which is normal, looks like a lot. I do this so that I can do really short 1-4 second steepings and experience the way the flavor changes (which you describe really well!). By steeping 20, you have to do maybe 10 seconds. Steeping 30 up to 25 or 20 seconds. I also use boiling water on this sheng pretty often because it is so resistant to bitter or drying tastes. To keep the water hot for those long steepings, I pour boiling water into the gaiwan saucer to act as insulation. It actually works pretty well, and gives you more temperature control.

As an aside- if you love the cleanness of sencha, you might enjoy any of the green teas I just imported from the spring picking in Laoshan. They are so far North in China that they have a lot of similarities to Japanese tea. Clean, yet full bodied, rich and sweet. I have a mini-article on the region on the Verdant Tea website.

Nathaniel Gruber

You’re right, most people will tell you that it is an acquired taste, but this is perhaps one of the finest Sheng Pu’ers that have been brought in to the country. You’re spoiled, my friend. :)

Chad

That may be true, Nathaniel. Although, I believe that’s part of the point, for me, when it comes to tea, anyways. To spoil myself, a little. It’s a healthy and affordable luxury, and a fun hobby. I just started, not long ago, and so I’m exploring what’s out there. I chose this tea, partly, so I’ll know what I should look for and expect from a great pu-erh. Besides, I was too nervous to try anything else, that might be unpalatable to me.

I have to admit, I thought your reviews seemed a little biased, at first, but now, I see why. Both of the teas I’ve tried from Verdant are in a whole different class to themselves.

Chad

Thank you for the tips, David. I appreciate the advice. I also loved the sample of Spring Tieguanyin you sent along, and will most likely order some. The handwritten note was also nice to see. I appreciate the little things, and enjoy the personal touch. It’s one of the things I enjoy most about tea. There is such a vibrant community of really nice people. I’m glad I tried Verdant Tea, and I’m certain that I’ll be a return customer. I watched all of your videos on Youtube, and I think that is a big part of what encouraged me to try gongfu with a gaiwan. Your videos were very informative, detailed, and easy to follow. I watched them over and over, and really enjoyed them. Many thanks for your effort and care.

Nathaniel Gruber

Good to hear. I 100% agree…I tend to spoil myself with tea as well, and why not?
For the record, I am very biased towards Verdant Tea, but that comes after trying literally hundreds of other teas out there and knowing the quality that Verdant has brought about in contrast. I’m lucky and spoiled ;) to be able to work with them.

David Duckler

Thanks for the feedback Chad,
I am glad you enjoyed the videos. I have a whole new Youtube series planned to start on as soon as spring (and the tea scouting season) have wound down a bit. You are right about the tea community. The people is one of the main reasons I got into the business. Tea people, especially in China, are just so kind and gracious. The interest in America is encouraging as well. I only hope that tea can overcome the stereotype of being too complex or fancy for most people, so that it can be enjoyed for what it is.

cultureflip

It’s true. You will be hard pressed to find much better sheng than this without spending a fortune and a lot of time. Nice pick!

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65
drank Earl Grey (loose leaf) by Twinings
19 tasting notes

This was my first loose leaf tea. I enjoyed it for a good while, but before long, the flavor was too mild. It’s great, if you want a light Earl with a very refined flavor.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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Bio

I’m relatively new to loose teas; started about 9 months ago. Already, it’s becoming an obsession.

My favorite is Japanese tamaryokucha sencha & kabusencha, from Mellow Monk. I really enjoyed a recent pu-erh, from Verdant Tea. Their oolong is quite delicious, too. So far, Verdant’s teas are the only ones which even approach the flavor complexity, intensity, refinement, and versatility of Mellow Monk’s. Both, have excellent customer service.

I love using my kyusu, because it’s quick and easy. However, lately, I’ve began experimenting with gongfu-style preparation, using a gaiwan. I’m making some progress, but I still have a lot to learn. I’m always open to suggestions, or advice. So, feel free, and don’t be a stranger.

I’ve tested this method with my favorite Mellow Monk teas, and was simply blown away. The more teas I try, the more I keep coming back to the Monk. Also, the more things I compare it to, the more I find to enjoy in it. It took me a short while to acquire a taste for it, but now that I have, there’s simply nothing to compare it to.

Lately, I’m falling more in love with a bold, and intense grassy note, and have been adjusting my steep times & temps accordingly. This is another one of the many benefits of, and testament to, the versatility of Mellow Monk’s fine teas.

I’ve been receiving some interesting suggestions from other reviewers, and I’m looking forward to trying these other teas.

So far, everyone on Steepster has been very kind, and welcoming, and I look forward to participating in the community.

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Tulsa, OK

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