244 Tasting Notes

92
drank Laoshan White by Verdant Tea
244 tasting notes

This was a sample that came with a recent purchase, so I’m going to take a moment to give a big shout-out to David!

Alright, the first cup was preparrtd with gently-steaming water, and steeped for 15 seconds. The result is a very pleasant sweet tea, which tastes like the finest sweet peas. Unlike most white teas, which get their sweetness from therir floral flavors, this does it by refinig the Laoshan pea flavor. While I wouldn’t call the texture silky, it is a very smooth cup of tea, which is perfect for the lovely weather that I’m enjoying today. I can;t wait to see how the tea develops.

The second cup was prepared the same as the first, except it was only steeped for 10 seconds. It has lost a bit of the sweetness, but not enough to make it unpleasant. The texture has also changed, and is almost creamy, but not quite there. The aftertaste seems to climb up your mouth, and lingers for a good 90 seconds on the hard palate. Wow, that was a lot of interesting developments, can’t wait to see what comes next.

The taste of the third cup is pretty much the same as the second, except the bolder parts havce started to fade away, which is pretty much what I expected, since I rarely get more than four infusions out of a white tea. Oh well, I’ll just have to see what the next cup tastes like, and if it’s too weak I’ll stop.

Right, last cup, REALLY late, and I’m super tired now. This cup tasted adn selt much like an asamushi sencha, with a delicate grassiness and a smooth, almost creamy texture. The taste lingers pleasantly on the roof of the mouth, and stays there for about a minute. A very nice way to end an interesting session.

Music of the DaySymphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47: IV. Allegro non troppo by Dimitri Shostakovich, conducted by Leonard Bernstein.

Link – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogJFXqYEYd8

Pretty good quality, and Bernstein is a great conductor for pieces like this, with lots of energy and emotion.

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96
drank Earl of Anxi by Verdant Tea
244 tasting notes

IT HAS ARRIVED! Yesterday, my university mailroom sent a notice that this package had been processed…three minutes before they closed, and I was 10 minutes away. Regardless, I managed to reign in my not insignificant ammount of rage, and calmly waited until they opened this morning. After getting back to my dorm, I opend the bag, and was nearly overwhelemd by the strength of the aroma. The citrus and spice overwhelms everything, and I had to take a moment as I wasn’t quite prepared for such a strong aroma.

After I got over the initial smell, I put some in my brew basket, and fired up the electric heater to test the flavor. I followed the directions on the Verdatn Tea website, and used near-boiling water and let it sit for 2 minutes. The resulting tea smells like a fine cup of Tieguanyin, but with subtle fruit and spice notes that lurk beneath the surface. Contrary to the dry aroma, the taste of the tea is smooth and refined, the flavors of the orange peels and the goji berries working together in harmony to accent the tieguanyin, but not to smother it. The delicate green oolong taste still controls the foretaste, and it fades away while allowing the other flavors like orange, berry, and jasmine to take over during the trasnition to the aftertaste. This is certainly a tea with hidden depths, and I can’t wait to see how it develops.

Second cup, same preparation as the first. The frankincense has started to develop. I know it’s the frankincense, since it reminds me of my great grandmoster, who used to have it in her home, and who smelled like it after she came back from church. It’s really taking me back to my childhood, and is truly an interesting experience. Another interesting thing is that the orange flavor has subsided a bit, but the goji berry is still fairly strong. Teh jasmine seems to have subsided for now, but the saffron shines through during the aftertaste, which results in a pleasant and flavorful finish. After this cup, I can’t wait to see what else this tea has to offer.

Third cup, four minutes. The frankincense is really, really strong now in both the aroma and the flavor of the tea. There are still otehr flavors, mostly the orange peel and the saffron, lingereing yet not strong enough to really shine amidst the frankincense, but I’m not really complaining. This tea has undergone such interesting transformations, and I suspect that it will continue to do so for a long while yet.

Forth cup, two minutes. The tea is actually pretty cloudy. It’s like a fine Japanese green tea, but the color is wrong. I suspect that this is because the frankincense is really starting to disolve into the tea, since that is still the dominant aroma and flavor. Unfortunately, stuff has come up, and I can’t take the tea with me, so I have to cut this one short. I’ll try to get another cup or two in before I go to bed.

…Well, real life decided to crash with me tonight (figuratively, not literally), so I’m not going to be able to taste more of this tea today. Sorry about that…

Music of the DayPrelude (oud) dir. Jordi Savall

Link – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FBlA_iGZu4

This is from another album that I bought (I really, really, REALLY can’t resist historically-informed performances), which is another book/CD combo. It’s a lovely album, full of music with rich histories, and the book has lovely essays on the history of Jerusalem.

Bonnie

I’m interested in how you like the tea at about the 3rd steeping when the incense really kicks in.

ashmanra

Nice! Thanks for providing the link!

Joshua Smith

Bonnie – I actually can’t wait for that either. You made it sound so good, that I’m really excited to taste it.

ashmanra – You’re welcome! This particular album is pretty easy to find on youtube, unlikke the other two I have. You also might like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YHM7sD-3-w

Bonnie

My kind of music! Great with this tea. http://youtu.be/gGg6wta1qWA (this is about an hour long run of background Arabic music (Dance ASHMANRA).

Joshua Smith

So far, it sounds very nice. I don’t have time for another cup, so I’ll sit and listen to this for a while before going to my last class of the week. Thanks for the link!

ashmanra

Lol! I will! And Sam puppy will probably dance with me!

Bonnie

Sorry about whatever crashed in life…from my long years I know there are these times and they come and then they go. I hope this is swiftly over then good for you again. You described the tea well.

Joshua Smith

Thanks Bonnie! A friend of mine has been having medical problems this semester, and she ended up in the hospital again…hopefully this is the last time, she’s already missed more than a week’s worth of classes.

Bonnie

Thanks for the update. Prayers for your friend! She’s fortunate to have you!

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93

WEll, I finally got arround to trying my sample of this tea. It’s been sitting burried under a lot of other, larger bags, but that’s not a good excuse. The first infusion was prepared with my Finum brew basket and just steaming water, which was let to steep for three seconds. The result looks more like a white tea than a green tea, butthe taste quickly removes my doubts. The flavor is sweeter than any white tea that I’ve ever had, with just the lightest hint of grass. I also totally agree with David about the creaminess, which really stands out as you transition into the aftertaste, where it lingers for a good minute on the roof of the mouth. Truly and exceptional green tea.

Second cup, also 3 seconds. Teh result isn’t quite as sweet, and the flavor profile is a lot more complicated now, but I’m not sure what exactly I’m tasting. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great cup of tea, it’s just that it’s in the middle of a transition, so I’ll reserve judgement until the next cup.

Third cup, same as the previous two. The flavors are settlying out, with an interesting nutty flavor that is vaguely similar to cashews being quite noticable. Again, I agree with David about this being similar to genmaicha, but ther edifferences are what makes this tea interesting. The nutty flavor is a bit less refined, and it’s sweeter than most genmai cha, and the grassiness is less prominent. Overall, it’s a vey interesting experience.

Fourth cup, preparedd with the same wter temperature, but steeped for 6 seconds. The tea is back to beaing subtly grassy and very sweet. The creaminess is also back, which is a wonderful surprise, and and interesting spicy flavor has begun to assert itself. This tea seems to have a lot more depth than I initially thought.

Music of the dayExistential Blues

Link – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6cGTq3nOwI

A strange yet funny song from the Dr. Demento show, which a friend’s dad pointed me to earlier this week. I had a hard time listening the first time, since I was laughing so hard.

Bonnie

Ah the joys of a finum basket and good tea!

Joshua Smith

It was definitely one of my better tea-related investments.

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100

Second review of the day!

I actually prepared this astounding Tieguanyin in my new Finum brew basket, whic greatly simplified the process of making tea. This first infusion was steeped for 15 seconds in near-boiling water, which resulted in a rather weak infusion, since I didn’t wash the leaves first. This is pretty typical of Tieguanyins that I’ve tried before, so wasn’t discouraged. The flavor was very sweet, a bit like caramel, but since the leaves haven’t really started to open up the flavor is pretty muted. The texture of the tea is very smooth and creamy, which lingers on the tongue for a good three whole minutes, which is also amazing. My other aged Tieguanyin is similar, but this tea just takes everything to a whole new level.

Second cup, 10 second steep. The thing of note here is that the leaves have started to open up, so there falvors are much more intense, with caramel and something akin to chocolate dominating the palate. The texture of the tea is decidedly creamy now, and it lingers for at least three minutes now. I actually can’t resist taking another sip after three minutes, so that experiment is pretty much a bust now. Also, it should be noted that the caramel is actually stronger than the chocolate, resulting in a very sweet cup of tea.

Third cup, I actually lost track of time, so I don’t know how long this one steeped. Even though it’s provbably oversteeped, it’s still sweet and creamy, which is a pleasant surprise. The chocolate flavor is a bit stronger now, which is expected, so there’s no reason to mourn the loss of the caramel flavor, since I’m pretty sure it will be back. All in all, this cup wasn’t the best, but it’s still far better than my other one.

Fourth infusion, 30 seconds. This, this cup is pretty much perfection. Warm, sweet caramel flows through my mouth, leaving behind interesting flavors that are starting to emerge from beneath the chocolate. The delightful flavors dance across the tongue, then move up to the hard palate where they linger for three minutes, after which I can’t tkae it any longer and I have another sip. This, this is like the Platonic ideal of an aged tieguanyin.

Fifth infusion, 1 minute. This is where the flavor is really starting to get complex. There are a bunch of things muddled together, and it’s really hard to make out what everything is. The creaminess is fading, only peaking through at the very beginning of the aftertaste before it wades away into a pleasant tingly sensation on the hard palate. I think there is something a bit citusy present, but I can’t quite put my figer on it…

Sixth and seventh infusions were let to steep until I felt like they were done. They were both very complex, with subtle flavors that never really asserted themselves. There was a hint of citrus, a touch of spice, but other than that, I can’t really say. Regardless, this was an amazing tea, and I’m really glad that David actually sold it to us instead of keeping it to himself. I don’t know if I could have done that…

Music of the Day #2Mare Nostrum directed by Jordi Savall

I’m a sucker for good historically-informed perfromances, and this is by the same people as the previous album. This album actually focuses on the Mediteranean Sea, after which the album is titled (Mare Nostrum is the Latin name). The pieces on this album come from as early as Classical Antiquity and as late as 1690, and follow the themse of Mediteranean culture.

Sample – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bIoe8JXhQk

ashmanra

Lovely music!

Joshua Smith

I’m glad you enjoyed it!

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100

Alright, first time in almost two weeks that I actually had enough time to do a proper review. First of all, I actually tried this tea when I got it, but I had a paper to write and team mates to “motivate” so that the group wouldn’t fail a project (I refuse to do all the work, and actually had to bring the professor into the discussion to actually get them to work…).

As with all my green teas, I brewed this tea in my ceramic tumbler. I actually like to let my tea cool for a while before drinking, so the leaves had a few minutes to steep peacefully before I started to blow them out of my way. The first cup was delighfully clear and lightly grassy. It’s very sweet for a green tea, and it has an amazing smooth/creamy finish that is just perfect. It’s also amazing in that the smooth/creamy texture lingers for over two minutes on the hard palate, gently transitioning into a tingling creaminess (somehow, the smoothness dissapates). This is by far the best green tea I’ve ever had.

As the steepings ocntinued, the hashser edges of the grassiness quickly faded into a delightful sweet grass flavor. It’s like my beloved fukamushi sencha, but the texture of the tea is smoother. After about three cups, the creamy texture has faded, and it was relanced by a mineralish smoothness which lingers on the back of the tongue very delightfully. By number 5, vanilla was starting to peak out of the rest of the flavors, but it remained fairly weak for a quite some time.

The later steepings where characterized by a light vanilla flavor, a bit of sweet grass, and a general smooth, sweet taste. The amazing thing is that it never gets bitter, nor does the flavor ever really have anything unpleasant about it. It’s truly a finely-crafter tea, and I offer my humble thanks to both David and Mrs. Li for making this tea available to us.

Final experiment – How do the tea leaves taste? I remember somebody (I think it was Bonnie…) experimented and ate this tea after she was done, so I decided to give it a go. It was interesting, to say the least. The leaves didn’t have that much flavor, and they were very chewy, yet they wern’t unpleasant. It was fine, but I woun’t go out of my way to eat the leaves in the future.

Music of the DayDinastia Borja, directed by Jordi Savall.

This is a wonderful historically-informed performance, covereing music from the 11th century up to tail end of the renaissance, and from various cultures. THe common theme is the Borgia Family, and each peice can be related to them somehow. Also, the 3 cds come with a book in multiple languages, which explains both how the pieces relate to the Borgia family, tell their story, and provides the lyrics fo the music.

Here’s a sample: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgU6-cz0RM0

Bonnie

Loved listening to Dinastia Borja and thinking about how the music influenced your experience mystically with this tea. How lovely to listen and have the best green tea of your life.

Joshua Smith

It really is a good album for tea listening, even the parts of the album which are recitations with musical accompaniment. MY only regret is that I don’t understand any of the languages, since I’m sure that it’s even better when you can understand what the singers are saying.

Bonnie

Somtimes I’d agree, and sometimes I like the fact that I’m listening to the essence or feeling of the music instead of the words. I listen to lots of Russian Chant and Choral music and Byzantine Chant.

Joshua Smith

I know exactly what you mean. The music was designed to evoke some emotion in the listener, and that is universal. You don’t actually need to know what they are saying to empathize with the music. It’s actually why I listen to Italian opera: I can figure out maybe 1 in 10 words, but the music is so expressive that I can understand it well enough to actually enjoy the music.

Bonnie

I think that when I was a little girl and my mom sang opera or Beethoven’s Lords Prayer ( http://youtu.be/50dLkv7v2TQ ) and I knew the underlying physical pain she suffered. The tears would roll down my face as she sang and my little heart would almost break. I learned to play this last piece of music on the piano for her which wasn’t easy to do if I got choked up! So this is where I learned to feel music.

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94
drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
244 tasting notes

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92

First of all, I appologize for how long it’s been since I last made a post. My allergies (dust mites) decided that last weekend was a great time to act up, so I’ve been suffering the effects of a severe head cold, but without the benefit of my allergy meds (which were left at home…). Byt the time a acquired my meds, and the three days that it took for them to become effective, a week had passed. If I had had the meds on the first day, that would have been hte end of it, but since this only happnes twice a year, I tend to forget about it after 180 days…

Anyway, now that I got that small rnat out of the way, on to the tea! I actually used my larger mug to brew the tea, and transfered it into my usual drinking mug. I let it sit for 15 seconds before the transfer, and actually managed to pour it all out without spilling anything. After letting it cool for a while, a took a sip and was immediatly reminded as to why this is one of my favorite teas. The sweet foretaste quickly transitinos into a delightful sweet ginseng, with the flavors almost perfectly balanced. The contrast is what really makes this first infusion special, since the bold flavors seems to dance arround your mouth before settling onto the roof of your mouth and the back of your throat. the aftertaste is kind of hard to describe unless you had Verdant Tea’s Orchid Oolong from about a year ago, since it’s almost the same, but not quite as good, but it’s still delightful to experience. This flavor lingers for several minutes, and reasserts itself every time you breathe in. Truly a unique experience.

Second cup, same temperature, 10 second infusion. It is a lot less sweet in the fortaste now, but the sweetness returns a lot for the aftertaste. The middle of each sip turns a bit lackluster, where the flavor seems to wane a lot, but it reasserts itself a lot for the aftertaste, which makes everything okay. Hoinestly, this tea starts at the peak of its flavor, and slowly fades into mediocaty. While sad, I realize that not all teas are like puerh, where you can get interesting flavor development for hours.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C
Bonnie

Oh dear, feel better!

Joshua Smith

I feel much better now, it just took the meds a few days to kick in. OF course, without meds I would be fine in a bout two weeks, since the peak season will be over (at least, until spring).

TeaVivre

Glad to hear you feel better now!

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94
drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
244 tasting notes

Wow, the website actually failed when I tried to post this the first time. Anyway, the tea is more floral than usual, which is probably due to my short steep time. I also noticed an interesting transition, where the tea starts out feeling creamy, but it transitions to the same mineral smoothness of a Wuyi Oolong as the taste begins to fade away. Unhfortunately, I need to run off to class, but I promise that I’ll come back to this and write a few more details.

EDIT: Right, the missing details of the first infusion: I was pleasnatly surprised by the floral flavors dominating the chocolate, which is something that is rather unusual. It’s always fund to notice something new about an old tea, especially one as interesting as this.

Second infusion, 10 seconds, 205 degree water. There is a rather interesting development withthe mouthfeel. The creamy flavor/feeling has been greatly reduced, and I can certainly taste the chocolate a lot more. Teh chocolate also lingers for a whole minute with the mineralish aftertaste. The floral flavor is still present, it’s just a lot less prominent.

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

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93

After my Golden Fleece turned out so well yesterday, I decided to brew this tea in my double-walled mug and then trasfer it to my normal mug. I used a generous amount of leaf, though I wasn’t really paying attention to how much it was, and then used 205 degree water, and let it sit for 15 seconds. Like the last time I brewed this tea, it turned out surprisingly sweet, but with the delightful smooth taste that isn’t quite butter yet still close. Finally, the wonderful smooth walnut aftertaste gently asserts itself and lingers for a rround two minutes. Overall, an amazing expereince which was the perfect pic-me-up for a dreary day like today.

Second cup, same temperature and preparation method, but only steeped for 10 seconds. There is a kind of juicy/fruity flavor that has begun to assert itself, which then transitions to a kind of juniper/woody flavor in the middle, and finishes with that delightful characteristic walnut aftertaste. The resemblence of this tea to butter has further degraded, but it’s not silky or “mineral” (i.e. a Wuyi Oolong), but I’m not sure how else I can describe the feeeling. Regardless, the tea developed well, and I’m very pleased with how the session is going.

Music of the Day – Leo Ornstein, Piano Sonata no. 4
first video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6-oVoTBACw&

The rest can be found in the related videos.

This is a lovely piece written when the composer was in his late 80’s, after several decades of mellowing (he was rather well-know for writing music that would make Schoenberg look tame, but this was written late in his life, well after he finished pushing the boundaries of music). It’s a surprisingly emotionally powerful piece, but I understant the it mihgt not be the type of thing that a lot of you guys like, so feel free to ignore this piece

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Bio

I am a university student, studying Computer Science, who found that I really enjoy a nice cup of tea. I finally got into loose-leaf tea in August of 2011. I am currently in the process of expanding my horizons, and have found that I have a particular fondness for Oolongs in general, and Wuyi Yanchas in particular. The unique mineral taste is very appealing to me, as well as a nice Sencha. More recently, I’ve developed a taste for Sheng puerh, white tea, and black teas. The only things I’ve tried that I didn’t like was Shu puerh, but that might have been because it was quite young. Regardless, I’ve been slowly expanding my horizons, so if you have any recommendations, please feel free to send me a PM.

Just for the heck of it, my other interests include classical musics (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi, Debussy, Shostakovitch, Rachmaninoff, Liszt, and Wagner, to name a few composers). I also have a fondness for a bit more modern music, like The Beatles, all Jazz (by all, I really do mean all), Gorillaz (I love Demon Days), and a couple of Indie artists you will never run across unless you play a lot of semi obscure Indie games. Also, I love cats.

Location

Fairfax, VA

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