Laoshan Northern Green

Tea type
Green Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by David Duckler
Average preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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From Verdant Tea

Hearty and rich, this green tea could stand up to any meal, if you could stand to do anything but appreciate its complex flavor. From the Taoist Holy Mountain of Laoshan, the leaves are hand picked and slowly dried over a wood-fired wok. The tea is bean-like, and sweet, with grassy undertones and a thick body.

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13 Tasting Notes

93
1290 tasting notes

Making tea is a good excuse to look out of the kitchen window and try to see what the landlord is doing in the other half of the building. Fact about this house: It was built in the 20s if I recall correctly and the flat that I live in used to be a grocery shop. Upstairs, I imagine is where the grocer lived with his family and downstairs is the cellar. Adjacant to the building there is this empty space, also separated into two or three floors. I’m not sure, I haven’t actually explored it all that much. I assume it has been storage facilities or possibly stables originally. Fact about my landlord: He’s a builder. Lately there has been a lot of noise from the other side of my wall, so clearly his working on doing something with that empty space. Right now I think he’s been taking out the concrete flooring. I wonder if he’s converting it into more flats perhaps? So yeah, any excuse to peek out the window while pretending I’m not actually super curious, I’ll take it. :)

Perhaps this is the reason why I’m stupid! No really, any person who can’t tell seconds from minutes can’t possibly have that many brain cells to rub together, can they? That person, ladies and gentlemen, is your very own Ang. How hard can it be to set a timer? Very.

This tea was another one that Spoonvonstrup shared with me, writing something along the lines of ‘I know greens aren’t really your thing, but I thought I would share it anyway’. Funny really, considering I had just got a bout of green tea inspiration only a few days before the package arrived. Certainly it must have been after it was sent.

It was a generously sized sample, enough for two rounds, so I thought I would try to do it once in the western style and once in a more gong-fu-ish method (to the best of my abilities). Deciding to start with ten seconds, I… yeah, see above. It took nearly six minutes before it occurred to me that something wasn’t right. I can’t even save it by calling this the western style attempt because the leaf to water ratio is all stupid for that. I only use half the amount of water to the same amount of leaf when I attempt these short steeps.

So obviously the first steep yielded a very strong cup, but surprisingly not a ruined one. There is evidence in the flavour of it having gone rather wrong, but it’s by no means undrinkable. Just… strong. It’s got a silky soft and very fat flavour, kind of buttery but not completely. There is a vegetal note to both the aroma and the flavour which reminds me of a bit of cooked spinach. And then of course a bit of a prickly ‘you-got-me-wrong’ reminder behind it all, which I get a clear impression shouldn’t have been there. “Idiot proof” Spoonvonstrup’s post say. Well, then I came along…

But! All is not lost, so let’s try again and see if we can’t get it right, yes? This time I succesfully differentiate my seconds from my minutes and the aroma is a lot crisper. It still has that spinach note but there is also an additional note of something kind of citrus-y. I’m thinking lime, mostly because that’s the colour association I’m getting with this aroma. That colour is more or less the same colour Chinese green teas tend to give me. Japanese greens are much darker in hue in my head.

The flavour is more crisp as well. Not so fat and butter-y, but still with the spinach-y note and a whole lot of citrus. There were no citrus whatsoever in the first botched steep. Interesting, this citrus note. It’s all refreshing and nice tasting and it doesn’t give me that sour aftertaste that green teas sometimes do.

How enjoyable this second cup is! I really like this citrus aspect.

I thought the third cup would be the same as the second, but it appears my initial whoopsie has taken its toll on the leaves because already now they appear to be fading. It is more or less the same as the second cup, same spinach and same citrus, but it’s somehow diminished. More transparant.

I say ‘more or less’, but actually there is some difference in the spinach notes. It seems to be going faster than the citrus-y note, so it appears like the citrus is stronger this time. I don’t think it is, I think it’s just more on its own this time.

This diminishing of flavour shouldn’t happen so quickly in a green tea, I don’t think. I can only imagine that it’s the initial very long steep that has been at play.

It’s still quite an enjoyable cup, though. I just rather miss the spinach.

Unpertubed however, I continue. Weirdly this seems to smell like the second cup. I would have expected it to be even more transparant and for that to only get worse from now on. There is a thick butteryness to it now which I don’t really feel was there before.

The flavour solves the puzzle. It’s not that the spinach has come back like it was in the second cup. It’s that with the further increase in steeping time, the spinach and the citrus is once more in that same balance. The increased steeping time have then given it time to get a little stronger than it was in the third. Even though the third cup was increased with five seconds and this cup has been increased by a further five seconds, so logically it still ought to have been more of the same.

I shan’t complain, though. This is like a rerun of the second cu- oh dear, mental image. Unfortunate phrasing. Let’s call it a do-over rather than a rerun, shall we.

This is going rather well! Let’s do another.

Normally at this point I would start thinking the flavours were fading and I would be getting bored. This particular tea, however, appears to be surprisingly entertaining. I was hoping for another cup like the second and fourth, with a nice spinach and citrus balance in it, but now it seems the citrus-y bit has taken a step back. It’s still there, it’s just hanging out in the background this time. There’s something else, though. Something sweet. Just a smidge of it. It’s not sugar, it’s more like fruit sweetness. Hmm… interesting. Nah, I think I prefer the citrus/spinach balance.

Perhaps that’s an every other steep sort of thing? Let’s try again!

Nope, this is the nearly the same as the previous. Strong on the spinach note and a non-fruity fruit-like sweetness. Hm. Does that mean that the citrus note is completely finished? That’s the only difference. The citrus-y note has changed characteristics and now comes over more like a green apple of some sort of tart variety. Granny Smith perhaps, or similar. There is an apple-y aftertaste at this point as well.

And I think that will be the last cup, unless I decide to do another one later tonight, but although I should have liked to explore that nice apple-y note that has come out, frankly this is doubtful. I’m not bored with it, and I’m sure there is lots more life in the leaf, but I’m full. I can’t drink any more.

Scott B

I am anxious to try this myself even though I am not a big green tea drinker myself. Thanks for the thorough review.

MegWesley

I really enjoy reading these steeping notes. These are the type of notes that inspire me to try to get re-steepable tea. Very entertaining.

Azzrian

Exactly! I feel the same way Meg! I mean sometimes you can steep a tea so many times I never get the FULL benefit from the tea lol but I try to dry it back out and save it for the next day but I always want something different! I go about three steeps maybe four before Im done but it is nice to have that option!!!

Spoonvonstup

So glad you enjoyed!! :)

Angrboda

Scott, Neither am I, and I was totally won over. I think perhaps with green teas I just really like them better with the multiple small short steeps as opposed to western style. If this botched first cup was akin to a western style result, then I’m not likely to like that very much.

MegWesley, thank you. :)

Azzrian, yes, I know what you mean. It bothers me a little sometimes that I don’t do it more often, but on the other hand, I prefer to drink the tea I want rather than the tea I think I ought to drink.

Spoonvonstrup, I did! Much more than I had anticipated. Especially after the first steep went wrong.

Scott B

I only do Western-style steeping, but for me finding a green tea I like has just been trying various types and seeing what I like.

Angrboda

I only did Western style as well. That will have to change, if it can put other types other than just blacks into my regular rotation.

Thomas Smith

I just pulled the same timer mistake when making tea the other day using the timer on my new oven, but mixed minutes with hours…

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95
107 tasting notes

An interesting experiment today. In anticipation of a new package of fresh dried osmanthus flowers, expected to arrive from China in the next week or so, used my last pinch in my morning cup of Laoshan Northern Green. I was not sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised that the beany-vegetal tones of the green mixed really well with the honeysuckle sweetness of the o-flowers! A really nice end of summer treat. Of course summer here in Miami will stretch into December, but technically still, summer is over.

David Duckler

Good to know- Thanks! I love playing around with blends, as you might notice from the growing Alchemy line on the site, and love encouraging people to blend. I will have to pick up some osmanthus. Exploring the floral possibilities hadn’t occurred to me yet for this tea. I have been loving it with dried burdock. (In China they have something like burdock called Niubang, but it is much better. Do you know what we call it here?), and with a mix of peppermint and spearmint. Saffron also presents interesting possibilities…

E Alexander Gerster

I wonder if the Niubang you mention is the same as the Burdock known as Gobo in Japanese. The Wikipedia page just lists it as Arctium lappa : Greater Burdock.
Looks like you have been having fun with your blends! I had not seen your new additions and have to kick myself for checking in more regularly. Your site is really informative, entertaining, and tempting!
I usually reserve my osmanthus for oolong and white needle teas, but a friend in Suzhou mentioned that he drinks red tea with osmanthus during the summer, and it sounded good to me! I usually limit my additions to things that grow on my balcony or at my mother’s house like lemongrass, dried mango, mint or other herbs. I use a light touch since I really like the tea to shine through. I guess I could grow tea plants pretty easily here, and have seen that it grows well in some yards, but we have pretty poor soil, and no real change of seasons to speak of. It is something I would at least like to try at some point in my life!

E Alexander Gerster

oops meant to say “for NOT checking in more regularly” but couldn’t edit my comment …

David Duckler

Yes- I think the Arctium Lappa is closest. The Chinese listed was correct “niubang.” It tastes like graham crackers when brewed as a tea, and my memory of it is having it brewed with a bit of rosehips and goji berry whenever I was sick. If I even so much as coughed, my tea friends in China would dig out the niubang to steep for me. Good stuff!

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94
6770 tasting notes

Special thanks to LiberTEAs for this one! I have been wanting to try it! Just a heads-up – I have a lot to say about this lil gem!

This smells slightly grassy, slightly floral, slightly vegetal, and slightly sweet – all in one! These 4 traits surely make up a unique aroma that is very intriguing and scrumptious at the same time!

It infuses to a mellowed-out lemon-lime color. It’s very smooth from Point A to Point B – beginning to the end of the sip! It’s delightful! It has a buttery texture but not necessarily a buttery flavor due to the grassy and floral notes.

As my sips continue I can taste a bit of nut, a leafy green of some sort in there…baby spinach, perhaps, and a very little bit of toastiness hiding underneath the vegetal, floral, and grassy flavors.

This is complex. I like complex. It’s far from ordinary…it’s EXTRAordinary! Hearty and Rich as the description states is correct but more importantly SCRUMPTIOUS! I really like this! The more I sip – the more I appreciate it and enjoy it!

Another fantastic tea from Verdant!

Charles Thomas Draper

Fall or Spring picking?

TeaEqualsBliss

It didn’t say on the package. I know the other one said Spring on the package this one didn’t

Charles Thomas Draper

OMG. Sorry I thought I read black….

Charles Thomas Draper

And yes, this tea is extraordinary

David Duckler

Hi,
That one was a later spring picking that you tried. I just can’t get enough Laoshan green tea. I just got in the autumn harvest of this one as well. Yesterday it steeped up even richer than the spring harvest in a gaiwan.

David Duckler

By the way, the farmers are delighted to know how much Americans are enjoying their tea. Having never been exported, Laoshan is a little secret. The dedicated growers take a lot of pride in their tea, and hope to see it become famous and bring their village the respect it deserves. I pass on all the compliments to the He Family.

TeaEqualsBliss

Laoshan WILL be famous, indeed! Thank you for passing along our positive thoughts, vibes, and feedback to these wonderful families and farms!

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87
4453 tasting notes

This tea smells amazing – grassy, fresh air and flowers. That’s what I smell. It smells crisp and clean and fresh.

The tea has a very substantial body to it. This is not a “light” green tea. It is smooth and rich, not just in flavor but in texture too. I can taste notes of grass, nuts, and flowers. A savory spinach note toward mid-sip. A beautifully complex tea that is well worth the time to contemplate its many layers of flavor.

Kashyap

its a lovely and creamy cup…the Laoshan black is also not to be overlooked..yum

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59 tasting notes

I love this green tea! I think Lao Shan will always be my favorite kind of green tea, and I am so excited to have found so many kinds from Verdant Tea (does anyone else import this to the US? I haven’t seen it anywhere).

Ultimately, the First Spring Picking is probably a “finer” tea (it would and should score higher in a competition because of it’s early spring sweetness still buoyed by complexity), but this Lao Shan has all of the ice-creamy thick sweet goodness you might ever want, coupled with that signature “bean” Lao Shan taste! Really- you have to try this stuff. In my opinion, it’s a perfect balance between a sweeter more traditional Chinese green and a Japanese. Absolutely not astringent; idiot proof. Very hearty without being in your face or overly grassy. It just offers so much more than your typical green’s sweetness and…well..“green” taste.

If you like green tea, you just have to try this! Unless boring and sweet is all you look for (why stop there?), you’ll find a tea to fall in love with. And if you’re a super Japanese fan, you’ll finally find something from China that easily compares to (and in many cases, surpasses) what you’ve been drinking. Also- the leaves turn the water bright green, so it’s always very fun to make! These leaves are still tender and young enough that you can turn them into a salad with soy sauce and sesame oil when they’re all steeped out.

I’ve made this tea in many different ways, and it always performs for me. If it’s a nice spring morning, I’ll just put leaves into a (tempered!) glass tumbler so that they thinly cover the bottom, and then pour in my not-quite-boiling water. Drink on it all morning and just keep refilling the glass. I also make this in a gaiwan (great for more serious tastings, so that each steeping can be appreciated in full).
For a more traditional Northern China experience, this tea is fun to do with two glass pitchers. Put leaves in one (about as much as in your gaiwan), and then pour in boiling water (let it hit the sides first so as not to “shock” the leaves). Almost immediately pour out half of this into the other pitcher. Then pour everything right back into the first pitcher. Swirl swirl swirl for just a few seconds, and pour back into the other pitcher through a strainer. This practice keeps the leaves moving, and the glass makes sure the water doesn’t stay too hot. It also shows of just how gorgeous the curled leaves are when they open up!

I’ve also made this tea in big pots (more “English” / western style) and it’s fantastic. Even more fun (especially as summer comes along) is to ice this tea! Just put some in a pitcher, add cold water, and let it sit overnight. The result is really creamy, sweet and delicious. Makes for a full-bodied ice-tea that is strong without being the least bit bitter or drying or astringent.

Seriously- I love this green tea.

Nathaniel Gruber

I 100% agree. I also made this one, as well as the Dragonwell Style Laoshan offered from Verdant Tea, as an iced tea in the refrigerator overnight and they both have turned out as some of the best iced teas I’ve ever had.

SimpliciTEA

I appreciate all you have shared here with us about your experiences with this tea. This is especially interesting, “These leaves are still tender and young enough that you can turn them into a salad with soy sauce and sesame oil when they’re all steeped out.” I have eaten used Gyokuro leaves, and they tasted OK (kind of like spinach).

I am guessing you get even more of the health benefits if you eat the used leaves. Do you have and information on this?

Spoonvonstup

Hm- nope, I have no info on health of eating leaves. I mainly just ate them because they tasted good! Drinking tea (and eating the leaves, if they’re yummy) is a very pleasant, relaxing, and delicious experience. I feel like the calming and soothing elements of tea have a much bigger impact on my health than caffeine, EGCG, etc etc.

I am also extremely tolerant of caffeine, personally, so I often forget that tea can have a chemical effect on others. This may skew my opinion some.. ;)

SimpliciTEA

Thank you for responding. It’s nice that you are tolerant of caffeine. I can be very susceptible to it, but the Theanine in green tea helps mitigate the effects of the caffeine for me.

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106 tasting notes

A confession: I usually keep a green tea around only as a lighter alternative to my more highly-favored blacks and pu-erhs. I enjoy good senchas and dragonwells but I almost never crave green tea—my attitude toward them is utilitarian: lower caffeine levels for those times when I don’t want too much of a buzz.

That being said, I’m thrilled to find a green tea that has an in-your-face complexity that rivals the quality black teas I enjoy. The Yin Yang combination of earth and sea harmonizes into a heady brew.

Whe I was a kid there was this candy called Razzles that, when you first popped them in your mouth, had the consistency of candy but then transformed into a gum. The company that created them held a contest, asking kids to explain whether they thought razzles were gum or candy.
A true enigma. Well, this tea reminds me of that: a Chinese green tea that has a lot of Japanese characteristics.

This is one green tea I’ve actually looked forward to drinking for its intrinsic qualities, not because it’s green.

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62
17 tasting notes

Pleasantly sweet without being grassy, this tea was just the thing for a gloomy late-summer Wednesday. The bean notes manifest almost more as a texture rather than a flavor; it lends a very silken, waxy (not in a bad way), protein-y/nutty feeling to the undercurrent, while the top layers of tea are very calm and settled. It seems like a very content tea, very satisfied with its lot in life.

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