Hand Picked Tieguanyin Spring Oolong (2011)

Tea type
Oolong Tea
Ingredients
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Flavors
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Caffeine
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Certification
Not available
Edit tea info Last updated by David Duckler
Average preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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58 Tasting Notes View all

  • “I am back to work. I have been training and going through orientation at Revel {I am not authorized to say this} LOL. They are allowing us to have a beverage with us in a cup with a lid to take...” Read full tasting note
    100
    chasmargate 293 tasting notes
  • “Going gong fu with this one this afternoon. Approximately following Verdant's steeping directions, my little teapot is about 6oz, and I used a tablespoon of leaves which is about 5g. First steep...” Read full tasting note
    97
    dinosara 1957 tasting notes
  • “This is an amazing Oolong. It starts out with a distinct vanilla note that melds harmoniously with the natural creamy notes of the Oolong, it almost tastes like a cream filled pastry! As I...” Read full tasting note
    93
    LiberTEAS 4391 tasting notes
  • “Tried this again tonight, and it was just as delicious as always. ah, I loved this tea.. I tried some Jingshan green just before having the TGY, and it seems like it really primed my palette in...” Read full tasting note
    Spoonvonstup 59 tasting notes

From Verdant Tea

Through the first few steepings this tea tastes almost candy like. There are strong notes of orchid and honeysuckle that linger in the back of the throat like licorice root. In steeping three the extremely creamy and buttery quality of this tea comes through to support the floral nature. It tastes almost like fresh Spanish saffron and clover honey. Late in steeping, the floral and creamy notes continue and the complexity builds with the introduction of sweet grass notes. The flavor yields excellent infusions for about thirty steepings in a gaiwan, or 10 in a traditional tea pot.

UPDATE: The 2011 spring harvest of this tea sold out. The spring 2012 harvest is now available:
http://verdanttea.com/teas/hand-picked-spring-tieguanyin/

A Steepster page for the new spring 2012 harvest is here:
http://steepster.com/teas/verdant-tea/26569-hand-picked-spring-tieguanyin

About Verdant Tea View company

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58 Tasting Notes

100
293 tasting notes

I am back to work. I have been training and going through orientation at Revel {I am not authorized to say this} LOL. They are allowing us to have a beverage with us in a cup with a lid to take to the meetings and I have been taking this along. It’s comforting to know I am employed. It’s also comforting to be able to have this wonderful Oolong with me during my new journey.

Spoonvonstup

Congratulations!! I hope the journey is exciting and fulfilling.

TeaBrat

That is awesome!!! Congratulations!

Kashyap

congrats and enjoy each step and each cup along the way

Geoffrey

Excellent to hear, Charles! Cheers!

ScottTeaMan

That’s great news!!

Charles Thomas Draper

Thanks everyone!!!

Grace

Good luck!

Charles Thomas Draper

Thanks Grace. I have not been on Steepster much due to a change in my schedule

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97
1957 tasting notes

Going gong fu with this one this afternoon. Approximately following Verdant’s steeping directions, my little teapot is about 6oz, and I used a tablespoon of leaves which is about 5g. First steep (after a quick rinse) was about 10 seconds by the time all the liquid got poured out of the teapot. The liquor is very pale, barely changing the color of my light green ru teaware but it certainly smells good. Fresh and floral and buttery and very sweet. First steep is light, but very tasty. Damn, I love TGYs, and this is a beautiful one. So sweet, especially as it cools quickly in my tiny tea cup (probably one of my favorite things about gong fu brewing… I am always waiting for my tea to cool because I prefer it warm but not hot). Orchidy florals, but not perfumy in any way, and with wonderful honeysuckle/honey notes.

Second steeping, 15 seconds. The color has deepened considerably. This time the sweet buttery floral aromas are joined by a leafy greenness. This time I definitely pick up the saffron notes mentioned in the description. Still sweet, but more robust. The florals are a bit darker. Third steeping, 20 seconds, is very similar to the second. I really have to let this steep cool way down before I really enjoy it, because while hot it lacks the florals and sweetness and honey qualities. My subsequent (4th and 5th) steepings all added 10 seconds in time and were all very similar to these steepings, like the tea hit a note and just kept sticking there. Even a sixth steep which jumped to 90 seconds showed little variation. While the are all pretty tasty, they all seem a bit weak and none of them are as interesting and outstanding as that first, rapturous steep, which makes me think that maybe I need to use a tad more leaf to start, or keep my steeping times really short throughout the first steepings, or both.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C
Spoonvonstup

Oo.. you still have some of last spring left? I’ve got basically two sessions that saved through the winter. Now that the new stuff is in, I guess I don’t have a reason to hoard anymore. I will have to compare with your one-year-later experience!

Dinosara

Yup… just about another session left, I think, and then I’m out. I want to try the new stuff but I still have a fair amount of the autumn harvest to work though too!

DaisyChubb

You inspired me! I’m drinking autumn right now, but I think I favour the 2011 spring picking over the autumn :)

Dinosara

I need to try the autumn gong fu! I like them both so much.

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93
4391 tasting notes

This is an amazing Oolong. It starts out with a distinct vanilla note that melds harmoniously with the natural creamy notes of the Oolong, it almost tastes like a cream filled pastry! As I continued to sip, I noticed a savory honeysuckle note emerge, as well as some Saffron-like flavors. The first cup of infusions 1 & 2 were primarily all about the creamy flavors, vanilla sweetness and so smooth and rich.

The second cup (infusions 3 & 4) were less creamy, but the creamy notes were still present, just not as strong as in the first cup. I began to notice a herbaceous quality emerge, and the honeysuckle-like notes became more of an orchid-like flavor. More floral, this time, less creamy, but still very good.

The third cup (infusions 5 & 6) was so different from the first cup that it is hard to believe that they are the same tea! The creaminess is pretty much gone at this point, but the floral notes are strong, and the vegetative notes have emerged slightly. This is also where I began to notice the fruit tones which are somewhat tropical. The tasting notes from Verdant suggest a juicy mango kind of taste, and I get that comparison, but this tastes more like a medley of tropical fruit rather than a distinct mango note.

An amazing Tieguanyin… AMAZING!

The Purrfect Cup

This one is a def. favorite! Glad you liked it too…must reorder soon.

SimpliciTEA

Great review. “it almost tastes like a cream filled pastry!” How amazing is that!

E Alexander Gerster

Definitely an amazing Tieguanyin! It has a freshness of flavors, and the floral qualities in the first few steeps are well balanced and transform nicely to the fruity creaminess in later steepings. Thanks for sharing your great reviews… :)

The Purrfect Cup

Just got a sample of this with my recent Verdant order! :)

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59 tasting notes

Tried this again tonight, and it was just as delicious as always. ah, I loved this tea.. I tried some Jingshan green just before having the TGY, and it seems like it really primed my palette in an interesting way. Has anyone else experienced this kind of thing?

Hm- funny note here. Yesterday, this tea was the highest rated Oolong on Steepster (91), but now it’s suddenly at 86. What?!? There are 9 written reviews (all high), and 11 ratings. It seems like a shame for people to rate this low when they haven’t even tried it. :( Seriously folks- this is the best oolong I have ever had, I wish everyone could try this. I’d invite everyone over to my little apartment for a big tea-tasting party, and we’d all leave happier than when we started.

Ah well- I guess that’s just the way life goes. For everyone out there considering trying this, I’d recommend reading the reviews instead of just looking at the number.

Doug F

Thanks for the update. I’ll had this to my verdant order. Not a huge Oolong drinker, but this one sounds special. I would hate to think that people would actually numerically rate a tea without trying it, but I’ve noticed a lot of shenanigans going on with people giving over the top ratings to companies they like and inexplicably and uniformly low ratings to other tea companies.

Spoonvonstup

Well- hopefully I’m just being a negative Nancy. It’s also possible that there were one or two people who tried the tea somewhere, hated it inexplicably, and then gave it super low ratings without sharing their experiences. Still, that’s a sad thing to do regardless, especially because their explanation might be a useful example of how not to brew the tea, etc..

Oh well, oh well. The important thing is: I love this tea, and I’ve still got a bunch of it left!

Doug F

On a side note, I’ll be in the Minneapolis area at least a few times a year for the next few years. Are there any good tea houses or tea shops in the area. You mentioned that Verdant does some tastings?

Kashyap

one would think that the quality of the reveiws would be more useful than the abreviation of a numerical notation….I realize its a lot to ask for people to read descriptions, but I think they are such a better way to get a sense of the palate and the drinker…the numbers after all are on an sliding scale that is not annotated…

Angrboda

Enlighten me please, because I am confused. Why do you automatically assume that the lower ratings were entered by someone who hadn’t tried the tea? Maybe they just didn’t like it as much as you do…?

Spoonvonstup

@ Kashyap – You are of course correct. Especially if they’re reading your descriptions; you’ve got some really excellent ones! It also helps to get context for notes and ratings by reading the checking out people’s profiles and getting a sense for how they rate things. You don’t give out high ratings lightly, and others don’t like to give anything they liked below a 92.

@ Angrboda – You’re definitely right. The assumption was probably one part protective mama-bear reaction, and seven parts posting-too-far-past-1am. I had just left a tasting note for the TGY a few days ago, and had found it quite conveniently on the first page of teas. When I went to log my note yesterday night/morning, I was confused to not see it again where it had been on the front page for so long, and instead found it through my previous notes. When I noticed that the rating had changed, I assumed someone must have rated it low, and I looked for the rating with curiosity but found nothing. In my sleepy logic, I decided that someone whose experience was so different from the others would definitely have left a note of warning or to protest. Not seeing a note, I leapt to the idea of sabotage.
Hopefully it isn’t so! I really wish there had been a note. If a TGY lover tries this tea and doesn’t like it, I would love to go and read the rest of their logs to find the oolongs they rate highly. If this is just ho hum for them, I’ve got to see their recommendations and try some for myself!

@ Triumph – There are two or three tea houses in the Twin Cities; I will send a private note this evening with details. As for Verdant’s tastings, they happen at my local teahouse (Infinitea) and also around at some art galleries, studios and events. I usually find out about them because I’m on the mailing list or via Verdant’s facebook page.

Angrboda

Yeah, late nights can definitely mess with one’s thought processes and leaps of logic. :) I have been known to make some interesting conclusions once about the anniversary of something or other (I’ve forgotten all the details) by way of some really creative maths… :)
If it had me and the beloved Tan Yang Te Ji (♥), I can’t guarantee I wouldn’t have come to the same conclusion that you did with this one.
Some people just don’t bother with the notes, it seems. I think it would have been nice if those ratings were not anonymous, but I suppose we can’t have everything.

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30 tasting notes

Well, the Spring 2011 harvest is officially sold out. It will live in my memories for years to come. However, the Autumn 2011 harvest just arrived in a big crate a few hours ago. I opened one of the vacuum sealed bags apprehensively. I could feel my heart beating faster. The smell put me at ease again. I knew that the autumn harvest would live up to its legendary ancestor. I cannot wait to formally write out a tasting note, perhaps this evening or tomorrow, but I can say that this will not disappoint. It does not follow in the Spring tea’s footsteps. Instead it strikes out on its own path, decidedly autumnal, mouth-watering, and thrillingly different through each steeping.

Thank you Autumn, for bringing this tea to me. I am excited to share it with all of you…

The Autumn harvest is finally up for sale with tasting notes and a picture. Check it out here: http://verdanttea.com/shop/oolong-teas/hand-picked-autumn-2011-tieguanyin/

Spoonvonstup

Oh, I am so excited to try this!!!!

David Duckler

Hey,
I just edited this tasting note to link to the new Tieguanyin. Same farm, same family. I am absolutely loving it. You can see my full tasting note on the new product page along with a preview picture. I think that this family will continue to produce teas that make me rethink what camellia sinensis can be.

Geoffrey

Awesome! I can’t wait to try this. Thanks David!

Kashyap

just read the tasting notes on your site….definitly has my curiousity aroused….now to return to normal and get my full senses back from the cold I’ve been fighting…nothing like a war with internal invaders to bring back your sense of smell full force…lovely newly born taste buds

Charles Thomas Draper

I look forward to trying it….

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97
6770 tasting notes

AMAZING!
Lovely!

The others reviews are all high and I agree! This is stellar!

As soon as the liquor hits the tongue it IS quite candy-like…nice and sweet! Then it’s smooth, creamy, buttery, and sweet. There is a lovely smooth-floral after taste – much like honeysuckle! I’m going to do multiple infusions on this one!

WOW!

Charles Thomas Draper

I just ordered 4 ounces. Maybe I should of got a pound.

TeaEqualsBliss

:) I hope you enjoy it!

Charles Thomas Draper

After reading the many glowing reviews I had to have it. I was impressed when I sent a message requesting a sample of the Big Red Robe and they actually replied. Two messages to Harneys went unanswered. So, to show my appreciation I ordered 2 oz of the Sundried Jing Shan which you also raved about….

TeaEqualsBliss

Oh yes – that was a goodie, too! Verdant is a great Customer Service type company! The owner views steepster quite a bit! Neat guy! LOVE his stories and descriptions! He is surely one of the top tea educators in my book! Super nice!!!! VERY Knowledgeable!

ashmanra

Charles: I am horrified to hear the Harney and Sons didn’t reply! that has never happened to me. They have been in the process of starting up a whole new website for a while and have been fixing the bugs so that may have been part of the problem. I was a sort of beta tester for the new site and I did find a thing or two still not working just yesterday.

Charles Thomas Draper

@ ashmanra, also there was a charge of 400.00 to my credit card the same night that I placed an order with them. I would say that it is’nt secure. Thankfully my credit card new it was fraud….

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515 tasting notes

I don’t think my sample of this was from 2011 as the name suggests. I suspect this is from 2012, but I didn’t see one for 2012 so I’ll just stick this note here.

Snow storm Nemo has allowed me the opportunity to work from home today. That means pajamas and quality tea. I’m doing this one in my gaiwan, which I’m doing better with, but I need to work on amount of tea. I used way too much this time. But this still tastes lovely once I dilute what comes out with a bit of hot water. Not really focusing on this tea, which is a shame since it’s so wonderful, but I have to use my brain for working today. :) I thought I get this one sipped down since it’s getting on in age, which is not so good for a green oolong. :)

I’m glad I’m home. Snow storms are so much nicer when you’re watching from your window with a hot cup of tea. I’m just worried about getting home to my family tomorrow for Chinese New Year. sad.

Sil

YAY for snow days that mean Pajamas and tea!

CHAroma

Aww, I hope you make it to your family! Good luck braving the storm!

Mercuryhime

It’s not a real snow day as I still have to work. :) But it’s a lot more informal for sure.
Charoma, I hope I get to them too. It’s my favorite holiday. :(

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88
55 tasting notes

I have never had a tea give me such a strong sense of deja vu. I don’t mean “oh wait, I think I’ve had this before” deja vu. I mean, “What is that smell? What is that incredibly floral smell? I’ve smelled it before…in the evening…in happier times…” After one cup I’ve got it narrowed down to either summer camp, or sometime in college. But I’m not pushing my brain to really remember. I’m happy to just smell this tea, and linger on the verge of remembering something happy.

This is my first gongfu brewing and I don’t know if I’m doing it right. I’m using the instructions Dave from Verdant Tea sent with the shipment (wow, this is the first tea I’ve ordered that comes with full documentation!) but my gaiwan, which JUST came in the mail today from China, doesn’t have a little pouring spot on the edge, so I’m still very amateurish in my handling of the pouring process. I’m steeping for the correct number of seconds—and then I’m taking a minute and a half to pour! So I’m sure I’m oversteeping.

But this tea shows no signs of bitterness. It is relentlessly floral thus far (rinse, 1 brew which I’m finishing drinking, four brews that went into a pitcher for tomorrow’s iced tea), a light yellowy-green color, with a lovely, almost minty undertone. I’m still learning what people mean when they call a tea “sweet” (besides actual sugar); I think this is a type of sweetness, one I could get used to! Not the slightly cloying sweetness of teas with actual flower flavors added, but the sweetness of really good mineral or spring water, light and cool on the tongue. So tasty and refreshing.

This is becoming hard to describe…I’m going to go get another infusion and add that note later.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 45 sec
Spoonvonstup

I know exactly what you’re talking about when you say you’ve smelled this before, in the evening.

Earlier this year, towards the end of spring, I stepped out the back of my apartment. It’s was cool but the air was thick. Down the street, there are some huge lilac bushes, and they were blooming. The grass had just been cut, and it had rained a few hours earlier (water still on the ground).
I inhaled, and the smell was this Tieguanyin. It didn’t remind me of the tea; it actually was the smell of the tea.
This experience probably happened to me four more times. Were there lilac bushes near summer camp or college?

As for the gaiwan: I have really small hands (seriously.. my pinky nail looks like it belongs to a toddler with thin fingers), so I also often have trouble pouring. I practiced with just plain cool water until I was confident with tilting the lid in just the right way and mastering the pouring motion without dropping the gaiwan. I also used a much thicker one to start off with than I use now.
Then I burned my fingers a few times… which helps, actually. Generally, I’ve found that the faster I pour, the easier it is. If I let the water sit in the gaiwan too long, it’s actually heating the ceramic of the gaiwan towards 201degrees! Definitely not fun to handle.

Hope you keep having fun with your gaiwan!

Gillyflower

Thanks Spoonvonstup, I just found your comment. It’s entirely possible there were lilacs at college (it was a small campus in a residential neighborhood, and I was still there in early June every year) but not at camp, as I was only there after the lilacs had bloomed and gone!

Thanks also for your ideas of how to get more used to the gaiwan. I haven’t done any substantial gaiwan activity since the first time I tried this tea. Sounds to me like if you can do it, I can too! I will take your advice and practice with cool water until I’m more confident with pouring. My gaiwan is glass, which may even heat up quicker than your ceramic one, so I don’t know if the fast pour will help, but it’s worth a try.

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100
39 tasting notes

Had a friend over for dinner last night. We prepared a basic Tuscan-style tomato suase with garlic, chopped nuts and shrimp, alongside some sauteed red bell peppers and zucchini, and a simple salad dressed with fresh squeezed lemon juice and olive oil. Super delicious meal, and I am grateful to have a friend so talented in the culinary arts. We washed it down with DIY lemon soda (just squeezed lemon into a glass and added plain carbonated water); an excellent palette cleanser.

As my friend so kindly conceived, purchased and prepared the better part of the meal described, and had expressed a sincere enthusiasm to experience some Gongfu tea drinking for the first time, I decided that the best expression of my gratitude would be to treat his generosity and interest to the two finest teas in my cupboard. The first of those teas was this Spring Tieguanyin, and the second was my Xingyang 1998 Golden Leaf Pu’er. I will write a separate tasting note for the latter, as I’ve yet to review it here.

As for the Spring Tieguanyin, before and during my preparations to serve it, I hyped it to the skies for my friend. He’s a newcomer to this way of appreciating tea, but definitely has a good frame of reference for understanding it from experience with fine wine tasting and his culinary adventures. The moment I opened the vacuum sealed package and let him smell the leaves, he was just about knocked out from the beauty of the fragrance. We drank four infusions in bliss, and the tea was better than even I had remembered from the numerous occasions I’d had it before. How is this possible? I imagine that the feedback and reflection generated when a host shares his tea with a truly and fully appreciative drinking companion enhances the whole experience.

After a good number of infusions, I confided in my friend that when I was praising this tea to the heavens for him, I had a faint worry at the back of my mind, “Will it really be as good as I say it is?”, but then when we got to drinking it the tea inevitably outstripped my praise by a length that I wasn’t prepared for. My friend concurred, saying, “This tea is 120% of what you said it was.” Drinking the next infusion, he expressed to me a very deeply felt gratitude for my providing him the opportunity to be introduced to this manner of tea drinking and tea culture. He said that he had felt for a long time in his life that an experience like this existed and was somewhere available in this world; and that it was something he’s been looking for, but previously found no access to. My friend went on to characterize this first exposure to Gongfu style tea drinking as a life-changing experience for him. I can’t explain how grateful and happy it made me feel to have some part in precipitating an experience like that for another person.

Needless to say, my friend there became a fully fledged lover of tea, excited to explore the great world of experience it provides… And that was before we even tried the exceptional Xingyang Pu’er! Concluding my note on the Tieguanyin, I will say that we continued to drink infusion after infusion of it for a good hour and a half. I have no idea how many infusions we had, but its flavor was merely settling, and hardly at the point of diminishing, before it felt like the right time to move on. I put the leaves aside in a container for later use, as I’m confident they will continue to produce good infusions for a while yet.

A tasting note on our experience with the Xingyang Pu’er is to come. I can’t begin to express my gratitude to have access to teas of this quality!

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

Wow!
This makes my whole day. Thank you for sharing this tasting experience. Nothing makes me happier than hearing that tea culture is being shared. it looks like you have had a profound cultural impact on your friend, and I am honored to have had a small part in connecting you to the farmers and artisans that make that possible.

On a side note, I got word today that the autumn Tieguanyin harvest is the best in years, meaning that the next shipment to replace the spring tea should live up to its predecesor.

Very good choice on teas by the way- I always pull out the Tieguanyin first to new tea drinkers. It is such an inviting tea that can focus people onto flavors and smells and prepare them for something like the Xingyang 1998.

Kashyap

this is a beautiful tribute to an amazing tea and a awe inspiring way to celebrate the sharing and illuminating social nature of what a cup of tea can bring…a wonderful way to praise verdant teas offerings and David Duckler’s kind heart and gifts….I wish each tea review was such a way of bridging the way we celebrate our lives in the cast reflections on a cup of tea and within the core of a sharing community

Spoonvonstup

What a great review! Thank you very much for sharing. I also always feel like the TGY (and most other teas) are almost always better when I am sharing them with someone else. And that’s the way it really should be. Looking forward to hearing what you think of the Xingyang!

Geoffrey

@David: Thanks for this note, and for making the tea available! I’m happy that the story made your day. I’m looking forward to this Autumn Tieguanyin you mention. Cheers!

@Kashyap: I appreciate your kind words. I had described this kind of sharing with tea as “a great fulcrum for friendship”, when my mentioned friend and I were drinking.

@Spoonvonstup: Indeed! I think drinking with a friend is the way to go. For me it seems to be so much easier to make liminal time and space for deep and attentive appreciation of the tea when sharing it with good company. Just posted my note on the Xingyang. I quite enjoyed what you had to say about that one, and totally agree with your assessment of it! Hope to see you again at the next Verdant tasting.

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96
658 tasting notes

What a gorgeous tea! Intoxicating-smelling and delicious, this is definitely the nicest Tieguanyin I’ve got my hands on so far. This is my tea happy place, for sure. It’s fascinating to evolve with it through the infusions, and the experience makes me feel so privileged and content. This is floral, green, sweet, and creamy in ways that change slightly between infusions but that remain perfectly balanced. Delicate and yet satisfyingly robust!

Jessie

Oh man, after several infusions the leaves smell like SWEET PEAS. Childhood fave!

cteresa

That sounds marvelous. I love love the scent of sweet peas.

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