Master Han's Wild Picked Yunnan Black

Tea type
Black Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by Bonnie
Average preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 15 sec 5 g 13 oz / 373 ml

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From Verdant Tea

“Black tea from one of the best artisan crafters in Yunnan with strong notes of grape, and a tingling spicy warmth. . . .”

Master Han is a remarkably talented crafter of wild picked pu’ers and black teas whose workshop and ancient plot of tea forest is an hour’s walk to the nearest gravel road in a national forest preserve. We were lucky enough to meet him at his first tea conference. Tucked away in a hidden corner behind slick modern displays with uniformed reps from Xiaguan and Menghai, Master Han and his young apprentice seemed apprehensive about the operation. We were on our way to a panel on gongfu brewing when the sheer beauty of a bag of his wild-picked black tea caught us in our tracks.

Smelling like the fields of terraced grapes in the Himalyan foothills of Yunnan, and like the wild fir tree forests near the Tibetan borderlands after a wet rain, this tea was calling out to us. When we asked Master Han if we could try it, he was surprised. We were the first people to stop and ask him any questions all day. He pulled out a shoebox full of polaroid pictures of his secret plot in the forest, pictures of him climbing trees and rolling leaves, explaining that he and a few apprentices crafted their tea for the local market in Mengsong village nearby, and had been inspired to share beyond Yunnan after a friend connected them with the tea conference organizers.

He packed an yixing clay teapot full to the top with leaves and poured us cups of the golden liquor. The taste was startlingly complex- more like a sheng pu’er in dimension than any black tea we had tried before. The thick linen-like mouthfeel distinct to Yunnan was strong, but the tip of the tongue was all wine-grapes and the bursting sweetness of biting into a honeycrisp apple. It was hard to even concentrate on the conversation with the intense warm aftertaste on the sides of the tongue.

The later steepings unfolded with a unique malty spiciness best compared to unfiltered Italian olive oil on crisp sourdough bread. The malty notes combine with the apple and grape to evoke specifically the rich dark concord grape. The aftertaste grows bright like a younger highland single malt scotch and lingers like coconut flesh. The tingling on the tongue and uniquely potent energy or chaqi we were left with was incredible.

While we drank tea with Master Han and discussed our mutual love of the wild flavor of Yunnan, an important-looking businessman approached and asked if he could wholesale the tea in Shandong. Master Han looked at him carefully and said that the tea wasn’t for sale. “He didn’t even want to try it. I’m not sending half my harvest to someone who isn’t interested in tea.” We were terrified to ask if we could share his tea after that, but as we were leaving he sent us off with bags of samples and his phone number to stay in touch. With a little logistical help from Weiwei to get this tea out of the forests and on an airplane for America, we are extremely excited to represent Master Han to some of the first outside of Mengsong Village to try his master work. Enjoy!

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86 Tasting Notes

2955 tasting notes

I don’t have to do anything.
That’s not entirely true…there is a list of things I should do, but years ago someone said to me, “Don’t should on yourself”. LOL
I have one thing that I know I’ll do this afternoon: season 2 yixing pots & drink from them. Yes…I am confessing, Sil. In a moment of crazy compulsiveness I placed a Mandala order last Friday, that including 2 more yixing pots. I had been contemplating them for awhile, I love my other tiny teapots so much, & when I went to shopmandala.com to order the blooming black, I was like an alcoholic in a blackout. The next thing you know I was staring at my receipt, wondering WTF happened??? Oh well! Thus is life. I’m really not allowed to order any more tea or paraphenalia for awhile.

Before I get started on seasoning pots, I’m enjoying this tea! I like to pack my little blue lotus porcelain pot (same size as a yixing, but suitable for whatever I feel like steeping at the moment) about half full & do lots of short steeps with this tea. I’ve got a pretty good tea-buzz on right now!

Stephanie

I have Mandala order jealousy! ;)

Sil

oh terri….someday i’ll have a tea pot to season. Until then i’ll live in envy lol

ifjuly

me too, Stephanie!

ashmanra

This happens to me on nights when I can’t sleep. I find myself online shouting, “Buy ALL the tea!”

Ali Bee's Bake Shop

I’ve been banned from tea as well. My 4 year old looked at my husband tonight and said " You should let mommy buy more tea"…..domestic triumph

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100
673 tasting notes

I decided some time ago that my one luxury in life would be tea.
I don’t go out to the movies or restaurants (unless I have an occasion) and shopping for clothes is an old habit. (I have too much from when that seemed important.)

Tea is my #1 pleasure.
My contact with other human beings is primarily through discussing tea, reviewing tea online and drinking tea with family and tea shop buddies.

I want the best TEA that I can get. Sometimes it isn’t possible, and sometimes…I find a way.

When I read about Master Han’s and Anxi Fo Shou Black Tea’s I knew I had to have them, if even just an ounce. I ran to my computer as soon as they became available. Then, I waited….

This morning when I opened my curtains to look outside, there were glowing silvery ice crystal flakes, floating down without the will to be snow or stick to anything. This is intense TEA WEATHER! I’m ready with my newly arrived tea!

I have a spotted green/brown gaiwan that I chose to use for the tasting.

I followed the Verdant instructions for rinsing, proportion of leaf to water (I used a little less leaf because I’m a hyper-sensitive taster) and used the suggested steep times.

I’ve never looked at the tasting notes of other people first.
I like to make up my own mind and then check them against other people to see if there’s a match or not.
This time however, I sat with the notes from the website as though I was at a tasting with another person in a tearoom and we were going back and forth discussing the tea.

One of the first amazing but truly Brilliant flavor discoveries was Olive.
(I have to give it to whomever picked this out of the flavors because it’s so spot on.)
The fruitiness of olive oil…pungent and rich…wow! In a tea?!

I began to blither on in my head…picturing myself driving towards Elliot Road and the incline to my old home in Paradise.
The country road was lined with Olive Groves. Sheep and cows grazed between the rows of dusty green trees, the red and gold clay of the Sierra foothills under their feet and purple wildflowers lining the irrigation channel at the edge of the road.
There are tasting rooms for Olives in this part of California, tasting rooms for almonds (ah-mands is how it’s pronounced by the farmers (ah as in achoo)), and wine. Kiwi stands, peaches and apples. http://flic.kr/p/dL2zmW

The next pour, there was Brandy…in the scent of the liquor, which was beautiful clear amber, honey, golden and luscious. (I can’t even go into how the wet leaves smelled.)

The Brandy…scent.
I read that there is whisky and that was not in the scent, it was in the taste. Yes, in the fruity sweetness with a broad finish of the tea the whisky went deep… and lingered way down in the chest like liquor does. A rolling, welcome warmth. (I loved the sensation.)

There were notes about other tastes but I was not tasting them yet. I stopped somewhere else at the third steeping and found a thick syrupy quince membrillo taste, ruby red garnet yam right before they disolve into sugar. Something was changing like a mash.

If there’s anywhere the tea was taking me, it was to the beginning of Spring. Bursting forth…here I am with all my glory! Pushing up and out of a slumber and becoming many things.

From the forth steep forward, I tasted full Grape.
I not only worked at 2 wineries, but I come from a family (on my dad’s side) from Napa and Yountville. Wine people.
This tea doesn’t taste like a cloying too sweet grape, not like a dark grape or a darjeeling with a muscat flavor.

The flavor is something else. I’ve had wines from some areas that are semi sweet and golden, grown in hot climates that are ambrosia.
This is that Springtime golden grape taste, not buttery and not like a chardonney.

In Murphy’s, there’s a winery called Ironstone.
The first time I went to Ironstone, it was early Spring and the roads leading from the small town to the winery had been planted with Daffodils and they were in bloom. Winding country roads with flowers and cows in the fields…on and on. It was magical. http://flic.kr/p/dKW5wX
Ironstone makes a wine that reminds me of this tea, so does Castillo di Amarosa http://www.castellodiamorosa.com/ (worth a visit).

The meaty fresh coconut aftertaste isn’t sweet. It’s more on the savory nutty side of coconut.

Pinning down such a complex and vibrant tea isn’t easy. One amazing Ping of flavor brings to mind a time or place…then another Ping of flavor…and off I go again! This tea is full of Pings!

If you can manage this limited addition tea, do so. The experience is worth it. So much so…I can’t wait to share this with someone!

When something is such a one-of-a-kind and has given so much to me. I can’t compare it with anything else and say, this is better than…what? It’s wild picked for goodness sake. It’s fantastic!

Nicole

Okay, onto the shopping list with this one!

Sil

awesome review Bonnie. Now i’m really looking forward to getting this one!

JC

This sounds amazing!

Invader Zim

I received this as a small sample from an order. It’s the first black tea I’ve ever had that I actually enjoy! I think it was the lack of maltiness to it that I enjoyed.

Indigobloom

Grape?! grape… oh man that sounds good

Kittenna

Sil – this is the super expensive one that just came out. $4 for a 7g sample :(

Sil

Kittenna – aye…my other half treated me to this ;)

MissLena

This sounds excellent. I have 7g on the way, can’t wait now!!

Bonnie

I just got back from Happy Lucky’s. After reviewing the tea, I shared some with my HL friends who loved it too. 9 degrees burr…but I was moved to venture out. As for expensive, when I think of the man hours put into this wild picked tea, and the quality, this as much an art (if not more) as dining at a fine restaurant. This is an option that I welcome. I want to be able to buy special tea’s now and then, but I know that with my budget I can’t do so all the time (which is fine with me).
I’m sure you’ll enjoy the 7g! I can’t wait to read your reviews. Everyone’s notes are so interesting.

Kittenna

Ahhhh, gotcha Sil! I was like, uh oh, I hope she doesn’t think this is the one we’re splitting! And while I did buy enough of the other recent new black to split, I did not buy enough of this one given the hefty price tag.

Mark B

Wonderful review. May be the first tea purchase of 2013…

Kashyap

I’m cupping this now….I lack the wine experience that you speak of so the memories don’t find me there, but the savory notes evolve and I can see the olives and nutty….but my mind imagines the nuances of wines (I have no palette for white) and this will cause me to listen deeper.

Bonnie

Kashyap, it might come later or like you say our tasting comes through our own experience filter so there isn’t anything wrong if you’ve put your foot to a different image path.

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73
4923 tasting notes

sipdown! another tasty tea for this morning. I suspect the afternoon will be busy so i want to make sure i get a bunch of liquid in me before that happens. That way i can always toss some water in front of myself if it’s busy as it’s a bit more no fuss than tea haha. I like this one, but it’s not a restock for me. Maybe an occasional purchase as a sample just to rotate it through my cupboard but it just doesn’t wow me like some of the other teas i have. Nothing wrong with it – it’s delicious and i enjoy every last drop that i have but it’s just not a staple :)

TheTeaFairy

Know what you mean. A tea can be absolutely delicious, but doesn’t mean it has what I call the PCF (Permanent Collection Factor ).

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92
918 tasting notes

I have been craving this tea for the past few days, but didn’t feel like making it in a gaiwan today, so I tried 2 heaping tsps for 1 min in boiling water. The result was a very nice Yunnan flavored black, lighter than other black teas, but I still prefer it in a gaiwan. This way it is not as complex tasting, just more of a tasty yunnan with olive oil and grape flavors at the forefront, although reading my last note on this tea, it looks like I got the same flavors haha. Oh well, whatever it is, it’s still delicious, and satisfied my craving for it. This one I might have to re-order, since it’s back with lots in stock, although the new description looks a bit different than the old one. I will probably have another cup later today, I have lots of teas I want to try and/or drink down today. See previous notes!

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

I’m with you…best in a gaiwan. You just can’t get to the soul of the tea otherwise. If a person doesn’t have a gaiwan use a teacup, a tsp of tea, 4 oz water and place a saucer over the cup during steeping then strain into another cup. Use filtered or spring water always and steep according to website directions. Nobody HAS TO OWN A GAIWAN to do gongfu brewing! (It’s easier though)

MissLena

Yes gongfu brewing is definitely the one to pick out a lot more notes in the tea! I also have a little glass gongfu pot from DavidsTea that was pretty inexpensive, around $15. It was a very nice intro to gongfu, and I still use it almost as much as my gaiwan. Before that, I just used a steeper in one of my small cups and just added in the tea and steeped for a few seconds, yielded very much the same result without anything other than a steeper really! I still enjoy making Laoshan Green that way :)

Bonnie

Exactly! Sometimes people overcomplicate everything when you really can do it all with simple tools that don’t cost much or with what you have already. Most of the world has served tea with a pot over coal or wood fire and clay pot and cups or tin pots. We would make those people laugh…

Terri HarpLady

Last time I made this one in my new 4oz lotus teapot, fairly filled with leaf like described in the Verdant description, with super short steepings. That’s they way I’ll probably drink it from now on! :)

MissLena

I would actually love to be able to make tea with just a pot of water over a fire, it sounds really carefree and relaxing to me, just enjoying the tea rather than fussing with the tools that we buy to make it with :) and yes Terri, this tea is awesome with short steepings, I probably skimp on the leaf to be able to save it haha but maybe it will end up on the reorder list too, I do love Yunnan teas a lot!

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514 tasting notes

1.5 tsp for 300mL water @95C., steeped 6 minutes 30 seconds.

Ooops — got distracted again.

But that’s okay, because this tea yielded a deep grape note and a floral note, almost of wild roses, I’d not gotten before. There even seemed to be an echo of bergamot. And some molasses. Wow.

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739 tasting notes

i’m sure you tea pros probably wanna throttle me by now.
all i do is yammer on about fictional characters and whimsical moods and my cat’s pretty fur and i barely ever really talk about the tea. not like some of you can. AND THIS IS NO EXCEPTION. cuz i made the tea. i drank the tea. i liked the tea. but i’m really not getting much of the deep details from it. some people drink a tea and then they talk about it like it’s a 5 course meal in the rain by a fire! i feel a bit left out.
but i am a diligent student. and if i put in the time i’m sure it will pay off eventually. and if not that’s okay too. but incase it does pay off, i have more of this tea to drink! i’ll save it and try it again in a few months when i feel more susceptible and receptive.
until then, me and my tongue are gonna go pump some tea iron.

Courtney

Haha! Well said. I feel the same way, but hopefully all my tea drinking is helping in my learning of deciphering and finding tastes hidden in the depths of my tea.

Sil

hey i’m with you on that! my notes are vastly inadequate compared to some of the rockstars out here:)

Lala

Ha ha! I like your reviews. They are hilarious and informative. I know much more about Sherlock Holmes now!

Cavocorax

I’m with Lala. Sometimes I like notes about the tea itself, but I also like the other things and generally your notes are pretty entertaining. And sometimes I need that when I’m reading 50+ notes about tea. Because… I love it, but sometimes I like to read other things too.

TheTeaFairy

I love your reviews, you don’t have to «change»! As long as TEA inspires you to write, that’s what matters. That’s why I like this place so much, it doesn’t bind you to a specific style. I looove the diversity here, each and everyone of you bring a different «flavour». Need some serious and informative stuff to learn, but also silly and fun which makes life so much more interesting :-)

moraiwe

I fully second TheTeaFairy! As long as tea inspires you to write something, go for it! Your reviews are fun to read and I love the personality in them. So keep on keeping on :D

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90
379 tasting notes

lovely dark, rich, hints of cocoa, a light smell of fruit though i don’t get it on the palate. very, very smooth.

as it cools very subtle fruit elements become more detectable and the liquor becomes creamier. no acidity, no stick from caffeine, no bitterness.

i brewed this strongly: 1.5 tablespoons for my 16 oz. for 2.5 minutes. no sugar (i’m trying very hard to go cold turkey), though a spot cream.

know what? i don’t miss the sugar. thank you ducklers. i appreciate you.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec
Dexter

LOL There you go, you did beat me to one. Glad you like it. Will have to add it to my ever growing list of blacks to try.

JustJames

no way… i got a review in before you? lol. look at us— turning tea reviews into a competitive sport =0D

Lily Duckler

Thank you, JustJames! I’ve been drinking this one all week long. Love hearing your perspective on it (now I’ll have to try a bit of cream- never done it myself!)

JustJames

you are most graciously welcome, lily! thank you for all your expertise and hard work (as well that of the he family).

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361 tasting notes

It was a crazy morning. My son had a birthday party to go to at one of those bouncy castle places. Needless to say, by the time we got back, I was ready to relax on the sofa, watch some march madness and drink a nice cup of tea. I had a little bit of cake at the party and as much as I love dessert teas, I don’t actually enjoy dessert all that much. So I wanted a smooth straight tea to help me recover from the sugar overload.

I bought a gaiwan a few days ago but was waiting to use it until I was over this cold. I think today’s the day! I looked up the tea on the verdant website to see its exact brewing instructions and then watched the video as well. Pretty cool that he does that. He said that the tea can get like 15 steeps. Crazy. I don’t think I’ll get that far because, well, it seems like a lot of work. And this is pretty much my only break of the day until bedtime.

So I boiled my water, rinsed the tea. Then steeped it for a few seconds. Poured it into my cup. I did that several times. I think I’m on 4 or something now. This is exactly what I needed. Yum. I can’t tell you any flavors I taste, just that it’s definitely got a whole mouth feel and is really smooth. So far it has gotten sweeter with every steep, which is pretty cool. I can see this being a nap time tradition on extra trying days.

Okay, the next game is starting. I love march madness. My husband gets a kick out of my strange combination of interests. Beer, sports, and tea. (I have many more, but those 3 are pretty dominant :-)

Starfevre

My interests are cats, tea, and airplanes so I hear you on the weird interests.

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85
616 tasting notes

Tea #26 from HHTTB2

There is a lot going on in my cup. And it’s all good.

There’s the sweetness of molasses, light florals, the silky rich butteriness of olive oil, and mild cocoa notes and just a little yeasty/bready.

The finish is really clean, with very little aftertaste.

There is nothing here not to like. Yum.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec
BrewTEAlly Sweet

Yay glad you like another one of my additives!

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82
604 tasting notes

Sipdown…used the last of the tea in the foil packet from OMGsrsly this morning…probably overleafed this one this morning, but then there wouldn’t have been enough for another cup, I don’t think, so there’d be a cup that was underleafed.

Maybe it’s me sick, or maybe it’s my preparation, but this one isn’t especially anything to me today. Maybe if I did it gongfu style, I’d appreciate it more, but I lack the equipment right now.

Terri HarpLady

This is definitely one I prefer gongfu.

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