Master Han's Wild Picked Yunnan Black

Tea type
Black Tea
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Wood
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Edit tea info Last updated by Bonnie
Average preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 15 sec 3 g 11 oz / 324 ml

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90 Tasting Notes View all

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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90 Tasting Notes

78
829 tasting notes

David generously provided this sample to me with my last Verdant order! I do so love a good black tea, so I was quite excited to give this a shot. Especially given how amazing every tea from Verdant has been so far!

Preparation notes: Entire sample in the Breville, 500 ml. water. According to the Western brewing parameters on the site, it was recommended to steep the tea initially for one minute (seemed a bit long but I’m trusting the powers that be with this one), pour it off and then steeped at the below parameters.

The smell of this dry – guh. Gives new meaning to the word cocoa, really. Very fresh cocoa powder with an undertone of fresh earth. That is a smell that never gets old.

The steep, at 4 minutes, is a little light on flavor, but I’m really betting its due to that one minute I poured off (kicking myself so darn hard for that now – ugh!). But I do get a thick oily texture – and it does have a sort of olive/peppery bite to it. And it’s kind of nutty toward the end of the sip as well – most like walnuts I think. For the darkness of the body itself, I was surprised that it wasn’t heavier really. But it is still quite smooth and full on the tongue. It has a brightness to it, too – like a Darjeeling or Ceylon. Maybe that is where people get grape? Given Darjeelings have that quality?

Hmm. I’m not as blown away with this one as the Laoshan black so far, but that is more to personal taste as I love bold, heavy blacks. I’m curious to see where the taste is going to go, though, so I will be trying a second steep tomorrow. I’ll update then!

EDIT: Second steep, 8 minutes. I actually ended up having this cold because I forgot about it before work yesterday :(. But it was not bad – just lighter on flavor. In general I think this just isn’t robust enough for my coarse palate. :) But I’m super glad I was given the chance to try it!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

I’d try this in a Gaiwan. Didn’t have this any other way and loved it.

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88
1526 tasting notes

A big thanks to Terri Harplady! I get to try this one that she included a bit of in the HH teabox. The name is Yunnan but I don’t see much gold color, so it is very dark. The leaves are very big and wiry. Verdant suggests two teaspoons, at boiling starting at one minute.

Steep #1 // just boiled // 2 min
I went for two minutes, since one seemed too light! The flavor seems to be in between Laoshan Black and Zhu Rong, if I remember. It’s very sweet! It’s like caramel! If I hadn’t washed the mug well, I would have thought there was sugar left over. But there is that flavor from Laoshan black that seems dark while still being very light… I can’t seem to describe it any other way. The cup color is light – almost like caramel again. I remember Zhu Rong being sweet, but I think that flavor is darker than this one.

Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 min
This cup seems like the flavor isn’t what it should be. I should have followed Verdant’s suggestion (one min first steep, two min second steep). It’s good, but not as good as the first cup. Tough to describe why! It seems like there is an oily texture this time around. I can’t decide if I like this one more or less than Zhu Rong.. I had it a while ago, but I like both better than Laoshan Black. Just not as full flavored as my favorite black teas – though I’m sure my palate is too immature to fully appreciate these teas at this point.

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90
4641 tasting notes

Backlog:

A really unique sort of Yunnan tea with lovely grape notes. The kind of grapes that my grandparents grew in their backyard when I was young. They were seeded grapes, and they had a really delicious flavor … a lot more flavor than those seedless types of grapes you find in the grocery store these days. I didn’t really appreciate that flavor when I was a kid, but I find myself missing it now that I’m an adult.

A sweet, molasses-y kind of flavor too. This is a “thinner” Yunnan than I’m used to … that’s not to say that it’s not a very flavorful tea, but, just that it’s not quite as rugged and hefty as most Yunnan black teas.

Here’s my full-length review of this one: http://sororiteasisters.com/2013/04/03/master-hans-wild-picked-yunnan-black-tea-from-verdant-tea/

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85
543 tasting notes

Sipdown #46

Even the dry leaf aroma is wild! The brewed tea aroma is spicy and nutty. Mmm, this tea is another magical creation of Verdant Tea. This has the full-bodied flavor I expect from Yunnan teas. It’s malty and luscious and just wonderful! At the tail end of the sip, there’s a light floral note that I haven’t encountered in Yunnan teas before.

It’s very flavorful and delicious for the first two infusions. By the third, it was pretty weak with only the aftertaste having any flavor. I tried a fourth infusion for 10 minutes just for the heck of it. Even with such a long steep time, there wasn’t quite enough flavor left to cut through my snack of chickpea popcorn. In my opinion, this tea is good for only two infusions when brewed Western style.

In other news, I’m gearing up for our European honeymoon by downloading tons of apps (especially those with offline maps) and working out the kinks in our itinerary. I CAN’T WAIT!! London and Paris, here we come!

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec
Cavocorax

That sounds like a lot of fun!

Bonnie

Wonderful fun!!!

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300 tasting notes

This tea smells immediately different from what I’ve had recently (which are savory Yunnan’s and dark malty black teas). The leaves are beautiful twisted loose curls, not golden nor black but silvered brown. The scent of the dry leaves are very hard to describe but the wet leaves smell floral and “dry”. The first sip is light and bright with a brief hint of cocoa and then sparkle, sparkle, sparkle, that fine mineral sparkle so lovely and cooling.

The second infusion is indeed dry but in a wonderful way like scotch. There are woodsy notes as well as the floral and bit of smoke. My thought is that this tea must indeed be made by a master. It reminds me more of Oriental Beauty and sheng than any Chinese black teas I’ve had experience with. Herbaceous notes and camphor pop up every now and then, with whispers of that first cocoa and prickles of pepper on the sides of the tongue.

Third infusion is herbaceous and peppery. Cooling and warming at the same time. Turns a bit savory and salty in the middle of the sip but not as much as the Jin Jun Mei I had yesterday and this morning, it is still floral in the beginning and in the finish and aftertaste. Now there is a battle on my tongue competing notes of sweet and salty, floral and peppery, cool and dry causing it to tingle and pulse.

In the first few sips of the fourth infusion, all the tastes of the third infusion are present only stonger and more solid. The tea is developing more body and less effervescence. And as the body develops, a slight butteriness is born and yet the tongue buzzes and the sensation from the tea is so thick and heavy you could bite into it. There is a hint of fruit here at the end of cup, that reminds me of gum and kiwi? And the buzzing of my tongue is spreading to the base of my neck and down my spine and arms and I am reminded that I must eat. Break.

Note that I wrote this note without looking at the tea’s description or other tasting notes (besides reading them a month ago) but now after reading, I realize now that the butteriness is more like olive oil and the notes I was finding similar to Oriental Beauty were muscatel and the fruit notes did have a grape and apple (gum) I got the sheng on my own though. Yay for sitting and listening to tea, it’s been awhile and this was certainly an intense experience that I hope to resume after food.

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98
244 tasting notes

It’s been a really long time since I posted a review, mostly becasue things have been amazingly busy for a semester where I only have 13 credits. Anyways, midterms are over, and I have a few weeksto relax before the next crisis/test/project is due.

I prepared this tea with near-boiling water in a cast-iron teapot, and let it steep for 20 seconds. I’ve actually had this tea before, and I personally feel that it benefits from a slightly longer initial steep, but that’s just a personal opinion. The resulting tea is amazingly sweet, yet it retains the Yunnan linen mouthfeel. I also agre with the Verdant tasting notes that this tea is very remeniscient of grapes, which is a flavor that I normally don’t like yet was absolutely perfect. AFter the sucess of this cup, I’m anxiously await the future developements of this tea.

I prepared the second steep with near boiling water and let the leaves soak for 10 seconds. The result is mostly the same, but with one very improtnat change: The linen mouthfeel is starting to transition into something else, but I’m not quite sure what. the only other thing of note is that the sweetness is a bit more muted than before, but grape flavor is still very distinct. On a sidee note, when I poured the hot water over the leaves this time the entire room was fileld with a delightful aroma of grapes and pines like David wrote on this tea’s page. Considereing that it’s the first thing in quite some time to get past first my headcold and now my mild seasonal allergies, it was truly a wonderful experience.

Music of the DayNabucco by Giusseppe Verdi
Link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xz6GBsJltxE
while the link above isn’t the exact recording I have (Mine is a remastered recording from 1965 with Lamberto Gardelli conducting), it was the best one I could find on Youtube.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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556 tasting notes

Just lost my entire tea log and I’m not going to type that whole thing again.

In summary: tastes good, I like it better with milk and sugar still, I will try Western style brewing next time. My taste buds are not sophisticated enough to pick up tastes like others do in each individual steep beyond things like less bitter, smoother, sweeter. My experience with a gaiwan is interesting, but not something I’m quite ready for.

I’m not going to rate this until I drink it Western style.

Sil

i hate that! on a side note, i’m with you on the gaiwan…i generally just do it when i want to take the time to sit and enjoy the tea in a different way. :)

BoxerMama

Gong fu is the only way I can drink black without milk or sugar. . . Chronic over steeper.

Terri HarpLady

For me, it depends on my mood & how much time I have to sit around. Mainly I use it for whites, greens, oolongs, & puer, especially if they come from Verdant. I’ll try a full leaf black tea in my Gaiwan to compare it to how I like it steeped in a cup, but honestly, the cup usually wins in that case!

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96
81 tasting notes

Backlogging: I really enjoyed this tea very much so and would love to give a little bit of time as my last tasting note was quite rushed. ironically, I am short on time and would like to point out what I left out in the previous notes. I have noticed a grape like flavor and aroma when first brewed and dry leaf smell, the linen sort of smell of laundered clothes came out during steeping and at the palate. though at first I thought it was sorta like fruity canvas (if that made any sense)or to describe a sort of earthy taste and leathery feel accented with fruits. A delightful tea and highly recommended to everyone. Do buy more of this good stuff! Cheers!

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71
243 tasting notes

I don’t think this is my kind of black tea. Better yet, I don’t think Yunnans and I get along so well.
I love a strong cocoa malt black tea. This has none of that of course, but I keep wanting it to. It’s very smooth and oily – coconut olive oil type oily….not what I would expect or relate to a black tea.

Maybe I need a few more rounds with this. I still have an ounce left so we have some time to get to know each other more. I’m still a skeptic though.

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563 tasting notes

Ordered a sample of this with my recent order.

It was much lighter than I expected from a Yunnan. It was okay and not a bad tea. Just not really what I want when I want a Yunnan. Shared it with Tea Co-Worker and he had the same opinion.

While I’m glad I got a sample, I’m also glad I got just a sample. :)

QueenOfTarts

My thoughts exactly! :)

Nicole

I saw your note and thought “Oh, thank goodness. Another review that isn’t over the top love for this. Maybe it isn’t just me!” :)

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