Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong Smoked Wuyi Black

Tea type
Black Tea
Ingredients
Not available
Flavors
Cinnamon, Pine, Smoke, Chocolate, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Sage, Toast, Earth, Forest Floor, Spicy, Sweet, Wood, Cedar, Cocoa, Cream, Floral, Vanilla, Caramel, Hay, Toffee
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Loose Leaf
Caffeine
Not available
Certification
Not available
Edit tea info Last updated by Joshua Smith
Average preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec 6 g 6 oz / 191 ml

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55 Tasting Notes View all

From Verdant Tea

Beautifully balanced, delicate and masterfully smoked, this exquisite Lapsang Souchong style smoked Wuyi black tea is one of the finest we’ve ever found. It is crafted with care by the Li family, growing their tea in the Wuyi mountains in Xing Village. The Li family devotes most of their harvest to fine Wuyi oolongs, honing the difficult craft of rolling and roasting, so it’s no wonder the floral and delicate qualities of fine oolong comes through in this Lapsang Souchong. Anyone who enjoys roasted oolong or chocolatey black teas will love this unique offering.

The aroma of the leaf has fresh pine sap and notes frankincense resin from the pine needle smoking process. Intriguingly, a nuanced saltiness comes through to compliment the woody aromas, much like the saltiness of fine Japanese incense. While many Lapsang Souchong teas assault the nose with their intensity, this tea offers a more mature and subtle experience.

The flavor is warm and cozy with chocolate and cream, and it’s aroma evokes a hot cedar sauna or wine-soaked oak barrels, aging in a wine cellar. Fruity dark floral notes shine in the aftertaste as marigold and sumac. These sweet and tart florals are actually strengthened by the light, delicate smokiness of the tea. The pine smoke flavors bring out the signature mineral notes of Wuyi tea, and push forward a beautiful hot chocolate taste that lingers on.

This tea steeps out for many infusions, yielding a refined and clean tea more vaporously musty than smokey, with the sweet and salty kick of brown sugar. We highly recommend trying this tea, as it opens up a whole new way of thinking about smoked teas, and offers a gorgeous perspective on the terroir of the Wuyi mountains.

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55 Tasting Notes

75
7963 tasting notes

evening tea because this was all i wanted tonight with a splash of maple syrup. SO. Good. Just the right balance of smoke and deliciousness for me nom nom nom nom nom

caile

nomnomnom little heffalump ;-)

MissB

Ha! You guys make me laugh.

Terri HarpLady

Did you sip it up through your trunk???

Terri HarpLady

I mean, now that you’re a heffalump, you can do that, right?

Sil

Of course! While Wearing my rubber boots in case I splash

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3252 tasting notes

1 T + 8oz X 3/5 min
I still haven’t done a gongfu steepings with this tea yet, & I really should.
(Sars, I’m going to buy that damn yixing I wanted for smoky teas now. I blame you. hahaha)
Anyway, it’s very tasty, in a pine & brown sugar kind of way, not overly smokey, but delicious. I’m drinking it plain, but I happen to know for a fact that a little Maple syrup turns this one into a wonderful dessert.

SarsyPie

Who meeeeee? Lookie here… I asked YOU for a link for teaware. I can’t help it that you kept on going :p

boychik

MzPriss, the pot is gorgeous. I keep saying myself I don’t need it(. The only excuse I need 100ml or smaller)

Cameron B.

MzPriss, that’s my favorite one from their new collection. SO jealous!

Terri HarpLady

Priss, that is Beautiful!
I ordered this one, which I’ve been drooling over for weeks
http://camellia-sinensis.com/en/teapot/theiere-de-mme-sheng-sg-26
Sars ;)

SarsyPie

Both of your new teapots are so lovely! Eeeee!!! Teawares!!

Dexter

OMG!!! Those are both BEAUTIFUL!!!!

Dexter

And the one Terri got also comes in a round, fat – pumpkin style… whimper…
http://camellia-sinensis.com/en/teapot/theiere-de-mme-sheng-sg-1

Terri HarpLady

Yeah, that roundish one is really cute too. I picked mine cuz I like the simple designs on the lid, & I already have several round teapots, so I liked the different shape.

boychik

Terri, I saw that pot few weeks ago. Gorgeous !

Sil

mustnotstartbuyingteawaremustnotstartbuyingteaware

OMGsrsly

Those tea pots are all so cute!

Myssy

OMG those black pots. * Restrains self *

Terri HarpLady

I know priss…I know!

Whispering Pines Tea Company

Terri, if you have an overabundance of this tea and don’t want it all the badly, I will buy it from you…it’s my favorite tea ever I think. lol

Terri HarpLady

Brendan…maybe we’ll do a trade?

Whispering Pines Tea Company

I like that idea! :) I’ll send you a message!

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100
676 tasting notes

I got a Google+ message from Eric:
“What…look…the leaves are HUGE!” with a picture attached showing the Zheng Shan Ziao Zhong Smoked Wuyi Black tea by Verdant (say that 3 times fast!).

I answered back,
“OK Eric, I’ll pick some up as soon as David Duckler makes it available on the Verdant website…”, which I did immediately.

Then, I got sick right after the tea arrived. Bah!

As soon as I was well enough to drive, I picked myself up and off I went with my one ounce of precious tea booty. (I also have a small amount of puerh aged in a brandy barrel from Oregon, a gift from Eric to try that’s amazing…but that’s another story)

This tasting was met with great anticipation by Eric, Joe, Andy, Sam and owner George.

After much swooning over the aroma of the leaves…(a light smoky, sweetness)…Joe deftly worked gongfu magic, pouring amber liquor into many tiny tasting cups.

The wet leaves smelled like bbq that had been marinated in a rich jammy Paso Robles Zinfindel. The scent was floral…right in the middle of all that meaty, sour ripeness.

Eric tasted the tea first.

“Ah, this is what a lapsang should taste like when it’s done right. It’s what I’ve heard about but never tasted. I could drink this every day!”

I took my time…and a sip.

Light smoke, almost not there but salty next to sweet vanilla (Eric said that’s from the pine) and camphor. Floral aroma and very light smoke. Smooth. Layered and complex. Cocoa…

I don’t think one tasting can honor such a tea, time is needed.

Everyone raved…yes…raved about the tea.

The smoked tea’s most of us are used to drinking are far different from a superior craft tea such as this one.

My highest rating goes to this Lapsang Souchong.
In my opinion it is the example…the standard, of what a smoked tea should and can be.

A+++!

Whispering Pines Tea Company

I had to buy this too :) its fantastic!

Bonnie

I knew you would appreciate this tea. You just don’t come across the real deal very often if ever. You, a smoky tea junkie, a..connoisseur is saying something huge when you proclaim “it’s fantastic”!

Whispering Pines Tea Company

It’s such a huge difference between the usual lapsangs…it’s not smoke as much as the feel of the warm pinewood on the morning after a campfire…truly amazing :)

Bonnie

You are a poet at heart and friend of the pine. True…there isn’t a roaring campfire or brush with a pine tree (needles in the face).

@ligongsf

Hmm, I never had truly smokey tea…like coffee? zheng shan xiong zhong..I was wondering what it is..then found it on wiki: 正山小种. LOl. I will one day visit Wuyi mountain in Fujian, since a friend of mine has a family tea farm there

Bonnie

Not like coffee, it can taste more cinder depending on the tea. I’ve had savory smoke that reminds me more of BBQ and some that are like walking through the forest in the morning when you smell woodsmoke. I’ve lived in the woods in California.

@ligongsf

that’s a beautiful description…woodsmoke…noted for wuyi black…so i guess its stronger than tie guan ying

Bonnie

Yes, very much stronger and not floral or vegital.

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368 tasting notes

I had to come back just to talk about this tea.

I received a small sample in the tea of the month box and I got really excited. Those of you who know my review history know that Upton Tea’s “black dragon” is one of my “gotta have it on the shelf at all times” daily drinking teas. I rave about black dragon because it is a strong, powerful lapsang that doesn’t make you think of pork rinds or bacon or any other kind of meat product. It isn’t greasy or salty or sharp, or whatever it is that makes a lot of people think of cured meat when they smell it. But, at the end of the day, black dragon is still a very smokey tea.

But this… this tea is a whole other universe.

I opened the sample pack and thought … 4H fair. The smell of feed hay in a hot, close barn. Those pellets you can get from the candy vending machine to feed the animals at a petting zoo.

The wet leaf? Oh man.

The wet leaf is like drinking the zoo. Seriously.

Do you want to feel six years old, with a balloon on your wrist and the sounds of exotic birds in your ears, arguing about whether to go to the monkey house or the big cat exhibit? Drink this tea.

Do you want to remember what it felt like to hug a sheep that hadn’t been shorn in a long, long time? Drink this tea.

I don’t see this tea replacing anyone’s beloved lapsang or caravan tea. It’s too different. It doesn’t fill the same gap in the line-up, I don’t think.

But it is a marvelously transcendent, nuanced, delightful tea. You must try it. You absolutely must, no matter how much you think you don’t like smoked tea. Try this one.

I’m just glad I have a well seasoned lapsang yixing to do this tea justice with.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec
Terri HarpLady

Glad you’re here, Jim. Glad you shared about this tea too!
And, of course, I love your post.
Especially that last sentence. I was talking with somebody about yixing the other day, & when they asked if I had one for black teas I said no. I’m using a yixing sized porcelain little pot (at this time) for my blacks, because I felt that if I added another yixing to my collection for black teas, I’d have to add several, LOL, to honor the various flavor profiles.

When Verdant announced that they were offering the tea, I immediately got some, & drinking it, I knew that my first ‘black tea’ yixing would have to be for the select smokey teas in my collection. And then I’ll have to get one for the Dian Hongs…sigh…and then…

gmathis

Petting zoo tea! Love the imagery!

Jim Marks

Terri,

I have a yixing for the following teas:

shou pu erh
yunnan golden
laoshan black (this has a unique enough flavor it needs its own pot)
lapsang souchong

I also have a purion for Da Hong Pao. Purion is like yixing, in that it is an unglazed clay pot, but it is specifically for wuyi type oolongs and pu erh. I’d like to get a second one for sheng pu erh at some point.

Those are the teas I drink often enough to make having invested in five pots worth the money. I use all these pots at least once a week.

I use gaiwain for all the occasional teas (verdant samples, green, floral oolongs, whatever).

Verdant now offers some lovely gaiwain — I prefer the wide, flat ones to the typical ones you see in the US which are tall and narrow.

I get my yixing from the Canadian tea site http://camellia-sinensis.com
They have some top shelf artisan stuff, but also some great entry level priced stuff too.

Terri HarpLady

I currently have 3 yixings:
Sheng
Shou
lovely roasty Wuyi Oolongs
Then the aforementioned yixing sized porcelain for blacks, until I start buying separate pots for a few of them :)
Then I have an assortment of Gaiwans for other oolongs, greens, etc, & I agree, I prefer the short wide ones as well.
I haven’t looked at Purions, but I really enjoy the yixings I have, & am always looking at others, so thanks for the link!
I’m almost afraid to look…hahaha

Jim Marks

I’ve since added a yixing for black teas that aren’t laoshan black. Sure, they’re all distinct, but they aren’t so distinct that I feel like they can’t share a pot.

Amusingly, I don’t know that I could ever have just one pot for sheng because to me that’s really where the spectrum blows wide open and I’d worry that I’d be cross-tasting all the time, so I use a gaiwan for any sheng that come my way.

Terri HarpLady

Ha! Since we had this conversation 2 years ago, I’ve added several more yixings to my collection, including a few for different black teas, and have even been thinking about the same think you said regarding shengs…how can one have just one pot for all raw teas, given that some are smokier, greener, fruitier, purple…etc
This is actually something I’ve been contemplating for awhile now…I need more money ;)

Jim Marks

That’s why I just brew sheng in a gaiwan.

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79
169 tasting notes

I’m going to be that guy. I bought this tea knowing it was smoked. But I also bought a bit more than I normally might because the top note was described as chocolate. I thought, “Hey! A chocolate-y, smokey tea? I’m in!”

I opened this tea up and it smelled delightfully smokey in that it was faint. Like you came across a camp that someone abandoned a few days earlier and there is still a faint whisp of wood smoke in the air. I brewed it up promptly.

The smell of the liquid also carried that faint campfire scent. So far, so good. But when I took a sip, expecting to be hit with a smoked chocolate flavor, I was a bit let down. The smoke was there, though not overpowering, but the chocolate note was not to be found. There is a bit of cinnamon on the back end. I’m on my third gongfu steep and while this tea is nice, I don’t feel it is quite as advertised.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Pine, Smoke

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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92
191 tasting notes

It’s time to start cleaning out the backlog again. The sipdown of this tea came last night. I was a bit jittery due to an upcoming outing with my vocational rehabilitation clients and was having a lot of trouble getting settled for the evening. Naturally, I decided to add more caffeine to the fire. Even when I’m jittery, a nice gongfu session always seems to do the trick, and I end up out like a light when I should probably be bouncing off the walls and/or babbling incoherently in a corner somewhere. It took me awhile, but I finally fell asleep and woke up as ready to face the day as could possibly be expected given the circumstances.

My rambling should have made it obvious that I prepared this tea gongfu style. I followed Verdant’s guidelines for this one. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 4 seconds. I followed this initial infusion with 10 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 13 seconds, 16 seconds, 19 seconds, 22 seconds, 25 seconds, 28 seconds, 31 seconds, and 34 seconds. I probably could have gotten at least one or two more infusions out of this, but stopped where I did because it was late and I needed to get some sleep.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaves gave off a mild smoky scent with hints of spice and chocolate. After the rinse, I noted strong aromas of chocolate, cinnamon, pine needles, and smoke. The first infusion produced a similarly intense nose. In the mouth, there were distinct impressions of chocolate, cinnamon, pine, smoke, and sage. There was also a slight sweetness left on the back of the throat. Subsequent infusions were similarly spicy, smoky, and savory, though they were also incredibly balanced. I noted the emergence of toast, honey, elderberry, and malt notes underneath the dominant flavors of sage, pine, smoke, and chocolate. Boy, Verdant’s taste profile was more or less dead on with this one. The later infusions were mild and smooth, though traces of chocolate, pine, toast, smoke, and cinnamon were still evident. There was also the expected Wuyi minerality that became more pronounced on these final infusions.

I’ve had nearly a full day to process my thoughts on this tea, and to be honest, I am glad I did not try to post this review last night. Immediately after finishing the session, I was a bit disappointed that this lapsang was not smokier. I was also a little disappointed that the flavors faded a little sooner than I would have preferred (I was kind of nitpicking though-I did manage to get eleven infusions out of 5 grams of this tea, and at least 7-8 of them were very good). In retrospect, however, this was a very sophisticated, balanced lapsang souchong that did not resort to over-the-top and/or artificial smokiness.

Flavors: Chocolate, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Pine, Sage, Smoke, Toast

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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85
335 tasting notes

I keep forgetting I have this one. Brewed it Western style this morning.

Dark, curled dry leaves. Heady smoke aroma, in the mid-treble “range” of scents, is the most noticeable scent, but there’s some forest pine and something slightly sweet.

The smoke seems a little punchier in the wet leaf aroma. Each time I smell the liquor, I get something slightly different: sometimes it’s a little brash, sometimes it’s sweet and deep, like some dark-colored fruit I can’t place.

The smoke rounds out in the taste, although it’s still at the forefront. Still fairly heady, but it has a depth that settles into the mouth. Getting a bit of pine and wood around the edges. Hint of earthiness. Slightly malty? Just a little little bit spicy, which lingers in the aftertaste.

Quite good, and a little more complex than the other smoky teas I’ve had.

Flavors: Earth, Forest Floor, Fruity, Pine, Smoke, Spicy, Sweet, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 207 ML
MrQuackers

How is the strength of the liquor? I have a Wuyi Lapsang Souchong here that is fairly mellow with no bitterness even after 5 minutes of brewing. They use older leaves for the smoked blends.

TeaKlutz

This one’s about the same, or at least it was today that I brewed it for a relatively short time (per Western-style standards.) I don’t know if it’s quite as mellow as your Wuyi Lapsang Souchong – the smoke gets slightly brash at points – but it’s still fairly smooth. Pretty full flavor.

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84
636 tasting notes

Sipdown 12 of 2016. Verdant Sample. Finished 1/2016

I am a tad bit afraid of smokey teas, but this one is really nice. It is just a slight hint of smoke, with a coaco, sweet base tea underneath. I am enjoying this cup this morning. It is a good warm you up, cup.

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997 tasting notes

GCTTB
Another one I was really happy to see in the box. There wasnt much left so my steep parameters were just a guess, but enough for me to sense that this isn’t your average ZSXZ. There are some unusual notes in here. Someone said cedar, yep I’m going with that. Not the ovoverwhelming pine smoke of some, just a subtle hint of smoky forest. There is also some earthiness to it, a hint of cocoa, maybe just a a wee whif of sweet fruit way in the back. I’m really happy that it has other flavors rather than just heavy smoke. I think I would be happy with some of this in my cupboard. :)

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345 tasting notes

Brewed semi-Western style with a glass test tube steeper. Steeping times: 30, 15, 20, 40, 80.

Overall, this a complex ZSXZ. The dry leaf aroma smells like a small, controlled fire that has died out for a few minutes: a gentle smoke, different evergreens and needles burned together. In contrast, the wet leaf aroma is heavy with gray smoke and charred wood. My favorite: The aroma rising from the steeper after I have poured out the liquor is honey-glazed Christmas ham.

The liquor is dark amber in color, clear, and full-bodied. The first infusion resembles inhaling enough smoke that you can taste it and it sticks to your nostrils. A second, shorter steeping – and the subsequent infusions – are still smoky (of course) but much lighter, with a cedar note and cooked meat aftertaste. I could swear I had finished eating BBQ’d pork. Sweeter and sweeter it becomes. A note of maple syrup emerges. The sessions ends with equal smoke and maple syrup.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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