Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong Smoked Wuyi Black

Tea type
Black Tea
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Cedar, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Floral, Pine, Smoke, Vanilla, Mineral, Caramel, Hay, Toffee
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Loose Leaf
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Edit tea info Last updated by Joshua Smith
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205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec 8 g 7 oz / 220 ml

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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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50 Tasting Notes

6806 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


nomnomnom little heffalump ;-)


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?


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

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3229 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.


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


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
Sars ;)


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


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


And the one Terri got also comes in a round, fat – pumpkin style… whimper…

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.


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




Those tea pots are all so cute!


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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674 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.


Whispering Pines Tea Company

I had to buy this too :) its fantastic!


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 :)


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).


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


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.


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


Yes, very much stronger and not floral or vegital.

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334 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.

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…


Petting zoo tea! Love the imagery!

Jim Marks


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:
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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921 tasting notes

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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267 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.

205 °F / 96 °C 5 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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850 tasting notes

Backlog from last night – another tea from the GCTTB4

I had 2 steeps of this last night, and there’s still a smidgen of leaf left for others further down the lineup of the box.

The taste of this was actually quite similar to the hei cha I had yesterday morning from Tao Tea Leaf. It was a very earthy sort of flavour, and although I could taste smoke, the smoke was not the predominant flavour.

The second steep was similarly earthy, but I got a hint of sweetness like pine sap or eucalyptus at the back of my mouth.

This was decent, and I know Verdant is one of Steepster’s darlings, but I didn’t ring my bell compared to some of the other teas I’ve tried. It was a nice way to relax and focus in the evening, though.

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483 tasting notes

Tried this tea this morning. It’s such an “out there” tea for me since I normally drink the lighter teas. I did try one lapsang souchong that I enjoyed before so I thought I would give it a try.

I got sweet, smokey, leathery & tobacco. Smokey is good but leathery and tobacco are not flavours I would search for in a tea. However in this case it really worked good together. I did enjoy this tea but wouldn’t add to my cabinet unless it was only sample size.for that odd ball time I would have it.


this + maple syrup = happy times!


I have maple syrup! However, there’s only one small sample left of this tea so I’m leaving it for someone else to try.

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578 tasting notes

Smokey incense wafts through living pine. While casually sipping away at warm vanilla cocoa, one strolls through this fertile, pungent evergreen forest, salty sweat on their brow. Yes, I know they are sweating on a slow walk. This individual is clearly out of shape and it’s hot out. Maybe the latter is connected to the smokiness. Who knows (place inquiries with the tea).

So I’m terrible at conveying how easily this tea sweeps me up in daydream and picturesque fancies, but I had to try. It’s a delicious tea, reminiscent Whispering Pine’s indulgent Port.

I know some will find more dirt along the path than chocolate, and may even view the smoke as an indicator of a giant forest fire. For me, it hits all the sweet spots.

Flavors: Cedar, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Floral, Pine, Smoke, Vanilla

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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558 tasting notes

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

Dry leaf smells of rocks, pine, woodsmoke, salt, cream, and something sweet. The smoke does not overpower. Leave are long, dark, and twisted (like my favourite stories).

Wet leaf remains twisted, if less so, and smelling more of minerals than anything else.

Liquor is bronze with some down.

Smoke, yes, but a gentle smoke, with lots of China black tea characteristics coming through. There’s an elusive taste of cream, too. Plenty of sweet mineral notes. I know thi sis a smoked black tea, but it behaves much more like a dark sweet oolong.

This is really frigging good.


I just ordered one of the two remaining packages of this because of your review :D it sounds like such an enticing tea!

Michelle Butler Hallett

I’m kicking myself than I only ordered one ounce and not two. I’d been looking at it for a while but couldn’t afford a Verdant order til a few weeks ago. I hope you enjoy it.

Michelle Butler Hallett

I adore a good lapsang souchong. Lots of tarry and bitter impostors out there … this isn’t one. The only smoky tea I’ve tried that’s come close to being this good is Damn Fine’s Caravan and Caravan resurrected.


I own DFs Caravan and haven’t tried it yet! Know what I’m doing tomo…lol

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