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
“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” Read full tasting note
“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,...” Read full tasting note
“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...” Read full tasting note
“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...” Read full tasting note
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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Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong Organic BlackTao Tea Leaf
Zheng Shan Xiao ZhongCamellia Sinensis
Zheng Shan Xiao ZhongUnknown
Zheng Shan Xiao ZhongRed Leaf Tea
Zheng Shan xiao ZhongLuLin Teas
Zheng Shan Xiao ZhongDobra Tea
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.
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.
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.
This one is really something else.
If I had to rate a tea a perfect 100, it would be the first Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong I ever tried, several years ago. So when I ordered this batch of Xiao Zhong from Verdant Tea, I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to the expectations of that initial, nostalgic memory. I let it sit for a while, untested, and when I finally opened the package, I was admittedly a little shocked by the intensity of the smoky aroma. This wasn’t the beginner-friendly, soft smokiness of a Shui Xian, and nothing like the Xiao Zhong I had remembered either. It’s complex and earthy, almost animal, with a very strong scent of resin or wet, smoldering pine needles. It’s not something I’d want to inhale deeply, but it becomes more subtle after brewing.
Once brewed, this tea really shines. It’s light and smooth, very fragrant but with none of the punch of the dry leaf aroma, with a natural sweetness that becomes more evident with more sips. The sweetness is almost like fruit in syrup, but with no cloying sugariness. There is a lingering touch of the pine or evergreen essence as well. Overall, I think the real appeal of this tea is in the contrast between the intensity of the aroma, which is sharp, cool, and startling, and the subtlety of the flavor, which is warm and almost too harmonious to be believed. It’s not similar to that mythical first Xiao Zhong, but it is unique and unlike anything else I’ve tried.
I ordered this at Verdant because I’d never had a smoky tea before. It was indeed smoky! It wasn’t unpleasant for me but I don’t think that smoke is one of my favorite flavors. If you do like smoky teas, I would recommend it though! It was smooth and mellow and tasted expensive if you know what I mean.