Experience buying from Verdant Tea http://steepster.com/places/2886-verdant-tea-online-minneapolis-minnesota
Age of leaf: Stated as harvested in autumn 2011; I received this sample of tea in late autumn and brewed it up not long after.
Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: Tiny, tightly-curled, wiry, dark-brown (almost black) leaves and buds, very similar in shape to the early summer Laoshan green. It smelled incredible: it reminded me of a few Wuyi Oolong teas I have had—which I guess I would characterize as roasted—but somehow better (possibly sweeter).
Brewing guidelines ~4 tsp = 4 cups water. Glass Bodum pot used with with leaves floating freely (I acknowledge that this particular thin glass pot is probably not the best to use for a black tea, due to it not holding the heat very well from more than a couple of minutes, but I wanted to watch the leaves brew and be able to see the color—which I really enjoy doing, especially the first time I brew up the tea). Stevia added.
……….1st: boiling, and slightly warmed pot, 2’ (I ended up only using 2.5 cups for the first steeping)
……….2nd: boiling, and warmed pot, 3.5’
……….3rd: boiling, and very warmed pot, 5’
……….4th: boiling, and if possible, even more warmed pot, 7’
Color and aroma of tea liquor: dark brown; < later on the aroma >
Flavor of tea liquor: Oh … my … goodness; when I first tried it, the taste—as with the aroma of the leaves—reminded me vaguely of a Wuyi oolong, but once I really started to savor this tea I realized that it tasted like nothing I have had before. I admit that I still feel like a child when it comes to discerning the various flavors and aromas in a tea, but amongst all the other flavors in here, I think there is some caramel (I really enjoy any kind of caramel flavor in my black tea). The leaves held up very well through four steepings with great flavor, and no astringency—even after having been steeped over 7 minutes. Based on my notes below, I think this could have yielded flavor for up to at least five steepings; alas, I stopped at four and composted the leaves before I really took the time to taste the tea liquor.
Appearance and aroma of wet leaf: Very high quality: very few broken pieces, and very consistent color throughout; about the same aroma as the dry leaf, but possibly not as sweet smelling.
Value: expensive for me, based on my current budget, but still worth having on occasion; and great to give as a gift.
Overall: For various reasons, I generally enjoy drinking green teas, and I brew up a black tea on occasion. So far I have been VERY impressed with all of Verdant’s green teas, and I had an opportunity to try a sample of this black tea from Laoshan, the same village where most of Verdant’s green teas are harvested. Once I opened the package, and smelled, looked over, and tasted the liquor that I coaxed from the leaves it didn’t take long for me to be impressed with everything about this tea. It is the most unusual tasting black tea I have ever had (I don’t just value good flavor, I also value uniqueness). And yet, I was not certain whether or not to buy any (especially after dropping some $$$ on Teavana’s sale teas). But something finally tipped the balance. stay with me, if you can On the evening of the day I brewed up this glorious tea I remember absentmindedly (that’s kind of an oxymoron, isn’t it?) reaching for my cup, sitting half-forgotten on the kitchen table (do any of the rest of you have various cups just sitting around with different kinds of tea in them, ones you didn’t get a chance to finish, and then simply pick one of them up later and sip at it to see what’s in there?). And then, whilst sitting at my computer, I took a sip and, WOW! I was amazed at the flavor! It was the forth steeping, and tepid to boot! So I thought, “If it still tastes good like that, this is a tea worth having around!” Then I found myself thinking, “You already have enough tea, you dope.” And then my next thought was, “Shame on you for even thinking of denying yourself something this incredible (and for calling yourself a dope)!” That is what tipped the balance, and why I decided to finally dip into my not-so-deep coffers and buy this tea (I think my better part won out, don’t you?); the fact that buying from David, and knowing where the tea comes from, is more more rewarding for me than buying from some-big-chain-tea-retailer-that-largely-makes-it’s-home-in-malls helped make the decision even easier. Hurray! For small farms, small online tea retailers, the He family, Verdant Tea, and great tasting tea!