This is a delicious tea. The first sip may not wow you, but after a few more the cinnamon, pepper and chocolate flavors blossom in your mouth to form a complex and beautifully smooth tea. It seems to combine the best aspects of yunnan, keemun and other congous. Sometimes the best teas, like the best music and books reveal their greatness slowly and through repeated encounters.
70 Tasting Notes
Thanks to Charles Thomas Draper for mentioning this sheng. I bought a sample (cakes are very expensive) and immediately fired up my little pot and steeped it three times: at 30 seconds, 1 minute, and 2 minutes. The first steep was exquisitely smooth, with a light camphor taste and a more pronounced mandarin orange flavor. Things got pretty wild on the next two steeps; the orange remained, and was joined with chestnut and what reminded me of a perfect black bean sauce. This is a high energy tea that had me buzzing along way into the night, right through an excellent set by the Futurebirds at the Press Room in Portsmouth, NH. I’m going to try and conserve this tea; as good as it is now, it will be even better when some of the bitterness fades away over time.
I don’t often drink green teas, but I have a fondness for Senchas, especially these first flush ones from Den’s tea. The broth looks like lemon-lime Gatorade and smells like fresh grass, Miso and seaweed. I probably brewed this a little hot; nonetheless, this is such a pure, essential tea, so reminiscent of the terroir from which it springs; drinking it is akin to hauling oysters out of the cold Gulf of Maine, shucking them and pouring the icy cold meat down your throat. There are some elemental tastes that should never be diluted. This tremendously fresh and energizing tea is one of them.
I gave this a pretty long steep with extra leaf and was rewarded with creamy chocolate goodness. It looks like the long weekend is going to be a cold and wet—a good time to hack away at my alarmingly large stockpile of Chinese black teas.
A cool foggy morning, waiting for the sun to shine and enjoying a gut-warming cup of one of my faves. My new favorite band, The Futurebirds streaming on Spotify and the kids off with my wife for an hour—a bit of calm plucked from what promises to be a busy afternoon of yard maintenance.
Funny, I didn’t get any astringency from this cup, even with a 4.5 minute brew time with near boiling water. Instead, like El Monstro, I found this to be a fruity yunnan with medium body, a nice change from the very rich yunnans I’ve been drinking lately.
I returned from my uncle’s funeral service and was compelled to have a cup of this tea as it represents the rebirth of nature after a long cold winter.
I haven’t had this in a while and I forgot how well-balanced and enjoyable this is for an everyday tea. More spicy than sweet, with a hint of raisin and cinnamon. Seems immune to bitterness.
I like the soft wither style of darjeelings because I feel they result in a darker, richer cup. The current fashion is for darjeelings to taste more like oolongs, so it’s not easy to find teas of this style. Luckily, Upton always procures a couple. This cup has a pleasant roasted note and a deep muscatel aroma. There’s not a hint of the astringency that can make darjeelings temperamental and it tastes like wild grapes chased with water from a cold rocky stream. A tea like this one is always one of the pillars of my tea collection.
This has a similar flavor profile to other Yunnan teas I’ve been drinking but it has less oomph than I would like in a black tea, even with extra leaf and a longish steep. It does have a nice flavor of bran muffin with raisin and a hint of honey, making it a pleasant, easy tea to drink.
Sometimes I enjoy being a contrarian when the vox populi is overwhelmingly laudatory about something. But in this case, I just can’t. I don’t know what it is about this tea, maybe it’s the perfect balance between spice and sweetness, or the brininess encapsulated in each mouthful, but my thirst for this tea is never slaked. I’m drawn to it like Ishmael to the sea.
I steeped this for a good 5 minutes, thereby ensuring that the the earthy, forest-floor flavor would be emphasized at the expense of any subtler flavors. That’s fine by me—what drew me to ripe pu-erhs in the first place is the muddiness. I’m more likely to do short, multiple steeps for green pu-erhs. This 2007 tea is very easy to drink: smooth and sparkly.
The sun comes out intermittently and teases us with spring, but when it leaves it feels like March. I’m not sure whether to have a fresh or floral spring tea to remind me that warmer days are coming or a darker black tea to warm my core. I spun the wheel and ended up with the last of this very nice Assam—not too heavy, pleasantly fruity, easy to drink straight any time of the day.
Word has it that the first=flush season is not a good one, so I’m glad I have some of this stellar tea left. It has held up well—a heady mixture of honeysuckle, peach and freshly-mown grass, with that singular muscatel essence that makes tasting first-flush darjeelings the non-pareil experience in the tea world.
The smell of wood smoke ignites some primal pavlovian need inside of me, especially on this bone-chilling day. The beautiful red hue of this tea begs for a glass mug and the deep, mellow taste never disappoints. This will always be a part of my inner circle of teas.
I forgot I had purchased this and was reminded when I read Angrboda’s review. I brewed this western style for about 4 minutes. The infused leaf smelled fantastic—strangely, it reminded me of a hot day in the Florida Keys when the Bouganvilla is blooming. The initial flavor was chocolate and peanut but what lingered was a pronounced grape soda taste that reminded me of drinking RC and White Rock sodas as a child. The experience was similar to that of Master Han’s Wild Yunnan.
Overall, this is a mild black tea, with the typical Chinese black elements tempered by oolong fruitiness.
I’m always surprised when I read a person’s comment that teas of this type don’t appeal to him or her; I have to restrain myself from ordering every Yunnan golden fleece/bud/tip from every tea purveyor on the web. The first time I had one, I was hooked like the first time I heard Bob Dylan on my parents’ stereo 40 some odd years ago. I even promote this tea to non-tea drinkers (like my wife) who don’t respond to the Assams and Ceylons that make up most blends. How can you not love the creamy, honey-sweet caramel flavors of these Yunnans?
This one from Upton is a little more lemony and peppery than some, but still retains the characteristics that make you feel like you’re drinking from the very wellspring of tea itself.
Obviously, we’re dealing with a much different Yunnan black tea than the plethora of “golden” blacks with their rich caramel, and cocoa flavors—so much so that this tea seems more like a blueberry oolong: fruity, unassertive, with a kind of effervescence I find in herbal teas. I like it, but I place it alongside those teas (whites, yabaos) whose subtlety (not unlike a difficult poem) requires dedicated attention to unlock its flavors. If you drink a cup while working or reading you might very well forget you’ve had anything at all.
I had been searching for a good aged Oolong and I’m glad I found this excellent tea. Like a great roasted fruit compote, this tea has a great depth of peach and plum flavors. The roasting burnishes the sweetness with a nice bit of autmunal smoke, perfect for this crisp fall day. By the way, Stacy is a pleasure to do business with and added some great samples to my order, including a rarefied Keemun that wasn’t even on the web site yet. I’m giving the other teas I ordered from her a few tries before reviewing them, but they are all quality teas.
Okay, so I hate the appropriation of the word “artisan” by marketers to suggest that a product was made by hand in some remote workshop by a wizened old master who is the final link to some disappearing skill. It’s a sandwich for God’s sake! I am, however, a sucker for the word “ancient” when used to describe pu-erh tea.
It reminds me of Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner: mellowed with age, but with an inner intensity. You see this old man at a wedding; he seems inconsequential. You’re prepared to be dismissive until he starts to tell his tale and you realize what he has to say is wise, mythic, elemental.
Okay, so maybe this raw/green pu-erh is not mythic, but it does have a mellow, sweet, round feel that suggests the ancient leaf. But be prepared, the energy packed in these leaves is like the intensity of the Mariner’s gaze. It had me up half the night singing Springsteen songs in preparation for a concert tomorrow night in Boston.
Even with a five-minute steep, this tea is so smooth. I’m being parsimonious with my 50 gram stash; this is one of the special ones.
This has been growing on me, maybe because I have begun to appreciate the subtleties of Oolongs over the past year. In any case, this tea has a more syrupy mouth feel than I remember, but the sweetness is nicely balanced by the roasted flavor—a nice complement to the Thai green curry I had for dinner.
Revisiting this assured, solid tea. I like the earlier steepings best, when the minty, camphor taste is most pronounced. It’s a perfect complement to the tangy sea-breeze that is blowing in from the harbor on this delightful Maine summer day.
Okay, first a Mea Culpa: Other than green pu erhs, I don’t do multiple steepings of teas. Yes, I’m an unrefined westerner, but here’s my reasoning:
1. I don’t have time. I’m lucky to be able to steep a cup of tea and drink it while chasing my two boys, 4 and 2, around the house/yard/street, etc.
2. The interaction between caffeine and flavor in tea is as important to me as the interaction between alcohol and flavor in beer. I don’t see the point of drinking tea once the caffeine is gone, in the same way I don’t see the point of non-alcoholic beer.
3. I don’t necessarily feel that tea “reveals” different flavors over the course of multiple steepings. To me it just seems weaker and less interesting.
4. Tea is an inexpensive luxury. I don’t feel compelled to extract every drop of tea essence from the leaves. My wife spends more on wine in two months than I do in a year on tea. I just spent $250 for a little hose for my motorcycle. And don’t get me started on the price of “artisan” meats and cheeses, local produce, or the price of books.
So maybe some day I’ll change, but for now most of my tasting notes are based on a single steep.
I found it odd that this was classified as a white tea, as it seemed more of a hybrid between a dragon well green and a white. It’s pleasant and light, and I was gratified that I detected the almond/vanilla flavor mentioned in the description. I don’t often notice the sometimes esoteric flavors attributed to teas. Anyway, while this tea is definitely not in my wheelhouse, I’m thankful to the folks at Verdant for letting me try it. It’s a nice summer tea that went well with pushing my four year old down the street on his new pedal bike.