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Every language has its own great advantages. I love English- the adjectives to summon forth are some of the best I have encountered (especially for visual concepts). However, our language is a bit more limited when it comes to taste, texture and smell. This is where Chinese comes in.

I took a rainy Qingdao day (In Seattle they call it a “marine layer”, in Qingdao, they say it is misty) and sat with Wang Yanxin drinking tea. Every pu’er she pulled from her mysterious back room stacks tasted like seeing a new color for the first time. I was learning about “sticky rice” aroma, “fruit” aroma, etc in the context of pu’er all were so bracing. After drinking teas at that level, you just want to fast because it seems wrong to bulldoze the ethereal aftertastes lingering on the palate. (Usually I would give in though and stop for charcoal roasted fish and shrimp on a stick while walking home.)

When Wang Yanxin brewed up this Yiwu, I can say in earnest that tasting it felt like being reunited with an important part of myself that had gone missing. She described the flavor as “zhang.” Apparently, zhang is a flavor used to describe the cooling sensation and herbaceous complexity that a wild picked pu’er picks up when growing in a forest with cedar or fir trees. It is a certain sensation in the back of the throat and tongue that is almost electric in its tingling cooling qualities. This taste felt like being reunited with my home town, my childhood heroes, my best friends.

I love zhang. I seek it out in everything now. Fine gin, birch beer, juniper berries, some kinds of tulsi. Zhang feels like pure energy melting on the tongue. This brick of yiwu was the first tea to give me that. It is what inspired me to understand that tea is more than flavor, texture, or aroma- it is energy, memory recall, connection to the land, and a synergy of all these put together.

Why do I leave a tasting note on this tea after so long? Because I am so excited to share the fact that Wang Yanxin agreed to get me a later 2004 pressing from the same workshop, and the 12 cakes I could import have arrived. Last time we were able to secure a few bricks of Yiwu, they sold out in 1 week and a half, so I am very excited to offer these up again. I hope you enjoy this tea as much as I do: http://verdanttea.com/teas/stone-pressed-yiwu-wild-arbor-sheng/

TheTeaFairy

love the review! reading it, I felt I was almost there experiencing the Zhang myself…hope I can achieve that someday. I’m waiting for your next Laoshan Black arrival to place my first order with you and I must say I can’t wait… I was lucky to sample it from a swap with Bonnie, and the day I tried it was a difficult one and that tea made things brighter for me…

Bonnie

The new young 2006 Yunnan Reserve Sheng has this quality. I felt the Zhang on the second pour twice. I’ve learned so much in a short time from the Verdant website and from your notes (like the one above) about what is beyond the taste of the tea. Diving deep down so that I am thoroughly bathed in what it has to say.

Scatterbrain

Sounds incredible. I swear, if I had the money I would buy a whole cake purely based on this description.

Kashyap

I so wish I could share a cup from across a table and feel the tendrils of mist snake in from the open doorway, allowing me to truly relish the warmth of the cup and the scent of the moss outside the door. This is the effect of these words, a desire to sit, share, enjoy and be one with those that can find that stillness.

Invader Zim

I feel the same as Kwinter, base on description alone I would buy a whole brick. As it is I only bought enough to sample. I hope that there will still be more left after I actually get to try it. I love your descriptions of your teas.

As for Zhang, I believe I have experienced this before with your wonderful Yabao Buds.

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Comments

TheTeaFairy

love the review! reading it, I felt I was almost there experiencing the Zhang myself…hope I can achieve that someday. I’m waiting for your next Laoshan Black arrival to place my first order with you and I must say I can’t wait… I was lucky to sample it from a swap with Bonnie, and the day I tried it was a difficult one and that tea made things brighter for me…

Bonnie

The new young 2006 Yunnan Reserve Sheng has this quality. I felt the Zhang on the second pour twice. I’ve learned so much in a short time from the Verdant website and from your notes (like the one above) about what is beyond the taste of the tea. Diving deep down so that I am thoroughly bathed in what it has to say.

Scatterbrain

Sounds incredible. I swear, if I had the money I would buy a whole cake purely based on this description.

Kashyap

I so wish I could share a cup from across a table and feel the tendrils of mist snake in from the open doorway, allowing me to truly relish the warmth of the cup and the scent of the moss outside the door. This is the effect of these words, a desire to sit, share, enjoy and be one with those that can find that stillness.

Invader Zim

I feel the same as Kwinter, base on description alone I would buy a whole brick. As it is I only bought enough to sample. I hope that there will still be more left after I actually get to try it. I love your descriptions of your teas.

As for Zhang, I believe I have experienced this before with your wonderful Yabao Buds.

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Bio

I fell in love with tea while doing work on classical Chinese language in China. I loved it so much that I went back for a year to research tea instead! Over a year and several summers in China I have had the chance to train in gongfu tea ceremony, and test the limits of my palate in tasting competitions. I was privileged to spend large chunks of time with farmers on their tea gardens, and was exposed to some of the smallest and most honest operations out there. It only made sense to go into business and deepen my relationship with tea and the farmers who make it with such care and humility. Now I own a small, but unique tea business importing the best teas that my farmer friends in China have to offer. Some of these teas are from regions that have never exported before. All of them have a story.

I will review teas on Steepster, because I think this is an awesome site, and a great community, but I won’t give them a numerical rating, as I don’t want to skew the system. I am having a great time here, and look forward to meeting more tea folk.

Location

Minneapolis, MN

Website

http://www.verdanttea.com

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