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I thought I would share my first experiences with this tea that I am pleased to see so many others enjoying as much as I do. I first came into contact with it through Wang Shilin, a middle-aged man with the coolest black 1950’s glasses. (Though I am not sure that they were meant to be hip particularly). Wang Shilin represented Xingyang Workshops offerings in the city of Qingdao, near Laoshan Mountain where I source my green teas and the Laoshan black.

I first came across him on a search for a brick of old Yabao tea to give to my wife for Christmas. He was the only guy in Qingdao who even know what Yabao was, as it isn’t normally seen outside of Yunnan. We drank tea together all day, starting with a white tea brick from Xingyang workshop, and moving into pu’er. He didn’t realize until later in the day how interested in pu’er I was. He was so excited to see a younger person drinking pu’er. He was lamenting over how so many young people in China drink cola or coffee with milk.

It wasn’t until we had become friends and I was on my way out that he looked sort of shiftily around and pulled out a little paper bag of pu’er leaves. He asked me to try it at home and come back next week to talk again. You could tell that this tea was one of his secrets. I knew that he was extremely proud of it.

Of course, I went right home and tried the tea- I won’t even try to describe it. It was hard enough to write a description for the website without going on tangents about memory, childhood, spiritual experience, etc. This is just one of those teas. You can’t help but be moved by it. Every time I brew it at a tasting, everyone starts talking about Grandma’s attic, or that time when they went to Maine, or the library of their old school.

I waited three days (that is the rule for second dates, right?) before rushing back to Wang Shilin’s shop and telling him all about the tea. He had the expression on his face of knowing exactly what I was going to say, and feeling satisfied to hear it out loud. He brewed it up for me again, explaining how different Xingyang is. The tea liquor was perfectly crystalline, he pointed out. Many old pu’er may get more complex, but they can also get murkier over time. Xingyang’s does not.

Honestly, having two, dwindling tins of this tea on my shelf at home was a big impetus in going into business. Now that I am back in touch with my tea friends, I am assured access to my beloved Xingyang 1998.

I must say though, I was only able to get 30 tins, or six pounds of this total in my last shipment and it was pretty hard to convence Xingyang to part with it. This tea may soon be a memory itself…

Charles Thomas Draper

I get chills reading about this tea. I get chills thinking about this tea….

Charles Thomas Draper

I see you have a 100 gram tin. Hmmm

David Duckler

Yes- Xingyang sends this tea in tins, as they don’t want any leaves broken in shipping from China. The tea is in a paper bag with their logo on it, sealed in a pretty attractive looking black tin, and packaged from there in a beautiful box. It is definitely the way to go if you plan on having this tea around for a while. There is just something special about reaching into a tin with characters and tea motifs on it.

By the way, I know what you mean about getting chills over this stuff. People may laugh at us, but then again, they probably haven’t tried the Xingyang 1998 yet.

TeaBrat

does pu-erh tea ever get stale? I would imagine not…

David Duckler

GOOD pu’er only gets better with age. Some low quality pu’er falls apart or composts over several decades, but tea like the Xingyang gets more complex, more sweet, and more smooth with age. Sheng pu’er changes the most dramatically. It is fun to get a brick of something you like and try it once or twice a year, keeping notes. They change in an intriguing way. I have a brick of the Yiwu from 1997, and it is hands down THE best taste sensation I have ever experienced.

David Duckler

Just be sure to store your pu’er away from strong spices or smells, or excess moisture. Those are the only things that can be detrimental. A cardboard box works well because it keeps out dust and moisture but allows airflow.

Charles Thomas Draper

I would love to try the 97….

Nathaniel Gruber

Love this! I have a 100 gram tin of this from David, and I am concerned over it lasting the rest of my life. Despite the cost, I am going to need to buy another 2-3 tins of this stuff. It is hands down my favorite tea and I will kick myself forever if I run out of it a few years down the road.

Charles Thomas Draper

Nathaniel I agree….

Autumn Hearth

David, thank you so much for including this as a sample, my package just arrived. I had to restrain myself for ordering all the shu (budget does not allow for that right now) but had to pull the trigger on the outgoing and incoming offerings. I’m looking forward to all the new harvests this year and I already know I will be ordering the corn toucha in the summer (the rest of the pu’er and some of the alchemy blends I will save for the winter, except yabao, I have decided yabao needs to be in the house at all times) My co-workers have asked me to bring it in on my last day, today, at Teavana and several of them are planning on ordering from Verdant. I’m definitely asking for a tea subscription for my birthday. You’ve earned a customer for life and if I ever open a local tea bar your teas will definitely be featured. Thanks for all that you do. Blessings, Autumn

David Duckler

Dear Autumn, Thank you so much for the kind words. It makes my day to know how much you are enjoying the teas. I am also pleased that you are excited to try the Xingyang 1998. I wish you the best as you embark on your new adventures. May your last day at Teavana bring many new first days for you! Best Wishes,
David

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Comments

Charles Thomas Draper

I get chills reading about this tea. I get chills thinking about this tea….

Charles Thomas Draper

I see you have a 100 gram tin. Hmmm

David Duckler

Yes- Xingyang sends this tea in tins, as they don’t want any leaves broken in shipping from China. The tea is in a paper bag with their logo on it, sealed in a pretty attractive looking black tin, and packaged from there in a beautiful box. It is definitely the way to go if you plan on having this tea around for a while. There is just something special about reaching into a tin with characters and tea motifs on it.

By the way, I know what you mean about getting chills over this stuff. People may laugh at us, but then again, they probably haven’t tried the Xingyang 1998 yet.

TeaBrat

does pu-erh tea ever get stale? I would imagine not…

David Duckler

GOOD pu’er only gets better with age. Some low quality pu’er falls apart or composts over several decades, but tea like the Xingyang gets more complex, more sweet, and more smooth with age. Sheng pu’er changes the most dramatically. It is fun to get a brick of something you like and try it once or twice a year, keeping notes. They change in an intriguing way. I have a brick of the Yiwu from 1997, and it is hands down THE best taste sensation I have ever experienced.

David Duckler

Just be sure to store your pu’er away from strong spices or smells, or excess moisture. Those are the only things that can be detrimental. A cardboard box works well because it keeps out dust and moisture but allows airflow.

Charles Thomas Draper

I would love to try the 97….

Nathaniel Gruber

Love this! I have a 100 gram tin of this from David, and I am concerned over it lasting the rest of my life. Despite the cost, I am going to need to buy another 2-3 tins of this stuff. It is hands down my favorite tea and I will kick myself forever if I run out of it a few years down the road.

Charles Thomas Draper

Nathaniel I agree….

Autumn Hearth

David, thank you so much for including this as a sample, my package just arrived. I had to restrain myself for ordering all the shu (budget does not allow for that right now) but had to pull the trigger on the outgoing and incoming offerings. I’m looking forward to all the new harvests this year and I already know I will be ordering the corn toucha in the summer (the rest of the pu’er and some of the alchemy blends I will save for the winter, except yabao, I have decided yabao needs to be in the house at all times) My co-workers have asked me to bring it in on my last day, today, at Teavana and several of them are planning on ordering from Verdant. I’m definitely asking for a tea subscription for my birthday. You’ve earned a customer for life and if I ever open a local tea bar your teas will definitely be featured. Thanks for all that you do. Blessings, Autumn

David Duckler

Dear Autumn, Thank you so much for the kind words. It makes my day to know how much you are enjoying the teas. I am also pleased that you are excited to try the Xingyang 1998. I wish you the best as you embark on your new adventures. May your last day at Teavana bring many new first days for you! Best Wishes,
David

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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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