24 Tasting Notes
The description makes no sense to me, because I would describe this tea as earthy with notes of fig. I taste nothing floral at all, and I don’t like floral teas, but I love this. (Okay, maybe a slight hint of Jasmine, but definitely NO bergamot.) I’m surprised it does not have pu-erh in it, because it has that same musty-book quality and is very smooth and nearly impossible to over-steep. Pretty sure you can only get this at Moe’s Bookshop in Berkeley; it’s made for them by the herb store next door. One of my best impulse buys.
I am tasting some teas in my collection tonight. I made a cup of Harney & Sons’ English Breakfast (the 100% Keemun variety), and a cup of Taj Mahal. I made them in identical mugs, and for the life of me I cannot tell which is which. They both have a malty richness to them. I think the English Breakfast is the one with a “rounder” flavor, but I can’t be sure. I even looked up the ingredients because I could swear Taj Mahal is Keemun, from this little mix-up. Is it not?
My very first thought upon smelling this tea is jasmine. I might be mistaken—maybe it’s just “floral”—but we sure have a lot of jasmine in Berkeley so I feel pretty confident about that! I don’t even fully understand what gongfu is so I just brewed it the regular way and steeped about three minutes. The smell of the first brew still says “jasmine” but the flavor does not; it’s faintly floral but something lush, smooth, and rocky, too. Two teas in, Verdant has already blown me away with their quality. Wow.
I just got my Verdant sample kit and this was the first one I pulled out. I’m enjoying it immensely. I rarely re-steep my teas (I prefer a stout cup of tea every time) but I am going to try multiple steeps for this one and see what flavors I uncover. On my first steep, I get the flavor of fresh alfalfa cuttings.
I have a disease of acquisitiveness. I lusted after having some of Harney & Son’s pretty tins in my collection. Now, I am also an anglophile, and I wanted the English Breakfast tea H&S makes that is “the original tea the English drank”, so that meant it was the 100% Keemun. So, I get to my local grocery today and they have both the pretty tin (20 sachets, 1.4 oz) for $7.49, and the plain black tin (Loose, 4 oz) for $7.19. Well…I don’t like the polyester sachets, right? Non-biodegradable and all that. And I was faced with a choice: a pretty tin and less tea for more money, or more tea at a better value?
Sigh. I’m growing up. I bought the loose tea. Because in the end, it’s all about the tea.
I’ve had Keemuns before, some of them decent, some sour and undrinkable. This one is pretty good. It has a smell and character that puts me in mind of Chinese grocery stores. There is a bit of a tang to it, something sort of vinegar-y. I will play with this one a bit and see what I uncover.
You know, if things changed tomorrow and there was no way to get fancy specialty teas, and Twinings were among my options, I could probably live with that. (Probably.) In this case, this tastes like the rough equivalent of Lipton with lemon and bergamot. It isn’t bad. It’s uncomplicated. I wish I had something smarter to say about this. I will drink it.