A chat on reddit.com/r/tea inspired me to taste Laoshan Black from Verdant and What-Cha in back-to-back sessions. A Verdant LB devotee ordered What-Cha’s version and expressed hope that it would be similar. I had first been introduced to Verdant’s, and later ordered What-Cha’s — which more than satisfied my desire for that characteristic LB flavor. In fact, with both versions available to me, I had been opting for What-Cha’s every time.
But how similar are they? What was making me reach for the What-Cha bag when I wanted that deep dark chocolate-like taste, in a rich cup without the slightest hint of astringency? Time for a taste test.
My experience was similar to Ananisthecat’s. Verdant’s had several flashy flavors in the dry leaf and brewed cup — raisin and plum, most noticeably. The tea was thin bodied and the interesting notes quickly faded. I could have steeped more times than I did: there was still some flavor, but without the “look-at-me” notes, the tea wasn’t holding my interest.
The What-Cha Laoshan Black was fuller bodied, smooth, with more balance and subtlety to the flavor. I found it more enjoyable from the get-go as well as several steeps in.
I brewed Western style: 2tsp of each w/6-8oz water, starting w/30sec. Verdant recommends 205° and What-Cha 194°, so I followed those — have only a bit of the What-Cha left and didn’t want to burn it out of the gate, though I’m pretty sure it would be fine with more heat!And now, with an expanded perspective on the two teas, I’ll quite happily continue to stick with What-Cha’s.