I love this green tea! I think Lao Shan will always be my favorite kind of green tea, and I am so excited to have found so many kinds from Verdant Tea (does anyone else import this to the US? I haven’t seen it anywhere).
Ultimately, the First Spring Picking is probably a “finer” tea (it would and should score higher in a competition because of it’s early spring sweetness still buoyed by complexity), but this Lao Shan has all of the ice-creamy thick sweet goodness you might ever want, coupled with that signature “bean” Lao Shan taste! Really- you have to try this stuff. In my opinion, it’s a perfect balance between a sweeter more traditional Chinese green and a Japanese. Absolutely not astringent; idiot proof. Very hearty without being in your face or overly grassy. It just offers so much more than your typical green’s sweetness and…well..“green” taste.
If you like green tea, you just have to try this! Unless boring and sweet is all you look for (why stop there?), you’ll find a tea to fall in love with. And if you’re a super Japanese fan, you’ll finally find something from China that easily compares to (and in many cases, surpasses) what you’ve been drinking. Also- the leaves turn the water bright green, so it’s always very fun to make! These leaves are still tender and young enough that you can turn them into a salad with soy sauce and sesame oil when they’re all steeped out.
I’ve made this tea in many different ways, and it always performs for me. If it’s a nice spring morning, I’ll just put leaves into a (tempered!) glass tumbler so that they thinly cover the bottom, and then pour in my not-quite-boiling water. Drink on it all morning and just keep refilling the glass. I also make this in a gaiwan (great for more serious tastings, so that each steeping can be appreciated in full).
For a more traditional Northern China experience, this tea is fun to do with two glass pitchers. Put leaves in one (about as much as in your gaiwan), and then pour in boiling water (let it hit the sides first so as not to “shock” the leaves). Almost immediately pour out half of this into the other pitcher. Then pour everything right back into the first pitcher. Swirl swirl swirl for just a few seconds, and pour back into the other pitcher through a strainer. This practice keeps the leaves moving, and the glass makes sure the water doesn’t stay too hot. It also shows of just how gorgeous the curled leaves are when they open up!
I’ve also made this tea in big pots (more “English” / western style) and it’s fantastic. Even more fun (especially as summer comes along) is to ice this tea! Just put some in a pitcher, add cold water, and let it sit overnight. The result is really creamy, sweet and delicious. Makes for a full-bodied ice-tea that is strong without being the least bit bitter or drying or astringent.
Seriously- I love this green tea.