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Recent Tasting Notes
Brewed Western-style. First steep was excellent—had a roasted, coffee flavor with an underlying sweetness and a warm, spiced quality. Would’ve rated this quite high, but it lost complexity on the second and third steep. Still very drinkable, but not as interesting.
Flavors: Allspice, Caramel, Coffee
An Ode to Tea, X entry!
Squeezing in another gong fu session during my weekend off. This was also a sample I grabbed from the final Here’s Hoping Traveling Teabox, so thanks to all that contributed to that box and tea-sipper for organizing it! I had 5.38g of leaf and steeped in my 100ml shiboridashi.
100ml shiboridashi | 5.38g | 205F | Rinse/10s/15s/20s/25s/30s/35s/40s/45s
The rinse smelled so strongly of dirt that I admit that after having such a pleasant pu’erh experience yesterday, it was right back to dirt, swamp water, or nasty tobacco for me. And the first steep did pretty much just smell and taste like dirt. The aroma reminded me of dirt, mushrooms, and a faint BBQ smoke quality. In taste, it had that strong earthy dirty flavor, but it was much smoother than I’m used to… a “fresh” tasting dirt. A bit of a mushroomy note as well, and a flavor I can only describe as plantain (though I’ve only tried dried plantain chips once… as someone with strong banana aversion, they aren’t high on my list of must-have foods). It was almost a banana-like flavor, but veered just enough toward a potato/yam note to not trigger my extremely strong “Danger! Danger! Banana present!” gag reflex. It was easily the worst steep, because after that, the tea mellowed and tasted much less like dirt to me, and instead a smooth and refreshing petrichor note. It was a wet earth and rocks taste but crisp and lacking the vegetal “pond scum marshiness” I’m used to accompanying such flavors in pu’erh. About mid-session, a very strong oat/grain flavor popped toward the end of the sip and lingered in the aftertaste. As I approached the end of the session, I noticed the plantain/yam note creeping back in subtly amidst the petrichor.
I enjoyed this one as well! Not as much as the sheng I drank yesterday, but this was a nice session. I think the cha qi for this one is sitting with me better than the tea yesterday, which knocked me out for several hours; I feel a mellow but alert awakeness right now.
Flavors: Dirt, Earth, Grain, Mineral, Mushrooms, Oats, Petrichor, Wet Earth, Wet Rocks, Yams
No notes yet. Add one?
Flavors: Smoke, Stonefruit
This was a good tea but seemed to suffer from a loss of freshness. Partly a result of Covid related shipping delays and partly due to sitting in cold storage for several months. I feel like delicate greens such as first flushes don’t hold up to refrigeration as well as dragonwells and sencha.
At standard green tea temperature (170 – 175 F) the tea has an odd note of overly ripe pear and banana. Upon bumping up the temperature, it went away and the familiar Laoshan flavors of soybean, fennel, and green lettuce appeared with an underlay of nuttiness.
Not terribly complex and as mentioned had lost some freshness yet still a pleasant drinking experience.
Flavors: Fennel, Lettuce, Pear, Soybean
Reading about young sheng. I got that grassiness and pleasantly bitter astringency that indicates it’s a good candidate for aging, woo. And I see what someone meant when they said it’s not so much about the taste but the feeling you get during and after drinking—the sweetness and energy really built up through the afternoon. It is my understanding that this may be what is referred to as hui gan.
Was a little worried when I read that young sheng may upset the stomach due to certain enzymes being present but it had the opposite effect on me, even as someone with digestive issues.
Looking forward to seeing this tea evolve. Gonna try this again in a little while to see if lower brewing temperatures bring out more flavor.
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Bitter, Floral, Grass, Mineral, Tulsi
I have a backlog of tasting notes to catch up on, so here’s the first. This was an enjoyable gong fu session with my partner. Always a delight to share tea with someone else, especially when they’re eager to try something new. I was a bit surprised that she seemed to enjoy the tea more than me considering she’s the type of person to add sweetener to everything, and well, there’s none of that here. I found it nice enough but it lacked that depth in flavor I was hoping to find. The flavors didn’t quite evolve in a significant way either, though after some time the tea became reminiscent of green beans, kind of melding a lot of the notes together which made me “get it” more. Recently I’ve found those moments are nice, when you’re sipping and all of a sudden you have that a-ha moment and learn to appreciate it.
Flavors: Drying, Fennel, Green Beans, Mineral, Nutty, Soybean, Spinach, Vegetal
Thank you Sil for sharing this one with me. It’s weird because (1) I’ve never had a TGY that wasn’t an oolong before and (2) this is a black tea that tastes sort of like a white tea. That’s also a first for me. It’s not bad but different than I expected for sure. It’s got sort of hay notes to it and like yeasty bread with some honey as well. Maybe some cinnamon. I think I like it but I don’t think I need more of it.
I’ve had a couple cups of this throughout the week, and it’s just so tasty and easy to drink.
It’s pretty unfussy and doesn’t get bitter easily. I’ve enjoyed it with while eating some salted caramel bark and it was a delicious pairing.
It’s very honey forward, with notes of chocolate, stone fruits, and a tiny bit of cassia.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cinnamon, Honey, Stonefruit
Laoshan Black Tea
He family spring 2020
Laoshan, Shandong, China
5g, 130 mL, brita filtered water, water off the boil
Dry leaves: chocolate, raisin
10s first steep: brewed leaves smell a little burnt. Taste: a sweet floral, very pleasant, but also deep, reminds me of coffee without the acidity.
20s second steep: similar brewed leaves. Taste: aftertaste reminds me of Chinese dried jujube dates. No other thoughts.
No more notes, except sweet potatoes at some point. Online reviewers overall seem obsessed with LB, so I had really high expectations going in, and that probably dimmed my experience a bit. I’ve been spoiled by my aunt’s mystery pack that she sent me a while back, and that had something basically exactly like this with different packaging, so I’ve already had it or an eerily similar one in the past. It’s not a bad tea per se, just perhaps not for me. Didn’t bother with more exact notes, because everything that can be said has already been said.
Flavors: Chocolate, Dates, Floral, Raisins, Sweet Potatoes
I was running low on straight black teas, so decided to grab a few from Verdant.
This is much different than most black teas that I’m used to, and seems more like a mid-oxidized oolong.
If someone had served this to me, I would swear there is honey added to it. The honey note is incredibly sweet, and tastes like an orange blossom or other floral/more mild honey. The floral notes are also quite distinct. Really enjoy this one!
No notes yet. Add one?
Flavors: Floral, Honey, Sweet
Samurai TTB #46
Verdant consistently impresses me with the quality of their tea, so I was eager to try this one when I saw it in the box. The dry leaf is not too broken up (especially considering how far this box has traveled over the past couple of months!), still bright green (despite the age of the tea) and quite fuzzy with a number of buds mixed in amongst the leaves. The aroma is sweet and fresh, like freshly-cut grass. However, the flavor of the brewed tea was an unpleasant surprise, slightly sour and musty like old hay. Although I followed my normal parameters for white tea (the bag only gave instructions for gongfu and I’m steeping Western-style) I’m wondering if this particular tea needed an even lower temperature or shorter steep time to be at its best.
Flavors: Grass, Hay, Musty
I have been having a love affair with Verdant’s black teas lately and this one is another sad sipdown but December’s Verdant Tea Club was all black teas which made me quite happy.
This tea tastes like straight up honey . As the tea cools there are other hints of bread, cocoa, and floral but the major spotlight flavor is honey. Soooo good.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cocoa, Honey
Cai Cong Anxi Oolong
5g, brita water, 130 mL gaiwan
Spring 2020, Master Zhang collection
私房茶 (private tea? my Chinese is pretty shoddy)/怡龙YL12-J40 (these were both on the packaging and the 2nd part likely indicates a specific line, but in my experience, many small packets of Chinese teas are packed similarly enough that if you can’t remember the vendor, it’s hard to find the same tea ever again).
Leaves and tea both more floral smelling than I expected. Brews a very nice clear yellow. Vegetal, sweet notes. Had gongfu steepings with breakfast (irreverent, but I’ve been generally disappointed with the other Verdant 5 for 5 samples that I’ve tried so far so didn’t bother too hard with this one) so probably didn’t catch everything. What a way to usher in the new year lol.
I was in a rush for an appointment and left the rest in a thermos. I’m disappointed to note that the infusion ended up having a very bitter mouthfeel, but I added more water to dilute it and we were back in business. So lesson learned there.
My aunt sent me a pack of very lightly roasted Tie Guan Yin where I wasn’t sure if it was actually Tie Guan Yin, and this was somewhat similar to that, but much clearer infusions instead of the muddy yellow I got from that, and this was much sweeter overall. However, with the initial thermos infusion, this turned out much more bitter than that one did, so I’m not sure why that is. If anyone else tries this tea grandpa style brew, I’d be curious to hear your results vs. gongfu brewing!
So far this is the only one of the verdant 5 for 5s (haven’t tried the Laoshan black yet though since i’ve heard it’s the best out of the lot) that I’d actually consider purchasing in the future once I run out of my current stash. It’s pretty mellow and seems like it’d make for a steady daily.
Flavors: Floral, Sweet
Not sure what happened with this one. I didn’t read the reviews of this beforehand, but treated it as a green tea from the get go so it doesn’t seem to be an issue with my brewing temps (as it seems from a glance that other reviewers used even higher temps) but out of the 4/5 5 for 5 samples I’ve tried from Verdant now, this was by far the worst. From reading the reviews, I’m not even sure I had the same tea as other reviewers (perhaps the quality changed drastically in the last few years or a bad batch?). Even the last infusion from the leaves that I tossed into a thermos for a grandpa brew came out starting like a green and ending with a terribly bitter note. Palatable, but never something I’d willingly repurchase.
Reserve Laoshan Green Oolong
He family collection spring 2020
5 g, brita water, 176F, 130mL
Leaves: smell very green sweet matcha buttery type of feeling. A small amount of small leaves are crushed but most survived and are in little coiled shapes.
1st 10s: a little cloudy yellow infusion. Same smell but add a bit of roasted smell to it. Tastes rather unremarkable, a little bit of burnt matcha with a hint of sweet.
2nd steeping 10s 165F: similar to before but tastes more bitter
3rd steeping 7s 156F: same as before
Stopping here and tossing leaves in a thermos for grandpa brewing. In sum: smells and tastes like a burnt matcha, even with relatively low brewing temps. Passing on this one. Nothing particularly oolong like in the generic sense. My infusions never cleared up and were always a cloudy light yellow.
Flavors: Bitter, Green
Sipdown! Such a small sad cupboard now. BAH. Need to pick up the teas i have with VariaTEA which will inevitably overbalance my cupboard with flavoured teas, compelling me to order from a straight tea company that will take forever to get here, and by the time it does i’ll have too many straight teas. LOL. Rest of this is over to her to try since i need to at least give her the occasional tea she hasn’t tried lol