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Recent Tasting Notes
Getting close to the last of my 5g Verdant samples! First ever Chun Lan. Spring 2017 harvest. 5g, 100mL gaiwan, 205-212F, short rinse followed by 9 steeps at 7s/10/12/15/20/25/35/whoops#1/whoops#2
Dry leaf is very fragrant, tough to pick out scents beyond the roast which was not overwhelming. Warmed leaf smelled strongly up front of amber and orchid with chocolate in the background. Rinsed leaf aroma was geranium, orchid and warm dark wood.
This tea started off strong, quickly! The liquor was fragrant. The taste was very floral, of which I often have difficulty identifying different types. What I did pick up on was geranium (thanks to Verdant’s notes), amber, warm dark wood, orchid, mineral and a light roast which disappeared after the first steep. It was rather bright tasting like an orange and remained so despite the flavors fading slightly after about the third steep. There was a pleasant fruity and floral aftertaste and a persistent sugarcane sweetness in the back of the mouth showing up around the fourth steep but I don’t recall it lasting into the end of the session. Oversteeping in the end gave surprisingly tasty cups. The tea remained brothy throughout, thickening up midway then thinning slightly. A light astringency was present from the beginning and built up over the course of the session. Some light bitterness showed up here and there.
This tea seemed pretty balanced despite my inability to identify a lot of what was going on. It was floral, bright and fruity, warm with amber, woody and had a slight vegetal undertone. It possessed a good mouthfeel, fleeting bitterness, a light aftertaste, some returning sweetness and good longevity, but the growing astringency kind of detracted from the experience. Despite the astringency, I’m impressed with this Chun Lan. I see it’s currently on sale and I think the price warrants giving it a try, especially if you’re looking for a bright and warm floral-forward yancha.
Due to me keeping myself occupied by posting some of the oolong and black tea reviews I have allowed to accumulate over the past several weeks, it would be impossible for anyone who reads my reviews to know that I have actually been spending most of my time drinking white teas and tisanes. This was the final tea I drank during the first week of the month and the one that was responsible for getting me started on my current white tea kick. Though I have had better teas of this type, I found this to be a very enjoyable Bai Mudan.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. My review session was honestly pretty sloppy due to the amount of broken leaf present, but I was still able to get through it. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of leaf and bud material in 4 ounces of 180 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf and bud mix produced aromas of honey, hay, malt, and straw aromas that were underscored by a vague woody quality. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of peanut, cinnamon, and pine. The first infusion introduced scents of white pepper and spruce. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of honey, hay, malt, straw, pine, and cinnamon that were chased by subtler notes of spruce. Scents of lemon zest, lettuce, minerals, and ginger emerged on the subsequent infusions along with stronger peanut and white pepper aromas. New notes of minerals, cream, butter, lettuce, lemon zest, field greens, ginger, cucumber, and honeydew appeared in the mouth along with belatedly emerging white pepper hints. The final few infusions offered impressions of minerals, field greens, ginger, cucumber, and lemon zest that were underscored by hints of malt, honeydew, and butter.
This was an interesting and enjoyable Bai Mudan, but I could not help feeling that it was missing something that would have offered just a little more balance. I could not quite determine what that something was at the time I was conducting my review session, and quite honestly, I still can’t. I also must state that I have had several other teas of this type that were smoother and longer-lived in the mouth. Still, this was a very nice Bai Mudan. I think people who like their white teas a little spicier and/or more vegetal would get quite a bit out of it.
Flavors: Butter, Cinnamon, Cream, Cucumber, Ginger, Hay, Honey, Honeydew, Lemon Zest, Lettuce, Malt, Mineral, Peanut, Pepper, Pine, Straw, Vegetal, Wood
Whenever I have to rare chance to make tea for someone that isn’t iced and sweetened, I make it my mission to introduce them to this. The savoriness of this tea is almost perfect however the body at the end acidic (all of our senses of taste are different and this is a very small factor).
Flavors: Almond, Graham Cracker, Green Wood
Another 5g sample. Spring 2017 harvest. This is only the second bai ji guan yancha I’ve tried, and is, if I can recall, much different than the other one which was twice light-roasted.
I got 10 steeps with 5g of leaf in my 100mL clay gaiwan. Boiling water and a short rinse.
The dry and rinsed leaf presented as very fragrant with an aroma of musty hay, orange blossom, yeast, cream, sweet pea floral, and elderflower.
Immediately with the first steep of 5 seconds, the pure golden liquor was swimming in taste. Sweet pea floral and vegetal, elderflower, hay, buttered yeast roll and mineral. The liquor was fragrant, brothy and tart with an already strong, lingering sweetness. As the session progressed, the flavors amplified. More elderflower sweet-tart came forward turning into mineral lemon water. Something reminded me of vanilla sugared egg yolks and a hint of lightly drying salted almond butter. The aftertaste was strongly floral and sweet, sometimes like honey, sometimes like white sugar. I went to the post office and grocery mid-session and was gone for an hour, all the while enjoying the persistent aftertaste. Toward the end, a pleasant brassiness and citrus zest showed up in the mouth with the brothiness transforming into a thickness. One thing I noted was if allowed to cool, the butteriness and some astringency became prominent. I was reminded of movie theater popcorn butter flavoring. I would recommend a strainer for this tea since it seems some of the delicate leaf disintegrates with boiling water.
Overall, I’m really digging this tea. It has such a complex and deep profile and strength in aroma and taste while remaining bright. Too sweet of an aftertaste for me to be a daily drinker but I’d like to keep some on hand.
I had this a followup to a breakfast of some hash I made with apples, onion, bacon, and leftover chicken served with a slice of sour rye.
Gone western. Yet another 5g sample, 10oz, 205F, 6 steeps at 30s/45/1m/1m30/2m/5m
This is one of those smoke bomb ZSXZ. This tea has two things going for it: 1) the smoke doesn’t fade completely by the second steep nor does it turn into wet campfire smell and 2) the tea has longevity, not going flat quickly. It’s not the smoothest ZSXZ I’ve had, producing some astringency that I think would not make this a good candidate for brewing grandpa style in a thermos. However, due to it’s strength, I’m pretty sure you could buck Verdant’s brewing recommendation of 4g per 6-8oz of water and go with less leaf.
If you’re not a fan of smokey pu’er, I’d stay away. I was amazed at how strongly it resembled that style of tea, which I’ve never experienced in other ZSXZ. Mostly pine smoke and mushroom in aroma and taste with noticeable minerality and petrichor. The bottom of the cup did smell like brown sugar, but I did not pick up on any sweetness in taste. If there were any other flavors present, they were masked by the smoke.
Idk, this smoked tea isn’t bad, but it’s not what I was expecting.
Yancha, my love, it’s been too long… Over a month without your comforting embrace.
I decided to branch further out with my favorite style of tea by purchasing a few handfuls of Wuyi oolong samples from Verdant. First ever Fo Shou; I also have the Reserve Fo Shou in line.
I think I’m going to dedicate my new teapot to yancha instead of high mountain oolong. I would’ve loved to try my typical heavy leafing for yancha but all I had was this sample.
Spring 2017 harvest. 5g, 100ml, 205-212F. 10s rinse followed by 9 steeps at 10s/15/20/25/30/40/55/1m15/2m
The dry leaf smelled only of roast and cocoa powder with the roast dominating. Warmed and rinsed leaf smelled like rich dark chocolate. The cocoa/chocolate notes didn’t pass through, though. Early on, I could smell a faint incense and brown sugar in the clear orange-brown liquor. I was left with a tea that stayed fairly light in taste. The roast did have a small presence in the second steep, but I otherwise couldn’t pick out anything discernible besides the mineral, which gave an active mouthfeel. The tea offered a clear aftertaste of passionfruit, later moving into a very light grilled pineapple with brown sugar. Around the seventh steep, the tea began fading with some building light astringency. The spent leaf showed a high level of roasting and smelled of pipe tobacco with only a few large leaves. Warming, calm energy that mixed well with a stick of incense.
Overall, there was some flavor missing for my preferences but it was an easy-drinker with a nice, fruity aftertaste. This tea could be a daily drinker if you have $ and is a good introduction for those looking to try Wuyi oolong.
Spring 2018 harvest.
Gone gaiwan. 5g, 150mL, 205F. Flash rinse which I ended up drinking and 7 steeps at 10s/15/20/25/30/1m/3m.
Dry leaf smelled awesome with rich chocolate, pastry and caraway. Rinsed leaf also awesome with riiich dark chocolate, honey and dark-roasted barley. The liquor was a clear brown-orange and smelled of honey, grains and dark chocolate wth pumpernickel coming in later. The tea was lightly astringent and very light-bodied, tending toward watery. The taste was not what I was expecting after having tried the Laoshan gongfu black. I picked up on watered down chocolate, honey and grains, ending the session with just caraway/pumpernickel which was pretty tasty. Ehhhh. Maybe it’s stronger brewed western. Seemed to be low in caffeine. I drank it late at night and had no problems falling asleep.
According to their website, the weather for this year’s harvest was unfavorable, so maybe my dissatisfaction is due to that. I’d like to try next year’s if it’s ever on sale.
One more Laoshan black to go. Thus far, I’m leaning toward the fall harvest roasted oolong.
I bought a sample of this in the quest to taste osmanthus for the first time.
Gone gaiwan. 5g, 150mL, 205F, flash rinse, 5/10/20/30/40/60/90s.
Autumn 2017 harvest. The dry leaf smelled strongly of – this is just my association, I kept trying to think of better descriptors because it was lacking the preservative/coloring smell – cherry cough syrup, dark chocolate and faint baby powder. Warmed and rinsed leaf scents were similar, dominated by dark chocolate, followed by cherry cough syrup and mandarin orange with floral here and there. So very fragrant.
The tea remained somewhat unchanging in taste and lacked a gravitas. It wasn’t a flavor-bomb and created a sense of being-light bodied even though the mouthfeel told another story. The cherry cough syrup of the leaf turned into something more like a medicinal? cherry candy. Now that I think about it, combined with the dark chocolate, it tasted similar to a kind of candy I’ve had before but so much lighter. There were also notes of wood, minerals and metal. In the second steep, an intensely warming and pure cinnamon came in, said goodbye. There was a separate cypress cooling sensation that arrived midway and joined with the cinnamon appearing again at the end, tasting like camphor and persisting in its warming/cooling effect. I can an hour later still feel it in my ears. It feels like medicine.
Despite the liquor being light in taste, it was rather thick and oily in body. It was also lightly astringent, and like the Laoshan gongfu black I had recently, I was salivating furiously.
Combined with the oily texture and the taste of minerals, this all created a sense of palate cleansing, diminishing the astringent effect. Weird. Bottom of the cup scent was honey, dark chocolate and again with that cherry which all faded as the steeps progressed. In terms of energy, it seems to have for me a tolerable amount of caffeine. I became verrry relaxed and meditative.
At first this tea was off-putting due to the leaf aroma, and I sat skeptical the whole session. But you know what, it’s growing on me as I type this. It comes across as both refined and not. I find it very intriguing. I might be perplexed. It’s definitely not a daily drinker but I would like to have some on hand and also give western style brewing a try. Gonna leave it unrated.
I’m still left wondering what osmanthus tastes like. I should buy just the flowers.
Flavors: Astringent, Camphor, Cherry, Cinnamon, Dark Chocolate, Floral, Honey, Medicinal, Menthol, Metallic, Mineral, Orange, Pleasantly Sour, Smooth, Thick, Wood
This was an enjoyable light roasted TGY. Its got the familiar florals of jade TGY but they are far less intense and counterbalanced by warm pretzel undertones. I get notes of violet, sandalwood, plantain, a little lychee, and toasted nuts. The roasted taste becomes more prominent as the tea steeps but remains subtle like baked goods without any ashyness. The body of the tea and mouthfeel, however, were a bit thin and on the watery side. That may be due to having only steeped this grandpa style so far. Guess I’ll have to gongfu this to give it a fair shot. Lately I’ve been gongfuing less and have drifted back to western and grandpa style brewing. It also doesn’t help that my new Aliexpress glass mug with built-in filter makes grandpa steeping ridiculously easy.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Campfire, Orchid, Violet
Did not care for this one. It smelled and tasted like wilted flowers mixed with a pile of leaves. There’s a pungency to it that reminds me of a low quality TGY. Judging from the seaweed like smell, I’d say this sample was likely past its freshness peak.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Floral, Seaweed, Vegetal
The Great Goji Leaf spoke to me and It said, “Brew my children in the style of western. The minimum cost of admission is 2.5 grams (surely you can afford that; we’ll gladly accept 5 grams) placed into the vessel. Open a kettle of water at the traditionally accepted temperature and brew the young leaf with timing similar to a baptismal dunking, immersing my offspring thrice in the font, a little longer each time. Take care not to drown the baby. Also, drink your veggies.”
Translation: I prefer this western. I found 2.5g to be the minimum amount of leaf needed for two to three 8oz cups of savory, peppery summer squash and broccoli stalk (stock?) broth. Brewed gongfu, in addition to the above, there was some mashed potato going on along with drop biscuit and a big, thick persistent sweetness. It all got kind of weird and unenjoyable after the fourth steep gongfu following Verdant’s parameters.
This herbal tea is filling, makes me sweat and gets me in the cozy mood.
Curiosity got the better of me, as often happens.
Followed Verdant’s parameters for western: 5g, 8oz, 175F, 20s initial steep +10s following steeps. I ended up falling asleep soon after the second cup, so I can’t comment on its longevity. Will also be trying gongfu.
Looks like a Laoshan green. Smells like fruity alcohol when opening the bag: Boone’s Farm wine or wine coolers. Huffing the dry leaf in my hand, it smells just like chocolate chip cookies lightly punctuated by a red fruit. I’m guessing that’s the smell of Goji berry… Taste didn’t change between the first and second steeps. It was very different than what presented in the dry leaf. Savory vegetal with peppered summer squash and broccoli stalks, a full-mouthed mintiness, flat lemon, some sweetness and maybe… maybe those vegetables are buttered. Huh, not bad. Somewhat light-bodied and goes down easily. I’m again surprised by these Laoshan herbals. Rating following western with less leaf and gongfu.
This was my first Laoshan black and it was quite tasty. Spring 2018 harvest prepared gong fu with 5g and water just off boiling, no rinse. Ten second first steep with increases of 5s for subsequents steeps. I think I got 8 total.
The dry leaf was very fragrant, smelling of dark chocolate and fig. Wet leaf was also very fragrant with red fruit that smelled deep and full-bodied with a high note. It reminded me of the Mangosteen Skinny Tea I had last night, which possessed a very similar taste as the wet leaf aroma of this tea. I could also initially smell rum and dark chocolate with those moving into dark milk chocolate and honey as steeps progressed. The aroma of the wet leaf and liquor was strong enough to create a chocolatey ether in my vicinity.
The taste remained fairly stable throughout, lightening from the third steep on. I picked up on chocolate, wood, honey, golden raisin, sourness and brightness like an orange but not quite, malt, toast, roasted grains, minerals (limestone and iron), a light mushroom, very mild bitterness and later a hint of cedar. There was some astringency early on in the throat which faded. The mineral effect of the tea was very strong and made me salivate something wicked, which I freaking love. The aftertaste was light at first with some dark chocolate, then progressed into an incredible ball of honey sweetness that sat unmoving at the back of my tongue. The bottom of the cup retained a very strong graham cracker and thick honey scent.
Overall, I’m pretty impressed with my first Laoshan black. It was incredibly fragrant and the tastes were complex enough to remain interesting, though it was a little too sweet and light-bodied for me. It’s not quite a dessert tea for me and I’d hesitate to suggest it to dessert tea lovers due to it’s woodiness but I think it’s worth picking up a sample to try. I’m looking forward to comparing the other two Laoshan black tea samples I purchased from Verdant.
Received as a 5g freebie with my ridiculous 5g sample order, thanks!
Teapot time. 5g, 100mL teapot, temps ranging from just off boiling (Verdant-recommended) to 190F, 10s rinse, 10s/15/20/25/30/45/1m/1m15/1m30
Yeah, I know ‘light’ shows up a lot, but that’s just what this tea is.
Dry leaf doesn’t have much scent, warmed smelled like woody peach and perfume-orchid. Very light-bodied and -flavored with a really nice, moderate camphor effect; however, the taste of camphor was light in comparison. Some light savory fruitiness came in to play along with a tingling tongue and pronounced salivation in later steeps. Aftertaste was a light camphor and peach seed with the addition of faint florals in late steeps. The florals were more evident in the nose: the same perfume-orchid of the warmed leaf. Is that what Verdant’s noted plumeria smells like? There was also a fair amount of astringency that I tried to coax away by playing with temps with no luck, though I did permanently bump the remaining steeps down to 190F. I experienced a warm fuzzing of my vision and slight muscle relaxation.
Overall, this tea was too light and delicate for my burly preferences and the astringency was too strong for what the rest of the tea was. In retrospect, I’d do a flash rinse and start with 190F, possibly going lower.
This was a two-fer session. Last night and tonight. I bought this why? idk. Probably because of the awesomely orange daylily flower and I ran out of shou. Comes as a scored brick. I think the chunk I snapped off was 8.5g but it might’ve been 9.5 I was a little leery of placing the whole chunk in a 100mL gaiwan but it turned out pretty well.
Gave it a 10s rinse at 205F then had 12 steeps: 7 at 20/10/12/14/16/18/20s last night and 5 tonight at 25s/30/45/1m/1m30.
Dry chunk smelled like blackstrap molasses and red miso. After the rinse, which was pretty light, I picked up on that lily, freshly tilled dark soil and molasses. The first steep produced a very thick and dark liquor, like used motor oil. It tasted of molasses, dark wood and taro (from Verdant’s notes but I totally got it) with some moist, dark soil. Subsequent steeps were kind of muddy but smooth and carried the same tastes. Those moved into a clearer liquor with notes of an alkaline taste, metal like both iron and steel, a faint orange spiciness and a very light bitterness. The final 5 steeps tonight were pretty light but still good. It was a good tea for the nighttime but it’s a sneaker. I started to feel the caffeine effects ramping up an hour into last night’s session and was awake later than I wanted to be. The lily flower is darker than in the pics but it really brightened up during the brew. They’re whole, large and very pretty flowers that float to the top of the brewing tea. I’m not sure how much they contribute to the flavor of the brew since I’ve never had anything daylily before. I’m only familiar with white and calla lilies.
Last night, I also tested out a new silver-lined cup I bought. I was using my 100mL clay gaiwan to brew and tested the difference between a clay cup and the silver-lined one, splitting the liquid between both cups. The silver one produced a noticeable effect, clearing up the muddy notes that I got in the second through seventh steeps. Finished the session tonight with the clay cup. The tasting notes are entirely based on the clay cup.
Overall, this a decent shou. Nothing spectacular, nothing offensive. Not fishy at all. This isn’t for those who enjoy sweet puer as it’s more of a savory tea. Not sure if the light muddiness will clear up with some short aging. I went in blind and was not disappointed, which was nice considering this vendor doesn’t specialize in puer. I can’t say I’d buy it again, but I am now willing to try the other flower-pressed shou bricks offered by Verdant.
Back into my 5g sample box. Brewed this 2 different ways today, grandpa for me and
twice western for the partner in crime while I stole some sips for tasting notes. This tea doesn’t hold up to grandpa style as well as western. Grandpa numbed my tastebuds for some reason. Western had a clearer aroma and taste and greater longevity. The second round of western was more experimental in which I purposefully let it overbrew and used 190F in a few steeps since I was making a baozhong oolong for myself. Neither long steep times nor high temp killed the tea.
Noted below is the first round I brewed western style since that’s what I preferred.
1 tsp, 8oz, 175F, 1/1.5/2min
Dry leaf is yellowish-brown-green and smells like cashew, white sesame and whipped cream… I think. (Will I ever be able to train my nose and palate to green teas?) First and second steeps smelled really good and savory. They had the pungency of a nut butter, like tahini mixed with some cashew. The taste was similar with the addition of a light sweetness, marigold and edamame (Verdant noted both, I’m not sure I would’ve picked up on those otherwise) and an aftertaste of sweet cream. The liquor was kind of thick and creamy. Easy to drink quickly. Third steep thinned in aroma and mouthfeel and tasted like freshly fallen autumn leaves and marigold.
I’d say this autumn harvest is worth a try. FWIW, the partner in crime is willing to sell somebody else’s belongings to acquire more.
I revisited this tea with the same brewing parameters as yesterday: grandpa style with 1tsp/10oz mug/175F/2 top-offs.
Paying closer attention to the dry leaf and noting Verdant’s description, the scent is mostly super sweet whipped cream (from the grocery, not homemade) cloaking a vegetal base. Initial steep was pretty grassy and lightly sweet in aroma and taste, notably sweetgrass with sweet edamame. First top-off produced stronger aroma and flavor, with the aroma gaining some chestnut and maintaining the taste of sweetgrass and edamame plus slight minerality. In the second-top off, the tea was rather unimpressive.
The off umami in the back of the mouth I experienced yesterday wasn’t present today. After reflection on yesterday’s weird taste, it reminded me of beef tongue which I don’t like. The mouthfeel doesn’t have much substance and is drying. I think this tea is too light in flavor to drink with breakfast but food in the belly is necessary. This one does give me some burps and gurgling on an empty stomach.
Overall, this tea just doesn’t hit the marks for me. The dry leaf smells amazing but for that, it lacks in strength of energy and liquor aroma, taste, mouthfeel and longevity. I think I’ll attempt the remaining teaspoon in a modest cold brew or maybe I’ll bump up the temperature, though I suspect that would just increase the drying mouthfeel. It’s out of stock now and I bought only one 5g sample for $1.xx, so I don’t know how the price compares to my favorite Laoshan green.
Brewed this grandpa in a hurry this morning. School started and my reviews will probably be short until I get my schedule ironed out, books bought, etc. 16 credit hours and a job. Woo boy. I’ll come back to short reviews asap with second thoughts.
1 heaping tsp, 10oz mug, 175F, 2 top-offs. Initial thoughts: super sweet smelling dry leaf, liquor was unimpressive, more grassy than vegetal, light sweet thickness, some kind of umami in the back of the mouth that tastes off. Kind of like rancid coconut oil? rancid butter? liver? Maybe I’m crazy, maybe it was being in a rush.
Placed a large Verdant 5g sample order this week. Here’s my first pick of the pack, the Spring 2018 Laoshan Gan Zao Ye. It was my first time with jujube leaf, so I followed Verdant’s guideline for gongfu as closely as possible. 5g, 150mL glass gaiwan, 175F, initial steep of 8s + 4s each steep. No rinse, as the leaves are very delicate and I didn’t want to extract any flavors. Messy gaiwan session – strainer is necessary.
Dry leaf looks like a Laoshan green but finer with lots of thin stems present. It smells upfront like potato sticks snacks and deeper like a dark-roasted barley used for brewing stouts.
First steep, the wet leaf smells like russet potato skins and roasted broccoli. It produces a mostly clear orange-yellow liquor that smells like potato sticks, brownies, edamame and maybe a light sweet cream. The taste is very sweet but light and fruity, not as thick of a sweetness as chewing on fresh sugarcane. It’s almost like a very watered down vanilla sweetened oat milk mixed with those potato sticks.
Second steep turned cloudy and a darker yellow-orange-brown. The wet leaf smells more steamed broccoli than roasted, but both plus baked potato skins. The liquor smells like potato sticks with nectar and light cocoa, light red fruit and vanillin. Tastes lightly sour going in the mouth but the potato sticks take over followed by that sweetness and fruitiness. There is a persistent aftertaste of potato sticks, a lingering sweetness and very light drying quality. Bottom of the glass smells like cocoa and sugarcane.
Third steep retains the qualities of the second with a clearer cup and the addition of edamame in taste. Feels a tad thicker in the mouth. Lingering sweetness is building.
Fourth steep clears more and lightens in color to a golden yellow. I used my fingers to wipe the clinging leaves off the lid of the gaiwan and my fingers are a little sticky. Taste is much the same with the potato sticks turning more into baked potato skins.
Subsequent steeps get lighter in liquor color, aroma, taste and texture, though the lingering sweetness continues to build. I feel very warm and perhaps more relaxed, who knows. I ate some of these very delicate leaves. They chew like overcooked greens, feel fuzzy and a little gritty and taste like edamame. My tongue feels tingly on the sides now.
Color me surprised, this herbal tea is pleasant and is one of the best I’ve ever tasted. I think the qualities of the brew make it suitable for a good nightcap, especially in the cold months but I don’t think I could handle the persistent sweetness every night. It could fit into my herbal rotation a few nights per week. Seems like it would do well in a teaball western style but I like the slight change in flavors when brewed in a gaiwan. I look forward to ordering a bigger bag of this.
Flavors: Broccoli, Cocoa, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Nectar, Oats, Pleasantly Sour, Potato, Red Fruits, Roasted Barley, Soybean, Sugarcane, Vanilla
Here is yet another review that I have put off posting for a couple months. I think I delayed posting this one so long because this tea bored me. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t good. It just was. I mean I know I am more than a bit spoiled when it comes to roasted oolongs, but this one was just very basic, and I ended up not feeling particularly strongly about it.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 7 grams of rolled tea leaves in 5 ounces of 208 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of toasted rice, black raspberry, blueberry, and raisin. After the rinse, I noticed a stronger toasted rice aroma and a hint of roasted peanut. The first infusion brought out a slightly stronger nuttiness and hints of wood on the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of toasted rice, black raspberry, blueberry, raisin, wood, and roasted peanut that were backed by touches of cream and butter. The subsequent infusions quickly introduced a nuttier, grainier nose and new impressions of minerals, roasted almond, lemon zest, pomelo, and honey in the mouth. The final few infusions offered lingering, often barely perceptible notes of minerals, cream, and toasted rice. In places, there were a few hints of roasted nuts and butter, but otherwise, I could not find anything else.
This was more or less a very mediocre roasted oolong. The only things this tea had going for it were a nice texture in the mouth and a pleasant combination of aromas and flavors during its brief peak. These factors alone separated this tea from some of the other mediocre roasted oolongs I have tried, but not enough that I would actually seek it out again. While I suppose this tea may be good for easing newcomers into the world of roasted oolongs, I cannot see it being good for much else.
Flavors: Almond, Blueberry, Butter, Citrus, Cream, Honey, Lemon Zest, Mineral, Peanut, Raisins, Raspberry, Toasted Rice, Wood
My Verdant spring pre-order finally arrived last week. It’s August now but hey, better late than never. This is a new experimental tea that I’ve been really looking forward to. Never heard of dragonwell black tea before but the name alone intrigued me enough to forego my usual Laoshan Black in lieu of this one.
You wouldn’t be able to tell what kind of tea it was from merely looking at the leaves. There’s really no resemblance to the flat blades of dragonwell green tea. All that processing and oxidation turned it into long, dark strands that look like an ordinary black tea. The leaves have a powerful aroma of molasses and cocoa. I brewed it grandpa style in my 10z glass tumbler, 1.3g of leaf at 200 F. Like most Laoshan blacks, chocolate is the dominant note here. It’s a silky smooth chocolate though with brown sugar, a rich mouthfeel, and no bitterness. Exactly as described in Verdant’s tasting note.
Though I enjoyed this tea, it failed to distinguish itself from Verdant’s other blacks. That’s been my experience with the majority of Laoshan black teas – they taste predominantly of chocolate and not much else. Delicious but one dimensional.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Chocolate, Cocoa, Licorice, Molasses, Pancake Syrup