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Recent Tasting Notes
What I tasted wasn’t astringent or offensively vegetal at all. Light in flavor, sweet, with tastes of yam, moss, and the slightest touch of cinnamon. Smooth, slippery vegetal body. Cooling after swallowing. I’m novice with my taste in tea, but I found this delightful.
Flavors: Brown Toast, Cinnamon, Moss, Yams
So after drinking two mediocre teas that weren’t worth logging, I came home to my Verdant box! O.O
This was the only herbal I had in it, so OBVIOUS choice. And what a wonderful choice too. It tastes just like a buttery green, and only after steeping it for 10 seconds. I’ll have to see if I can get another infusion or two in before bed. But this is a very delightful cup to sip on.
This is the least impressive of all the Laoshan greens from Verdant’s lineup that I’ve tried so far. That’s not to say it’s a bad tea, just underwhelming compared to low cost plain old Laoshan green tea. In fact with few exceptions, most Laoshan green tea variants and reserve/imperial grade teas have not lived up to the hype in my experience.
The tea begins with some fruity and soybean notes and then transitions into toasted oats/grains and a cilantro-like herbaceous before settling into a green bean flavor. A bit drying in the mouth but not astringent. Overall, this is more savory than regular Laoshan green tea, nuttier, and doesn’t resteep well past the 3rd infusion.
Flavors: Coriander, Fruity, Green Beans, Nutty, Soybean
Was feeling bored of the teas in my regular rotation and decided to dig into my stash for something new. I chose this tea that had been sitting around for a few months and it turned out to be an excellent choice. This is a delicious dan cong with lots of fruitiness and a smooth as silk mouthfeel.
The name of this tea translates to “Apricot Flower Aroma” and is processed to mimic its namesake. I’ve never smelled an apricot flower, but I definitely tasted a subtle underlying tone of dried apricot. I also detected notes of cedar, saffron, a little spice, and some musk. The roast on this tea is light which produces a clear, yellow-green tinged liquor. It’s wonderfully smooth with a bright, crisp flavor and mouthfeel. I flashed steeped it for 7 infusions with boiling water and encountered almost no bitterness or astringency.
Flavors: Apricot, Cedar, Fruity, Wood
Here’s my last Laoshan black 5g sample, divided into 2 different tastings.
2017 harvest. Dry leaf smelled like chocolate syrup, caraway and red fruit.
First go was gongu with 2.5g, 60mL, 190F, no rinse, 8 steeps at 12/20/30/40s and 1/2/3/5m.
I just could not pull any significant flavor out of this tea prepared gongfu. It was nice and light with a taste and consistency of thin rice milk with some chocolate, an undertone of raspberry and subtle high notes of vanilla and honey, all drizzled on a slice of almost-burnt wheat toast. The raspberry devolved into a generic sourness. In my attempt to extract more flavor, I increased the temperature to 200F in the third steep but that turned the tea quite astringent, so back down to 190F.
I decided to do a western brew with the remaining amount. 2.5g, 8oz, 190F. Two steeps based on color. The wet leaf after the first steep smelled very strongly of raspberry and chocolate syrup. The aroma of the liquor was similar albeit lighter. The tastes were basically the same deal as gongfu but with the loss of the high notes. There were additions of mouth-watering minerals, a lingering sweetness and astringency in the throat and a very light minty effect that opened my sinuses. Definitely enjoyed it more this way. It tasted very clean. Western was the winner preparation for me.
After having no energy and motivation for the better part of three days, I decided to finally get off my butt and get a few more backlogged reviews posted. I finished a pouch of this tea back around the middle of August. I found it to be a highly impressive Yunnan black tea, and that shocked me too, considering that I am not normally a fan of the teas Verdant sources from the Zhenyuan Dongsa Farmers Cooperative.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 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, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of cedar, cinnamon, honey, malt, raisin, and prune. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of cream and roasted almond accompanied by a mild sweet potato scent. The first infusion saw the nose turn floral and a bit citrusy. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of roasted almond, cedar, cream, malt, and raisin that were accompanied by hints of honey, sweet potato, prune, and cinnamon. Subsequent infusions introduced aromas of brown sugar, orange zest, orange blossom, and menthol. New impressions of minerals, brown sugar, orange zest, and orange blossom appeared in the mouth alongside stronger honey and sweet potato notes and belatedly emerging hints of prune. I also noted subtle impressions of cocoa, date, and juniper. Eucalyptus and menthol notes made themselves known on the finish and lingered in the mouth after each swallow. The final few infusions emphasized lingering mineral, malt, and cream impressions that were accented by hints of brown sugar, date, raisin, and honey as well as even subtler touches of orange zest, eucalyptus, and juniper on each swallow.
This was an interesting and incredibly satisfying Yunnan black tea. Regardless of whether or not one trusts the folks at Verdant Tea, they do usually manage to source some very good Yunnan black teas, and this one was yet another strong offering. If you are not already a fan of teas like this, then I doubt this one will convert you, but if you are an established Yunnan black tea lover, then give this one a shot. I doubt it will disappoint.
Flavors: Almond, Brown Sugar, Cedar, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Dates, Dried Fruit, Eucalyptus, Herbaceous, Honey, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Raisins, Sweet Potatoes
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Flavors: Clay, Dark Wood, Forest Floor, Leather, Mineral, Mushrooms, Sand, Wet Earth, Wet Rocks
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Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Brown Sugar, Dirt, Leather, Musty, Wet Moss, Wood
Gone gaiwan. 5g sample, 100mL, 212F, 10s rinse followed by 10 steeps.
Spring 2017. Dry leaf smelled of roast, honey crystals and cocoa. Warmed leaf became brown toast, coffee and honey. A 10s rinse brought out a whiff of orchid with an undertone of orange. The tea started off very fragrant, thick, oily and strong in the mouth with tastes of roast, wood, orchid, vanilla, honey crystals, cocoa, unplaced spice and savoriness in an alkaline mineral way. Verdant claims this to be a very fruity tea with a note of juicy orange. The orange seemed more like an impression, a bright base note with some sourness that carried through all the way to the end. By the fourth steep the flavors really mellowed out, leaving a smooth brew that was still bright in the mouth with some fleeting maple and caramel, and butter and popcorn showing up on the finish. Reminded me of the Jelly Belly buttered popcorn jelly beans though obviously not as in-your-face.
The roast is still strong at the time of this review, so the tea would benefit from longer resting. After the initial delivery of all that sweet orchid, the tea mellowed out nicely. The liquor had a great fragrance, mouthfeel, minerality and level of astringency but there were points mid-session where I felt something was lacking. It’s a good tea but the price doesn’t justify a larger purchase.
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 is 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