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Recent Tasting Notes
After the last three Verdant oolong offerings, this one’s a real treat! Now this is something I’d order again.
If you’re planning to drink this tea I advise not to be like me and pair it with strong foods, like sharp cheddar, balsamic vinegar, or salmon burgers. The first steep is lilac butter, and while it does feel “fat thick” it’s still a delicate flavour profile.
Second and third steep offer lighter floral notes, with a touch of cream gaining ground on that butter note. Lingering aftertaste reminds me of an uncooked plantain, or soaked rice; it’s subtly starchy, and creamy-sweet from it.
Fourth steep smells of spiced flowers and lime fruit. There are a lot of things going on that I can’t pinpoint so I will sum it up as “floral fruit juice cream.” It’s like eating mango-flavoured tofu desserts (texture), while walking through a flower garden and sniffing all the violets.
Fifth steep is starting to get tired, so we’ll call it quits here.
Steep Count: 5 (x2)
I was drinking a gongfu cup (180-190F, 15sec), alongside a less impressive western style (185-190F, 3min) cup, which I didn’t make a note of here. It was generally flatter than the gongfu method, but the third steep was distinctly citrus-lime; the added cream and malt notes made me think of key lime pie.(Fall 2016 Harvest)
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Floral, Lime, Malt, Mango, Rice, Violet
There is a very distinct but light malty aroma to the long and downy dry leaf, fitting for the light golden and earthy textures.
The wash unlocks richer and bolder malty textures in the wet leaves, deepening the earthy tones. It is a dreamy scent, almost enveloping you like a thick blanket.
The first steep, 5 seconds, gives a deep golden liquor, the aroma a very creamy malt. The creaminess follows in the flavor, with a slight sweetness. There is some faint astringency, but not enough to give a bite, as it is very smooth overall.
The second steep, 15 seconds, gives a deeper golden liquor, the aroma seemingly cleaner and less malty. The flavor is also less creamy, slightly more astringent and sweeter, but again not enough to affect it’s overall smooth feel.
After the third steep, 25 seconds, it seems the malty aroma fades significantly, the color deepened to a rich golden. Warm textures are coming out with its astringency, which is held together by its sweetness and remaining smooth. The blooming flavor is exciting.
The fourth steep, 35 seconds, gives the same rich golden tone, with a slight earthy aroma. The taste, although still sweet, seems to have lost a significant amount of malt and also a little astringency. Despite, it is still quite strong, but this might be the last steep with any notable flavor.
This tea is gorgeous and lovely. The aroma and flavor are very soothing, initially thick with enough malt to engulf you. It was a perfect calming tea to enjoy in this rainy spring morning.
Flavors: Creamy, Earth, Malt, Smooth, Sweet
From this months Verdant tea club we have 2017 Shi Feng Dragon well. Well I must start with I am impressed. This tea is amazingly good, fresh and subtly flavored. It really seems with green tea getting them fast and early really makes a difference.
I brewed this in a glass pot for 20 seconds at 185 degrees. I know thats a little hot for green tea, but there is no bitterness and it brings out a bit more of the nutty and sweet flavors without losing any of the grassy vegetal notes. There is also a light floral, but its kind of hard to pick up and place as they cut grass and nuttiness is so intense. The aroma is amazing too, it just screams freshness.
I figure I will brew this out three times as at that point most of the good flavors are on the down turn and the bitterness is starting to ramp up. Now I see what all the fuss is about getting the real high quality dragon well.
I highly recommend this to anyone who likes green tea with that strong grassy component.
Flavors: Cut grass, Nuts, Spinach, Vegetal
Verdant’s “English Garden Party” assessment is spot on.
I’m drinking this along the equally floral Ben Shan, but their “flowers” are quite distinguishable. Zi mudan has a “heavier” floral quality, with a hint of rose and a strong smack of jasmine. The liquid’s aroma strongly reminds me of the Jasmine & White Frangipani candles I used to pick up from The Body Shop, actually.
Unlike Ben Shan, which became creamy sweet on second steep, this oolong drifts towards the “flower cleanse” spectrum, with juniper and eucalyptus notes emerging. I still feel like I could light my cup on fire and get candle.
Steep Count: 4
Third steep is starting to get creamy and sweet but I still can’t shake the floral candle thing. It’s more like a different handcraft candle I have now, which is floral but also has spiced juniper and wood. Oh, well. I’ll try and get in a couple more steeps tonight when I’m over my floral oolong fatigue.
Flavors: Cream, Eucalyptus, Floral, Jasmine, Rose, Spices
It’s floral, flavourful, and smells good, but I don’t think it’s going to stick out from the 15 or so Tieguanyin samples I have right now… and before you ask, no, I don’t know why I have that much Tieguanyin, especially since I’m a simple Milk Oolong person.
Steep Count: 4
The second steep brought the sweet and lilac cream custard Verdant advertised, with lingering tart fruit notes.
Third steep I left a minute over. The liquid’s aroma has taken on a quality like powdered sugar on light pastry, with a dash of tart. It’s sort of dessert-like and light.
Flavors: Cream, Floral, Lime, Pear, Powdered sugar
The last of the two touchas I got a while back for myself as a sample. They were tightly compacted, so breaking them each into two pieces gave me some trouble. This final session I’m using ~4 g of it. The touchas are small rectangles, the leaves very dark and small. It doesn’t smell like much dry, either, though I get a faint hint of must? book-ish smell? dry wood?
Gave it a rinse of ~10 sec to open it up a bit.
First steep at ~40 sec. The brew is dark, one of the darkest I’ve ever had (which isn’t saying much) but it reminds me of a strong pot of coffee in color. The smell is comforting, a hint of vanilla to it. The leaves have broken up a bit now, thanks in part to the rinse. There’s some dust settled to the bottom of this cup as well. To me, the flavors are hard to distinguish in this first steep. It’s more about the mouthfeel, smooth and silky.
Second steep at 60 sec. The smell of the wet leaves reminds me of a forest after it’s rained. There’s something sweet and earthy about it. The taste is just the same, sweet, mossy, a surprisingly strong note of vanilla this time. I’m beginning to regret not getting more of this when I had the chance. All the teas I’ve had from Xingyang workshop have been great so far; I need to get more to try from them…
Third steep at ~90 sec. Vanilla note is now just a hint, but the flavors are still warm and comforting. Not sure if I’ll get many more steeps out of these leaves, unfortunately.
Flavors: Moss, Vanilla, Wood
I don’t know a lot about oolong, nor do I have experience drinking different varieties and harvests. So, if you told me this was a Tieguanyin I’d just bob my head and say “yes, with a dash of orange-flavoured fluoride gel I used to get at the dentist!” Such a connoisseur.
Steep Count: 5
I forgot about the fourth steep and now it tastes like a typical dacong or a second steep Darjeeling; fruit-sour and floral.
Flavors: Floral, Orange, Rice, Vegetal, Wood
5g in a 12oz glass grandpa style, 175F water, then hotter to top up.
This is the first real, quality longjing I’ve ever had so I can’t compare it to other productions. I am kind of blown away by this tea. I’ve never been a huge green tea drinker but this has made me a little more open minded about that.
I didn’t really take notes on the flavors or aromas, what really stuck with me was the full body and mind effect of this tea. About an hour into drinking this I was feeling so good. I don’t really have the words to describe it and I sort of refuse to call it qi. I just felt incredible. Heavy limbs, eyelids, etc, just incredibly calm but mentally alert.
This tea is a little bit beyond what I usually spend but I would (and will) buy it again next year if it comes back.
Dried leaves aroma: Wow, so fruity, dried apricot.
Rinsed leaves aroma: Vegetal, hay.
Steeped leaves aroma: vegetal and fruity.
Initially I got some floral notes, then lingering apricot aftertaste with some astringency, gripping. Seems to be a nice young sheng. I am not expert enough to identify more complexity like the other descriptors Verdant uses, such as plantain. I only had a 5-gram sample and so far don’t see myself stocking up on this or any young sheng that I have tasted so far. I think with experience that may change.
Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Hay
Enjoyed very much the initial campfire smoke with lingering aftertaste. From the 2nd steep on, the campfire smokiness lessened and began to be upstaged by chocolate, cacao, then some (candied) fruit appearing and then taking over the chocolate. The lingering aftertastes left me smacking my tongue, had some grip.
I definitely would want to have this tea on hand.
Flavors: Campfire, Chocolate, Fruity
The last of my sample of 10 g, so I only had 5 g left to steep. The dry leaves are very pretty, a silver-green color with a fuzzy looking coat on a leaf curled in upon itself. The scent is light and sweet, reminiscent of clover hay to me.
First steep at 6 sec. The wet leaves smell a bit sour to me, more grassy than before without a floral note. The brew is a very pale green color; from the first few sips, I can tell the flavor is going to be very light on this cup. It tastes faintly of grass to me, or maybe clover—the flavor is definitely something green/vegetal, but maybe a hint of floral to it. The overall impression is some creaminess, however, throughout the sip.
Second steep of about 9 sec. The same pale green color, the scent of the wet leaves seems stronger to me though. The flavors are stronger, which is good in my opinion. Heavier on the cream side, with some sweetness now, and a hint more floral and less on the green taste.
Third steep, 12 sec. This one is the creamiest yet, with a dash of sweetness and a hint of vanilla (maybe the marshmallow flavor the description on their site says?).
Flavors: Cream, Floral, Grass, Sweet
I know I mentioned reviewing another aged Tieguanyin before I left for my work retreat, but when I saw the sample of this jade Tieguanyin in my tea stash, I just had to have it. I haven’t reviewed many jade Tieguanyins lately, but I do recall being absolutely smitten with Master Zhang’s 2015 Autumn Tieguanyin. I just had to see how this year’s harvest compared.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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 pleasant aromas of vanilla, sweetgrass, and fresh flowers. After the rinse, I caught clearer aromas of lilac, violet, saffron, hyacinth, and honeysuckle. There were also scents of butter and cream. The first infusion again emphasized a blend of savory and floral qualities on the nose, though I was able to catch an emerging vegetal quality as well. In the mouth, there were gentle notes of butter, cream, vanilla, watercress, and sweetgrass chased by a hint of flowers. Subsequent infusions allowed the floral notes to express themselves a little more fully on the palate, while subtle tangerine, parsley, and mineral notes began to make themselves known both on the nose and in the mouth. The later infusions were mostly dominated by sweetgrass, watercress, butter, parsley, and minerals underscored by cream, vanilla, citrus, and faint floral impressions.
This was another nice jade Tieguanyin from Master Zhang. Compared to the previous autumn’s offering, I found this tea to be thinner and slicker in the mouth. I also found it to be a little grassier and more vegetal overall. Of the two, I prefer the 2015 version, but this was still a worthwhile tea in my opinion. I think fans of jade Tieguanyin would enjoy it.
Flavors: Butter, Citrus, Cream, Floral, Grass, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Parsley, Saffron, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet
Using up my last of this; recommended is 7 g per 6 oz of water. However I only have 5.5 g left, so I’m cutting the water back to about 4 oz. If I recall, the first times I drank this I wasn’t terribly impressed with it. The dry leaves smell sweet, a touch of honey, while the wet leaves smell more earthy to me.
The first brew at ~30 sec (supposed to be 10 sec…. but I forgot it) is a golden color and smells of the same sweetness as the dry leaves. The taste is the same; the majority a light sweetness with a hint of fruit and nut to it, finishing off with a streak of cream.
I’m not having much luck today with my focus, or this tea. The second brew is the same color as the first, but with a noticeable tang of bitterness that I dislike.
Clearly I did something, or this tea just isn’t for me. By the end of the third cup, I’m tossing the leaves into the trash. I don’t remember it being so unappetizing the first few times, so I may have oversteeped or not had enough leaves or wrong water temperature. The third cup was nearly tasteless, but at least the bitterness was gone.
Tomorrow I have to leave for what will likely be a horrible work retreat, thus I will probably not be drinking and reviewing much tea for the next two or three days. I have an aged Tieguanyin I want to squeeze in tomorrow before I go, but I’m not certain I’ll get to it. I had a sample of this tea and drank it a little earlier, so I figured I may as well post a review while I was still up.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 13 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, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of butter, brown sugar, and vanilla frosting. After the rinse, aromas of grain, cream, butterscotch, and caramelized banana began to appear. The first infusion brought out hints of graham cracker and flowers on the nose. In the mouth, I detected notes of butter, cream, vanilla frosting, brown sugar, graham cracker, and caramelized banana. There was something of a grainy character there too, as well as something of a vegetal note that I could not place no matter how hard I tried. I failed to note any floral character at this point. Subsequent infusions brought out touches of toasted rice, violet, orchid, minerals, watercress, and bamboo shoots. There was also a very light, fleeting impression of coffee at a couple of points. Later infusions were mostly grainy, savory, and mildly vegetal under dominant mineral notes, though I could detect touches of sweetness at times. I noticed that this tea’s aromas and flavors washed out rather quickly, but I also must point out that this tea was very lively in the mouth and offered a unique cooling effect after the swallow. I cannot accurately describe it, but after the third infusion, I noticed that when I drew my breath in I experienced a menthol-like soothing effect that seemed to cool my mouth and throat. That shocked me too because I could detect no such herbal, minty notes in the tea itself.
This was an interesting tea. Its lively, playful nature and unique cooling property combined with a nice body and a consistently appealing texture to somewhat mitigate its lack of longevity. I enjoyed it a great deal, but I also cannot see myself reaching for it with regularity. As experimental oolongs go, however, I found it to be a success.
Flavors: Bamboo, banana, Brown Sugar, Butter, Butterscotch, Coffee, Cream, Frosting, Graham, Mineral, Orchid, Toasted Rice, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet
This is kind of odd, and not what I expected. I normally don’t get a tea with these kind of notes, but it was a free sample.
Jasmine, obviously, hits you in the face as you sip it. It’s a little too strong for me. But then there’s a bit of honeysuckle and melon.
Probably a really good tea for someone who enjoys these flavors, but not for me.
The recommended 6 oz of water is too much for my small gaiwan, so I estimate that I used closer to 5 oz. The dry leaves are loose, whole, and individual; they smell like apricots to me and a touch of dry grass. After the first steep of ~10 sec, the leaves seem more thin and delicate than I was expecting. The brew is a light yellow-green and still smells of fruit and grass to me. My first sip hits off on the fruit side, as I was expecting, and rounds out with a more mellow savory sort of tone. I think I get a tiny hint of jasmine at the front and middle of each sip, but it’s difficult to pin down. There’s not bitterness or sourness, either.
Second steep ~30 sec. Disappointing this time; perhaps I didn’t steep it long enough. The fruit and floral notes disappeared to be replaced by dry grass, although the brew remains sweet.
Third steep ~60 sec. Either these leaves run out really quickly or I’m doing something wrong somehow, despite following the suggestions on steeping for this tea. Now the brew really tastes like water, without a hint of flavor from the tea leaves, except perhaps a bit of sourness.
Flavors: Apricot, Dry Grass, Floral
Here’s another sample sipdown. I go out of my way to try as many Tieguanyin variants as possible. Tieguanyin was the tea that turned me back on to the joys of oolong and has been one of my primary foci ever since. I’ve been impressed with the traditional Tieguanyins Verdant sources from Master Zhang for nearly a year, and while this one was much lighter than last autumn’s offering, I still found it to be a very nice tea.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 12 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 15 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 mild aromas of cream, roasted barley, aloe, and violet. After the rinse, I began to detect grass, spice, butter, and a pronounced vegetal scent. The first infusion brought out butter, cinnamon, watercress, and a touch of vanilla bean. In the mouth, I detected cream, butter, aloe, grass, watercress, roasted barley, and cinnamon underscored by touches of vanilla and violet. Subsequent infusions grew both fruitier and more vegetal, as impressions of hay, banana leaf, coriander, jicama, cattail shoots, white grape, green apple, graham cracker, and honey emerged alongside a touch of minerals. Later infusions were mild, grassy, and mostly vegetal, offering a more dominant mineral presence balanced by lingering traces of grass, hay, coriander, cattail shoots, aloe, and jicama, though there were very faint touches of vanilla, cream, green apple, and honey still lurking in the background at points.
Though it wasn’t as grainy and toasty as last autumn’s version, this tea was ridiculously complex. In terms of aroma and flavor, I found it to be very similar to the Spring Traditional Tieguanyin, though in my opinion, this had more to offer overall. Aside from the almost unbelievably complex aroma and flavor profiles, this tea was very lively. It had an immediately refreshing and invigorating energy that it maintained throughout the session. If you are a fan of traditional Tieguanyin variants and don’t mind lighter, subtler flavors, this tea is most definitely worth giving a shot.
Flavors: Butter, Coriander, Cream, Graham, Grain, Grass, Green Apple, Hay, Honey, Lychee, Vanilla, Violet, White Grapes
2016 autumn. Carob. I agree with the reviews pointing out the complexity of the flavors, the various layers and dimensions, it is hard to unravel. I also got the milk-malty-chocolate, toasted rice, walnut, some fruit note and even some kind of liquor flavor, and I can see Verdant’s toasted marshmallow descriptor as valid for me, too. But if I had to sum all of this up: carob. A fascinating experience.
New to tea tasting, started with pu’er, and this is my first tasting with black tea. Seems like I am starting with a really good one.
Long aftertaste that grabs the tongue.
Drank down my sample packet of this today. It’s a lightly roasted tea—floral notes are underscored by vanilla, mineral, and a mild honey sweetness. It’s soft and smooth. No astringency. Very easy to drink, with the rocky mineral water taste of a Wuyi. It was a nice break from the strong flavored teas I’ve been drinking lately.
…I’m thinking that I may need to add more unflavored oolongs to my stash. Verdant has been my go-to in the past, and right now Mandala’s site is down while they relocate (sad day). Anyone have any recommendations?
Flavors: Cream, Floral, Honey, Mineral, Vanilla, Wet Rocks
First time tasting this one, and I’ve been looking forward to it since I got it about 4-5 months ago. Dry leaves smell sweet and grassy, like hay that’s been sun-dried for a couple days. The leaves appear mostly intact, in small spheres.
The first steep, I realize my little gaiwan can’t hold 6 oz of water + 7 g of leaves. Oops. But I catch the scent of honey as I pour the gold liquor into my cup. The first few sips though, all I taste is a tinge of hay and some sweetness. It’s a light flavor and not heavy on the mouth, though I find it warming. The only other thing I noticed as I finish the cup is a slight tingling on the roof of my mouth.
Second steep at about ~15 sec. This time I don’t overfill my gaiwan, probably use about 4-5 oz of water. I catch a hint of caramel mixed in with the hay this time, and the leaves have opened up well. It’s creamier than the first cup and the taste, although still light, is more apparent.
Third steep (maybe ~20 sec)! I smell the honey more strongly now in this cup and I finally figured out how much water will fit (4 oz). The taste is a bit sweeter, but still not much different to it than the first cup that I notice.
Fourth steep (not sure on time… 30-45 sec?). Ah there’s the cream I was looking for, plus a hint of honey in the aftertaste. A longer wait of a few seconds after the sips gives a milky feeling in my mouth (if that makes sense).
Flavors: Cream, Floral, Grass, Hay, Honey, Sweet
My review is for the Autumn 2016 version of this tea.
I found the taste and aroma of this tea very nostalgic. It brings back memories of drinking Nesquik chocolate milk growing up. It’s got a sweet hot chocolate taste with a bit of Ovaltine malt and some honeyed notes. The chocolatey-ness which is characteristic of Laoshan teas manifests itself here as milk chocolate. An interesting contrast to the smokey, cocoa-y bittersweet chocolate notes of classic spring laoshan black.The kid in me loved the chocolate candy flavor of this tea but my adult palette prefers the richer dark chocolate taste profile of regular laoshan black tea. I would recommend brewing this gongfu or grandpa because it has no resteeping power. One 3 minute steep is all it could muster.
Flavors: Candy, Chocolate, Honey, Malt
First steep/sip of 20 seconds reminds me of… earthiness. Like, dry leaves and twigs with some grass in there. Not as roasted as I might imagine. It’s not bad, exactly, but a bit different. Maybe it is a lighter roast and therefore some of the greenness of the oolong is still shining through? It kind of reminds me of some Taiwanese black teas.
It is very smooth and drinkable though. And honestly, though it is different than what I normally like, I am finding it a pretty good offering. There is some drying sensation on the tongue as the session goes along.
Flavors: Drying, Earth, Roasted, Smooth, Wood
No notes yet. Add one?
I am still new to tea tasting; that’s my disclaimer for the following. I was really looking forward to this tea due to the Verdant description of “pound cake” and “whipped cream” as main flavors. But what I tasted was hands down medicinal. Something in this tastes how an acupuncturist treatment room smells. A kind of acrid and bitter underside to the tea, is it like moxa? Is that camphor? Menthol or wintergreen? It has a coolness about it and engages the nose a lot, as if there were volatiles being released. Chinese medicinal roots. Like chewing on a licorice root. This stood out in the aroma of the steeped leaves as well. Maybe, maybe in steep I tasted some whipped cream, but I also was wanting to taste that from the start, so maybe I was imagining. The texture is smooth and rich with some creaminess.
I have tasted less than 10 shu pu’er so far, and this one was different from all the others, so it was a good experience in showing me new possibilities. However, the upfront medicinal taste (and aftertaste) disqualifies this tea for me in terms of daily drinking. This is a tea I would recommend to taste with friends for a session comparing and contrasting different shu pu’er.
I will be curious to see what other reviews say.
Flavors: Herbs, Medicinal