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Recent Tasting Notes
I just had to squeeze in another sample sipdown before the month officially ended. I had been wanting to find the time to try this tea for at least 2 weeks. I finally got around to it today. I’m glad I ended up doing this because this was a great tea with which to end the month.
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 chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 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, I detected aromas of violet, honeysuckle, lilac, and hyacinth. The rinse brought out aromas of sweetgrass, cream, vanilla, and butter. The first infusion brought the floral and savory aspects of the tea’s bouquet together while also offering hints of orchid and saffron. In the mouth, I mostly picked up traces of butter, cream, vanilla, and sweetgrass balanced by flowers. Subsequent infusions brought out the floral notes before quickly tailing off to emphasize emerging honey, leaf lettuce, parsley, and mineral impressions. A hint of cantaloupe emerged fairly late in the session. The later infusions were heavy on minerals, grass, lettuce, and parsley. Cream, butter, honey, and cantaloupe lingered in the background.
The tea’s lovely floral tones faded fast, but it brilliantly maintained its savory and vegetal aspects. The soft mineral aromas and flavors and smooth, consistent body also showed off the quality of the terroir from which this tea originated. This was another high quality Tieguanyin. When Master Zhang hits the mark for me, he really hits it hard.
Flavors: Butter, Cantaloupe, Cream, Floral, Grass, Honey, Honeysuckle, Lettuce, Mineral, Orchid, Parsley, Saffron, Vanilla, Violet
This was one of 3 dragon well samples I picked up from Verdant with my spring green tea order. These are the new dragon well varietals they added to their lineup this year. Normally, dragon well isn’t my favorite kind of green tea but I still like to sample the first harvests each spring. I appreciate this tea more for its visual appearance and preparation than flavor.
The leaves are pale forest green blades and smell of creamed spinach and edamame. When heated, the aroma changes to buttered beans and stir fried vegetables. Since I only had a 5g sample, I decided to first brew it grandpa style and use the rest of the leaves for a gongfu session later. Steeped in a tall glass, the taste is a bit weak and not terribly impressive: savory cooked vegetables and a chalky matcha like texture with a vegetal finish that sticks to the back of your throat. I liked it much better gongfued. Loosely following the instructions on Verdant’s site, I steeped 3.5g in a 150ml gaiwan for about 30s. The first steep had an buttery, silky smooth texture. There’s a clover honey like sweetness, some fennel and a nice floral note. I enjoyed this steeping a lot as it was very different from the typical chestnutty flavor of most dragon wells. The next couple of steeps though didn’t fare so well. I was hoping for more of the flavor from the first steep but what I got instead was a somewhat dry taste of smokey, pungent green vegetables.
This was another interesting tea from Verdant. It had its moments but didn’t blow my socks off. I still prefer their Laoshan greens to dragon wells.
Dry aroma smells like a really fruity black tea.
100ml, ~200F, w/ a 5 second wash
Gorgeous dark red/orange colour. Looks like liquid cherry
It tastes like one of those complex black tea blends. Lots of fruity colors: peach, citrus, apricot, prune, grapes, cherry, and tangyness. All of this is backed by that general chinese black tea taste that’s common with most chinese black teas. Honestly, not a bad combination at all.
The further steeps have a really nice ‘dynamic’ combination. The fruity bits are strong and the primary flavour is both sweet, astringent, and slightly bitter.
One thing to note is that this tea is sensitive to heat. If temperature drops to 190 or below, you’ll get a significant less flavour per steep.
Overall not a bad tea whatsoever. It’s mainly a combination of lots of fruity flavours along with that ‘traditional’ chinese black tea taste. Quite nice.
About ~7 steeps in and tea’s almost out of flavour. Pretty decent. No drastic change in flavour over time, just flavour slowly dwindles (~6 steeps in and it’s like 20% the original potency).
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Blackberry, Citrus, Fruity, Peach, Tangy
Hahahaha. That Verdant description is so tempting! What a way with words, though I’ve never even thought of almonds when drinking any puerhs. This production as aged up considerably since it made itself known to the world. It is extremely tasty. Since I got it, all I do is think about drinking it to learn more. It has such depth, sweetness, and mouth-zinganoids. Lot’s of anise, sarsaparilla in terms of taste and mouthfeel. Next to no detectable bitterness, but the smoke is there. Quite similar to the Wuliang Luck and Longevity Brick by Hai Xin Tang but the 7536 is less smoky and spicier. Definitely strong aroma of mulling spices, a taste that just lingers on the tongue. I’m having it in yixing presently, but prefer it from a glazed vessel, I suppose.
Flavors: Anise, Cinnamon, Clove, Medicinal
The key to this tea is completely disregarding the horrible way it smells while it’s steeping.
It smells like a wet outdoor ash tray after a humid summer rain.
It’s so bad I made everyone smell it. I was like “GET A LOAD OF THIS. SERIOUSLY. PUT IT IN YOUR NOSTRILS. IT. IS. AWFUL.”
I’m a manic, gothy-lookin’ troll.
But this tea, when you drink it, is wow. I drank the entire sample today. Two cups. First sample, immediate follow-up to confirm. (Sorry, mtchyg, none for you. I promise it’s good. Try some next time you’re ordering from Verdant.)
It tastes like warm bread in a log cabin on a long, lazy fall day. It tastes like wholesome, guardian spirit magic. It tastes the way sharing food with your partner feels.
It’s not new love; it’s old love, where the other person knows how to rub your back when you’re miffed; or sing your favorite song badly; or slowly make hideous faces until you chortle.
Summer’s not the right season, emotionally, for this beverage, but I quaffed it all down because it was great.
Sipdown! Gamblin’ gongfu style (aka, “I pour when I’m feeling lucky”). I felt lazy today so this note is in headings with fragmented notes.
Aroma: vibrant lilac custard (1). Rich lilac butter, and roasted nut, with an edge of citrus (2)(3)(4)(5). Mild grassy, citrus, creamy, mineral (6). Light citrus-mango meringue (7)(8).
Taste: gentle lilac butter with mild sweet finish to start. Morphs into tangy-sweet fruit syrup with bland fleshy nut finish as cup cools. Fruity aftertaste (raspberry, plum, red apple?) (1). Mix of tangy citrus, lilac cream, and roasted nut, with less sweetness than first steep (2)(3)(4). Smooth violet, nuts, and emerging plantain note. Starchy and creamy, with a hint of sweetness. Finish and lingering aftertaste of citrus meringue and minerals (5). Mellow cup with mineral, citrus, plantain, cream, and grass notes (6). Some plantain, grass, and mineral notes, with mango to finish (7)(8).
Steep Count: 9
I think I burnt the second steep so I changed the temperature from 95C to 90C after third steep.
Repurchase priority: $31 USD for 100g is almost tempting, but not quite…
(2016 fall harvest)
Flavors: Butter, Citrus, Cream, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Mango, Meringue, Mineral, Nuts, Violet
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.(2016 Fall 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
Going with the gongfu method makes this much more palatable, although it will never be a favourite. The jasmine cream candle is toned down but I still find the flavour profile a little “soapy”. Grass, mineral, and citrus-mint like eucalyptus are more apparent in later steeps and add to that clean vibe.
Steep Count: 5
Flavors: Cream, Eucalyptus, Floral, Grass, Jasmine, Mineral, Rose
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
I wasn’t a big fan of this when I tried it western style, so I figured drinking it gongfu style (+10 sec) with a cold wouldn’t hurt.
Although my palate is extremely muted, I’m picking up a lot vegetal and custard-like notes. It’s sort of creamy and almost.. eggy? The latest steep (4 or 5) has a light lime note that is kind of tickle-y to my already irritated throat. A sweetness like powdered sugar is reminiscent of instant jello or pudding; just the thing to have while sick! There are some light floral notes, but they are extremely dampened right now.
Boosting up the rating a tad.
Steep Count: 6+
Flavors: Cream, Custard, Floral, Lime, Powdered sugar, Vegetal
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.