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Recent Tasting Notes
Open-brewed in a glass pitcher, let the leaves rest in cool water between infusions. 5g/6oz 30sec- 40sec- 50sec
I clumsily spilled a little on my desk; it was a great tragedy. This is my first foray into dragonwell. I know it’s a famous one, I know it is often a little overestimated, I’m still pretty impressed.
raw leaf smells like sweet dry hay, first infusion is so delightfully fresh and nutty! Strong fresh cashew flavors but somehow without a heavy umami like I’ve noticed in other nutty greens. A wonderful full green flavor, a hint of toasty crackers, fairly round body, eeeeever so slightly spicy, with a very pleasant sweetness left on the palate.
In the second infusion the spiciness strengthens but doesn’t overwhelm the cashew notes, the body remains full and pleasantly vegetal.
In the third steeping, the tea has suddenly lost its body! A very light floral flavor remains and a tiny hint of mineral spice is still in there somewhere. Still not a hint of bitterness, which is nice, but where did the nuts go?!
Is it typical of Dragonwell to give up all its flavors so readily? Should I not have rested the leaves in water in-between rounds? I’ve heard that greens can steam or oxidize themselves bitter if left without a little water on top. Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated!
Flavors: Asparagus, Floral, Grain, Grass, Hay, Mineral, Nuts, Spicy, Sweet
I recently received one of these cakes as a random gift. Never had a chance to check out a pu-erh yet, so it was great that this opportunity came along! I broke all the rules and brewed this up just how I would with a black tea, which is what I usually drink. 13.5 grams of separated leaves and 48 ounces of boiling water in my teapot for a 3 minute steep (no initial rinse). I was kind of worried that it would be overly strong, but that thankfully was not an issue. I cannot compare this to any other pu-erh because this is my first, but I was suprised to find that this was a very mellow and agreeable tea. I drank it straight with no milk or sugar. Definitely has mossy and vegetal aspects, but some sweetness is in the mix plus maybe a “medicinal” quality? Sorry I’m not too good at describing the taste. I did follow up the next day brewing 27 grams in 48 ounces of boiling water for a 5-minute steep, and poured the tea into a pitcher with an equal amount of ice plus 4 tablespoons of white sugar to make an iced tea. So far I think this tea is better iced than hot, but I’ll continue to play around with it until I run out. Not a bad experience, but I probably will not go out of the way to drink pu-erh teas in the future. I’m happy with my black teas.
Update: After drinking my iced tea concoction some more, the cinnamon/clove notes mentioned by others are jumping out at me – I guess they were always there I just didn’t recognize them for what they were. As it often happens, the tea has grown on me and I find it pleasant and interesting. Revising my original score of 70 up to 85.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Medicinal, Moss, Mushrooms, Musty, Sweet
I finally managed to get a new 4 ounce gaiwan and I have been working on getting a feel for it. One thing I liked about the one I unintentionally broke was that it fit in my hand extremely well and was super easy to pour. This one is prettier, but it is also a bit squatter, which means that it does not fit in my hand as comfortably. It takes a little more effort than I’m used to, but I’m making progress. This Anxi approximation of a Da Hong Pao was the first tea I brewed in it. I found it to be a solid tea that reasonably approximated the character of a traditional Da Hong Pao.
Obviously, I gongfued this tea. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was followed by 14 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 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, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced mild aromas of wood, char, and roasted nuts. I also thought I picked up some smoke and possible hints of flowers and caramel. The rinse released intriguing aromas of butter, cream, pipesmoke, nutmeg, and saffron. The first infusion brought out hints of grass and vanilla. In the mouth, I picked up on gentle notes of caramel, cream, butter, wood, char, and roasted nuts underscored by smoke, nutmeg, and saffron. Subsequent infusions better brought out the smoke, nutmeg, and saffron while the vanilla and grass also began to express themselves on the palate. The vague roasted nut notes began to take shape, increasingly reminding me of roasted almonds, chestnuts, and cashews. New aromas and flavors of osmanthus, lilac, rock sugar, minerals, and apricot also appeared. The later infusions continued to emphasize butter, grass, cream, vanilla, and wood notes balanced by grass, char, and a gentle minerality, though the popcorn note I tend to get from the later stages of Da Hong Pao sessions popped out at this time too.
As mentioned earlier, this tea did a reasonably good job of approximating the character of a traditional Wuyi Da Hong Pao. I would assert, however, that the lack of a sharp mineral presence and the distinct floral impressions were dead giveaways that this was not the real deal. Still, this was a worthy experiment. It was very much worth trying, although I think the next time I’m in the mood for yancha, I’ll stick with actual yancha.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Butter, Caramel, Char, Chestnut, Cream, Floral, Grass, Mineral, Nutmeg, Nutty, Osmanthus, Popcorn, Saffron, Smoke, Sugar, Vanilla, Wood
This will be my last Verdant sampler tasting before I give Verdant a break for a while to focus on the What-Cha samples I just received.
This tea basically reaffirmed grandpa style as my brewing method of choice for yanchas. Steeped in a tumbler, I got a smooth blend of chocolate, cinnamon, woodsy notes, and wet rocks. Gongfu brings out some of these flavors as well but these were too aggressive for my taste. There was lots of wood spice and black licorice. The texture also became very thick and oily. I feel some of its subtleties of the tea are lost by steeping it gong fu.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Licorice, Spices, Wet Rocks, Wood
An enjoyable cup!
This tea has been steeped several times, and has given up a consistently light green/silvery liquor with a refreshing floral edge – much like jasmine or orchid. There’s something in the body that reminds me of a delicious custard, making the cup very satisfying.
There’s much to love in this tea, and I’d order some now, but I just checked, and there’s such a limited stock (sample size only) that I’ll have to wait.
Flavors: Custard, Jasmine, Orchid
This is a rather atypical oolong. It looks and tastes more like a green tea. You have to look real hard to find any trace of oolong in it.
It has a very similar profile to Verdant’s other laoshan green teas. In the nose and on the palate, I get toasted soybeans, nuttiness, and grain. Around the 5th or 6th steep, the mouthfeel becomes fuller and you get the barest hint of some light fruitiness and butter. For the most part though it’s vegetal and doesn’t distinguish itself from a green tea. There’s none of the floral, fruity, or mineral flavors that characterize oolongs.
Flavors: Grain, Nutty, Soybean
I was expecting a dark TGY and was surprised by how green this was. This is a jade oolong with a gentle roast that gives it a distinct taste from regular green TGY.
The leaves are loosely rolled pellets with a faint smell of molasses. It reminds me of the cheap gunpowder green tea I used to drink back in the day. Wet leaf emits aromas of graham cracker, spice, camphor, and some wuyi minerality. The color of the liquid is pale yellow with a tinge of green.
First steeping is quite green with lots of floral and undertones of baked bread. The floral notes become brighter and sweeter as the steeps progress. Along the way, I pick up notes of caramelized sugar, minerals, and some orchid with a soft underlying roast. Around the 4th steep, the tea becomes more buttery, develops a thicker mouthfeel, and a nectar like fruitiness. The taste profile at this point is similar to a lightly roast Gao Shan and Verdant’s fruitier oolongs like Ruan Zhi.
This was my kind of roasted oolong. The light roasting maintains its fresh green character while bringing out interesting fruity and baked flavors.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Floral, Fruity, Graham Cracker, Spices
Finished off my sample pack the other day and this is easily the best Mi Lan Xiang I’ve had so far. It’s thick, nectary, and intensely peachy. It needs lots of leaf and flash steeps to express itself and tastes best when the infusions are compounded.
I steeped 5g of tea in a 150ml gaiwan. Following a rinse, I did a 10s steep at near boiling followed by two flash infusions. The three steeps were combined in a cha hai. Sniffing the wet leaf, I get yummy aromas of honey and roasted peaches. The taste is very much true to the smell. In the mouth, I taste juicy peaches, saffron, and a touch of minerality. This is rounded out by luscious honeyed florals in the finish with a prominent note of rose.
I lost count of the number of infusions I brewed, probably around 10 or so and later cold steeped the half spent leaves. The flavor dropped a bit after the initial steeps but the tea held up remarkably well. Cold brewing coaxes out even more subtleties in texture and flavor. The taste becomes softer and allows other flavor notes to come through including apple, white grape, and jasmine. Some might say cold brewing a reserve tea is a waste, but it may just be my favorite way.
This was a very nice dan cong and a step up from the mid-grade stuff I’ve been drinking before. However, I’m reluctant to buy more because it’s quite pricey. I plan to check out YS for something similar at a lower price point.
Flavors: Apple, Floral, Honey, Jasmine, Peach, Rose, Saffron, White Grapes
Well green teas aren’t my tea per se but this was quite a good one. I tasted buttery green peas. Very yummy and definitely recommended. I had just enough time to make a cup before I went off to work. It was +30C already when I left the house.
Flavors: Butter, Peas, Vegetables
After sleeping in way later than I had planned, I took the remainder of the morning to gongfu a 5 gram sample of this oolong. Prior to trying this, I do not recall ever having a tea made from the Da Dan cultivar. I found it to come off as a slightly awkward hybrid of a Tieguanyin and a Dancong. It was worth trying, but it was not my thing.
Obviously, I gongfued this one. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in a 4 ounce gaiwan filled with 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 pleasant aromas of butter, cream, custard, lilac, violet, sweetgrass, and citrus. The rinse allowed scents of vanilla, osmanthus, and cilantro to emerge. The first infusion produced a near identical bouquet. In the mouth, I detected notes of violet, lilac, osmanthus, sweetgrass, butter, cream, custard, vanilla, and some sort of citrus. Subsequent infusions brought out touches of leaf lettuce, rose, mild cinnamon, and minerals, as well as definite touches of orange peel and pomelo. The later infusions were dominated by butter, mineral, cream, lettuce, cilantro, and sweetgrass notes underscored by barely perceptible touches of citrus and fresh flowers.
For me, two things happened that limited my enjoyment of this tea. First, this tea peaked way quickly, faded early, and did not change all that much with each successive infusion. I could tell where it was going pretty quickly, and quite frankly, that bored me a little. Second, the almost soapy slickness that I get from many Dancongs (especially Chou Shi Dancongs) became more prominent with each infusion, and since that texture is not all that appealing to me, I had to fight off the urge to give up on this one early. At this point, I would also like to add that, in terms of flavor, there was not much separating this tea from many jade Tieguanyins. If I hadn’t known what I was drinking, I probably would have thought that someone had ruined a perfectly good spring Tieguanyin by washing the gaiwan and not rinsing it out all that well prior to brewing. Judged solely on the aromas and flavors on display, this was not a bad tea, but it didn’t thrill me in any way either.
Flavors: Butter, Butter, Cinnamon, Citrus, Citrus, Cream, Cream, Custard, Custard, Floral, Floral, Grass, Grass, Lettuce, Lettuce, Mineral, Mineral, Orange, Orange, Osmanthus, Osmanthus, Rose, Rose, Vanilla, Vegetal, Vegetal, Violet, Violet
I finished a sample of this oolong last night, and after taking a moment to look this tea up on Steepster, found myself wondering why this tea was so poorly received. Now, I, by my own admission, am a huge fan of Shui Jin Gui, but I found this to be an extremely tasty, expertly processed tea. The roast was just present enough to add some depth, but was light enough to showcase the natural aromas and flavors of this cultivar.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in a 4 ounce gaiwan filled with 208 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 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, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted pleasant aromas of char, vanilla, damp grass, hay, and wood. After the rinse, I picked up powerful aromas of custard, orange, and rock sugar. The first infusion brought out touches of gentle spice, cocoa, stone fruits, and butter. In the mouth, I detected a pleasant combination of damp grass, hay, char, wood, vanilla, stone fruits, and orange. Subsequent infusions brought out the butter, cocoa, custard, and rock sugar in the mouth. I also began to pick up definite touches of roasted almond, caramel, cinnamon, nutmeg, apricot, yellow plum, lemon, daylily, orchid, cream, popcorn, and minerals. The later infusions were dominated by minerals, hay, grass, roasted almond, wood, popcorn, and butter, though I could still detect fleeting impressions of vanilla, custard, and citrus in at least a couple of places.
All in all, this was an impressive tea. It was not the most complex or challenging Shui Jin Gui I have tried, but it was very aromatic, flavorful, and satisfying. Teas like this one, the Qilan Light Roast, and the Rou Gui Light Roast are rapidly convincing me that Li Xiangxi does some of her best work when she keeps the roasting to a minimum.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Butter, Caramel, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Custard, Floral, Grass, Hay, Lemon, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange, Orchid, Plums, Popcorn, Sugar, Vanilla, Wood
I totally forgot to review this tea. I had been hanging on to a 25 gram pouch of the 2016 harvest that I had purchased shortly before it went out of stock, finally cracked it open last week, and then finished up the last of it yesterday before leaving for work. I could tell that it had mellowed since I bought it, but it was still packed with flavor.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in a 4 ounce gaiwan filled with 205 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 14 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 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, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of honey, caramel, yams, wood, and cocoa. The rinse brought out stronger aromas of honey, caramel, yams, wood, and cocoa, as well as emerging scents of butter, leaf vegetables, and saffron. The first infusion produced a similar aroma with hints of malt and vanilla. In the mouth, I mostly picked up butter, malt, wood, yam, and cocoa underscored by hints of vanilla, saffron, and leaf vegetables. Subsequent infusions brought out better defined notes of lettuce, celery, and Swiss chard. I also picked up stronger notes of vanilla and saffron accompanied by emerging aromas and flavors of fresh baked bread, honey, anise, fennel, orange peel, minerals, nutmeg, lemon, and almond. I never managed to detect any graham cracker or melon notes. The later infusions were heavy on bread, butter, mineral, lettuce, and almond notes, though I could still detect faint hints of caramel, cocoa, citrus, wood, and fennel in the background at a few points.
This was a super interesting black tea with an unexpected and sophisticated mix of aromas and flavors. That being said, it took longer than expected to grow on me. Compared to many Yunnan black teas I have tried, this one was more herbal and vegetal. I was not expecting that. Still, this one was very good and well worth tracking down.
Flavors: Almond, Anise, Baked Bread, Butter, Caramel, Celery, Cocoa, Fennel, Honey, Lemon, Lettuce, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange, Saffron, Vanilla, Vegetal, Wood, Yams
The flavors and aroma of this Sheng morph a bit as the cup cools, offering the lingering sensation of mint when inhaling after sipping. There was a distinct aroma of campfire or paper while steeping, resulting in a pale yellow liquor.
Pleasant enough to consider an order of this Verdant Tea sample.
Flavors: Campfire, Fruity
Not sure if this is the right one. Mine said Liu Family on it. It was from a Verdant Tea in the tea of the month box. Don’t ask me which year or month as it’s been awhile since I have ordered tea. Anyway this one is yummy. Not something I might order on my own. I can’t seem to pin down the taste but I blame eating practically a whole pizza earlier for that.
This is a Lovely tea. It is delicate and enticing from the moment you open the bag. The leaves are just Gorgeous: fine, silky, lustrous curls in a perfectly harmonious array of color. The scent of the dry leaf is wonderful too, I pick up floral and fruity notes. Tangerine, peach, sweet citrus. The liquor is well balanced with no bitterness or astringency. Its very soft and pleasantly delicious cup. I’m still getting great fruity notes with some flowers and honey on the background.
Wow the second cup is even stronger, fruitier and more vivid in its bouquet. Its lechee, its rose, its sugar and honey… with citrus notes. And again 0 bitterness or acidity. Delicious.
Third and fourth infusion are less floral and fruity with stronger woody, savory notes.
This is a lovely tea, I will definitely be ordering more.
Flavors: Citrus, Floral, Fruity, Honey, Lychee, Peach, Rose, Sugar
Oh my god. This tea.Raw leaf smells strongly of cut grass. The liqueur is light and unassuming.
First steeping is incredible. Creamy and heavy on the tongue with notes of roasted cashew, fresh cream custard, jasmine flowers, equal parts floral and savory. Second steeping brings out a soft mineral taste and aroma like rain on the Utah sidewalk, the creaminess fading slightly to a greener cashew and the jasmine scent more prominent. Third steeping is more and more like rain, leaving a mineral softness on the palate. By the fourth steeping, the jasmine aroma has softened and I’m detecting cashew again. The flavor is more mineral and drying with a subtle astringency not unlike sprinklers on fresh cut grass. This tea is a revelation. Would steep more times but I want to taste it iced asap.
Flavors: Cream, Creamy, Custard, Floral, Freshly Cut Grass, Jasmine, Mineral