665 Tasting Notes

drank Laoshan Goji Leaf by Verdant Tea
665 tasting notes

The Great Goji Leaf spoke to me and It said, “Brew my children in the style of western. The minimum cost of admission is 2.5 grams (surely you can afford that; we’ll gladly accept 5 grams) placed into the vessel. Open a kettle of water at the traditionally accepted temperature and brew the young leaf with timing similar to a baptismal dunking, immersing my offspring thrice in the font, a little longer each time. Take care not to drown the baby. Also, drink your veggies.”

Translation: I prefer this western. I found 2.5g to be the minimum amount of leaf needed for two to three 8oz cups of savory, peppery summer squash and broccoli stalk (stock?) broth. Brewed gongfu, in addition to the above, there was some mashed potato going on along with drop biscuit and a big, thick persistent sweetness. It all got kind of weird and unenjoyable after the fourth steep gongfu following Verdant’s parameters.

This herbal tea is filling, makes me sweat and gets me in the cozy mood.

175 °F / 79 °C 8 OZ / 236 ML

Did your Great Goji leaf sound more like Darth Vader or Yoda? (Sorry, couldn’t resist :)


Honestly, the Great Goji Leaf was voiced by Eddie Izzard.

Mastress Alita

…Taking the prisoners off to Al-ca-traaaz!

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Finished up the last of the bag with cold brew and gongfu.

Cold brew 1 heaping tablespoon to 1L overnight produces a light liquor with a strong scent of tangy natural blueberry and a taste of red cherry and rose (which I didn’t pick up on in western). It is also slightly drying.

Gongfu was two sessions, 2.5-3g each session to 60mL. A few different notes I picked up this way were rose, grapefruit and purple raisin. They were pleasant gongfu sessions and I found no faults brewing that way, however I appreciate the stronger, melded flavors present in western. Brewing at 60mL allowed me to enjoy the tastes in a small amount without committing to several 8oz glasses which leave me a little cracked out.

It’s such a delightful tea that strongly reminds me of the Napa/Sonoma valley wine producing regions of California. I’d love to order more, but the energy of Chinese purple black teas is generally overwhelming for me. Still very much recommended.

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Well, I screwed this one up early on between oversteeping and not knocking down the temp fast enough. I started off with the suggested minute-long soak in boiling water (which produced a drinkable cup) and lowered the temp only slightly with each steep until I realized it was still too damn high. Finally got down to 190 and decided that was good.

In the beginning, even while the tea was kicking my ass with bitterness and astringency, the liquor was thick and sweet with a light mushroom brothiness, some unplaced fruit, cherry, plum, unplaced herbs, minerals, light apricot, walnut/walnut skin tannins, very light floral incense and faint butter and caramel. I’m glad I kept pushing. After the onslaught due to tea abuse subsided, there was an after party featuring crazy date sweetness in the back of my mouth and a pleasing sourness on the sides of my tongue. Lasted a good 11 steeps even with my screw-ups. Sparkling, clear orange liquor with a pink tint.

I think if you pay attention to this tea, you’ll get the right amount of bitterness and astringency. I wish I had more :/

EDIT I wanted to add, if you do buy these, buy more than 1 (unlike me) so you can play around and find the water temperature and steep times that produce your favored cup. I can see it being light if you’re not the type of person to push your brews, but it also has the ability to be darker and quite complex.

7 g 5 OZ / 150 ML
Daylon R Thomas

It’s a nice one, and very convenient.

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Received as a freebie with my order. Thanks Crimson Lotus!

This is a Damn Fine Fruity Fresh Sheng.

6.5g, 100mL, 205-212F, 10s rinse, 5s initial steep.

Dry leaf has light compression. Looks great and smells soft with fresh peach dusted with powdered sugar. The warmed leaf lets me know what I’m in for… super strong yellow peach (with a little bit of green bean). In taste, it reminds me of canned peaches with their steel can character. That moves into fresh apricot with more steel touch. Brews a nice golden honey color all the way with a little cloudiness early. Very smooth with some tang, a lively mineral effect with light salivation that lasts and light bittersweet in the back of the mouth. Some pepperiness comes in toward the end and a light astringency catches in the throat. The tastes gradually lighten with no major drop-offs. I wouldn’t say the liquor is sweet – it can actually be quite tart – but a long-lasting sweetness presents at the top back of my mouth.

The energy is pleasant, no craziness in any dimension, though my demeanor tended toward forgetfulness after the first few steeps. Like what might happen if you wander across a peach orchard and find yourself feasting on ripe fruit, lounging under a tree to escape the midday sun for some unknown amount of time, then suddenly realizing you had something to attend to. It reminds of something out of a C.S. Lewis book. Maybe like the Wood Between the Worlds in The Magician’s Nephew. As a result, I oversteeped here and there. The first gaffe was several minutes long and was strongly bittersweet and fruity. I adjusted the timing of the next steep based on liquor color and from there the tea played out over the course of 2 hours. This tea has a lot to give. As expected, the spent leaf is a mix of olive greens. I’m happy to report no gut rot, but I do have a pretty strong stomach.

I’m content :) I’d like to see the transformation. Gonna give it a few more months and try again with less leaf.

3 OZ / 100 ML

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drank Keemun Concerto by Adagio Teas
665 tasting notes

From a teaswap with Mastress Alita. Thanks!

Way up in northern California on a late May morning. Fumble around for the zipper in your tent, still dusted in frost at daybreak. Emerge from your cave and get a good stretch in. Wander over to the smoldering campfire. A good stoke gets it going enough to boil a pot of water. Wash up away from the group, naked and vulnerable to the curious black bear whose nighttime haunt includes the campsite. Dry off in the continually warming rays of the sun, whisps of steam snaking off your body. Chew on a few pine needles to freshen the breath. Throw on a thick warm sweater, an old pair of Carhartts and work boots. Brew several cups of this tea with the water now simmering and fill up the thermos. Grab a tart orange, an old Hershey’s bar and a hunk of crumbly wheat bread on your way out. Come back hours later in the late afternoon, exhausted, with a paper grocery bag full of king boletes. Brush the dirt off the mushrooms and cut them in half, inspecting for bugs. Slice up those fat mushroom beauties and pan fry them on the fire in a cast iron skillet until they’re slightly crispy and leathery, finishing them with a touch of salt and a good cracking of black pepper. Relax on the ground, sitting against a log and chat about the day’s bounty with fellow hunters. You can all agree it has been a successful day.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Campfire, Citrus, Cocoa, Leather, Mineral, Mushrooms, Pine, Smooth, Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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I’ve had the tuo sitting around for 9 months and finally decided to break into it.

I took the cable car up California St several months ago, heading to the property management company’s office to pay a small fortune in rent. The operator in the rear of the car chatted with me the whole ride from Battery to Van Ness. His name was Otu. I was thinking during the entire clattering, ass-sliding trek up the hill ‘Tuo… tuo… tuo…’ I’ll never forget that guy’s name because of pu’er. A simple transposition of letters.

10 years old at this point. Dry leaves smell like hay with some fruitiness. Wet leaves smell aged with hay, floral, vague light stonefruit and a scent that makes me think ‘bitter.’ I suppose that’s hitting the back of my tongue. Later there’s smoked asparagus, old books, dry grass, floral, more pronounced stonefruit and cigarette butt, ending with aged pu’er.

I did not time the steeps and instead went by color. 11 total. Very clear orange-yellow to bright orange-red liquor that doesn’t have much aroma. The scent of the wet leaf is more dynamic than the taste which is straight-forward and mellow. Mineral, airy floral, old books, a very light sweetness, mild (for me) bitterness in the back of the mouth and a pleasant tartness that all make for quick, smooth, thirst-quenching cups. Something akin to green bell pepper shows up midway along with light mint and a more defined sweetness like nectar. Aftertaste of hay, smoke and floral become non-existent after the first several steeps. The taste fades away pleasantly with some throat-clenching astringency and tongue-numbing appearing late. Poking through the spent leaf, I am surprised by the amount of buds. Mixed in with those are broken leaves of all sizes (of which few made it into the strainer) and some stems. Sticky fingers.

Energy is noticeable and top heavy. My shoulders felt bulky like I’d maxed out on overhead barbell presses a day earlier. It felt like there was an anchor point between my shoulder blades and it was being lightly tugged upon, encouraging me to sit up straight. An hour after finishing, I feel very caffeinated and brain-fuzzed, numb to my surroundings. I’m still sitting proper like I’m fresh out of one of those “How to be a Prim and Proper Young Lady” etiquette classes offered in high school.

Well-balanced in taste but the energy is awkward for me. Regardless, I’m glad I sprung.

205 °F / 96 °C 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Mastress Alita

Old book smell is the best smell. <3


This bibliophile totally agrees, Mastress Alita! :)

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drank Laoshan Goji Leaf by Verdant Tea
665 tasting notes

Curiosity got the better of me, as often happens.

Followed Verdant’s parameters for western: 5g, 8oz, 175F, 20s initial steep +10s following steeps. I ended up falling asleep soon after the second cup, so I can’t comment on its longevity. Will also be trying gongfu.

Looks like a Laoshan green. Smells like fruity alcohol when opening the bag: Boone’s Farm wine or wine coolers. Huffing the dry leaf in my hand, it smells just like chocolate chip cookies lightly punctuated by a red fruit. I’m guessing that’s the smell of Goji berry… Taste didn’t change between the first and second steeps. It was very different than what presented in the dry leaf. Savory vegetal with peppered summer squash and broccoli stalks, a full-mouthed mintiness, flat lemon, some sweetness and maybe… maybe those vegetables are buttered. Huh, not bad. Somewhat light-bodied and goes down easily. I’m again surprised by these Laoshan herbals. Rating following western with less leaf and gongfu.

175 °F / 79 °C 5 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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And yet another review. This time a different preparation. 2 tsp loose to 20oz unknown temp water straight from the hot water spigot in the cafeteria. Hot enough to scald my mouth, so definitely not 175F, I’d wager 200-205F. This tea cannot be killed even after sitting in that hot water for an hour, though it did get a little cooked. Still thick, sweet and chicken brothy with an even greater cooling cypress presence, a thick and satisfying aroma and wonderful energy. Just near the end it got a little astringent but that can probably be remedied by upending my thermos now and then. Increased the rating again. This has to be my all-time favorite green.

8 min or more 2 tsp 20 OZ / 591 ML

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I wasn’t going to rate this one again, either, but brewed grandpa in a thermos it’s a bit better. It can be funky and tart in the first few sips before the flavors meld, but otherwise it’s got a mellow winter squash going on. The liquor smells like spiced winter squash with brown sugar. The faint mint taste I experienced brewed western has turned into a more noticeable menthol which combines with a new nutmeg? allspice? flavor, making the aftertaste reminiscent of camphor. It can get a little astringent at the bottom but it’s tolerable for me. This tea packs a serious punch of caffeine and is helping me power through the day after a sleepless night and a public medical emergency this morning. I’m still on the fence about it but I might try another season’s harvest if one is ever available again and make up my mind after that. I think it’s worth a try if you want something high in caffeine and different. Bumping from 64 to 71.

1 tsp 20 OZ / 591 ML

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drank Laoshan Gongfu Black by Verdant Tea
665 tasting notes

This was my first Laoshan black and it was quite tasty. Spring 2018 harvest prepared gong fu with 5g and water just off boiling, no rinse. Ten second first steep with increases of 5s for subsequents steeps. I think I got 8 total.

The dry leaf was very fragrant, smelling of dark chocolate and fig. Wet leaf was also very fragrant with red fruit that smelled deep and full-bodied with a high note. It reminded me of the Mangosteen Skinny Tea I had last night, which possessed a very similar taste as the wet leaf aroma of this tea. I could also initially smell rum and dark chocolate with those moving into dark milk chocolate and honey as steeps progressed. The aroma of the wet leaf and liquor was strong enough to create a chocolatey ether in my vicinity.

The taste remained fairly stable throughout, lightening from the third steep on. I picked up on chocolate, wood, honey, golden raisin, sourness and brightness like an orange but not quite, malt, toast, roasted grains, minerals (limestone and iron), a light mushroom, very mild bitterness and later a hint of cedar. There was some astringency early on in the throat which faded. The mineral effect of the tea was very strong and made me salivate something wicked, which I freaking love. The aftertaste was light at first with some dark chocolate, then progressed into an incredible ball of honey sweetness that sat unmoving at the back of my tongue. The bottom of the cup retained a very strong graham cracker and thick honey scent.

Overall, I’m pretty impressed with my first Laoshan black. It was incredibly fragrant and the tastes were complex enough to remain interesting, though it was a little too sweet and light-bodied for me. It’s not quite a dessert tea for me and I’d hesitate to suggest it to dessert tea lovers due to it’s woodiness but I think it’s worth picking up a sample to try. I’m looking forward to comparing the other two Laoshan black tea samples I purchased from Verdant.

205 °F / 96 °C 5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

In my experience, Laoshan Blacks from Verdant teas were markedly better than the ones I tried from other vendors. More intense, more “original”.


Intense is a good descriptor for this tea, especially in it’s persistent sweetness. This one did have kind of a rustic, unrefined quality to it but it was enjoyable. I’ll have to try another vendor’s just for the sake of comparison. Thanks for the heads up.

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Tea habits:

Among my favorites are all teas Nepali, sheng puerh, Wuyi yancha, Taiwanese oolong, a variety of black (red) teas from all over, herbal tisanes. I keep a few green and white teas on hand. Shou puerh is a cold weather brew. Tiny teapots and gaiwans are my usual brewing vessels when not preparing morning cups western style and pouring into my work thermos. Friend of teabags.


Sonoma County, California, USA

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