As those of you who read my reviews know, I am a huge fan of Verdant Tea’s He Family Collection of teas. These teas originate from Laoshan in Shandong Province, and at least in my opinion, comprise an astoundingly consistent and tasty collection of green, black, and oolong teas. While the oolongs tend to be my favorites, the black teas are not far behind. This particular black tea is is actually the first picking of the He family’s regular Laoshan Black from 2015. I picked up a 5 g sample of this tea as part of a recent Verdant order. I wanted to see how it compared to the 2015 Autumn Laoshan Black I enjoyed so much.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. For this session, I followed Verdant’s suggested brewing method to the letter. I initially steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 10 seconds. I followed this infusion up with 10 additional infusions, with an increase of 8 seconds per infusion. The steep times for them were as follows: 10 seconds, 18 seconds, 26 seconds, 34 seconds, 42 seconds, 50 seconds, 58 seconds, 66 seconds, 74 seconds, 82 seconds, and 90 seconds.

After the initial infusion, the liquor showed a clear, dark amber in the cup. I easily detected a rich aroma of cocoa underscored by cream, toasted almond, and black cherry. In the mouth, delicate notes of cocoa, cream, malt, caramel, toasted almond, and black cherry washed across the palate. Subsequent infusions saw the malt, cream, and almond notes increase in strength, as well as hints of minerality begin to emerge. The last 3 infusions heavily emphasized mineral, caramel, and cream flavors, though the tea never fully lost its nutty, chocolaty character.

Honestly, I am a little perplexed by some of the ridiculously high ratings for this tea. I just can’t seem to muster as much enthusiasm for it as a number of previous reviewers. It’s not that this is a bad tea or anything, it just seems a little bland to me. Understand that this is coming from not only a huge fan of Verdant’s Laoshan teas, but also someone who adored the regular 2015 Autumn Laoshan Black. While this tea is smoother than the regular Laoshan Black, it is neither as deep nor as complex. Again, it’s not bad, though I was expecting so much more from it.

Flavors: Almond, Caramel, Cherry, Cocoa, Cream, Malt, Mineral

Boiling 5 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.



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