I’m still killing off these oolong samples from Verdant. I forgot I had a few of these. This was one of several special release Tieguanyins from Master Zhang’s Collection a couple months ago. It was billed as approximating the aroma of tea flowers.

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, 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 heavily floral aromas resembling a mixture of chrysanthemum, honeysuckle, gardenia, and tea flower coupled with scents of vanilla, cream, sweetgrass, and a touch of pine. After the rinse, scents of marigold and honey emerged alongside what I can only describe as watercress. The first infusion again produced a heavily floral aroma underscored by vegetal, savory characteristics. In the mouth, I detected a blend of vanilla, cream, butter, honeysuckle, gardenia, tea flower, chrysanthemum, pine needles, watercress, and sweetgrass. Subsequent infusions saw the honey and marigold arrive on the palate, while aromas and flavors of hay, soybean, snow pea, clover, orchid, sweet pea, and minerals expressed themselves at one point or another. The later infusions were mostly savory and vegetal, offering dominant mineral notes balanced by vanilla, cream, butter, honey, pine, watercress, and sweetgrass with just a touch of distant, indistinct floral character in the background.

This was a pleasant, easy-sipping Tieguanyin with a good deal of character. It reminded me of a more robust version of the Spring 2016 Tieguanyin, but with significantly more complexity. What made it so appealing for me was that despite the heaviness of the floral presence, there was enough going on aside from that to keep the tea from coming off as one-dimensional.

Flavors: Butter, Cream, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Hay, Honey, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Orchid, Peas, Pine, Soybean, Vanilla, Vegetal

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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