This was one of those teas that I strongly suspected would be a bummer before I ever bothered to motivate myself to try it. Unfortunately for me, however, I promised Liquid Proust that I would review this tea back around December of 2016 and knew that I would have to follow through at some point. Today I finally got to a point where I could no longer stand seeing this sample every time I opened my big tea cabinet, and since I had the day off work due to illness, decided that I may as well get it over with. L.P., should you see this review, better late than never, right? Just so you know, I did not care for this one either.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a fairly standard rinse (about 10-15 seconds), I steeped my full 5 gram sample in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 18 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 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, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes. I definitely did not stick to Verdant’s brewing guide here. I treated this more like the other teas I have been drinking lately, starting with very short steeps and steadily working my way up to extended infusions.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted funky, herbal, vegetal aromas. It was like a mixture of camphor, menthol, and tulsi on the nose. I could just barely detect a vague hint of citrus too. After the rinse, the bouquet turned very vegetal. I could pick out aromas that reminded me of seaweed, spinach, and pickled cabbage. The first proper infusion introduced a slightly smoky element to the nose and more fruitiness, as a touch of smoke quickly gave way to a combination of bitter orange, tart cherry, and sour apricot. In the mouth, the tea liquor/soup was immediately tart and rather briny. Funky vegetal notes that reminded me of a combination of cooked spinach, collard greens, pickled cabbage, and tulsi were underscored by a hint of seaweed. The finish allowed for the brief emergence of sour apricot and tart citrus as well as unexpected hints of cream and butter. Subsequent infusions saw the nose turn fruitier, gentler, and more floral. I noted stronger cream and butter notes in the mouth to accompany new impressions of dill, damp grass, mustard greens, malt, minerals, sea salt, green wood, moss, cooked lettuce, wet stones, sour plum, and honey. I also began to note a definite note of smoke, more clearly defined bitter orange and apricot notes, and belatedly emerging flavors of tart cherry, camphor, and menthol. Floral notes of jasmine, osmanthus, and gardenia struck quickly and disappeared just as quickly. Verdant’s tasting note suggested that I should also have been noting sticky rice and candied pomelo impressions, but I never found either. The later infusions presented thin notes of minerals and brine underscored by fleeting impressions of citrus, apricot, tulsi, seaweed, and cooked leaf vegetables with perhaps barely perceptible hints of tart cherry and menthol here and there.

As always I was able to pick out a ton of aroma and flavor components, but I have to reiterate what I said earlier and opine that this tea was not worth it. First off, there is no way in Hell this was produced from a 1300 year old tree or whatever it was they were claiming. That just does not happen and we should all know that by now. Marketing b.s. aside, this tea had a lot going on in it, but none of what it offered was particularly unique or compelling. The tea started off super vegetal, offered a rush of new flavors that did not stand out much from the vegetal murk, and then faded quickly. By the end of my review session, everything the tea offered had been muddled together for so long that it was more a pain in the ass and less a delightful challenge to try to pick out individual sensations. To add insult to injury, the previously unmentioned thin, slight, watery body and near lifeless mouthfeel of the tea liquor made this tea seem even more drab and unappealing. After it was all said and done, I hastily concluded that I would never go near this tea again, and thankfully I do not ever have to. I wouldn’t recommend this one to anyone.

Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Camphor, Cherry, Cream, Dill, Gardenias, Grass, Green Wood, Honey, Jasmine, Lettuce, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Moss, Orange, Osmanthus, Plums, Salt, Seaweed, Smoke, Spinach, Tulsi, Vegetal, Wet Rocks

205 °F / 96 °C 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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