368 Tasting Notes
Still working my way through November’s TotM leaves (they come near the end of the month now, rather than mid-month, so it “feels” behind at the moment until I get used to this schedule).
I remember when this was one of the “reserve” release teas about half a year ago and I’m excited to see this is now part of Verdant’s day to day offerings.
This is a delightfully light and complex wuyi. There’s very little roast here and yet it doesn’t drift all the way into tieguanyin-like floweriness. There’s some bright floral notes, but it is the wet stone which still dominates.
There is a beautiful smooth thickness and a long finish which ends in a kind of almond spiciness rather than the flowers which is very pleasant.
The wet leaf and cup aroma are very powerful for an oolong tea.
Flavors: Almond, Floral, Mineral
Again, had over the weekend as one of the November TotM samples, and so it will have to wait until second tasting for detailed notes.
But the one thing that stood out was how floral this rock oolong was. Not a tieguanyin by any stretch, no. Nothing like that.
But compared to Big Red Robe, or to the Mei Zhan it definitely had a flower thing going on.
Flavors: Floral, Mineral, Roasted
This came as one of the TotM samples for November, along with four other wuyi style oolongs that I look forward to reviewing.
I tasted this one over the weekend so I don’t have formal notes. I provide those next time.
But I will at least say that this one caused the wife to suddenly say “you know, I’m realizing I really like these rock oolong teas”. She’s a serious tea drinker, but also “likes what she likes” and doesn’t try too many wild and crazy things, so finding a new category she knows can be a go-to is a big deal for her.
We’re looking forward to all these samples.
(there was a listing for the 1st picking, but my bag doesn’t say so I assume it is not the same leaf, so I made a new entry)
This is almost indistinguishable from a longjing (dragon well) tea, which I suppose is the point. The leaf is a bit darker green than most longjing I’ve seen, and a bit smaller, but the effect is the same.
The cup has less apparent roast than a longjing, however. It is much more vegetal and grassy. I’m indicating “mint” as a tasting note but only because there is a cooling kind of astringency at the finish on later steeps which reminds me of mint, but it certainly isn’t a “minty” flavor on the tea.
Flavors: Grass, Mint, Vegetal
Yet another of the new tieguanyin offerings from Verdant via the Liu Family.
This one really works for me. In general, I’m not a huge fan of tieguanyin teas. Too floral for me. And too many times a venue (like a Chinese restaurant) has offered me “oolong” tea, and I’m expecting wuyi, and I end up with a mug of flowers.
But this? The age brings out that mineral oolong thing, and mutes the floral while retaining a lot of sweetness. I could see this becoming a leaf I keep in the pantry pretty regularly as a slightly softer alternative to Da Hong Pao.
Flavors: Orchid, Peas, Vanilla, Wet Rocks
I use an extremely fine screen when dealing with any tea that is either (a) not whole leaf or (b) very broken or dusty.
And yet, this tea still manages to fill my cup with things which then stick in my teeth. I have no clue how they can be small enough to get through the screen and then big enough to be visible along my gums, but there it is.
Also, it clumps into itself very badly and clogs my yixing spout so that I end up with a lot of overly long steeps because it is taking longer to pour the water out of the pot than I actually want the length of the steep to be. This results in “burning out” the leaf in too few a number of overall steeps.
I bought this tea specifically for convenience over picking apart an actual brick of pu-erh and it has been the precise opposite.
I don’t recommend this tea unless you’re going to cold brew it and strain the result through cheese cloth.
Flavors: Decayed wood, Earth, Loam
Another new leaf from Verdant’s partner the Liu Family.
This is even more disarming than the big red robe tieguanyin was.
Starts out like a very soft black tea, and by the 10th steep or so, suddenly you’re drinking tieguanyin with its bright, floral notes.
Very exciting to see these kinds of experiments happening.
Flavors: Cocoa, Floral, Malt
(Sorry, couldn’t help that)
Our tea-of-the-month arrived yesterday and lo! A great variety of new teas from Verdant’s partner, the Liu Family. Very excited to go through them all here. I drink, and have drunk, a lot of Da Hong Pao. It is a flavor profile I know well. Heck, I have a purion pot just for big red robe oolongs. So a unique new twist on this personal favorite should be fun.
The leaf looks and smells for all the world like Da Hong Pao. Long, lightly twisted deep brown with rusty highlights and that cocao & cedar wood aroma. The wet leaf is malty.
It is in the cup where it kind of ceases to be big red robe. This cup is soft and warm and lacks the mineral sharpness of Da Hong Pao. All the obvious notes are here, but there’s a backbone that big red robe presents strongly which isn’t here — which isn’t to say that’s a bad thing, it’s just obvious what this tea is and what it isn’t.
There is a very subtle drying astringency at the long finish which is pleasant. There is some, but not much, hui gan at the back of the throat.
Flavors: Cedar, Cocoa, Malt, Wet Rocks
I’ve been enjoying this tea all week “grandpa style”. Loose leaf in the bottom of a deep, glass mug, and just keep adding hot water as it runs out. Eventually all the leaf sinks out of the way so you can drink easily, but my dentist makes me use a glass straw so that she doesn’t lose 30 minutes of her life every six months scrubbing tea stains off my tea, so I can just dive right in and not worry about that. Shi feng is a great tea for drinking this way. It really has to sit in the same water for a long time before it starts to seem over steeped.
Brewed this way I get a very soft, round, thick, almost sweet cup. There’s a long finish which transitions to a drying astringency, a bit like sautéed mature spinach.
The “flavors” list doesn’t let me indicate “buckwheat” which is what I really mean by wheat.
Flavors: Artichoke, Broccoli, Kettle Corn, Wheat
Opening the dry leaf, and getting a nose full, then while preparing my rinse and smelling again, my brain is shouting “wait… this isn’t sheng?” But, when you consider that the sheng Verdant sells also comes from Qianjiazhai, perhaps that’s not a complete shock.
However, as I slurp my way into the first steep, it becomes clear that there’s no age on this leaf. Light, floral and completely lacking any of the thick maltiness of the zhu rong I had this morning, this may be leaf fit to become sheng, but it is not sheng.
The hui gan here is at the front of the mouth only. Heavy coming to the gums from the palate but only running back if I swallow.
Later steepings bring out melon notes.
Highly recommend this tea as a “gate way” leaf for introducing people to sheng pu-erh.
Flavors: Garden Peas, Jasmine, Lemongrass, Melon