379 Tasting Notes

95

Revisiting this tea after first trying it during my pre-gong fu “dark ages.” It definitely tastes different this time around. Part of it may be due to the variance in last year’s harvest, but ever since I adopted the gong fu approach – high leaf to water ratio and short steeps – my tea brewing has improved across the board. Japanese greens are no exception. I used to brew them the generic western style: a teaspoon per 8 oz of water for 1 minute or longer. But cutting steep times and doubling the leaf quantity really brings out their character.

This tea is very fragrant out of the bag. Wonderful sweet grass and fruity flavor. I begin by steeping 2g in a 150ml pot for 30s for the first infusion. This infusion packs a nice fruity punch. Reminds me of kamairicha but with warm grass in the background and umami. Texture in the mouth is like silk. The second infusion is a flash steep with water a tad cooler which produces a bright green liquor and deeper vegetal flavor as the fruitiness shifts to the background. Next 2 steeps are 40s and 55s at higher temperatures that give more of a standard sencha flavor with a good sweet/savory balance.

Teas like this are why Yuuki-Cha remains my favorite Japanese tea vendor. I really enjoyed the unique fruity-umami profile of this tea. It was a nice change of pace from the string of deep steamed senchas I’ve been drinking. Portioning out the 100g bag into foil zip pouches and refrigeration helped it retain a lot of freshness since I bought it over 4 months ago.

Flavors: Fruity, Sweet, warm grass, Umami

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 0 min, 30 sec 2 g 5 OZ / 150 ML
tanluwils

Love Yuuki-cha’s senchas. They were my first online tea vendor. Too bad they don’t sell any more teas from Shizuoka like they used to, though. I think the Uji one is their only tea from Honshu.

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90

This review is for the Autumn harvest laoshan bilochun.

Another solid Laoshan green from Verdant. This one is fruity and smooth. It’s got that signature laoshan soybean taste – which seems more pronounced in the autumn harvests – along with toasted grains and light herbaceous notes of cilantro and fennel. Nice full mouthfeel and moderately thick, brothy body. A tad on the savory side.

This is the 3rd bilochun from Verdant I’ve tried so far. The spring reserve laoshan bilochun was outstanding, one of the very best greens I’ve ever had actually. The regular spring harvest, at least year’s, was rather disappointing. This autumn harvest is right on par with Verdant’s other high quality green teas. That being said, I preferred the regular autumn laoshan tea to this one for its cleaner, more well rounded flavor.

Flavors: Coriander, Fennel, Soybean, Vegetable Broth

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec 3 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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72
drank Ye Lai Xiang Dancong by Verdant
379 tasting notes

Meh, this dan cong didn’t really do anything for me. The aromas were tantalizing but the flavor didn’t match up. The leaves were dark, lightly twisted ribbons with an orchid and chocolate malt aroma. Once steeped, the aroma changes to sandalwood, spices, and wet rocks. The brewed tea has a fairly generic dan cong taste profile. There’s a bit of honey, some spice, woodsiness, and roasted tones. A little fruitiness comes out as it cools. The roast on this tea is light and reminded me of a light baked Taiwanese Jin Xuan oolong. First couple of steeps were okay, but it quickly went flat and by the 4th steep, it was mostly woodsy and had a slight oily mouthfeel.

Flavors: Roasted, Spices, Wet Rocks, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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96

This is my 6th straight harvest of Shibi oolong from TTC and once again it’s a magnificent tasting tea. There are some interesting changes from last winter’s super tropical, pina colada-y harvest. This year’s crop is all about the intense florals which hit you as soon as you open the pouch.

Dry leaf smells of fresh vegetation, cream, and daffodils. Following a rinse, wildflowers and magnolia appear along with vanilla cream and citrus notes.

The tea liquor has a bright green color. First steep tastes of sweet grass and orchid, teasing the tongue with glimpses of what’s to come. Subsequent steeps reveal thick, luscious flowers, and a faint hint of coconut cream. As the steeps progress, it becomes fruitier, gaining a nice syrupy viscosity and honey-like sweetness. The longevity of this tea is astounding. It simply doesn’t want to quit. I can easily push it to over 10 rounds and still get great flavor.

One thing to note about this tea is you need to be gentle with it. I start off most green oolongs at 195 F or so and crank the heat to boiling within a few steeps. For this one, you want to stay in the 185-190 F range and carefully increase the heat to coax out the delicate flowery notes otherwise it punishes you with astringency.

Officially my favorite tea from TTC and one of my top 3 Taiwanese high mountain oolongs of all time.

Flavors: Flowers, Fruity

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 45 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 90 ML
teepland

Sounds like an amazing tea! I will have to try the lower temperatures with green oolongs to see if that helps maintain the flavor.

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77
drank Jin Guanyin by Verdant Tea
379 tasting notes

Backlog.

This one had characteristics of a milk oolong and a TGY. Lots of cream, dairy, and orchid like flavors. Thick mouthfeel and a very milky texture. There was a slight staleness to it but that didn’t detract from the flavor.

I steeped 3.5g in a 80ml gaiwan for 10s and then added 2s to subsequent steeps per Verdant’s instructions. The dry leaf smelled like cream, with some floral aromas similar with TGY. I detected hints of orchid, iris, and what seemed like lavender. Wet leaf had more of a vegetal aroma.

The tea starts of TGY like and then shifts to buttercream with vegetal tones. Mouthfeel is thick and creamy. By the 3rd steep settles into a milk oolong like taste.

Despite being a little stale, this tea was able to show a lot of natural milkiness and had a nice creamy taste and texture. Personally I thought this tea was kinda boring. I got tired of it after a handful of steeps due to the lack of flavor evolution in taste.

Flavors: Cream, Flowers, Milk

Preparation
Iced 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 0 OZ / 0 ML

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88

Second tea of my Taiwanese black tea sampler. The Sun Moon Lake T-18 was bust but this one did not disappoint. The long, graceful yancha like leaves are interspersed with orange twigs and smell like a mixture of cocoa, flowers, berries, and dark molasses. I brewed 3g in a 160ml teapot following my standard gongfu method for black teas: 30s initial infusion at boiling followed by flash steeps.

The first steep opened with sweet potato and then as it cooled, revealed chocolate and a hint of blackberries. Subsequent steeps were noticeably lighter. The second steep tasted of cocoa with overtones of vanilla bean and buttercream. The remaining 3 steeps were similar with prominent notes of berries, vanilla, and cream.

This was a mellow and tasty black tea that doesn’t hit you over the head with anything. The flavor profile was similar to some wuyi black and lapsang teas I’ve had. Enjoyable but doesn’t really set itself apart from other Chinese black teas.

Flavors: Berries, Cocoa, Cream, Molasses, Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 3 g 5 OZ / 160 ML
Daylon R Thomas

That still sounds good.

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97

Bought this back in June and finally got around to opening it now. I was a little worried that after nearly 8 months, it had lost freshness but my fears were unfounded. Like the regular laoshan black, this is a very chocolate focused tea. However the chocolate level here is much stronger. It’s like comparing hot cocoa to a luscious European dark chocolate bar. Not only is the flavor more robust, but it lasts through several more infusions than the regular grade and autumn laoshan gongfu black tea. The mouthfeel is smooth and well rounded. I gongfued this tea but I imagine it would be just as delicious grandpa steeped.

Flavors: Black Currant, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Smooth, Toasty

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 3 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

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78

So at long last, I finally got my hands on some duck shit oolong. I have long been intrigued by this funny sounding tea, but couldn’t bring myself to commit to a 50g bag. Thankfully I was able to get a sampler recently from Teavivre. The ability to sample any tea is another reason why I love this tea shop.

This tea has a honey-gardenia flavor profile. It’s on the greener end of the oolong spectrum but has an ever so subtle roast that brings out hints of warm spice, honey, and almond. I enjoyed the crispness and mellow florals of this tea. Mouthfeel is rich and buttery. However around the 4th steep, it began shifting to a more savory flavor. It develops a bit of pungency and leaves behind a leathery aftertaste.

I had mixed feelings about this tea. It starts off great, but eventually turns soup-like with some odd flavors. Nevertheless, as a green oolong lover the roast on this tea is on point. It retains the delicate flowery notes and has a caramel edge without ever tasting roasty. I’ll likely revisit this tea somewhere down the road, this time with a fresher batch and/or a higher grade of duck shit.

Flavors: Butter, Fruity, Gardenias, Honey, Leather

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
Evol Ving Ness

Yes, agreed. The ability to sample any of their teas speaks to both the generosity of the company and to the fact that they believe in the quality of their teas. There is so much to love about Teavivre.

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82

An interesting experimental batch from Verdant. This is their laoshan roasted oolong blended with osmanthus flowers. I’ve loved the osmanthus scented Taiwanese oolongs I’ve tried so far, but those were green oolongs. This blend is quite different from those floral-focused teas. It’s darker, more savory and the osmanthus plays a supporting role rather than a leading one.

I brewed this grandpa style. The tea appearance is black curled leaves interspersed with orange flecks of osmanthus. Upon sniffing, all sorts of interesting aromas pop out. I detect incense, eucalyptus, spice, and dark soy sauce. The taste is more akin to a laoshan black. There’s the signature chocolate note along with malt, osmanthus, and a hint of orange zest in the finish. As it continues steeping, the flavors begin to round out. The sweetness and osmanthus flavor grow stronger. Mouthfeel becomes soft and a tad oily. A hint of cinnamon spice dances in the background.

Though I enjoyed this tea, it wasn’t a favorite. The roasted notes of the laoshan oolong didn’t really play well with the osmanthus. I think a green or light roasted oolong would complement osmanthus flowers better.

Flavors: Chocolate, Mineral, Osmanthus, Spices

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62

Backlog.

Weird is how I would describe this tea. It’s got this strange wood and menthol taste that I found off-putting. No aroma in the dry leaf. Wet leaf smelled like Vicks Vaporub and had some darjeeling woodsiness. The first steep tasted exactly like how it smelled. As it cooled, the menthol lessened a bit and I tasted more of the woodsy, bug bitten flavor. The next two steeps had the same medicinal taste.

I gongfued this tea and could have kept going but decided to stop after the 3rd steep. I really disliked the minty/menthol taste which seemed all that this tea had to offer. There wasn’t any depth nor did the tea change from steep to steep.

I’ve heard great things about Taiwanese black tea so my experience here was a letdown. This was one of four black teas in my Taiwanese black tea sampler pack from TTC. Hoping I have better luck with the others.

Flavors: Menthol, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 3 g 5 OZ / 160 ML
Chrysostom

I’m a big fan of their Yuchi Wild Mountain Black

LuckyMe

Thanks for the recommendation. Luckily I’ve got that one in my sampler pack. Will be trying it next.

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Bio

95 to 100: Top shelf stuff. Loved this tea and highly recommend it

90 to 94: Excellent. Enjoyed this tea and would likely repurchase

80 to 89: Good but not great. I liked it though it may be lacking in some aspects. I’ll finish it but probably won’t buy

70 to 79: Average at best. Not terrible but wouldn’t willingly drink again

60 to 69: Sub-par. Low quality tea, barely palatable

59 and below: Bleh

Fell into tea years ago, and for a long time my experience was limited to Japanese greens and a few flavored teas. My tea epiphany came a few years ago when I discovered jade oolongs. That was the gateway drug to the world of fine tea and teaware.

With the exception of a handful of lightly scented teas, I drink mostly straight tea. I love fresh green and floral flavors and as such, green tea and Taiwanese oolongs will always have a place in my cupboard. After avoiding black tea forever, Chinese blacks are beginning to grow on me. I’ve dipped my toe into a few puerhs now but it’s still relatively new territory for me. I also enjoy white tea and tisanes but reach for them less frequently.

Other non-tea interests include: cooking, reading, nature, MMA, traveling when I can, and of course putzing around on the interwebs.

IG: https://www.instagram.com/melucky

Location

Chicago

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