Still trying to get the hang of brewing black tea. I’m finding my usual lazy method of 1 tsp of tea for 3 minutes doesn’t work for every tea. I western steeped this tea my first couple of sessions and it was a total fail. The smell alone was enough to trigger my gag reflex. Some teas are designed for gongfu and this is one of them.

I eventually decided to follow Verdant’s method and steeped 3.6g of leaf in a 160ml pot using water just off the boil. First steep was for 15s and I added 10s to each subsequent steep. On the nose, there’s a faint aroma of vanilla and smoke. The wet leaf is smokey cacao nibs. Like most of Verdant’s blacks, this tea has a wonderful rich chocolate flavor that early on coats your entire mouth with its sweet lusciousness. I detected notes of bread and unusual fruity overtones that I could’t quite place. I would describe them as overripe fruit. Verdant’s tasting notes for this are all over the place…berries, rose, angel food cake, buttercream, turkish delight, etc.. Mayyybe. I find their tasting profile can be a stretch sometimes. The only one of their descriptors I could pick out was a hint of buttercream frosting in the finish.

This was an interesting black tea. It started with an intense chocolate explosion and went on to develop a distinct, complex flavor that evolved with each steeping. That said, some of the flavors in this tea weren’t quite up my alley. Glad I got to try it, but I still prefer the Classic Laoshan black tea.

Flavors: Butter, Dark Chocolate, Fruity, Smoke, Vanilla

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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My Rating Criteria:

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 again

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 many years ago and for a long time my experience was limited to Japanese greens and flavored Teavana teas. My tea epiphany happened when I discovered jade oolongs. That was my gateway drug to the world of high quality tea and teaware.

For the most part, I drink straight tea but do appreciate a good flavored tea on occasion. 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 have started to grow on me. I’m less enthusiastic about puerh though. I also enjoy white tea and tisanes but reach for them less frequently.

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

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


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