39 Tasting Notes
On the upside, this is a super complex tea. The first steeping has a caramel-like sweetness (not anything close to maple, as the Song site indicates), hints of the coconutty vibe their aged version of the same tea has + a very curious flavor I can only describe as “artificial banana”. Later steepings bring in floral elements, whiskey-like tones, and more woody notes. The downside is that it’s a fairly bitter brew, even when steeped to the letter of Song instructions: 1 minute first steep, 2 minute second, etc.
I’d give this about an 80 were it not for the bitterness and faux banana flavor. But those really knock it down considerably.
Flavors: banana, Caramel, Floral, Whiskey, Wood
A fairly floral aroma and a bit of a stonefruit taste. Nice mineral notes. There’s an aged quality to the flavor, too, despite the date of picking being May 2015. Not much of a finish. All-around a nice tea. Reminds me a bit of phoenix oolongs, though more subdued.
Flavors: Earth, Mineral, Stonefruit
This tea has earned my lowest marks ever, as it almost tastes like nothing. I mean there’s subtlety and then there’s flavorlessness. This was essentially flavorless. The scent is that of a nice green oolong, but it came off as little more than hot water on the palate.
On subsequent tastings with it, I nearly doubled the recommended amount of tea. Then I got some light vegetal notes. I shouldn’t have to steep $4 worth of tea leaves in a little water in order to taste something. I have plenty of other teas that could blow my mind for the same price, whether they’re robust aged teas or dainty whites.
Intensely boring. Verdant’s site says it’s supposed to taste of orange, orchid and vanilla. I get little more than indiscernible wafts of flavor + some minerality. By no means unpleasant, there’s just almost nothing to this tea. Perhaps stored or shipped poorly and degraded in flavor? I don’t know.
Pleasant. Perhaps a bit too far toward the green end of the spectrum for my tastes. But I love the flavor of golden raisins and apple in this. It reminds me of certain Darjeelings, yet more robust and less floral. Can’t say I’d want to drink it all that often, but it’s nice.
Flavors: Apple, Grain, Green, Raisins
The steeped leaves smell like cheap chocolate and cranberries. Yet the steeped tea itself smells like orange-flavored cheap chocolate. The mouthfeel is smooth, but I can’t get over how much it smells like a cheap European candy that’s been going stale a store shelf for the last 2 years. But hey, if that isn’t what’s conjured up for you by this tea, then you might really like it. Certainly, one of the smoothest and least overwhelming black teas I’ve ever had.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cranberry, Orange
For such an affordable tea, I wasn’t expecting much, but it’s very nice. To me, it smelled a bit milky, and there was a cinnamon quality to it, too. Definite minerality and a little bit of a woody note. Not quite to the heights of the “old tree” variant of the same tea from Verdant, but it’s good stuff.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Milk, Mineral, Wood
According to Verdant’s site, this is supposed to have creamy and floral notes. It does. In fact, it smells and tastes quite a bit like a Taiwanese Dong Ding / Tung Ting — likely because it’s the same variety used to make Dong Dig and because it’s grown at a similar elevation. The problem is that it’s a like a timid version of them, perhaps due to being a fairly green oolong. So I’d far rather have one of those Formosa oolongs than this.
Flavors: Floral, Milk
The scent of the steeped tea is almost like a cologne. When I drink it, I get the obvious minerality and smoky/woody tones – almost like pu’er, yet not. Then comes the sweetness and notes of maple syrup and brown sugar. The long finish continues with the cologne-like/perfumey and maple tones. It’s an extraordinary oolong.
It’s my tea pairing for traditional American waffles.
Flavors: Maple Syrup, Mineral, Smoke, Wood
As black teas go, this is pretty nice. The scent is just a classic black, but the flavor gives hints of chocolate and orange. By no means pronounced, those notes still add more dimension than most blacks have. I’d be interested to see what would happen if the same leaves were made into an oolong.
Flavors: Chocolate, Malt, Orange