409 Tasting Notes


New verdant monthly order! I’ve gotten pretty bad about logging my teas lately, but it’s been a lot of laoshan green at the office, mostly. This is a lovely experimental black tea, more robustly flavored than the Yu Lu Yan Cha (my only complaint there is its subtlety), but a similar flavor profile to both than and Laoshan black – chocolate, caramel, cream, but also a roasty flavor like dark ooolong to give it strength where those others fade away.

Anyone who likely Wuyi oolong and black teas should give this a try, or if you like Laoshan black but just wish it had more staying power.

My gaiwan is tiny (I was gifted with a pair for Christmas, both hold about 3oz)so I only used half a 5g packed on this, and plan to mix the other shortly with the chai spice mix that was this month’s 3rd tea. This is a lovely warming, hearty trio for the cold winter!

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drank Earl of Anxi by Verdant Tea
409 tasting notes

This has really come to be one of my favorite blends, so I’m bumping the rating a little. I love how the bergamot flavor melds with the buttery oolong and sweet jasmine and goji. The frankincense and saffron add a background complexity. It’s just a really pleasing tea, and I like how the flavors change on re-steeping as well – more citrus and fruit.

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I got my first Tea of the Month box from Verdant today! I already have some of the other two (Silver Buds Yabao and Golden Fleece), but am happy to have more, and this one was entirely new. And entirely unique! The dry leave is very pretty, large flakes off of what was clearly a cake, silvery white and green and some almost black.

The early steeps were more like a normal, if strong and complex, white tea – floral, smooth, mouth-filling. I’ve steeped about a dozen times now though, and it’s getting quite dark and caramelly as I let it steep longer. It’s like a cross between white tea and roasted oolong, or yunnan buds. I can see why this was paired with the Golden Fleece, the later steeps are quite similar. But this is more vegetal – I’m definitelygetting the winter squash flavors.

Very interesting!

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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drank Chance Combinations by Custom
409 tasting notes

I’ve been down with a cold for most of a week now, on the upswing (I think), so tonight we’re going from tea to hot toddies. This one started with a cup of Harney’s Decaf Hot Cinnamon Spice, then got a spoonful of honey, a dash of Apple Pie liqueur, and a large splash of apple cider. Good for soothing the throat and clearing the sinuses!

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Oh wow, as soon as I poured water over these leaves I got a huge waft of juicy fruit – pineapple! Maybe kiwi? A dash of carmelized sugar, or dark honey. The flavor does not disappoint either. I used the first steep to rinse, and have made 3 more so far.

This doesn’t fit neatly into my categories of dark and light roasted oolongs, but I’m pretty ok with having to expand my classifications :P This doesn’t have the heavy, nutty, dry, roasted flavor Iget from Formosa oolongs, but neither is it buttery and vegetal like a green one. It has the floral notes of a Tie Guan Yin, but then shifts to honey, fruit and incense.

It is getting a little toasty in later steeps (10 now), but still lots of sweet incense and dark fruit now, like cherries or blackberry pie. Aftertaste is very much like pineapple! Sweet, but also has that enzymatic tingle.

I have a bad habit of forgetting my gongfu teas through the day, so to make sure I got all 18(!) steeps out of this one, I alternated making a cup to drink, and immediately making another cup that I poured into a jar to chill and drink iced later! So I actually got to taste the later steeps this time :) and I’m glad I did, because it started getting rather like a pasty, with flavors of grain and butter.

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drank Chocolate Chai by Rishi Tea
409 tasting notes

I got this with a chai sampler awhile back, and it’s been sitting in my cupboard because I liked the vanilla mint one much better. This one I recall being very spicy, yet a bit weak in flavor overall. But now, after the great pu’erh blends I’ve been having from Verdant lately, I thought it might be quite good with a little beefing up. I added about half a teaspoon of Maiden’s Ecstasy – a loose shu pu’er from Samovar – to a couple teaspoons of the chai. MUCH better! Now this has actual body and heft, but I can still taste all the chocolate/coconut/spice from the chai. This is very warming, now, and good for a cold windy day.

200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 30 sec

That sounds really good!


I would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind playing with their blends _

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Smells like honey, and a bit of sweet potato. This really tastes a lot like the sweet potatoes I had at Thanksgiving last week – they were pureed with butter and spices and probably some brown sugar. So good! The tea also has an astringent bite on the very front, that quickly smooths out into a honeyed sweetness.

I’m drinking this one at work, western style, but I feel better and better about the decision to rechisten my one little yixing pot for yunnan black teas, as time goes on. They have such variety, and nuance, and have really become my standby tea over the last couple of years. Of course, I’m almost out of a them at the moment, but that’s just an excuse to buy more :D

2 level tsp leaf, 8 oz water, 4 steeps

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Some notes on ratings:

I’d have separate rating scales for tea types if that were possible (probably Black, Flavored Black, Darjeeling/Dark Oolong, White/Green/Light Oolong, and Herbal) because the flavors and quality markers are just too different. A flavored black rated 100 isn’t better than every oolong I’ve ever drunk, just delicious for a flavored black.

Ratings are a combination of my enjoyment and the perceived quality – I do often demote teas a few points for artificial flavorings, small quantity of steeps supported, or weakness of flavor (requiring extra leaf).

I pay less attention to the number than the order of my ratings; I don’t necessarily keep a stock of everything rated 80+, but if two breakfast blends are rated 82 and 84 I consistently enjoy the 84 more.

And in case it’s not obvious? I am not an expert. I don’t even know what I like until I taste it sometimes, but I’m ok with that :) I like learning to like new teas, as well as enjoying the comfort of familiar ones.


Boston, MA



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