Verdant tea – spring 2012 Laoshan Dragonwell style green
I received this in a very generous swap from Autumn Hearth. As much as I love Dragonwells, I know that this one is special, and so I decidedly didn’t drink it until I had a chance to sit down and really savor it (especially since it’s no longer available).
Upon opening the little envelope, I’m struck by how thin the leaves are, and how pure the olive-green color is. The scent is similar to that of snow peas or sugar snap peas. It’s somehow very rich.
I might be a bit stingy with my leaf, but I don’t have a scale and I want this to last as long as possible. I tip a little bit into the tasting cup, just enough to mostly cover the bottom. I figure that’s enough.
I ruined the first steep, at least according to David’s suggested guidelines. I forgot that I left my tasting bowl at home, and only brought the brewing vessel. In my search for an appropriate substitute, I pulled out one of my Amsterdam teacups. This is about the same size as the bowl, and has about the same rim thickness (important to me). But then as I began pouring, I realized it was pink. Oh no. Scrambled around and found my English teacup – white ceramic inside, but a very thin rim. What I’m going to do is decant into the English and then pour into the Amsterdam to drink. Messy, but I think this is better. But in all my scrambling around for cups, I let it steep about ~7-10s, instead of his recommended 3.
First steep: ~7s. The liquor is almost white. There’s a barely-noticeable ecru (how’s that for color vocabulary?) tinge to it. It tastes sort of like the way grass smells after there’s been a rainstorm, or very early in the morning when you’re crossing a field covered in dew. Although the tea is hot, the taste is a “cold” taste.
Second steep: 3s. The liquor is lighter than the previous steep, and I feel this is as it ought to be. Very, very pale; hardly distinguishable color. The scent is definitely green, almost a sort of baby spinach note. The taste is perfectly replicated in the aroma. It’s definitely a very light tea, but the flavor is fully developed. Although it’s delicate, I don’t feel as though I’m missing anything.
Third steep: 3s. The liquor is the same color as the previous steep. I’m getting the taste of the peas I smelled in the leaves.
I looked inside at the leaves lying limp in the tasting cup. They are a bright green olive color. It’s really cool how I can see the plant itself: many of the leaves consist of two leaves and a stem.
Fourth steep: 7s. As I poured this from the brewing vessel into the teacup, one tiny leaf attached to a stem slipped into the cup and swam around like a little fish. It’s currently floating, stem at the surface of the water and the tip of the leaf just barely standing on the bottom. On a couple sips, I get a very strong sweetness, kind of like a floral honey. But it’s elusive, and I don’t taste it often. One touch and it’s gone.
As I finish the cup I take the leaf that is floating in the bottom out. It is perfectly formed, with the leaf spreading out from where it is almost folded into the stem. It’s oval-shaped with a pointed end, and maybe half an inch long. I’ve never seen a tea leaf like this. It feels smooth and rubbery and delicately veined. It is fully expanded from its time spent stewing in the cup, unlike its still-folded brethren in the brewing vessel
Fifth steep: 10s. The liquor is still white. I love this. It’s beautiful. I’m getting more and more of that elusive honeysuckle. Good
Sixth steep: 13s. There’s something really sweet surrounding this, like a nut that’s been dipped in chocolate. Only it’s sort of a grass that’s been dipped in honey
I’m going to end this review here, as I’m already at six hundred plus words.. but know that this is one phenomenal tea. I don’t have much from Verdant because really I always want to give them the respect they deserve, and I’m often running around like a madman, but I want to do an order soon (when I start working again.. heh) and get a variety of teas, maybe in one ounce sizes so that I do have teas that will stand up well to this sort of extended session.