I’m still working through the oolongs I have acquired in recent months. This is one of my more recent purchases from Verdant and it has not been in my collection all that long, so I know it is still fresh. I’m beginning to notice that Verdant’s teas are very hit or miss for me, although the hits (Reserve Tieguanyin, Autumn Tieguanyin, Huang Jin Gui, Mao Xie, Autumn Laoshan Green, First Picking Shi Feng Dragonwell, Dark Roast 10 Year Aged Tieguanyin, Yunnan White Jasmine, and Laoshan Green Oolong) far outnumber the outright misses (Qianjiazhai Wild Picked Yunnan Black, Zi Mu Dan). Unfortunately, this tea was another miss for me.
I prepared this tea using the gongfu method outlined on the Verdant Tea website. I did, however, make one necessary modification. I used the same small gaiwan I used for the Mao Xie to brew this tea, so I adjusted the amount of tea I used (approximately 5-6 grams for the 4 ounce gaiwan). If I were to guess, I would say I probably used closer to 6 grams of loose leaves rather than 5. The tea was steeped for 10 seconds in 208 F water initially. This infusion was followed by subsequent infusions at 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, and 24 seconds. I know that some people recommend that you try to get a minimum of 10-12 steeps out of Tieguanyin, but I rarely have the time, so I just end my sessions when I feel it is necessary. In the case of this tea, I chose not to press forward because I really wasn’t all that excited about where it was going.
At first, the tea presents a slight, but lovely aroma of flowers (orchid, violet, lilac, rose, jasmine), cream, custard, and vanilla. The initial infusions display a delicate, subtle combination of rose, orchid, violet, lilac, jasmine, cream, custard, and vanilla notes underpinned by a faint minerality. Later infusions see the floral notes fade, as the cream, custard, vanilla, and mineral notes are joined by subtle flavors of butter, hay, and grass. I did not pick up the almond, tangerine, or sweet snap pea notes described by the folks at Verdant. I mostly got flowers, cream, custard, vanilla, and minerals with butter, grass, and hay.
If the autumn harvest of Tieguanyin is the most robust and flavorful, then it stands to reason that the spring harvests are probably much less so. If that is the case, then my experience with this particular tea is not an anomaly. I generally love Tieguanyin, but this one did not move me in the least. It is so light and delicate that it is hard for me to muster much of a reaction to it. I know that quite a few people really liked this tea, but I just don’t see the appeal. I feel like its lightness and simplicity forced me to work so hard to figure out what is going on flavorwise that I didn’t really get the opportunity to enjoy it. That feeling coupled with my opinion that the tea doesn’t really offer any surprises over the course of a session (I did not notice any significant changes in aroma or flavor with each subsequent infusion, just a steady and prolonged fade) leaves me unimpressed. At one point I even noted that drinking this was like drinking spring air. That may seem like something, but I don’t mean it as a compliment. I mean that this tea was so light that it seemed to lack substance. In essence, I went looking for some depth and character with this tea, and quite frankly, did not find enough to suit me. Maybe I expected too much or maybe I missed the point entirely. I’ll leave that for anyone who reads this review to decide.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Custard, Floral, Grass, Hay, Jasmine, Mineral, Orchid, Rose, Vanilla, Violet