Before sitting down to write this review, I found myself wondering “whatever happened to the Xingyang Collective?” When Verdant Tea first started offering products from this enigmatic team of teamakers in November 2015, their work seemed to catch on quickly with fans of Verdant’s offerings. Then all of a sudden, it seemed like all of their products went out of stock. For a short while, it even seemed like there was no active listing for Xingyang on Verdant’s website. It was strange to me that all of their products were out of stock. I really liked several of the Xingyang offerings, and I was a little dismayed at the thought of not being able to procure them again. Fortunately, it appears that I was worried over nothing. Verdant’s listing for Xingyang is once again active and it looks like they have a few products in stock. I’m guessing that’s a good sign. Hopefully more will follow. If they bring this green tea back, I’m snagging as much of it as I can.
I didn’t have much of this tea with which to start. I only had a 5 gram sample packet left in the cupboard, and since I had yet to post a review for this tea, I used that for this session. I prepared this tea gongfu style. Note that I am not really comfortable gongfuing green tea, but I still wanted to give it a shot. I started with a 10 second steep in 4 ounces of 175 F water. I followed this initial infusion with 9 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 20 seconds, 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 3 minutes, and 4 minutes. Obviously, I could have timed these better. That would have allowed me to stretch out this session a little more, but the results I obtained from the method detailed above were still very pleasing to me.
I did not get much of an aroma from the dry tea leaves. All I got was a kind of mildly grassy, vegetal scent. Truthfully, the first infusion wasn’t much better in terms of aroma. I got a more pronounced grassiness, but that was about it. In the mouth, there were mild notes of grass, hay, straw, oats, cream, malt, and green beans. The next 4 infusions were a different story. The vegetal, grassy aroma was more focused and pronounced. I could now pick up on malt and oatmeal scents, as well as a strong aroma of citrus. In the mouth, the grass, hay, straw, green bean, oat, malt, and cream notes were joined by a strong flavor of tangerine and a hint of lime zest. At this point, I noticed that Verdant’s tasting note for this tea was very accurate, though I was not picking up any hints of basil. The next couple of infusions added a pronounced chestnut aroma and flavor. I thought I detected a hint of hazelnut as well. The final infusions were mostly nutty, grassy, and malty with undertones of cream and citrus as well as a hint of minerals. I also detected a trace of corn husk in the aroma and flavor at this point.
This was nice. For some reason, I did not go into this session with high expectations, but ended up very pleased with my experience with this tea. I found it to be very unique, but also very approachable. The unexpected citrus aromas and flavors were great. I do not usually expect such a pronounced fruity quality from a green tea. I also loved how this tea added new aromas and flavors over the course of the session before mellowing and fading. It had a pleasant depth, but also did not overstay its welcome. Honestly, I would recommend this tea to anyone looking for an everyday green tea with a unique, unexpected mix of aromas and flavors.
Flavors: Chestnut, Citrus, Corn Husk, Cream, Grass, Green Beans, Hay, Hazelnut, Lime, Malt, Mineral, Oats, Straw