Spring 2016 Laoshan Black

Tea type
Black Tea
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Cherry, Dark Chocolate, Peat, Smoke, Spicy, Wood, Bread, Burnt Sugar, Chocolate, Cocoa, Nutty, Burnt, Caramel, Honey, Yeast
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Loose Leaf
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Edit tea info Last updated by Ben Marcus-Willers (馬維彬)
Average preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 6 oz / 164 ml

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10 Tasting Notes View all

From Verdant Tea

The 2016 spring harvest of the He Family’s black tea is fed by Laoshan’s famously sweet mountain spring water and oxidized in the sun for three days before finishing to bring out rich chocolate notes. The He family are true pioneers in their tea community, and their Laoshan Black is a labor of love out to prove how incredible teas from Northern China can be. The harsh 2015/16 winter killed many established tea plants in Laoshan, pushing back the classic spring harvests & yielding sweeter teas.

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10 Tasting Notes

13935 tasting notes

All done! Yay for drinking tea on vacation!

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For a key to my rating scale, check out my bio.

A great daily drinker, very interesting combination of flavors. Much more woody spiciness than most black teas, along with a distinct but subtle peat smoke note (like Islay scotch). Prunes, dried cherries, and dark chocolate are also present, but I would call this mostly a woody / spicy black. Enjoyable and quite affordable at $0.18/g USD.

Flavors: Cherry, Dark Chocolate, Peat, Smoke, Spicy, Wood

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 6 OZ / 175 ML

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144 tasting notes

BigDaddy graciously had my wife and I join him for this session. This was a real treat. The dried leaves smell like velvety dark chocolate. True artistry went into the processing of these leaves. Wet leaves have a thick aroma of stewed peaches, milk chocolate, and roasted walnuts. It brewed a clear orange tea soup with a thick, velvety texture. I was impressed the aroma was carried over into the tea soup.

The initial steeps are highly floral and fruity with hints of maple, vanilla bean, and chocolate in the background. These background notes moved to the front, competing with the ripe peach, apricot, and floral notes for my attention. I could smell the fragrance while the tea sat in my mouth. Syrup-like viscosity continued with each steep without showing signs of waning until the 9th steep. This is something to set some time aside for and really savor.


Lucky you!


Door is always open


I think we are due a tea meeting one day for sure!


BigDaddy has a good stash. Next time I’ll bring some good sheng.

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61 tasting notes

Saved this for last in my 5-pack of samples from Verdant.

Brews up a resinous amber color. Tastes immediately like bitter pain au chocolat in a teacup, especially on the aftertaste. Second infusion especially was a mouthful of overbaked croissant. It brought back a nice memory of hostelling in Scotland and the smell of bakeries in the morning. I don’t get caramel because it’s not milky enough.

Flavors: Bread, Burnt Sugar, Dark Chocolate

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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400 tasting notes

Sample from Hoálatha

Honestly, I had to retry the 2016 Imperial Laoshan several times before coming to a conclusion in which was the better of the two—Verdant’s or YS’. I noted that this one had more dark chocolate/caramel notes throughout the profile. These notes stood out much more than the Imperial Grade, but only slightly. I also thought that this had more of a baked chocolate bread quality to it than any other tea.

Each sample was delightful, and I’d be happy to get more of each one. I must say that Laoshan Black teas are highly rated on my overall black tea list. Very nice and dessert-y.


Flavors: Bread, Chocolate, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Nutty

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53 tasting notes

Every Laoshan Black that I have tasted has been excellent. I simply love the chocolate notes and burnt caramel undertones. This one is no different. I would say that this one leans more towards the honey/caramel side than previous Laoshan Blacks that I have tried (I believe I tasted last year’s autumn version). The chocolate flavor, although very present, is not as dominant as the caramel and burnt sugar flavors and aromas.

Flavors: Burnt, Caramel, Chocolate

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 2 g 5 OZ / 140 ML

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239 tasting notes

Breathing in the dry leaf yields some differences from the Reserve. There’s the predominating aroma of cocoa, of course, but there’s an underlying sourness that reminds me of very dark brown honey wheat bread. There’s something yeasty about the smell.

This aroma is reflected in the brew, as it has a bready chocolate scent.
The first steep definitely yields a less-sweet flavor, more like a gassy, yeasty dark bread with hardly any chocolate. This changes in subsequent steeps to a chocolate honey bread. Perhaps if they made a pain au chocolat out of a dark wheat flour and drizzled a bit of honey on top, that is what this would taste like.

Stephen, my non-tea-drinking husband, took a sip and proclaimed that it tasted like a dark chocolate beer, so we’re pretty close in agreement.

Post and pictures here: http://www.catlaittea.com/2016/08/28/review-verdant-tea-2016-laoshan-and-reserve-laoshan-black/

Flavors: Bread, Cocoa, Honey, Yeast

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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