drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
171 tasting notes

Experience buying from Verdant Tea http://steepster.com/places/2886-verdant-tea-online-minneapolis-minnesota

Age of leaf: Stated as harvested in autumn 2011; I received this sample of tea in late autumn and brewed it up not long after.

Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: Tiny, tightly-curled, wiry, dark-brown (almost black) leaves and buds, very similar in shape to the early summer Laoshan green. It smelled incredible: it reminded me of a few Wuyi Oolong teas I have had—which I guess I would characterize as roasted—but somehow better (possibly sweeter).

Brewing guidelines ~4 tsp = 4 cups water. Glass Bodum pot used with with leaves floating freely (I acknowledge that this particular thin glass pot is probably not the best to use for a black tea, due to it not holding the heat very well from more than a couple of minutes, but I wanted to watch the leaves brew and be able to see the color—which I really enjoy doing, especially the first time I brew up the tea). Stevia added.
……….1st: boiling, and slightly warmed pot, 2’ (I ended up only using 2.5 cups for the first steeping)
……….2nd: boiling, and warmed pot, 3.5’
……….3rd: boiling, and very warmed pot, 5’
……….4th: boiling, and if possible, even more warmed pot, 7’

Color and aroma of tea liquor: dark brown; < later on the aroma >

Flavor of tea liquor: Oh … my … goodness; when I first tried it, the taste—as with the aroma of the leaves—reminded me vaguely of a Wuyi oolong, but once I really started to savor this tea I realized that it tasted like nothing I have had before. I admit that I still feel like a child when it comes to discerning the various flavors and aromas in a tea, but amongst all the other flavors in here, I think there is some caramel (I really enjoy any kind of caramel flavor in my black tea). The leaves held up very well through four steepings with great flavor, and no astringency—even after having been steeped over 7 minutes. Based on my notes below, I think this could have yielded flavor for up to at least five steepings; alas, I stopped at four and composted the leaves before I really took the time to taste the tea liquor.

Appearance and aroma of wet leaf: Very high quality: very few broken pieces, and very consistent color throughout; about the same aroma as the dry leaf, but possibly not as sweet smelling.

Value: expensive for me, based on my current budget, but still worth having on occasion; and great to give as a gift.

Overall: For various reasons, I generally enjoy drinking green teas, and I brew up a black tea on occasion. So far I have been VERY impressed with all of Verdant’s green teas, and I had an opportunity to try a sample of this black tea from Laoshan, the same village where most of Verdant’s green teas are harvested. Once I opened the package, and smelled, looked over, and tasted the liquor that I coaxed from the leaves it didn’t take long for me to be impressed with everything about this tea. It is the most unusual tasting black tea I have ever had (I don’t just value good flavor, I also value uniqueness). And yet, I was not certain whether or not to buy any (especially after dropping some $$$ on Teavana’s sale teas). But something finally tipped the balance. stay with me, if you can On the evening of the day I brewed up this glorious tea I remember absentmindedly (that’s kind of an oxymoron, isn’t it?) reaching for my cup, sitting half-forgotten on the kitchen table (do any of the rest of you have various cups just sitting around with different kinds of tea in them, ones you didn’t get a chance to finish, and then simply pick one of them up later and sip at it to see what’s in there?). And then, whilst sitting at my computer, I took a sip and, WOW! I was amazed at the flavor! It was the forth steeping, and tepid to boot! So I thought, “If it still tastes good like that, this is a tea worth having around!” Then I found myself thinking, “You already have enough tea, you dope.” And then my next thought was, “Shame on you for even thinking of denying yourself something this incredible (and for calling yourself a dope)!” That is what tipped the balance, and why I decided to finally dip into my not-so-deep coffers and buy this tea (I think my better part won out, don’t you?); the fact that buying from David, and knowing where the tea comes from, is more more rewarding for me than buying from some-big-chain-tea-retailer-that-largely-makes-it’s-home-in-malls helped make the decision even easier. Hurray! For small farms, small online tea retailers, the He family, Verdant Tea, and great tasting tea!

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

I love the mental dialogue with yourself. xD Sounds familiar.


teataku: I’m glad you liked it.

I like your avatar. It looks like a well-done anime style rendering of a girl drinking tea!


It is from an anime series, actually, called Revolutionary Girl Utena. _ The student council of the school where it takes place always serves a fancy high tea at their meetings, so I knew it wouldn’t be hard to find a picture of one of them drinking tea. Glad you like it!

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I love the mental dialogue with yourself. xD Sounds familiar.


teataku: I’m glad you liked it.

I like your avatar. It looks like a well-done anime style rendering of a girl drinking tea!


It is from an anime series, actually, called Revolutionary Girl Utena. _ The student council of the school where it takes place always serves a fancy high tea at their meetings, so I knew it wouldn’t be hard to find a picture of one of them drinking tea. Glad you like it!

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(Updated 6-3-2014)

After about three years I changed my avatar from the picture of a green teacup with steam rising (one I created using Paint) to this dragon gaiwan. This is one of my favorite gaiwans, although I haven’t brewed any tea in it as of yet.

You can call me, Joe.

What, How and Why I steep:

I typically expect, and shoot for, at least three flavorful steepings out of (just about) any tea I brew up.

I generally start at the times and temps below ( = minute(s), " = second(s) ), then add 5F and 30" for each successive steeping:
Chinese Green - 175F, 1’ ;
Japanese Green - 160F, 1’add 15F, then decrease by 15";
White - 160F, 2’;
Oolong - This varies;
Indian Black/Chinese Red and Herbals - a little off the boil, 2’; why do I start with such low temps & short steep times? So as to ‘spread out’ the flavor over multiple steepings. I have found this to work with every tea I have tried so far. Also, I am not looking for intense flavor in that first cup (i.e. Western style), I would prefer to taste it—and savor—it over many steepings.
Pu-erh - Beginning in 2014, I finally chose to dive into pu-erh! Standard parameters when I brew ripened pu-erh in my 150 ml gaiwan (I also own an 11 oz Yixing):
First I do a 15" rinse with near boiling water. Then for each successive steeping I add Stevia.
……….1st: Near boiling, 0.5’
……….2nd: Boiling , 1’
……….3rd: Boiling , 1.5’
etc. Until there is no flavor, or I ran out of time and energy.

I hope to ‘streamline’ my reviews going forward, so, hopefully, they are a little less technical and dry (and perhaps even stilted), and a little more organic and experiential (and hopefully, flowing); this somewhat new approach to reviews is a kind of metaphor for where my life is headed right now, and is one reason why I write reviews: as a kind of time-capsule of where I was in my life at that time.

Tea Rating scale:

1 – 29: There is no reason to even think about drinking this stuff again.
30-49: I may drink it if someone else brewed it up, but I would not bother brewing it up myself let alone bother buying any.
50 – 59: I like something about it, and I may brew it up if I already have some, but I would not buy any more of it.
60 – 69: I like a few things about it, and I may buy it if the price is right.
70 – 79: This is a tea I enjoy and would drink fairly regularly as long as it is reasonably priced.
80 – 89: A tea I will drink as often as I can, and will likely try to buy some when I run out (as long as it’s affordable).
90 – 99: This has everything I look for in the best of teas: beauty in appearance, a delightful aroma, and most importantly, depth and yummy-ness in its flavor.
100: Perfect.

My primary interest is in artisan loose-leaf Chinese green, red and ripe pu-erh tea, although I enjoy a white and an oolong tea every now and then as well. Here and there I brew a few of the other true teas and an occasional herbal.

Since I choose to live on a very limited income (‘Voluntary Simplicity’), I have to be very conscience about how much I pay for tea. In reading their Tea Enthusiast’s books, Mary Lou and Robert J. Heiss sold me on the wonders of artisan teas. Thankfully I have found that there is affordable, artisan tea out there; it’s just like anything else that has true value: it takes hard work, dedication and at least a little persistence to find it.

I came to tea out of a desire to find something to help calm and focus my mind as naturally as possible. My mind is very active, so to speak, and at times I find it very difficult to focus and keep myself centered. For years now I have been practicing Yoga daily along with others things to help me to stay relaxed and present, but I found I wanted a little something extra to help me start the day; the theanine in green tea seems to help me in this.

I have been enjoying loose-leaf tea since November of 2010.

I enjoy connecting with others about tea.

I drink Stevia with just about all of my tea (no sugar or artificial sweeteners).

I drink a pot of green tea every day in the AM (usually steeped three times over the course of the day), sharing it with my wife.

Each tea in my cupboard is carefully and colorfully labeled in a tin or in a jar that used to hold something else (I love to reuse things!) .

I have three teapots: a glass Bodum – I don’t use the metal infuser/press anymore (greens), a 16 oz glass Victorian (to brew greens and whites, and to use as a pot to decant other teas into), and an 11 oz Yixing (ripe Pu-erh only). (New in 2014) I also one a number of gaiwans ranging in volume from from 125 ml to 250ml.

I tend to be direct, straightforward and honest when I post anything to the discussion boards. I take the approach that everything I say is stated with the implied disclaimer: In My Humble Opinion (i.e. IMHO). I may occasionally emphasize this point, where appropriate. I view your comments in the same way. You are in no way obligated to read what I have posted. And I am in no way similarly obligated to you.

Sitting with my cup of tea I greet the day in anticipation of new discoveries along the way.


Midwest, USA

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