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Recent Tasting Notes
This year’s early harvest Laoshan green tea was superb. Lush aromas of soy, leafy greens, nori, and oats. The steeped tea is fresh and full bodied, sweeter than the later flushes with pronounced notes of anise and kettle corn. I prefer slightly cooler brewing tempertures, around 175 F, to bring out the delicate sweetness. Hotter water makes the savory, toasted notes stand out more.
Flavors: Anise, Kettle Corn, Lettuce, Oats, Rice, Roasted Barley, Seaweed, Soybean, Spinach
Thank goodness, a quick sniff of the leaves triggered my memory and I recalled my thoughts on this oolong I drank a couple weeks ago. I found it fairly similar to Verdant’s classic green TGY offerings, with a creamy but fairly floral profile filled with lilacs and other such things. Can’t remember specifics. It was not what I’d expected – keeping in mind that I had not even realized that this was a green oolong before I smelled/saw it – but it was pleasant and I enjoyed it. Enough left for one more cup, hopefully one that I pay more attention to.
My package says this is from Autumn 2018. Feeling a little intimidated by all the love for this tea but it didn’t do it for me. I mean, yeah, I made this while at work so it didn’t get the love it maybe needs. And while I knew one of the teas I bought could go through multiple steepings, I could never remember which it was (it was this one). But regardless of all that, it was too dirty for me. Not earthy, but dirty.
This first flush green is actually processed as a Bilochun style tea. It definitely had the fruitiness of Bilochun along with the usual toastiness of Laoshan green tea. There are chrysanthemum-like florals along with notes of fennel, pine, and jujube. Overall, less grassy and more fruity than regular green tea. It tastes good but the flavor profile is just not really my thing. I prefer a grassier/greener cup.
Flavors: Fennel, Floral, Fruity, Pine
I only managed one session with this tea and the rest of it was brewed in less than ideal situations while traveling. Nevertheless, I remember this being a tasty tea. Creamier and more full-bodied than regular grade Pine Needle Laoshan tea. The taste is a blend of soymilk and crisp lettuce with a little honey and rounded out with a touch of nuttiness. The description says this tea is fed by sweet mountain spring water and it really does taste like it. There’s a fresh, pure quality to it that reminds me of drinking water from a spring.
Flavors: Fruity, Grass, Lettuce, Milk, Soybean
I don’t know if this tea is the same as the “Original Wulong Revival” already listed on Steepster… Anyhow, it sounded interesting to me, so I picked up 25g. It reminds me a lot of pouchong, with a mostly creamily floral profile. Some minerality in later infusions. It grew on me as I drank it, but I’ll have to figure out what makes this different from the addictive pouchong I love, because it’s not quite the same, yet so similar.
Not much else to say; drank this a few hours ago, not at my house, and that’s about all I remember. Lots to experiment with, though!
Always interested in trying dragon pearls, so picked this up (Spring 2018 version). Interestingly, each individual pearl (a bit less than an inch in diameter?) is wrapped up in tissue, like pu’erh. I used one pearl for a 10oz cup; there were 5 in the bag.
I drank this away from home, and didn’t make great notes, but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I was anticipating more roastiness and chocolatey notes, but there was more fruitiness and a bit of sharpness, though I’d hesitate to call it astringent (the second infusion was, but let’s call that user error). I believe I got some… fresh raisin notes (not grape, but not as sweet as raisin?), and some other fruitiness that I think I could place, but have since forgotten.
An interesting tea, but not my preference of profile.
Hmm. The aroma of this tea out of the package was fairly appealing – a darkly, somewhat chocolate, a bit hay-y grassy profile. Reminiscent of Laoshan Black, but darker/more roasted, and more rough around the edges. The flavour, though, is not quite working for me. There’s almost a burning plasticky taste? It’s not present in the aroma of the brewed tea, which doesn’t have any misplaced notes. It’s really strange. A couple sips in, and I’m tasting less burning plastic, but I’m still having trouble identifying what I’m tasting, other than some roasted flavours. Very odd tea. I’m not sure what to make of it yet, so I guess I’ll review it again once I get to the second half of my sample packet. **This is the Spring 2019 harvest.
Yes yes yes. This is delicious. It tastes a little bit like the water from steamed swiss chard at first, but then a wonderful nuttiness comes out, which is also familiar but I’m having trouble placing. If you don’t like steamed greens, this may not be the tea for you, but if you do, it’s fantastic! And the complexity is fascinating. Really in love with these herbal offerings – I feel like they are much more satisfying than rooibos/honeybush or other caffeine-free options, when you want TEA but can’t/shouldn’t have caffeine. The only downside is that I don’t think they resteep particularly well – but then again, many greens don’t either.
Upon further reflection, I think the missing descriptor from above is actually butternut squash. I think it smells and tastes a bit like raw/lightly cooked butternut squash. Still nuttier than that, but it’s a combo of swiss chard water and butternut squash. And tastes much more appealing than that sounds.
Not sure if I prefer this one or the mulberry leaf…
I appreciate that Verdant has small, decently-priced samples and a low free shipping threshold; it makes the try-everything mentality a little more sustainable. This tea, I was thinking I’d like, if it was at all similar to DavidsTea’s Mulberry Magic. And it is – but absent are the artificial flavours and in their place, there’s a delicious popped rice-esque toastiness. This is actually quite a delicious herbal tea – it’s very smooth, a bit seaweedy, but heavy on the steamed spinach and popped/toasted rice flavours. More tea-like in flavour than many herbal options – probably only rivalled by some of the barley teas, though those are a different profile entirely.
If you’re a fan of vegetal green teas and are looking for a delicious, caffeine-free option – this is probably a good candidate. Hopefully it’s still around in the future, when I have the cupboard space to do more ordering!
Also worth noting: my sample is from Spring 2018 (harvested over a year ago), and it tastes deliciously fresh and is a delightful bright green.
Picked up some of the Spring 2018 version of this tea in my recent order. The description suggests it is a marriage of two different cultivars, one contributing creaminess and the other florals – and that does more or less describe the flavour. It’s floral-dominant (which makes sense to me, given that the floral cultivar is the one from which the leaves are actually harvested – the tieguanyin is just the rootstock) with some creaminess. I haven’t tried straight Huang Jin Gui before to know if it’s markedly different from that, though, and it doesn’t look like I picked up any for comparison. Probably because florals aren’t really my thing. This one is heavily lilac, to my mostly-uneduated tastebuds, and that’s a floral that I can appreciate in oolongs, so I’ll enjoy it for what it is, at the very least, but it wouldn’t be a repurchase. I was hoping for a bit more creaminess!
I added this tea to the Steepster database but I don’t know how to set it to “available”. It is currently on the Verdant website at a small discount, along with other similar teas from the He family, as of 8/14/19. https://verdanttea.com/teas/spring-laoshan-green/
Another tea from a recent Verdant order. I remember having a sample of this a couple of years ago that I really enjoyed, so I took a chance and got 25 g. (At $4.27/25g it’s not much of a chance—that’s cheaper than the espresso drink I normally get at Starbucks!) I feel really special drinking teas that were harvested two months ago on the other side of the planet. Verdant is pretty much the only tea vendor I would trust to sell me something like this at this low price.
When you open the envelope (Verdant has lovely re-designed light green resealable envelopes since my previous order, decorated with stylized tea leaves and a few red hearts) you can see that this tea is light-colored and tippy, rolled into the skinny curls that I think of as chun-mee-like, but otherwise I don’t think this tea is particularly like that one. You can also see a little bit of fuzz on the inside of the envelope, which is common with white and some green teas, but in this case didn’t signal any particular aspect of smell or taste.
Scent in the leaf: YUM. Rich and round and dusky for green tea, but also with a vegetal-ness and minerality that promise nice flavor and a clean finish in the brewed tea. There is sweetness in the scent but not the brewed tea (could be a factor of how long I brewed it). In the cup, this is a yellowish-greenish-light-brown brew. This was a mug brew with a disposable paper filter.
The scent of the brewed tea is mostly vegetal (almost gyokuro-like) but the flavor is very well-rounded, with more of the minerality and vegetal flavor but also a sort of velvety dryness that lingers on the tongue. I think it was probably 30 seconds from bitterness, but I like the dryness where the bitterness would have turned me off. Got to remember not to push too far when it comes to brew time on delicate greens! Anyway, overall this is a VERY clean and drinkable tea with soybean, lettuce, and grass notes but no bitterness and very little sweetness. The overall drinkability, price, tastiness, and quality bring my rating of this tea into the stratosphere. YMMV, but try it before they run out: you may find your new favorite green tea!
I had a hot flash in the middle of drinking this cup of tea. Caffeine is a known hot flash trigger for me, but other than that I can’t honestly say this tea is any different from any other source of caffeine where side effects are concerned. I feel alert after the whole mug but not jittery; perhaps my jaw is a little tighter, which is common for me with caffeine ingestion. If I had to judge, I’d say this tea is a medium source of caffeine as teas go.
I would really like to try this iced next, but worry that the flavor would be adversely affected by a refrigerator brew, and anyway my little tea brewing pitcher is currently brewing up some David’s Tea Santa’s Secret, which I ADORE as an iced tea with nothing added (and which brews up best in the fridge). It has more caffeine than this does—but it’s so good I ignore that fact, and just don’t drink it when I am nervous about a social event!
Flavors: Dry Grass, Drying, Lettuce, Mineral, Round , Soybean, Vegetable Broth, Vegetal
This tea is a light oolong with strong floral aroma. The tea is floral and buttery with a pronounced creamy aftertaste. If you take your oolong tea with cream and flower, this tea is perfect for you. It is slightly too buttery for me, but only slightly. Otherwise it is an excellent tea.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Floral
Sippped down the last of this sample today. This is a good tea that more or less has a standard Long Jing flavor. I steeped this grandpa style, 1.5g of leaf to 10oz of 180 F water. It brews up clean and smooth without any bitterness. Notes of pine, spinach, light grass, toasted almond, and chestnut.
Compared to Mrs. Li’s 1st Picking Shi Feng dragonwell, this one was nuttier and had more mineral notes. While I liked this year’s harvest better than previous ones, I still prefer the greener taste of classic dragonwell over the newer #43 varietal.
Flavors: Almond, Chestnut, Mineral, Nutty, Spinach
A sample from Verdant. I thought it would be neat to try something VERY fresh, or at least as fresh as I am going to get it, living on the other side of the Earth from where it is grown!
This is very bright green in the leaf, and they are the flattened leaf that is characteristic of Dragonwell tea. I ate a leaf just out of curiosity; it was crispy and tasted first of vegetal green tea, then bitter. So maybe don’t eat the leaf…;)
I brewed “grandpa style” using an unbleached bulk paper filter in a mug, 175 F water. I’m never too precise about amounts of tea, but I used about 3/5 of what was in the bag, so 3 g. The quick instructions on the back of the sample bag said 10 seconds for the first stepping. Uh, no. It still smelled and tasted like water at 10 seconds! Maybe if I were doing gongfu brewing with the entire sample! I actually gave it a little over 2 minutes in total and it was nicely flavored and ready to drink at that point.
This tea is yellow with a tinge of dark green/brown in the brew. Smells rather gyokuro-y, if that’s a thing: savory, clean and vegetal. The taste is round/mineral, not bitter except a tad in the aftertaste, with lots of spinach/lima bean/artichoke vegetalness. It does make the mouth feel a little dry, but not in a bad way. I find it smooth and drinkable, but not shy-and-retiring; the flavor makes itself known.
Overall a very nice tea for those who like green tea and the whole vegetal “thing” (I know some people really don’t like that) and want something drinkable and tasty but not overly expensive, at least as Verdant’s prices go. This 5g sample was $3, to give you an idea of cost. If you’re buying at Verdant you already know you want something a few notches above what you can get at, say, your local Whole Foods, in terms of quality, and you’re aware you’re supporting a small business and getting something handcrafted by family growers in the great tea regions of Asia, so really, price is of less importance in the grand scheme of things when you are shopping for this type of tea.
If money is really a concern, try the Build Your Own Sample set: pick five or more tea samples (5 g each) and you get 10% off. The most expensive sample packet on the website today is $4.95 with the discount, but most are between 2-3.50 each. Each gives you the kind of tea experience you will NOT have with grocery-store or coffee-shop tea. They even upgraded one of my samples (not this one) to a 25 g bag for free; maybe they were out of sample packets of that one and the packet-sealing machine was on the fritz, so they grabbed the only size package they had of that tea? Or maybe they felt generous!
Flavors: Artichoke, Lima Beans, Mineral, Spinach, Sweet
Tea from a few nights ago that I just didn’t get around to reviewing. Unlike the lightly roasted oolong from earlier, this had much more depth of flavour. Lovely roasty notes and minerality. Maybe a smidge of chocolate. Unfortunately, I can’t remember it all that well anymore, but I enjoyed it much more.
Spring 2019 harvest.
This has been my faithful companion during my morning commute this week. My mornings are pretty hectic as I always seem to be running late to work. I often end up skipping breakfast, but seldom skip tea. Unless I cold brew something the night before, I tend to reach for a no-fuss tea that I can quickly throw in my tumbler and dump hot water on it. But this is more than just a serviceable green tea. It’s a richly vegetal, hearty tea that’s wonderfully fragrant and refreshing.
Dry leaves have a fresh, sweet aroma of watercress and butter lettuce. The tea starts off with a gentle fruitiness, similar to Anji Bai Cha, but nuttier and more assertive. As it steeps, I pick up notes of crisp sugar snap peas and chestnut. The mouthfeel is full, buttery, and complex. There’s an ever so slight bitterness towards the end but nothing overbearing.
I’m pleasantly surprised at how robust this Long Jing is. Usually early picked tea is light and delicate, but this one has that in-your-face green taste that I love. Excellent quality tea all around.
Flavors: Butter, Chestnut, Creamy, Lettuce, Peas
This is exactly what I needed. Toasty, flavorful, rich aroma… mmmm ahhh :) Really enjoying this tea. It has a sweet toasted nutty aroma: roasted almond, soy, peas, puffed rice, barley on the back notes even honey or caramel. At the same time it is light and refreshing, there is not bitterness or astringency. Just a delicious cup every way you look at it.
Flavors: Almond, Artichoke, Honey, Peas, Roasted nuts, Toasted, Toasted Rice