Still not going to rate teas as my nose is STILL stuffed up from my travel cold, blrm. But my Verdant samplextravaganza arrived today and I was too excited not to at least try something, and I had duplicates for this one (thanks Verdant!).

I went out on a limb with this order—I haven’t had an oolong I reeeally like yet, and the first few I tried (well regarded here, mind) I thought tasted downright strange bordering on gross. I never get the floral and peach elements people always describe. But then I had a tea flight in Portland at the Chinese Garden and it included oolong and pu erh, and I liked both fine, and finally tasted peach in the oolong! When I got back from the trip Verdant had a coupon code going on and I was like, well they’ve been so, so nice to me I want to support them, and if ANYONE has an oolong I might like I bet it’d be them…so here we are. I think I ordered samples of every oolong and pu erh they offer, just about.

This still has that salty thing going on with oolongs that makes me scratch my head, but it is much much gentler, that aspect. And unlike others I’ve had there is a lightly sweet and bready-without-being-yeasty thing I’m digging a lot. There is also a bit of tartness akin to blackberries or raspberries—normally I hate fruity astringency like that in tea (it’s everywhere in cheap supermarket bagged teas, blech), but here it’s light and refreshing, not harsh and puckery. More like actually eating a freshly washed berry than say, a Zinger tea. Clean tasting. I like.

One thing I have noticed as a common element to the few oolongs I’ve tried so far, the good and the weird/gross all, is that unlike black and sometimes green tea it seems unlikely they’d ever go bitter on you. Interesting.

Husband left early this morning to go out of town aaall weekend (won’t be back ‘til late Monday night, playing a show at a festival in Chicago) and I’ve been “good” so I can do pretty much whatever I want every day!! And being the dork I am, you know, all I really want is to play Animal Crossing: New Leaf, nap with the cats, watch Golden Girls, putter over art projects I never seem to find the time for normally, and drink tea the meditative, gaiwan-y way that I find I never have the appropriate time and headspace to devote to properly unless alone. Whee. I suppose I’ll probably hang out with my bestie for girly cocktail and movie night tomorrow, but otherwise just consider me a big reclusive dork n’ loving it, ha.

2nd steep: now it’s butterier, and also plantier but not in a bad way. Kind of like haricots verts cooked in butter, that sweet rich tender cooked green veggie thing. Yummy.

a zillion steeps (well, 6+) later: This is delightful in that way so many Verdant teas are—you can spend an entire half day with it and it transforms, always tasting good but in so many different surprising ways. The salt and whatever that marshy quality is I associate with oolongs was subtle when it was present at all, and disappeared after the 2nd steep, replaced with that fine buttery green vegetable flavor intertwined to varying degrees with light sweetness and a bit of peppery bite slipping in here and there. Often tasted like a delicious veggie saute, cooked bell peppers and fresh peas in their pod all coated with buttery smoothness. This leaves a creamy film feeling in one’s mouth that lingers, and I usually don’t experience that without over-the-top sweet flavoring (think cream earl greys, vanilla dessert teas, etc.), so to have that here with a more vegetal savory profile is novel for me and I really dig it! Didn’t get any cake-y notes until the very end (7th or 8th steep?), and it’s subtle but lovely. Yay my first total success with an oolong! (The one at Lan Su wasn’t bad at all, but it didn’t excite me…it was sweet and light, peachy, which was pleasant but didn’t bowl me over really.)

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Amazing success!


I really liked this one too! And I must say yay for quiet weekends!!

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Amazing success!


I really liked this one too! And I must say yay for quiet weekends!!

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“…you can never know everything about anything, especially something you love.”
-Julia Child on food and cooking, and I think it applies to tea as well!

note: i am currently taking a break from swapping/mail of any kind as money is rather tight. i apologize! i do love to swap but i can’t afford to right now. hopefully in a month things will change.

my cupboard includes any tea i’ve ever owned, including things i’ve sipped down, in order to facilitate swaps with people and keep a record—this way i don’t get redundant samples/order duplicates to try. if you are interested in swapping, i have a separate ever-updated list of teas i actually have on hand i can PM.

i like strong, rich blacks (including some choice old skool CTCs); juicy-fruity flavored green blends; buttery chinese greens; light floral oolongs; flavored oolongs (how sacrilegious!); earl greys; smoky blends; second flush muscatel darjeelings; verdant’s straight oolongs steeped in a gaiwan (mind altering!); anything from laoshan village it seems.

favorite notes include lavender, bergamot, violet, fennel, cardamom, melon, honey, sandalwood, smoke, nuts, roasty/toasty stuff, malt, wood, leather, creamy lemon, steamed rice, artichoke, garden-sweet snap veggies, earth/soil, forest and wet bark, and mushroom.

notes i generally can’t stand (at least in tea) include jasmine, rose (ok in small doses but i often find it overpowering and then everything just smells like musty old lady perfume), astringent apple (and general fruitiness really unless it’s with green tea), and chamomile (unless i’m congested or tired).

my current favorite tea vendors are butiki and harney and sons. i’ve also found some delicious teas and/or had good customer service experiences with the following companies: capital tea ltd., the devotea, verdant, mandala, golden moon, teavivre, lupicia, taiwan tea crafts, yezi tea, den’s tea, the tea merchant, norbu, fauchon paris, tao tea leaf, zen tea, fortnum and mason, townshend’s tea, joy’s teaspoon, new mexico tea company, persimmon tree, teajo teas, whispering pines, della terra, upton imports, mariage freres, samovar, justea, teabox, american tea room, steven smith, steap shoppe, utopia tea, and andrews and dunham damn fine tea. when i’m at the grocery store my “you could do worse” brands include stash, bigelow, tazo, taylors of harrogate, whittard of chelsea, and pg tips. and it’s a fact: you can’t make classic southern sweet tea without luzianne.

top picks, fall 2013

verdant zhu rong yunnan black
verdant laoshan black
thepuriTea hong jing luo (no longer available :( )
thepuriTea red dragon pearl (no longer available :( )
mandala morning sun
golden moon honey orchid
verdant golden fleece
taiwan tea crafts red jade
yezi tea zheng shan xiao zhong “scotch” tea
capital tea borsapori estate assam tgfop1 (spl)
butiki khongea golden tippy assam
butiki giddahapar darjeeling extra special
upton imports fikkal estate
golden moon sinharaja
harney and sons new vithanakande
persimmon tree vintage black
teajo teas black manas
justea kenyan black
harney and sons kangaita op

morning blends:
butiki the black lotus
harney and sons queen catherine
harney and sons eight at the fort
harney and sons big red sun
harney and sons scottish morn
golden moon irish breakfast
harney and sons irish breakfast
utopia tea english breakfast
fortnum and mason breakfast blend (needs milk!)
andrews and dunham double knit blend
steven smith no. 25 morning light
butiki irish cream cheesecake

earl greys and scented afternoon blends:
teajo teas silky earl grey
harney and sons viennese earl grey
upton imports lavender earl grey
american tea room victoria
lupicia earl grey grand classic
harney and sons tower of london
tao tea leaf cream earl grey
zen tea earl grey cream
della terra earl grey creme
upton imports season’s pick earl grey creme vanilla
upton imports baker street afternoon blend
harney and sons russian country
della terra professor grey
verdant earl of anxi

flavored black:
herbal infusions moose tracks
american tea room brioche
steap shoppe cinnamon swirl bread
della terra oatmeal raisin cookie
butiki nutmeg cream
kusmi caramel
david’s tea brazillionaire
lupicia banane chocolat
butiki hello sweetie
fauchon paris raspberry macaron
butiki blueberry purple tea
herbal infusions marshmallow snowflake earl grey
herbal infusions creme brulee chai

pu erh:
mandala loose and luscious lincang 2007 shu/ripe pu erh
mandala special dark 2006 shu/ripe pu erh

verdant shui jin gui wuyi oolong
verdant hand-picked early spring tieguanyin
butiki 2003 reserve four season oolong
harney and sons formosa oolong
tea merchant silk dragon
golden moon coconut pouchong
zen tea coconut oolong
american tea room coconut oolong
teavivre taiwan jin xuan milk oolong
butiki flowery pineapple oolong
butiki lychee oolong
lupicia momo oolong supergrade
butiki strawberry oolong
butiki pumpkin milkshake darjeeling oolong
52teas tiramisu oolong

verdant laoshan bilochun green
verdant autumn harvest laoshan green
tao tea leaf hou kui
harney and sons tencha
harney and sons gyokuro
new mexico casablanca
butiki with open eyes
american tea room nirvana
joy’s teaspoon mahalo
den’s tea pineapple sencha
harney and sons tokyo
butiki potato pancakes and applesauce
butiki holiday eggnog and pralines
den’s tea organic genmaicha with matcha
golden moon hojicha

butiki cantaloupe and cream
butiki champagne and rose cream

no caf:
harney and sons soba buckwheat
butiki birthday cake
della terra lemon chiffon
52teas strawberry pie honeybush
butiki mango lassi
joy’s teaspoon italian dream
butiki coconut cream pie rooibos
butiki peppermint patty
persimmon tree mint chocolate chip rooibos
art of tea velvet tea
fusion teas chocolate cake honeybush
american tea room choco-late
steven smith no. 40 bon bon
townshend’s tea dark forest chai
utopia tea decaffeinated earl grey cream

sleep aid/medicinal/therapeutic:
new mexico extra sleepy bear
stash white christmas
verdant ginger sage winter spa blend
samovar turmeric spice
butiki the killer’s vanilla guayusa

coldsteeped wonders:
whispering pines manistee moonrise
harney and sons fruits d’alsace
utopia tea berkshire apple and fig
culinary teas peaches and cream
butiki peach hoppiTea
butiki ruby pie
whispering pines gingerade

besides tea

born in seoul, raised in new england and upstate new york, went to college in pittsburgh, currently in memphis with an eye toward philadelphia, portland, or asheville eventually.

i like cats, most beverages really (i also like good freshly roasted coffee, craft beer, wine, whiskey and gin-based cocktails, and soda/soft drinks like agua fresca), art (mainly writing but also visual and music) and critical theory, feminism/genderqueer politics, historiography, statistics, children’s literature and librarianship, travel, and food/cooking. also have recently gotten into weightlifting (mark rippetoe and stumptuous!) and sprint training (HIIT, plyometrics) and i love it.


Memphis, TN


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