evening tea because this was all i wanted tonight with a splash of maple syrup. SO. Good. Just the right balance of smoke and deliciousness for me nom nom nom nom nom
“evening tea because this was all i wanted tonight with a splash of maple syrup. SO. Good. Just the right balance of smoke and deliciousness for me nom nom nom nom nom” Read full tasting note
“1 T + 8oz X 3/5 min I still haven’t done a gongfu steepings with this tea yet, & I really should. (Sars, I’m going to buy that damn yixing I wanted for smoky teas now. I blame you....” Read full tasting note
“I got a Google+ message from Eric: “What…look…the leaves are HUGE!” with a picture attached showing the Zheng Shan Ziao Zhong Smoked Wuyi Black tea by Verdant (say that 3 times fast!). I answered...” Read full tasting note
“I had to come back just to talk about this tea. I received a small sample in the tea of the month box and I got really excited. Those of you who know my review history know that Upton Tea’s “black...” Read full tasting note
Beautifully balanced, delicate and masterfully smoked, this exquisite Lapsang Souchong style smoked Wuyi black tea is one of the finest we’ve ever found. It is crafted with care by the Li family, growing their tea in the Wuyi mountains in Xing Village. The Li family devotes most of their harvest to fine Wuyi oolongs, honing the difficult craft of rolling and roasting, so it’s no wonder the floral and delicate qualities of fine oolong comes through in this Lapsang Souchong. Anyone who enjoys roasted oolong or chocolatey black teas will love this unique offering.
The aroma of the leaf has fresh pine sap and notes frankincense resin from the pine needle smoking process. Intriguingly, a nuanced saltiness comes through to compliment the woody aromas, much like the saltiness of fine Japanese incense. While many Lapsang Souchong teas assault the nose with their intensity, this tea offers a more mature and subtle experience.
The flavor is warm and cozy with chocolate and cream, and it’s aroma evokes a hot cedar sauna or wine-soaked oak barrels, aging in a wine cellar. Fruity dark floral notes shine in the aftertaste as marigold and sumac. These sweet and tart florals are actually strengthened by the light, delicate smokiness of the tea. The pine smoke flavors bring out the signature mineral notes of Wuyi tea, and push forward a beautiful hot chocolate taste that lingers on.
This tea steeps out for many infusions, yielding a refined and clean tea more vaporously musty than smokey, with the sweet and salty kick of brown sugar. We highly recommend trying this tea, as it opens up a whole new way of thinking about smoked teas, and offers a gorgeous perspective on the terroir of the Wuyi mountains.
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Traditional Smoked Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong * Lapsang Souchong Black teaYunnan Sourcing
Wild Tongmu Smoked Zheng Shan Xiao ZhongVerdant Tea
Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong Wuyi Black (Spring 2017)Verdant Tea
Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong Organic BlackTao Tea Leaf
Zheng Shan Xiao ZhongMatcha Outlet
Zheng Shan Xiao ZhongTearunners
1 T + 8oz X 3/5 min
I still haven’t done a gongfu steepings with this tea yet, & I really should.
(Sars, I’m going to buy that damn yixing I wanted for smoky teas now. I blame you. hahaha)
Anyway, it’s very tasty, in a pine & brown sugar kind of way, not overly smokey, but delicious. I’m drinking it plain, but I happen to know for a fact that a little Maple syrup turns this one into a wonderful dessert.
I got a Google+ message from Eric:
“What…look…the leaves are HUGE!” with a picture attached showing the Zheng Shan Ziao Zhong Smoked Wuyi Black tea by Verdant (say that 3 times fast!).
I answered back,
“OK Eric, I’ll pick some up as soon as David Duckler makes it available on the Verdant website…”, which I did immediately.
Then, I got sick right after the tea arrived. Bah!
As soon as I was well enough to drive, I picked myself up and off I went with my one ounce of precious tea booty. (I also have a small amount of puerh aged in a brandy barrel from Oregon, a gift from Eric to try that’s amazing…but that’s another story)
This tasting was met with great anticipation by Eric, Joe, Andy, Sam and owner George.
After much swooning over the aroma of the leaves…(a light smoky, sweetness)…Joe deftly worked gongfu magic, pouring amber liquor into many tiny tasting cups.
The wet leaves smelled like bbq that had been marinated in a rich jammy Paso Robles Zinfindel. The scent was floral…right in the middle of all that meaty, sour ripeness.
Eric tasted the tea first.
“Ah, this is what a lapsang should taste like when it’s done right. It’s what I’ve heard about but never tasted. I could drink this every day!”
I took my time…and a sip.
Light smoke, almost not there but salty next to sweet vanilla (Eric said that’s from the pine) and camphor. Floral aroma and very light smoke. Smooth. Layered and complex. Cocoa…
I don’t think one tasting can honor such a tea, time is needed.
Everyone raved…yes…raved about the tea.
The smoked tea’s most of us are used to drinking are far different from a superior craft tea such as this one.
My highest rating goes to this Lapsang Souchong.
In my opinion it is the example…the standard, of what a smoked tea should and can be.
I had to come back just to talk about this tea.
I received a small sample in the tea of the month box and I got really excited. Those of you who know my review history know that Upton Tea’s “black dragon” is one of my “gotta have it on the shelf at all times” daily drinking teas. I rave about black dragon because it is a strong, powerful lapsang that doesn’t make you think of pork rinds or bacon or any other kind of meat product. It isn’t greasy or salty or sharp, or whatever it is that makes a lot of people think of cured meat when they smell it. But, at the end of the day, black dragon is still a very smokey tea.
But this… this tea is a whole other universe.
I opened the sample pack and thought … 4H fair. The smell of feed hay in a hot, close barn. Those pellets you can get from the candy vending machine to feed the animals at a petting zoo.
The wet leaf? Oh man.
The wet leaf is like drinking the zoo. Seriously.
Do you want to feel six years old, with a balloon on your wrist and the sounds of exotic birds in your ears, arguing about whether to go to the monkey house or the big cat exhibit? Drink this tea.
Do you want to remember what it felt like to hug a sheep that hadn’t been shorn in a long, long time? Drink this tea.
I don’t see this tea replacing anyone’s beloved lapsang or caravan tea. It’s too different. It doesn’t fill the same gap in the line-up, I don’t think.
But it is a marvelously transcendent, nuanced, delightful tea. You must try it. You absolutely must, no matter how much you think you don’t like smoked tea. Try this one.
I’m just glad I have a well seasoned lapsang yixing to do this tea justice with.
I’m going to be that guy. I bought this tea knowing it was smoked. But I also bought a bit more than I normally might because the top note was described as chocolate. I thought, “Hey! A chocolate-y, smokey tea? I’m in!”
I opened this tea up and it smelled delightfully smokey in that it was faint. Like you came across a camp that someone abandoned a few days earlier and there is still a faint whisp of wood smoke in the air. I brewed it up promptly.
The smell of the liquid also carried that faint campfire scent. So far, so good. But when I took a sip, expecting to be hit with a smoked chocolate flavor, I was a bit let down. The smoke was there, though not overpowering, but the chocolate note was not to be found. There is a bit of cinnamon on the back end. I’m on my third gongfu steep and while this tea is nice, I don’t feel it is quite as advertised.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Pine, Smoke
It’s time to start cleaning out the backlog again. The sipdown of this tea came last night. I was a bit jittery due to an upcoming outing with my vocational rehabilitation clients and was having a lot of trouble getting settled for the evening. Naturally, I decided to add more caffeine to the fire. Even when I’m jittery, a nice gongfu session always seems to do the trick, and I end up out like a light when I should probably be bouncing off the walls and/or babbling incoherently in a corner somewhere. It took me awhile, but I finally fell asleep and woke up as ready to face the day as could possibly be expected given the circumstances.
My rambling should have made it obvious that I prepared this tea gongfu style. I followed Verdant’s guidelines for this one. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 4 seconds. I followed this initial infusion with 10 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 13 seconds, 16 seconds, 19 seconds, 22 seconds, 25 seconds, 28 seconds, 31 seconds, and 34 seconds. I probably could have gotten at least one or two more infusions out of this, but stopped where I did because it was late and I needed to get some sleep.
Prior to the rinse, the dry leaves gave off a mild smoky scent with hints of spice and chocolate. After the rinse, I noted strong aromas of chocolate, cinnamon, pine needles, and smoke. The first infusion produced a similarly intense nose. In the mouth, there were distinct impressions of chocolate, cinnamon, pine, smoke, and sage. There was also a slight sweetness left on the back of the throat. Subsequent infusions were similarly spicy, smoky, and savory, though they were also incredibly balanced. I noted the emergence of toast, honey, elderberry, and malt notes underneath the dominant flavors of sage, pine, smoke, and chocolate. Boy, Verdant’s taste profile was more or less dead on with this one. The later infusions were mild and smooth, though traces of chocolate, pine, toast, smoke, and cinnamon were still evident. There was also the expected Wuyi minerality that became more pronounced on these final infusions.
I’ve had nearly a full day to process my thoughts on this tea, and to be honest, I am glad I did not try to post this review last night. Immediately after finishing the session, I was a bit disappointed that this lapsang was not smokier. I was also a little disappointed that the flavors faded a little sooner than I would have preferred (I was kind of nitpicking though-I did manage to get eleven infusions out of 5 grams of this tea, and at least 7-8 of them were very good). In retrospect, however, this was a very sophisticated, balanced lapsang souchong that did not resort to over-the-top and/or artificial smokiness.
Flavors: Chocolate, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Pine, Sage, Smoke, Toast
I keep forgetting I have this one. Brewed it Western style this morning.
Dark, curled dry leaves. Heady smoke aroma, in the mid-treble “range” of scents, is the most noticeable scent, but there’s some forest pine and something slightly sweet.
The smoke seems a little punchier in the wet leaf aroma. Each time I smell the liquor, I get something slightly different: sometimes it’s a little brash, sometimes it’s sweet and deep, like some dark-colored fruit I can’t place.
The smoke rounds out in the taste, although it’s still at the forefront. Still fairly heady, but it has a depth that settles into the mouth. Getting a bit of pine and wood around the edges. Hint of earthiness. Slightly malty? Just a little little bit spicy, which lingers in the aftertaste.
Quite good, and a little more complex than the other smoky teas I’ve had.
Flavors: Earth, Forest Floor, Fruity, Pine, Smoke, Spicy, Sweet, Wood
Another one I was really happy to see in the box. There wasnt much left so my steep parameters were just a guess, but enough for me to sense that this isn’t your average ZSXZ. There are some unusual notes in here. Someone said cedar, yep I’m going with that. Not the ovoverwhelming pine smoke of some, just a subtle hint of smoky forest. There is also some earthiness to it, a hint of cocoa, maybe just a a wee whif of sweet fruit way in the back. I’m really happy that it has other flavors rather than just heavy smoke. I think I would be happy with some of this in my cupboard. :)