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Recent Tasting Notes
I have missed late gong fu sessions since caffeine started keeping me up at night, so I bought two of the crassicolumna teas from Verdant to see if they would substitute.
This will fulfill my August prompt for a tea I have never tried before!
This steeped up so pale – I was not expecting that. I thought it would get darker with subsequent steeps but it didn’t.
Ashman and I both enjoyed it, even though I didn’t find it very complex. The most memorable thing about it to me was that it had a very creamy mouthfeel, especially at the end of the sip and building throughout the session.
I think next time around I will use more leaf and see if any complexity becomes apparent. Otherwise, it was an enjoyable and relaxing session and I am not sorry I bought it.
Really enjoyed this one from the TTB. I’m very entertained by how the dry leaf looks like small brown pea pods, so it’s off to a strong start before brewing even begins. Going by the instructions, the first steep comes out a little weak, but subsequent steeps are deliciously malty and sweet potato-y. It gave me throwback vibes to a yabao snickerdoodle I had from Verdant years ago, though looking at the steepster page now it doesn’t look like I ever made a note and the notes others have left don’t quite line up with that sense memory. So maybe it’s more of a general impression than a specific flavor profile? I’ll have to dig around and see if I have any left to do a comparison.
Rou Gui Spring 2021
Oh, for heavens sakes. Why have I not yet reviewed this tea? I’ve definitely been drinking it and it is definitely amazing. Right from the moment you open the package you know you are in for a treat. Heck, even just reading the name of the tea excites me. It is a succulent scent. It will remind you of ripe fruits, muscatel, minerals, and a dry earthy sensation that reminds you of driftwood in the desert. The flavor will have you twisting in a soiree of nuances. Wet rocks, granite, slight floral notes, and meandering hints of fall leaves. The wet aroma is a circus. Buttered popcorn with slightly smoky notes.
Another from the TTB, and my impressions of this one are kind of all over the place. Broadly speaking, I found it sweet and enjoyable. But it was also confusing, because through all three steeps I made it reminded me more than anything else of a cocoa tea, and then I couldn’t not taste the chocolate notes – even though that isn’t remotely what this is “supposed” to taste like. Super weird!
NOTE: It is currently 2022 and this tea is from 2016. I’ve had Mrs. Li’s Dragonwell before and I know it is good but because this has been sitting for a while in my Aunt’s cupboard… Still a few trichomes on the package and the leaf is still nice and flat with barely any broken leaves but the aroma is flat. Seems like a clean cupboard. The color is sad. A light brown/olive green pale… kinda. There are some really weird sweet notes in the initial steep. Slight caramel, burnt sugar. The taste is… weir. It is not a dragonwell. At. All. Slight varnish. Slight…. burnt something. Maybe woodsy. Almost tastes like it went through another baking process. But the baking process didn’t really do it justice.
A relatively okay JJM! I got the 2021 harvest of this tea from my recent Verdant order, and this tea had a nice and deep aroma, and also packed a semi-potent cha-qi. It lacked in flavour depth and texture, as well as finish and aftertaste. I think I may have forgotten to clean my kettle though, as the liquor felt like I was drinking hard water, even though I remember using my filtered water. Not including the water situation into the review of this tea, I think the tea is a edging the okayish decent and mediocre range.
Flavors: Cherry, Chocolate, Kiwi, Malt, Plum, Raisins, Spices
A crisp and delicate green! I got the Spring 2022 version from my recent Verdant tea order, and for this price range, this tea will knock most other Longjings out of the park. Strong aroma, vibrant liquor, with an exceptional longevity, this tea is pretty decent. It also surprisingly had a nice chaqi and decent texture too! The downsides of this tea however is that its flavour is just missing something, a little body, or complexity. I wished it offered more in the taste as well as the finish, which is why I am not giving the tea an 80+. Still, a tea I can recommend for such a good price!
Flavors: Citrus Zest, Cream, Green, Guava, Nuts, Roasted Nuts, Vanilla, Vegetable Broth, Vegetal
Tea two of four from my aunt’s cupboard. The leaves are more akin to a pu erh. Slightly dusty appearance. Not green at all, a mix of browns. Twisted and longleaf. Smells like a cupboard. The initial aroma after pouring in the water is a mix of honey, smoke, …burnt hair from a hairdryer. The leaf looks less brown and more of a putrid green as it steeps… It tastes.. wtf … Coffee? Or dark black chocolate. Bits of compost and wet tree bark. This is all sorts of crazy up-in-my-face vegetal jumbo.
My aunt doesn’t drink tea much. She’ll drink tisanes but she thinks caffeine may be affecting her sleep so she is cutting it out. However, I don’t think she realized that the tea people have been giving her, including myself, has a drink by date. And thus I have learned my lesson in making sure to instruct people when to drink stuff from now on. I opened the package and was met with greyish green tea. It should be a pine green. Despite the appearance, I decided to steep a cup. Surprisingly it still has life. You can still taste the vegetal hints along with the bits of grassiness. It’s quite a bit perkier than I figured it would be but you can still tell it’s not what it should be when fresher. The wet aroma is also a surprise. Vegetal and corn notes with roasted veggies. What a suprise.
An okay tea. I got the 2022 harvest of this tea with my Verdant order, and while it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t anything special either. It had a weak taste and a thin texture, but it was redeemed with a nice finish and really strong and complex aroma.
Flavors: Beer, Cherry, Cream, Garlic, Honey, Leather, Malt, Tangy
Not the most exciting tea. I got this tea from my Verdant order. It is mediocre at best. One-dimensional flavour profile with a weak finish and aftertaste, but generally a nice texture and aroma.
Flavors: Egg, Soybean, Spinach
Got this as a free sample from my Verdant order. Tasted like a dilute Wuyi Yancha, missing a body, texture, finish, everything. Very few teas make me feel like puking but this one almost did. I’m lucky I only have 5g of this tea.
Flavors: Malt, Mineral
Waffles require a strong tea. A Dragonwell wasn’t going to cut it, I didn’t want to miss the subtle nuances. And being out of my Sri Lankan and India teas I figured I better look for something else. This was hiding by a package of Hawai’ian herbal I still need to open… Ah, black tea. So I opened it and the aroma hit me. Holy fruity Moses. Mango, pear, slight guava, apple banana (I’ve only had them in Hawai’i but they’re delicious). This will be interesting I thought. But what? Caffeine free the website says. OH! A cousin. So produced like a black tea but actually not a black tea. Fascinating. The first steep was intensely fruity. Worked well with my waffle with the best syrup ever from Faxon Farms. I plug them all the time because I haven’t found any syrup better than theirs. Second steep the fruity subsided and was replaced with woody tones. Light woods and sweet tones. Bits of sugar. For those who are looking for a Chinese black tea alternative, this would be a good fit, however, I do not think it would work for those who like it brisk.
Another from vallhallow!
Spending the afternoon glued to my bedroom window while I wait for this stray cat to wander into my trap. I don’t know if I’ll catch this one since I haven’t seen it in almost a month, but the spay/neuter clinic is slammed these days so it took me that long to get an appointment. Fingers crossed the smelly fish does its job.
While I’m waiting, tea sounded like a wonderful idea for an idle afternoon. James made me a cup so I wouldn’t have to leave my post. I asked him to pick from some of vallhallow’s samples on top of the tea cabinet and he chose this one. It smells really good before steeping, almost fruity? After, it’s definitely reminiscent of a green tea in both color and flavor. It’s just a touch bitter but not terribly so, and it has a remarkable buttery flavor. It also feels sort of thick on the tongue. Very unique. Ultimately, I’m not a big fan of that green tea flavor so I wouldn’t purchase this one. I do think I’ll enjoy the sample I have though.
Flavors: Bitter, Butter, Fruity, Green
Spring 2020 harvest.
Been a while since I’ve dabbled in yancha. The oily texture and heavy roast usually turns me off but this one has a unique flavor that’s just delightful.
The lovely aroma of roasted peaches and chocolate surprised me. The aromatics resemble a dan cong more than a typical wuyi oolong. I brewed it grandpa style as I usually do with this kind of tea. It has a familiar but gentler taste of wet rocks with floral accents and a fruity finish. Notes of brown sugar and hazelnut. Glides across the tongue smoothly without any ashiness.
A quite refined and elegant yancha with a lot of aromatic complexity and lingering fruitiness.
Flavors: Fruity, Juicy, Peach, Wet Rocks
Mastress Alita’s Monthly Sipdown Challenge
July 2022 → A tea from a US company
Another herbal from vallhallow and one I’ve been very curious to try. This has an interesting aroma. It’s almost like overripe fruit and iced tea that’s gone sour, which sounds gross but it’s actually not. The flavor is sweet and reminds me of sparkling grape juice. This was definitely not what I expected from this tea, but it’s so unique that it’s definitely worth a try for anyone who’s thinking about it.
Flavors: Fruity, Grapes, Sour, Sweet
Mastress Alita’s Monthly Sipdown Challenge
June 2022 → A tea with oceanic notes
This was the only non-caffeinated tea in my stash that had anything even close to oceanic notes. Even then, it was seaweed (not ocean air or ocean breeze or anything like that) and I believe only one person mentioned it. Even so, I’ll be using it for today’s sipdown prompt.
I wasn’t sure if I would like this because I thought it might taste like a green tea, but it’s so complex and interesting and I’m really loving it! I like it equally both hot and cold. No additions necessary. In fact, I think adding honey might overwhelm the flavor. It does look like a green tea once steeped, but the flavors to me are more reminiscent of a black tea. I taste fruit and dark chocolate surprisingly enough! I’m really enjoying this and will almost certainly add some to my next Verdant order.
Many thanks to vallhallow for sending some of this incredible herbal for me to try!
Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Fruity, Red Fruits
When a tea says the style of brewing you should use in its name, you should listen. Steeping this western style really doesn’t do it any justice. Steeped at 160 and now rewarming my water for another go around. It would be a shame to do only one brew with a gongfu session. 10 seconds seems too quick for me. I want to experience some deeper tones. Though it does have some interesting sweet notes mixed in with the twig notes. As you steep longer light compost notes develop. No astringency. It’s an unassuming black tea. Would not be good for milk or sugar drinkers as it doesn’t steep up briskly but also nothing incredible for the purists. A good tea to have in the afternoon during siesta.
Taken quite a fancy to the heavily oxidized oolongs. Verdant does an amazing job with all the tea they procure. And this is definitely up there with my favorites. Dark leaves. Longer oxidation. Dry aroma, light muscatel notes. It has a drying sensation similar to whst you would experience in the dry heat of the desert. Hairs on the bag. Oh little trichomes, how I adore you. Full twisted leaves. A frenzy of flavors. Sweet but woody. Fruity in the beginning with tropical flowers. Mineral. Wet rocks. I’ve run out of water. Sad panda.