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Category: Oolong Page 1 of 2

Ripe Mango Oolong from Lupicia

Lupicia sent me quite a few samples to review, so I decided to follow up my tasting of their yuzu green tea (which I wrote about last week) with another one of their blends: ripe mango oolong.

First off, there was the lovely tin. Inside was a sealed plastic bag and a small paper with brewing instructions. The instructions said to steep 2.5 to 3 grams of tea in 5 ounces of boiling water for 1.5 to 2 minutes. As with the yuzu green tea, I didn’t follow the instructions exactly, upping the amount of water while following all of the other recommendations.

Opening the tea packet was a true joy. As soon as I cut the sealed plastic bag, I was ENGULFED in the aroma of ripe mangoes. This tea smelled so juicy and ripe and tropical and real that I couldn’t believe it. Interestingly, although I knew that the base was an oolong, I couldn’t tell what kind because the mango smell was just that strong. So, uh, does this tea deserve to be called a ripe mango oolong? Fuck. Yes.

The leaves were a deep sage green with the occasional tiny curl of mango sprinkled throughout. That little piece of fruit doesn’t truly do justice to the intense aroma, though.

I steeped this baby twice: once at 1.5 minutes, and again for 2 minutes. Both times, the resulting brew was a pale yellowish colour shading into orange.

The real surprise was the first sip, because although the dry leaf smelled powerfully of mango, it was much less apparent brewed up. I could taste some mango, but the  base really came to the fore – the floral, creamy smell of Tie Guan Yin oolong.

I’m not surprised that that’s the base, because it’s a good complement to the fruit flavour. But I was really hoping for something more mango-like in flavour; I wanted my ripe mango oolong to taste like ripe mangoes, and not just smell like it.

Bonus: get a freebie from Lupicia

In addition to samples, Lupicia has also generously provided something extra: a bonus offer for you readers!

All readers who order from Lupicia USA and enter the code “Books” in the comments section on the checkout page will get a free surprise with their order. So take a look!

Sparkle Pony Oolong Tea from 52Teas

My itch to buy teas was a lot stronger last year than this year, but when there’s a sale, it’s hard to resist. It’s especially hard to resist when you visit the 52Teas site — as I did a few weeks ago — and notice that their amazing Cranberry Orange Rooibos is on clearance.

So I made an order to get another 2 ounces of that delicious ambrosia, even though the Canadian/US exchange rate is still in the dumps. Of course, I added a few more blends to my order to make it worthwhile.

When it finally arrived in my mailbox a week ago, I tore the package open to get my paws on what was inside, only to be greeted by a surprise freebie:

52Teas_sparkle_pony_oolong_label

Yes, you are reading that right. Sparkle Pony Oolong tea. With actual sparkles in it, according to the label.

I am nothing if not adventurous, so sure! Why not?

The label says this tea contains oolong, pluots, ginger chunks, crystallized ginger, and edible sparkles. Here’s  how the whole thing looks in real life:

52Teas_sparkle_pony_oolong_leaf

A “pluot” is actually a kind of plum/apricot hybrid (hence the name). That chunk of orange fruit right in the middle of my palm in the photo above is a dried pluot — it looks like a dried apricot, except for being a bit stickier/gummier. The oolong leaves are a brownish green, but not rolled up. Looking closely at them, I wasn’t really able to determine what variety (eg: tie guan yin, da hong pao) served as the base.

Smelling the  leaf didn’t help either, as the most noticeable scent was the ginger — spicy, somewhat sweet and pungent.

I took about 2 teaspoons of leaf and steeped it in 80°C water for 4 minutes, which is slightly longer than what’s recommended on the package, because I’m a really big rebel.

Here’s what the tea looked like after steeping:

52Teas_sparkle_pony_oolong_brew
Taste-wise, the most prominent note was the ginger. Beneath that, there’s a gentle powdery sweetness. This tea made me think of a similar tea I reviewed last year: Tea Leaf Co.’s Soul Good oolong tea. The notes here are very similar – the ginger, the powder, the sweetness. Also like Soul Good, I was expecting this Sparkle Pony Oolong to have a stronger fruit note.

After I steeped the tea, I took the dried pluot, now reconstituted due to the hot water, and popped it in my mouth. The taste was tangy, with the tartness of plums mixing with the chewy texture of apricot. Oddly enough, I’d say that the pieces of pluot, just by themselves, are my favourite part of this tea.

Oh, and there weren’t any visible sparkles that I could see. Maybe they’re all glommed together at the bottom of the bag.

Anyways, this was a fun tea to try, and it introduced me to a new fruit I’d like to encounter again in my cup some day.

Sanne Tea Samples: Oriental Beauty and Bao Zhong Oolong

Psst! The Toronto Tea Festival is this weekend! I’ll be there tomorrow to check things out, attend some sessions, and meet up with friends. If you’re in the Greater Toronto Area, why not stop by and start (or continue) your tea journey? You can get a sneak peak of the vendors by checking out this review. Or this one. Or this one written by my friend Jess, a travel blogger.

Anyways, on to our regularly scheduled programming…

About Sanne Tea

Sanne Tea is a tea company that just launched last year and specializes in Taiwanese teas. As part of their launch, they offered free samples to tea drinkers online, and I took them up on it. So let’s look at two of their teas today: their Bao Zhong and Oriental Beauty oolongs.

Bao Zhong Oolong

The tea comes from Pinglin area, one of the oldest tea regions in Taiwan. The tea farm is in Cuku, Pinglin District, near the Feitsui Reservoir area. The environment is strictly protected in this area. Though other areas also produce Bao Zhong Tea, this Bao Zhong Tea, also called Wen Shan Bao Zhong Tea, is recognized as the best quality and the best fragrance.

The dry leaf for the Bao Zhong oolong is long and twisted, dark forest green, and somewhat feathery. It looks lovely. But more than that, it smells amazing — rich, buttery, and floral. The floral creaminess and grainy undertones intensify when the leaf gets warmed up in the gaiwan, and the whole thing reminds me of uncooked jasmine rice, or butter on toast.

Sanne_Tea_Bao_Zhong_dry

I took the entire 6-gram sample and chucked it into my gaiwan. The package came with steeping instructions, but since my gaiwan can hold only half the water that the steeping instructions require, I cut the instructed steeping time in half to compensate. However, I kept the steeping temperature (90°C) the same.

The first steep was 40 seconds long, and the resulting brew was clear and light golden, with an intensely floral and buttery smell reminiscent of magnolias or gardenias. Wow! The aftertaste was sweet and grassy, and played along the sides of my tongue. The second steep, for only 40 seconds, was a bit darker.

Sanne_Tea_brew

The second steep is also stronger in flavour and more distinctly floral than the first steep; it reminded me of perfume. The third steep was similar to the second, but it had a more mineral, sweet aftertaste.

Overall, the tea stayed pretty consistent from steep to steep — I did about 8 steeps, and while the last few were more mineral, the colour didn’t change much.

I also have to note that the tea leaf was very high quality, because there were very few instances of broken leaf or tea dust clogging my strainer as I poured the liquid out into my cup. The wet leaf for the spent tea was a deep spinach green. So far, Sanne Tea has really impressed me!

You can buy Sanne Tea’s Bao Zhong oolong here.

Oriental Beauty Oolong

To make Oriental Beauty, farmers have to grow tea trees without pesticides, so Jacobiasca formosana, a type of green leafhopper insect, can feed on the leaves, stems, and buds. This leads to the tea plant’s production of monoterpene diol and hotrienol which gives the tea its unique flavor. Tea leaves bitten by the green leafhopper insect lose their green color and appear bronzed or washed out, eventually becoming atrophic and curly. It is why the high quality Oriental Beauty shows five different colors: white, red, yellow, green and brown.

The setup for this tea was pretty similar: I used up the whole 6-gram sample, steeped it with 80°C water, and used half the steep time recommended on the package to compensate for using only half the water.

The dry leaf is dark, curly, and multicoloured, with yellow and white flashes throughout; it smelled of plums and honey. However, after I steeped it, the sweet smell deepened into something closer to tobacco.

Sanne_Tea_Oriental_Beauty_dry

The first steep was for 60 seconds, and resulted in a cup of light amber liquid with sweet, papery, and woody overtones. On my tongue, it was sweet and woody, and there was also a flavour slipping along the bottom that made me think of birch bark — dry, cool, wispy, papery. The mouthfeel was thick and it coated my tongue, providing a metallic aftertaste and a syrupy sweetness similar to Thompson raisins.

The second steep was much darker than the first, with a deeper amber colour like beer. The flavour also intensified, with notes of raisins, honey and birch bark coming to the fore. As with the Bao Zhong, I noticed that the quality of the leaf was very high; I found very few broken leaves, leaf fragments, or dust in my strainer or cup.

The third steep was even darker and stronger-tasting than that, although the honey flavour receded. Instead of sweetness, I tasted metal. The fourth steep was fairly similar to the third steep. However, as I continued to steep (I did 7-8 in total), I noticed that the mouthfeel became thinner, dryer, and woodier.

You can buy Sanne Tea’s Oriental Beauty oolong here.

Verdict

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked these two oolongs. Sanne Tea has done a very good job here; the leaves are very high quality and very well preserved in their packaging, so you’ll be getting a good experience out of this.

Toronto Tea Festival Tasting Set

The Toronto Tea Festival is coming up at the end of January 2016, which means that the event’s organizers have started to promote it more widely. In October, the organizers posted a note on Facebook saying that they were looking for 40 tea tasters to sample a variety of teas from vendors who will appear at the 2016 festival.

Free tea? Why not? I applied and was accepted.

When the tea packages were ready to pick up, I got the following email from one of the festival organizers:

Dear TTF Tea Tasters:

Thank you for participating in the inaugural Toronto Tea Festival (TTF) Tea Tasters Box.  By now you should have picked up your teas while those who could not pick up will be receiving them in the mail shortly. If you have not yet picked up your tea samples at Tao Tea Leaf the deadline is November 14th.

Please steep and taste your teas, then go online and complete the Tea Tasters Rating Form at [address redacted].  You will have received six out of twenty-four teas for tasting. Please find the tea company name that corresponds to your tea sample, then find the specific tea and make your vote!

Deadline to complete the rating form is December 13th.

Feel free to share your experience of this process with us on Facebook or Twitter and use the hashtag #teatastersboxTO.

We hope you enjoy all the teas but remember we’re counting on you to provide us with your feedback to determine the “tealovers’ choice” for the best tea in each category.  The winners and runners up will be announced on the Toronto Tea Festival social media channels and also at the 4th annual Toronto Tea Festival on January 30 & 31st, 2016.

I picked up my bag of teas on November the 5th and sampled them all over the course of a few weeks. Here, I’ll look at each of the teas I was given below and share the rating I gave them for each tea. However, I think that this whole endeavour could have been organized much better, and I’ll discuss my concerns at the end.

Spa Herbal Tea From 3 Tea

This is an herbal tea with ginger, chamomile, and rose petals. Opening the pack, I’m greeted with whole heads of dried chamomile flowers, dried pink rose petals, and dried chunks of ginger. It’s quite pretty, but I’m wary anyways because I’m just not a chamomile person.

Spa_tea_leaf

Surprisingly, this tea isn’t half bad. The brew is a pale golden colour after about 2 minutes of steeping. The chamomile is very strong, but the ginger is present enough to prevent the whole mix from being cloying. I still don’t like chamomile, but I probably will be able to finish this off in the evenings without too much trouble.

I rated it 7/10 — pretty impressive, considering that I dislike chamomile.

Ceylon Tea New Vithanakande Estate From Capital Teas Ltd

The dry leaf of this Ceylon is black, thin, and wiry, with the occasional silver tip peeking through. Each strand of leaf is probably about the length of a grain of rice. The smell is muted, but somewhat brisk and malty.

Capital_Tea_New_Vitha_brew

I put a generous spoonful in my teapot and let it steep with boiling water for 3 minutes. The resulting brew was a coppery brown with the citrusy, bright aroma that you normally get with Ceylons. A tad brisk and astringent, but otherwise it didn’t really knock me off my feet. I find that Ceylons can be somewhat temperamental, though — sometimes I brew them and they turn out great, and other days it’s meh. This one was somewhere in the middle of that continuum. I rated this tea 6/10.

Long Jing From Genuine Tea

The leaves here look like most other Long Jings: oblong, somewhat flat, and feathery. This variety was quite vegetal, and not quite as nutty — I got a strong sense of snap peas and green beans here, rather than chestnut. Since I’m not really a huge fan of Long Jings in general, this tea was wasted on me.

Genuine_Long_Jing

This was probably the tea I found least impressive. I gave it a 5/10.

Blood Orange from Basilur

One of the big issues I had with this set of teas is that some of the samples were packaged in paper rather than plastic, and this tea is the main reason why: it’s so strongly scented that even when I was walking down Bloor Street in the middle of downtown, during rush hour, with the sample in a sealed pouch inside a goddamned plastic bag, I could STILL smell it. Every so often I’d catch a whiff of something fruity that I couldn’t identify and go Hey, is someone wearing perfume?

That is how strong this tea smells. I was worried that it would contaminate all the other teas in the sample pack, especially the Ceylon, which was also sealed in paper packaging.

That said, the tea is quite pleasant when you deliberately open the pouch it’s sealed in. It smells unmistakably of citrus — at first whiff, it smells like a creamsicle, but deep down into the base notes I get a sense of something dry and boozy,  like fruitcake. Looking closely at the leaf, you can see tons of dried, sliced orange peel, too, plus some berries and flowers and other fripperies.

Basilur_Blood_Orange

I took half the sample (7 grams) to make a single teapot and steeped it in boiling water for 3 minutes. The resulting tea was a nice, cozy mulled orange colour. However, it was both tart and bitter, and even a spoonful of honey couldn’t save it from my reckless overleafing. The hibiscus and orange are strong in this one.

Ultimately, I gave this one a 7/10.

Sencha From Momo Tea

This was another tea that was sealed in a paper packet. Luckily, this was also unaffected by the heavy sent of the Basilur Blood Orange tea. Thank god, because this tea is lovely on its own — one of the sweetest and most delicate senchas I’ve had in a long time.

Momo_Sencha

The leaf of this one was a deep emerald broken into fine spindles with a soft, hayish scent — In fact, I’m surprised that they’re saying this is a sencha, because it looks very much like a gyokuro. It took well to overleafing and oversteeping — even despite a longer infusion, it didn’t turn bitter, astringent, or umami. Instead, it was soft, pale yellow-green, and sweet with notes of grass and hay. The brewed leaf was a bright emerald. I’m definitely happy I got a chance to try this.

This was my favourite from the set — I gave it 9/10.

Da Hong Pao From Tao Tea Leaf

Tao Tea Leaf is one of the founders of the Toronto Tea Festival, so I’m not really sure how I feel about them including their tea in the tasting set. If the whole point of this exercise is to get people to rate which teas are the best, isn’t it kind of stacking the deck to include one of your teas if you’re the one running the contest?

Interestingly, the paper packets that the Basilur, Capital Tea, and Momo Tea samples were packaged in are the paper packets that Tao uses for selling its own single-serve samples at the Tao Tea Leaf store. However, the Tao Tea Leaf packaged their own tea sample in a plastic zip-lock pouch — that is, a sturdier kind of packaging that’s much less permeable, and therefore much less likely to be contaminated by other flavours. Why would they give their own tea such superior packaging if this is meant to be a fair taste test?

</consipiracy theory>

Anyways. I decided to brew this tea using a gaiwan, measured out 5.6 grams of dry leaf, and brewed it multiple times using 90°C water. The dry leaf was dark brown, twisted, and thick, with a strong roasted/wood note.

Tao_Tea_Leaf_Da_Hong_Pao

I was greeted with an intense smell of wood, cinnamon, smoke, coffee, and sesame after the rinse. The tea really woke up on the second and third steeps, with an intense roasted note. As I continued to steep, the flavour diminished, but on the final steep I detected a floral note — rose, I think.

Considering the other Da Hong Paos I’ve tried, this one was pretty classic-tasting, and was pleasantly smooth. I gave it an 8/10.

What Worked and What Didn’t

In addition to Steepster, I’m part of a private Facebook group that discusses tea, and many of the group members are in Toronto, just like I am. Thus, several of us took part in this tea tasting experiment/contest/publicity stunt for the Toronto Tea Festival. But as a group, we found that there are several problems with the way this contest has been handled.

For one thing, there were 24 different teas that the festival organizers had samples for, but each sample bag contained only 6 teas. This means every person got a unique set of teas to sample. I can kinda see what the Toronto Tea Festival had in mind by doing this — they wanted to give each participant a special experience. But how on earth can the festival organizers be sure which tea is the “best” according to the participants if every participant’s experience is different?

On top of that, the grab bag of samples meant that there was no guarantee that each participant would enjoy what they were given. What if I were allergic to chamomile? What if I absolutely detested Ceylon tea and refused to drink it? That would have been incredibly unfair to the vendor involved.

Also, if this contest is meant to help people at the festival determine the best tea, they’re really going about it ass-backwards. What can it possibly mean to choose a “best” among such a wide variety of teas? It would have been far more productive to group each of the 24 samples into a set — for example, an all-green-tea set or an all-rooibos set — and have participants choose the set that they were most interested in. This accomplishes two positive things:

  1. It means there are more awards the festival can give out — Best Green Tea, Best Oolong Tea, and so on.
  2. It makes compiling all of the survey results from the participants much easier, so it takes less effort for the organizers to determine which tea is the “best”.

Overall, my friends and I found everything — the bags, the survey, the hashtag — highly disorganized. I hope that if the Toronto Tea Festival tries to do this again in preparation for the 2017 festival, they’ll approach it differently.

Verdant Tea’s 5-for-5 Sample Pack

Verdant Tea is a tea retailer that works directly with individual tea farmers to source high-quality, limited-stock teas. Originally from the US, Verdant moved most of their operations to China over the summer of 2015 to provide higher-quality teas with faster turnaround times and reduced shipping rates. I’ve heard many, many good things about them through the Steepster grapevine, but I finally took advantage of their five-for-$5 sample pack for first-time customers on my birthday in September. (Happy belated birthday, me!)

I was very much looking forward to trying their teas, and this set of samples did not disappoint!

Laoshan Green

This harvest is picked in the cool autumn air after resting the plant through summer. The result is rich, fresh flavor full of the intense savory oat and cream that Laoshan is famous for. The He family’s signature green tea is fed by mountain spring water, picked by hand, and cultivated sustainably using traditional chemical-free farming techniques.

Verdant’s Laoshan Green tea is highly regarded amongst the Steepster community, but getting some freshly harvested tea for yourself is a different matter entirely. The sample I got smells so amazingly green and fresh! Like butter and green beans and cream and bread. So good!

The leaves were dark little curls of sage green with a faint powdery patina to them. I took the whole sample (about 4.75 g) and followed Verdant’s recommended instructions for gong-fu brewing: 80°C water with an initial steep of 10 seconds and an additional 4 seconds per subsequent steep.

Verdant_Laoshan_Green_pour

The resulting brew was a bright yellow-green, slightly cloudy, and intensely flavourful. There was a slight sharpness to the tea that reminded me of a Japanese green, but over time that buttery smell won out. I’d say that the second and third steeps were the most flavourful, and that there was a noticeable drop in the intensity of the flavour from the fourth steep onwards. This tea was just beautiful to look at, though.

Verdant_Laoshan_Green_Gaiwan

You can learn more about Verdant Tea’s Laoshan Green here.

Big Red Robe

Li Xiangxi grows this tea in the Longchuan gorge of the Wuyishan National Nature Reserve, hand picking every leaf with her family and delicately roasting this tea in bamboo baskets over charcoal embers to bring out the natural minerality of the region. Li Xiangxi believes strongly in standing against the modern trend to over-roast and cover the natural flavor of the tea, making her Big Red Robe unique among its peers.

I’ve had a few Wuyi oolongs now, but this one is remarkably smooth, with a well balanced mix of natural and roasted flavours. The leaves of this one look like your typical roasted oolong: dark greenish brown, spindly and curled, and they have that lovely roasty-toasty flavour.

I followed Verdant’s instructions for western-style brewing here, and brewed the whole sample with a cup of water for 20, then 30, then 40 seconds. As time went on my water cooled down, so I didn’t make as faithful a brew as I could have.

Verdant_Big_Red_robe

The first steep was a deep brown and very well balanced between the flavours of the roast, earth, and wood. Very smooth. No astringency. The second steep was a bit milder, with a funky tangy taste to it, but it eventually settled down into more roastiness, this time with a fruitier undertone. The final steep of 40 seconds was the lightest  in both colour and flavour, with a deep amber tint and creamy/floral notes coming to the fore. Overall, this was a remarkably smooth Wuyi oolong.

You can learn more about Verdant Tea’s Big Red Robe here.

Spring Tieguanyin

Master Zhang is proud to be sharing true Tieguanyin varietal oolong, fed by mountain spring water and grown without pesticides or fertilizers under the high mountain mist. Most Tieguanyin sold is actually Benshan or other similar varietals which lack the long drawn out aftertaste of Tieguanyin. The biodiversity of Daping and the mountain soil lend intense complexity and depth of flavor to this tea.

Ah yes, I’m learning to really appreciate TGY oolongs now. So fresh! So light! This tea is quite similar. The dry leaf looks like tight little nuggets of emerald green.

Verdant_Spring_TGY_leaf

I followed Verdant’s instructions and brewed the full sample with freshly boiled water — three steeps in total, ranging from 30 to 50 seconds.

The first steep was a pale yellow and I could smell and taste the traditional TGY notes of flowers and cream. However, there was also an underlying green and fruity flavour to it that reminded me of pear. Now, I’ve never had a pear-flavoured oolong, but I can totally see the appeal.

The second steep was a bit deeper in colour, more of a buttercup yellow. It was a bit sharper and tarter, but overall it was still quite mild. My sister, who was visiting us that day, had a sip and told me that it made her think of mangoes — interesting!

The third steep was the mildest and palest, and was quite delicate. I let it cool, but even cold it was quite refreshing. After the third steep, the leaves still hadn’t completely unfurled but they were a gorgeous forest/emerald green.

Verdant_Spring_TGY_wet_leaf

Overall, this TGY is milder than others I’ve had, but I enjoyed its delicacy.

You can learn more about Verdant Tea’s Spring Tieguanyin here.

Laoshan Black

This brand new kind of tea is fed by sweet mountain spring water and roasted in the sun for three days before finishing to bring out rich chocolate notes. Mr. He perfected this tea as a proud reflection of the bold Shandong spirit and the perseverance of Laoshan Village. Laoshan Black is a labor of love to prove to the world how incredible teas from Northern China can be.

One thing I was looking forward to about this particular tea was comparing it to the Laoshan Green above. Same farmer, same varietal — trying the two together would be a pretty interesting way to see how different processing changes the base leaf, and exactly what flavours stay “true” to a particular varietal independent of processing.

The dry leaf of Laoshan Black looks similar in size and shape compared to the Laoshan Green – they’re both tiny, wispy curls. However, the green tea was green, and the black tea was, well, black. (Yes, I am now the mayor of Obvious City.) I took the entire sample (just over 5 grams) and steeped it 3 times according to the steeping instructions on the Verdant website.

Verdant_Laoshan_black_dry_leaf

The first steep was amazing, resulting in a pale brown brew with a thick smell of malt and cocoa powder. Cocoa city! I can sense some of the butter/grain notes of the green tea, but the flavour deepened here and became much more savoury.

The second steep was similarly malty, with an underlying bitter bite that reminded me of cocoa nibs. However, it was very smooth, with no astringency.

The third steep was very mild, and the wet leaf by now had an underlying note of raisin, which made me think of raisin bread. The tea was by now quite pale for a black tea, but still soft, savoury and delicious. I can see why people on Steepster like Laoshan black so much by now!

Verdant_Laoshan_Black_brew

You can learn more about Verdant Tea’s Laoshan Black here.

Qianjiazhai 2015 Sheng Brick

Master Zhou takes the utmost care to “let the leaves speak,” pressing each batch of leaves differently to bring out their best, either as a looseleaf sheng, a black tea or a pressed cake or brick of tea. This brick of tea is wild-picked in the oldest tea forest in the world, deep in the Mt Ailao national forest preserve. The leaves picked are from three to five hundred year old trees whose roots draw more nuance and complexity from the soil. This tea is stone pressed and bamboo wrapped.

I had a mild panic about this tea because it was the last one I planned to try, and I misplaced the sample — I was worried it got thrown out, but after scouring my tea cupboard (and dumping a few old teas I knew I wasn’t going to drink, as well as reorganizing my baskets, empty tins, and teaware) I found the sample buried deep within my puerh storage box. Thank god — what a catastrophe it would have been to review only 4 teas of a 5-tea set! At least I got some good cleaning done.

The dry sheng leaves were dark brown with some khaki stems and slivers of white visible. The dry leaf didn’t smell like much — just your typical “sheng” smell: a little bit of smoke, tartness, and fruit. I used the whole sample in my gaiwan and did 6.5 steeps (during the 7th steep there wasn’t enough water left in my teapot to fill the gaiwan all the way) ranging in length from 6 to 12 seconds.

Verdant_Qianjiashai_dry_leaf

Throughout every steep, the liquor was extremely light and clear, ranging from a beautiful peachy colour in the first steep to a nice pale amber in the final steep. Verdant’s website said that this tea had strong notes of plantain and lychee, but I didn’t really get that here. Instead, I got some generic apple and grass notes, with a flavour of hay coming into play around the 4th steep.

Verdant_Qianjiashai_brew

Despite the relative mildness of the flavour, the tea did have a really good, thick, mouthfeel. Not quite syrupy or creamy, but there was definitely substance to it. There was absolutely no bitterness, but the later steeps did have some astringency to them, resulting in a cottony, gauzy feeling in my mouth. They also tasted some what mineral and smoky.

Verdant_Qianjiashai_wet_leaf

By the end, the leaves still hadn’t completely unfurled, but they had increased a lot in volume. Overall, this was a pretty generic sheng for me: pleasant, but nothing that really knocked my tastebuds for a loop.

You can learn more about Verdant Tea’s Qianjiazhai 2015 Sheng Brick here.

Verdict

While all of the teas in this pack were good, the Laoshan Black and Laoshan Green were my favourites, with the Spring Tieguanyin behind them by a nose. Verdant’s teas are of undeniable quality and freshness, and if my cupboard weren’t already exploding with tea, I’d probably buy each of the two Laoshan teas in a heartbeat.

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