Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Dammann Freres
A black tea with a more smoky flavour than that of its Chinese counterparts. A great smoked tea from the Island of Formosa ; merits discovering.
Learn more about this tea here.
The ‘Crocodile’ in the name of this tea is certainly intimidating; I picture it snapping at you when you take a sip. Almost like getting whiplash from the intense smoke I suspect I’ll be tasting. The smell of the dry leaf certainly seems to support my theory; however some very quick research seems to indicate the name comes more from the fact this is a Formosa Lapsang Souchong, and less because it’s gonna bite me.
This is actually really good though it’s a little less naturally sweet than some of the other Lapsang Souchong blends I’ve been enjoying lately. It’s got a very brisk black base, and the smoky notes are indeed biting, but in a way that stimulates taste rather than assaults it. Maybe it’s because it’s summer and finally BBQ season but I’m picking up flavor notes that resemble the smell of burning hamburgers on a grill. The finish reminds me a little bit of molasses or those ‘tar candies’ that are sometimes given out around Halloween.
I enjoyed this one best when it was lukewarm; but the entire cuppa was pleasant. I don’t think I could call it any better or worse than another Lapsang Souchong though. It’s certainly very smoky; so if you like your Lapsang light I’d veer away from this blend.
Leaf Type: Black & Oolong
Where to Buy: Verdant Tea
We start with our most popular tea, Laoshan Black for a chocolatey base, and build a crisp flavor with Yu Lu Yan Cha and a long sweet aftertaste with roasted Wuyi Oolong from the Li family. We accent the sweet richness of the teas and meld them together with a touch of vanilla, and finish with the fine organic bergamot oil. The result is decadent, creamy, rich and subtle.
Learn more about this tea here.
This is one of the more unique Earl Grey tea blends that I’ve tried, and it comes as no surprise that this blend should come from Verdant Tea – because they always seem to take a very unique approach when it comes to classic tea flavors like Earl Grey.
That’s one of the things I absolutely love about this company – this is a company of artists! They think outside the box when it comes to traditional favorites. Sure, they could have taken one of their superior black teas and added bergamot oil and said, “there you have our Earl Grey.” But, they didn’t stop with just one of their superior black teas, they chose two – their Laoshan Black and their Yu Lu Yan Cha – and then they added their Wuyi Oolong just to kick it up a notch (or two!)
Wait a second. Oolong and Black tea? OK … so since Wuyi Oolong tends to be a darker Oolong, I went with 195°F and 3 minute steep time for the first infusion.
The dry leaf smells amazing. The bergamot notes are strong, but I can also detect those sweet notes of vanilla in there too. And then I smelled the chocolate-y notes of the Laoshan Black. These chocolate-y notes were very THERE as the tea steeped. My mouth was watering from the aroma that filled my kitchen.
The brewed liquid – surprisingly – smells more of the Laoshan Black tea than it does bergamot. I was a little worried … but just a little, because this is Verdant Tea, after all, and I hoped they wouldn’t disappoint me.
When the tea is very hot, the Laoshan Black tea is a very dominate flavor. After allowing the tea to cool to a drinkable temperature, though, the other flavors began to emerge.
Oh my! This is lovely! The Laoshan Black tea with its distinct chocolate-y flavors remains a dominate flavor profile in each sip. (Yeah, that means I get chocolate happiness with every sip!) And I like the way this tea melds with the flavors of bergamot and vanilla.
The vanilla tones are subtle at first, but as I near mid-cup, the vanilla flavors are developing. It’s creamy and sweet, but unlike some of the Earl Grey Creme teas that I’ve tried, it’s not a dominate flavor. It doesn’t “soften” the bergamot, it complements the flavor profiles of the Laoshan Black and the Yu Lu Yan Cha Black teas, encouraging those chocolate-y and malty notes to come forward.
The Yu Lu Yan Cha Black is a tea that I will be reviewing at a later date. I was actually going to be writing that review now, but, when I went to the Verdant Website, I noticed that the Yu Lu Yan Cha Black is currently out of stock and the Earl Grey was still in stock, but in very low quantities. (In other words, if this tea interests you, you should go forth and buy it now before it sells out.)
The Wuyi Oolong offers a very soft toasty, nutty note that offers a very harmonious flavor that marries perfectly with the chocolate and malt notes of the black teas. It also offers a nice – almost buttery – texture the cup that melds nicely with the creamy notes of the vanilla.
The second infusion is as delightful as the first – although it is a little different from the first cup. Most notably, the Laoshan black tea has mellowed a little, allowing the other flavors some “play time.” This cup is smoother and creamier than the first. I’m tasting a sweet potato note as well as notes of fruit from the Oolong. I am not tasting much from the bergamot nor the vanilla, but this is still a very tasty cup of tea!
As lovely as this tea is, I have to admit that the bergamot flavor is not as strong as I would like it to be. I like a bright, bold bergamot note and that is something that I’m just not getting here. I do get a nice tangy tingle of bergamot in the aftertaste and this flavor dances on the palate long after the sip. I like that … but I do find myself wishing that there was more of that tangy bergamot during the sip to contrast with the sweet chocolate-y flavors of the Laoshan Black, the hints of toasty flavor from the Wuyi Oolong and the malty, sweet notes of the Yu Lu Yan Cha Black.
That said, I really enjoyed this blend and it’s a tea that I’d be happy to drink any time. It’s a really delicious tea with lots of layers of flavors to discover.