2018 Autumn Laoshan Pine Needle Green / Verdant Tea

Laoshan.

A mountainous area on the east side of China. South east of Beijing and due north of Shanghai.

My appreciation for Chinese and Japanese tea is higher than that of others after visiting both countries. What I acknowledge more than anything now though is a family tea farm, such as the He family that grows, harvests, and processes this tea.

Flavors of vegetal, sweet grass, almost a lettuce type of flavor are heavy on the palette. It finishes with an interesting sweet note. They reference a light herbaceous cooling in the aftertaste in the letter that came with the tea box.

I wish I could explain this to you but it literally has a cooling feeling with a flavor of a bunch of mixed herbs.

Also worth a mention is the dry smell and look. Called Pine Needle green because it resembles a pine needle. The leaves they use require plumper leaves due to the process this tea goes through to receive the pine needle look.

They require a bit more work than other green teas. The smell, though fleeting, was an intense waft of vegetal and grassy bliss. If you enjoy green teas I highly suggest giving this one a try.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Verdant Tea
Description

This innovative tea is first carefully curled before being pulled straight – all by hand. The result is a delicate, nuanced, and flavorful brew that lasts through multiple steepings. He Qingqing loves the way the leaves dance in a glass pitcher for brewing and the way that the hand finishing shows off Laoshan’s delicate deep-green buds and leaves at a glance. This tea is fed by mountain spring water, picked by hand, and cultivated sustainably using traditional chemical-free farming techniques including growing rows of soybean between rows of tea to restore nitrates to the soil. The extreme northern climate means cold winters and short growing seasons, but the He Family perseveres, protecting their tea in greenhouses over the winter. The result is a deeply sweet and delicate green tea unlike any other in the world. This year’s harvest is particularly notable for the deep minerality that shows off Laoshan’s rocky soil.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Autumn Reserve Tieguanyin/Verdant Tea . . . . . .

Not gonna lie to you, Sisters: these past few weeks have been QUITE STRESSFUL for me. So I’ve been in Treat Yo’self mode: cookies. cheese. trashy pop music. trips to the zoo. leisurely walks on the treadmill instead of strenuous weight lifting.

And tea. ALWAYS TEA.

Today I decided to try one of the samples I’ve been looking forward to: Autumn Tieguanyin from Verdant Tea. Oolongs are my current favorite, and frankly, I deserve fineries.

This tea is a creamy walk through a spring meadow filled with fluttering buttercups. It’s so light and dainty. If it were an garment, it would be a pastel mint-colored tutu. If it were a voice, it’d be Ingrid Michaelson’s.

The tasting notes I’m picking up are mostly flowery, sweet vegetal, and slightly creamy. The description on Verdant Tea’s site says “pound cake,” which I’m not sure I’m getting. This may be, in part, due to my profound unclassiness. I may not have enough fae in my blood to be able to pick up on everything. But I’m getting the idea, and I’m adoring it.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Verdant Tea

Description

Master Zhang has worked for over four decades continuing his family’s craft growing true Tieguanyin varietal tea high above Daping village in Anxi. He is working to bring back the original habitat of the region by clearing mountainsides and planting trees, bringing back wildlife and biodiversity, for better tea and a better future. He has won awards across China and has been recognized as one of the leading teachers and craftsman in Anxi for his unique approach to grading teas and processing for flavor. Instead of grading solely by elevation or tree age, Master Zhang holds the “Reserve” designation for the few teas that meet his strict criteria of lingering intensive aftertaste, pervasive sweetness, and thick creamy body. This means that only the leaves whose weather, position in the field and processing come together perfectly can be offered as Master Zhang’s reserve. This reserve grade Tieguanyin was hand-picked and hand finished with an exhaustive fluffing and turning process to bring out deep intense florals and creamy texture.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

2017 Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong from Verdant Tea. . .

The Backstreet Boys have a song on an early album that went, “If you wanna get it good, girl, get yourself a bad boy.” This is pretty rich coming from the Backstreet Boys, obviously, but one cannot deny the appeal of a bad boy. Cigarettes, leather, motorcycles, hard liquor, and a devil-may-care attitude.

In my teas (and in my real life), I tend toward the “good boy”: straight or sweetly-flavored teas. But every once in a while, the bad boy winks at me — and I see, for a moment, what all the other girls are gushing about.

This lapsang souchong is a trouble-maker. It’s smoky and rich and dark and mineral. Its flavor is “natural and subtle addition that came from drying the leaves in a wok heated by pine wood. The smoke from the pine wood naturally mixed with the tea, creating a deeper and more foresty flavor that accentuated the tea’s minerality.”

If you’d like to see that drying room in action (you know you do), you should go to the listing for the tea.

Although this tea isn’t my “type,” I totally see its appeal for other people, and think that, if you want to try a rich new lapsang souchong, this might be the one for you. It’s a wild, satisfying ride.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Verdant Tea
Description

The earliest Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, (or Lapsang Souchong as it is commonly referred to in the West) was never deep-smoked. The smokiness was a natural and subtle addition that came from drying the leaves in a wok heated by pine wood. The smoke from the pine wood naturally mixed with the tea, creating a deeper and more foresty flavor that accentuated the tea’s minerality. The Li Family preserves this old-school aesthetic with careful application of smoke from local resinous pine. The sweet, roasted quality of the smoke processing blends with the rich flavor of the tea to yield a dark fruity flavor, and bring front and center the mineral texture of the soil of Wuyi.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Notes on 2015 Shou Mei / Verdant Tea. . . .

Zero degrees and getting colder. The past few weeks have been full of intense cold and winter storms. Makes this one want a floral tea to remind me spring isn’t too far away. And vacation is even closer. This 2015 shou mei has a silky mouth-feel with no astringency.

After I unwrapped the ball I noticed that the leaves were an array of colors. Usual leaf colors nothing crazy. It reminds me of the bark on a Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree except darker with less pop. The flavor is quite floral with honeysuckle and other unique garden flowers. Scents of rose and gardenia overflow your senses if you smell the wet leaf. Just lovely!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: White
Where to Buy: Verdant Teas
Description:

No description as this one is not currently being sold on the site and is no longer available, however, the general description given for most shou is workable.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Feng Huang Wuyi Black from Verdant Tea. . . .

Need a pick-me-up when you’ve spent the afternoon scanning and filing papers?

Because I do.

I imagine that your struggles are different, but you identify on some level.

Today I went in for Feng Huang Wuyi Black by Verdant Tea — a new tea with caffeine. Gotta call in those reserves.

The dry leaves are really long and twisty and dark. You know how the Death Eaters in Harry Potter fly around, leaving those long trails behind them? They look like that. I literally looked at the twists and thought “THE DARK LORD HAS RISEN.”

Would the Death Eaters drink this? I think they might, because it’s a pure leaf (no add-ins). And you know how they love purity. (All villains post-WWII have shades of Nazism, which is a bit tedious because there are so many other different types of evil to explore in addition to totalitarian eugenics. Anyway, that’s probably a subject for a much longer think-piece and not a tea review. So I’ll stop here on that trail.)

But it’s an interesting pure tea. Lots of flavor is packed in there. This tea has a mineral zest low note, a creamy mid-note, and a sort of raisin high-note.

According to Verdant’s site, the mineral note is supposed to be the lightest of notes, and berries are supposed to be up at the top; but I’m not getting that when I drink that black.

I worried that my tongue might be dead from years of exposure to my grandmother’s cooking. (SICK BURN.)

So I tried it with a little bit of vanilla almond milk and AHA. BERRY IS IN THERE. Sometimes you need the temperature to drop and a little bit of cream to whisk sweetness onto the tongue.

I prefer this tea with the almond milk and the lighter flavor, which isn’t something I’d normally say.

I think that without the milk, it’s your average Death Eater. With the milk, it’s Dolores Umbridge.

Yikes. Choose your path carefully.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Verdant Tea
Description

Feng Huang Black comes from transplanted Fenghuang Dancong from Guangdong established in the mountainous rocky slopes of Wuyi. As in Guangdong, these plants are cultivated as single bush trees instead of hedges. The result is a beautifully elegant expression of the bright, fruity, complex and sweet flavor of Fenghuang Dancong with the deep mineral notes of Wuyi. Black Tea Xiao Zhong style processing tempers the naturally tropical fruit of Dancong and pushes it towards blackberry. Because this tea is grown as single bushes and picked only once a year, the annual yield for the Li Family is very small. We are lucky to share this small batch from the Li Family’s tea gardens

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!