280 Tasting Notes


Now this is a true Darjeeling. The texture is awesome – incredibly smooth and even somewhat thick. It is so noticeably and enjoyably smooth it’s hard to drink slowly.

The aroma of grape (muscat) is definitely comes through, and I really like it. That is seems to be what Darjeeling is famous for, and for good reason. The flavor is very sweet in the middle of the sip too, a sweetness like honey.

This tea wasn’t an eye opener like the Tumsong 2nd flush, and may actually be slightly less complex . . . but all the same, I was just too busy enjoying it to think through it more than that! This is one of those teas you could drink all the time and never get tired of it.

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Being that green tea is my favorite, I typically expect 1st flush teas to be the best. At the very least, the little that I’ve read has given me the assumption that the best flush is the first, followed by the autumn, whereas the summer is kind of there at the bottom.

This tea happily changed that assumption for me.

It has a refreshing apple-like aroma at the end of the sip, and it reminded me strongly of the way I imagine apple hookah smells (without the smoke). Similarly, it had an intense quality that I will describe as the way rosewater tastes, without the rose/flowery aroma. RTR describes this tea as having a strong jam and sap aroma, or pine needles, and perhaps that how they describe the same flavor I’m calling rosewater.

I very much enjoyed this sample, and this would definitely go into consideration as a good daily tea, if I decide at some point to drink black tea more often.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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I would probably make a terrible tea buyer/taster.

Funny to say that, after writing reviews on teas for quite a while now, but, it’s always taken me a good while to really wrap my head around a tea and get a good idea of all the nuances. A while meaning at least 1oz. There are exceptions, where I’m able to tell on the first sip, but that’s not often the case.

From this sample I was only able to get about 2 pots, which for my abilities, was a limiting factor.

Anyway, as described, there was definitely a hint of mango in the aroma initially. Reading RTR’s description, I imagined ‘green pepper’ was going to be like ‘black pepper’ only the green kind. However, instead, it was much more like green chili peppers (think hatch or bell). Very unique and interesting, actually. It had a bit of a pleasant sourness throughout – again, in a nice way, not in a puckering astringent way. After it cooled a bit, a stronger fruity-sweetness became clearer, and that fruit sugar taste remained a bit even after I finished.

Overall, this was an interesting black tea, and was enjoyable.

On a separate note…
I ordered a ton of samples from RTR, but one of them I ordered a full 50g instead of just a 6g sample. By accident, they sent all the teas as 6g (understandable – if you see an order with a bunch of samples, get on a roll fulfilling it, and miss the fact that just one of them says 50g). I emailed them, and within 2 days I had an email saying they had shipped the 50g to me overnight… so in the end, I ended up with a bonus 6g. Thanks guys!
Great Service!

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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What’s fun about this tea, like the others I’ve had from Verdant, particularly the Yunnan Gold and Yabao, is that it shares some kind of sweet-earthy character that must come as a result of being grown in Yunnan.

I’ve had this twice now, probably enough left for 1-2 more pots, at most. It came as one of two January teas-of-the-month. The first infusion or two have been slightly weak – I think less because this tea isn’t interesting, and more because I haven’t been completely cold-free since the beginning of the year.

That being said, this tea has a very determined sweetness, that continues to grow with further steeps. I made it to four (western style) steeps, and the last was the sweetest and left strongest aroma aftertaste by far. It was really nice! There was a bit of a tang present throughout, as well.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to get a bit more out of the first steep or two next time.
Anyway, I think this is an straightforward green tea that anyone would enjoy.

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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As mentioned in the description, the first steeping or two has some astringency/drying feeling at the end of the sip.
But, by the 3rd/4th, the taste is a slightly-fruity sweetness (just subtle, not intense).

The aroma of the steeped leaves, which I remember also coming from other organic senchas (O-cha’s Warashina Supreme comes to mind), is a bit fruity and is probably my favorite part about the tea. Otherwise, this is a fairly standard, mass-produced, average sencha.

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Found this at a local Nijiya market. They carry mostly organic green tea, and while I don’t usually seek out organic, it is nice to compare it. So far, I don’t think organic farming (for Japanese green tea) has reached the standard for flavor/etc. that non-organic has, but maybe (even hopefully) that will someday change.

As far as I have learned, the okumidori varietal, that this tea is made of, is usually for shaded teas, as it has a more distinct sweetness. Because the packaging is entirely in Japanese, I had no idea whether it would be an asa- or fuka- mushi, and I hoped it would be the former, but guessed it would be the latter (coming from Chiran, Kagoshima, and all the teas I’ve seen coming from there are super deep-steamed).

When I opened the tea, I found that I had guessed correctly. While I wanted a light-steamed tea, it was nonetheless interesting to consider what this varietal (which I’d never had before) would give being deep-steamed.

Anyway, I’ve experimented with a few brewing parameters, but found brewing it more like a gyokuro to have the most satisfying effect – for the first steeping, using between 140F – 150F for 1min 20 seconds.

In previous brewings (using a higher temp and shorter steep time), I found that the second steeping always had an overly strong vegetal quality that wasn’t balanced by sweetness, bitterness or any other flavor.
Using this more ‘soft’ approach, I found it to have a very nice sweetness at the end of the sip, and a delicious aftertaste that increases over time.

Unlike some fukamushi senchas that are strongly fired for the roasted aroma, this one seems to have been simply dried, which is why I think the sweetness of the okumidori can come through. I am no expert, but it probably doesn’t need to be as deeply steamed as it is.

This is a decent quality sencha, which I upped a bit, because it does come out very nicely when brewed at a low temp for a longer period of time, which seems maybe unusual for a deep-steamed sencha.

145 °F / 62 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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I could be wrong, but this tea seems to be not composed of just buds, but also some leaves. At least, when I compare it to Rishi’s Golden Needle, after that has been brewed, it appears to be only buds (there are no open leaves at all…). Whereas, after brewing this one, the leaves seem to open, and there is also a good amount of broken/leaf parts present (nothing small, but it isn’t as homogeneous as Rishi’s GN).

I don’t know if that translates to the higher astringency that I’ve been getting from this tea, especially on the first infusion (and somewhat the second), but it does have a noticeably stronger astringency present than two other Yunnan Golds that I really enjoyed (Rishi’s and Life in Teacup’s). That being said, there is something earthy about this one that makes me really feel like it is from Yunnan (unlike the others)…. it is something about the aroma that reminds me of pu-erh, which is really cool. This was a unique experience for me – having a tea that helped me to understand regional characteristics, because of what it has in common with a completely different tea, but from the same area.

By the third steeping, the smoothness and honey-sweetness that I love or have come to expect about this kind of black tea does come out. I enjoyed the sample size that I’ve now finished, but this particular version of Yunnan Gold didn’t impress me quite the same (as others that I’ve found from different vendors).

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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After getting used to this tea and having an idea of what to expect from it, it didn’t excite me the same way some Japanese greens do each time I prepare them, but it was very nice to find a green tea that I enjoyed this much from another region.

The first steeping always has a nice honeysuckle sweetness; it isn’t a strong flowery aftertaste, but the initial part of the sip tastes like honey that is soft and sweet like the smell of honeysuckle (maybe orange blossom honey?).

Further steeps are greener, more like chestnuts, or snap peas. It was a good one.

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While I really like ginger in all kinds of food/drink (sweet, savory, etc), I found the ginger in this blend to be overbalanced. The name is very appropriate – this is quite spicy (fun!), and the cup has more depth in it than if you were just drinking thai ginger alone so I think it’s accurate to call it a blend (like chai).
However, it is mostly spicy ginger that I get, and when I blended it with a few different teas (yunnan golden buds, Laoshan Chai, etc.), it took over.

I enjoyed each cup that I had, but the Laoshan Chai was just so much better (for me) that I’d actually buy that one again, but wouldn’t choose this. It might have been me though, as others seem to have tasted the orange and fennel, and found it nicely balanced. I could imagine all three of those flavors going really well together.

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Trying a sample of this tea again, as it has been quite a long time since I last had it (again, the previous times were small samples). I think I enjoyed it a lot more this go around!

Sweet snap peas, soft veggy-quality, and a little less of the intensity of the sweet+bitter that Den’s Sencha Zuiko has (both come from the same tea farm).

Some people will certainly enjoy this one more than the Zuiko, especially if they favor a ‘softer’ sencha (less potential for intense sweet and bitter). It’s just a matter of personal preference.

160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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Tea: Japanese greens
Dessert: Creme Brulee
Books: Heaven – Randy Alcorn
Anything by J.R.R. Tolkien
Movie: Field of Dreams
Person: Jesus Christ

But who am I to give you recommendations?
You’ll have to see for yourself!

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