Prior to this morning I had a little packet of this just sitting in my tea cabinet. I received it as a free sample with an order from Verdant Tea around a couple months ago. With my recent consumption skewing heavily in the direction of black and green teas, I have not had much of a chance to review many oolongs. After working six days straight and dealing with unseasonable cold, however, I decided that I needed something a little heavier to wake me up this morning. It was finally time to break this one out and spend some serious time pondering it.

To brew this tea, I decided on a multi-step Western infusion. Normally, I follow the brewing guidelines suggested by the vendor, but today, I decided to lower the water temperature just a tad. I still kept it within a range acceptable for most oolongs, but the last time I brewed a tea from Verdant, I found that their suggested temperatures are slightly on the high side for my taste. The initial steep times were 2 minutes, 2 minutes, 4 minutes, and 6 minutes. I allowed for an optional final steep of around 8 minutes just in case. I settled on this method because I have had a lot of success with 4-6 step infusions with aged oolongs in the past. I figured one could work here.

First Infusion: The liquor produced was an attractive pale yellow. Mild aromas of freshly cut grass, roasted nuts, minerals, and wood were evident. In the mouth, I found a pleasant mixture of grass, butter, mineral, moss, toast, wood, and herbal notes that were somewhat reminiscent of ginseng.

Second Infusion: The liquor produced was slightly darker than the first infusion. Stronger, brisker aromas of grass, wood, nuts, minerals, and herbs were present on the nose. Complex notes of leather, tobacco, nuts, brown toast, char, butter, wood, grass, roasted barley, wet stones, moss, minerals, herbs, and steamed buns rolled across the palate.

Third Infusion: The liquor produced was about the same color as that produced by the second infusion. Mild toast, roasted barley, butter and mineral aromas were evident. In the mouth, toast, char, butter, roasted barley, nut, moss, stone, herb, steamed bun, and mineral notes began to give way to creaminess.

Fourth Infusion: The liquor produced was slightly paler. Very subtle aromas of grass, roasted barley, and toast were just barely detectable on the nose. In the mouth, very mild notes of grass, barley, toast, nuts, and minerals were chased by creaminess.

I did try a fifth infusion, but there wasn’t much flavor, so I won’t detail its results here.

Overall, I am pleased with this experiment. I think this is really nice as far as aged oolongs go, and fortunately, the roast characteristics aren’t overwhelming. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this tea to those looking for an oolong with a good deal of complexity.

Flavors: Brown Toast, Butter, Char, Cream, Freshly Cut Grass, Herbs, Leather, Mineral, Moss, Roasted Barley, Roasted Nuts, Tobacco, Wet Rocks, Wood

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.



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