250 Tasting Notes


First of all, yes, I’m alive. I’ve been amazingly busy recently, with professors really ;piling on the work as the semester draws to a close. But today I have a bit of time, so I’m doing a review as quickly as possible. I’m still multitasking, doing my Abstract Algebra homework while writing the beginning of this review.

I was really generous with the ammount of leaf I used today becasue I caved and bought a lot of stuff from the Verdant Tea Cyber Monday sale and I need to do some stash busting. Anyway, I let the first cup steep for a bit more than 20 seconds, which resultedin tea that was a nice amber color, and which had a pleasant earthy aroma. Unlike some shu, where the aroma can be overpowering, this tea is just the right ammount to enhance the experience. The teaste is earthy, yet still surprisingly sweet. Also, lets not forget the thirst-quenching and the cooling sensations that this tea has to offer, which give it that extra uniqueness to make this tea really stand out.

Second cup, steeped for 15 seconds. I usually only let the second cup steep for 10 seconds, but I felt a bit adventurous today. The result is much earthier than the first cup, but still delightfully clear and juicy. The mineral sensation that David mentions in the tea’s description is also more obvious during this steep, rounding off the expereince with a pleasant smooth aftertaste that migrates to the hard palate. Once again, this tea delivers an amazing experience.

Third cup, also 15 seconds. This was a very complex cup of tea, as I seem to have caught it during the middle of the big transition from the bolder flavors of the early steepings to the smooth, cool, sparkling sensations that coem atthe end. The spakling feeling is starting to assert itself, and the mineralish aftertaste has faded significantly. Also, the flavor is clearer, like the musty old flavors have been washed away. It’s very interesting, and I’m savoring it as much as I can.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

Earth to Joshua Smith….Hello….Hope you’re studies are doing well!!!

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It’s the weekend! I don’t have classes tomorrow, and my last class today went well, since the professor forgot that she was supposed to make a quiz for today, os we got out early! And better yet, I turn 21 this Saturday! Life is good…

Anyway, the first infusion was steeped for 15 seconds, and I was generous with the ammount of leaves that I used, so the result was sweet, yet deep and complex. The hibiscus wasn’t that strong today, but the sweetness of the hibiscus helped to balance out the dark choclate, making it much more pleasant. All in all, a very nice cup of tea.

SEcond cup, 10 second steep. This was interesting. The first thing that I noticed was that a nice lingering smooth aftertaste had developed. IT’s somewhere between creamy and mineralish smooth, and that about as precise as I can get. The hibiscus flavor is a bit more prominent now, which adds some nice floral falvor to the tea, but the chocolate still dominates the foretaste. Other than that, not all that much has changed.

P.S. – It’s rather late, so I don;t know if I’ll get too many cups out of this before I have to go to bed. Sorry.

205 °F / 96 °C

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First of all, sorry that I haven’t updated in a while. First, there were two weeks of midterm exams (they went very well, but it was a stressful two weeks), followed by that week where all my professors said “Okay, since exams are done, that means we can give you tons of work!” Finally, this past week was messed up by post-tropical cyclone Sandy, and everything went to hell. Anyway, I needed something warm and comforting, and this tea was perfect for the job.

The first steeping is delightfully complex and creamy, with the buttery mouth-feel working in harmony with the subtle spice and floral flavors and the caramel undertones to create a tea that is pretty much perfect. I was just drinking my other aged tie guan yin the other day, and it truly pales in comparision to the complexity of this tea. The aftertaste is also beyond compare, as it tingles delightfully on the roof of my mouth with a mineralish/metalic feeling. It also lasts for a good three minutes, at which point I could no longer resist this tea, and all took another sip.

The second cup was very similar to the first, but the taste was more…refined, for lack of a better term. The mouth-feel was still creamy, but not as overtly as it was before, the the fruit ans spice flavors were a bit more subdued, but it was still a well-balanced and interesting cup of tea. Luckily, the aftertaste has not weakened at all, and it’s length has not been decreased, so I’m very pleased with how the tea developed. It will be intersting to see what it’s like once the leaves are fully open.

The third cup was steeped for 15 seconds. The mouthfeel is no longer buttery or creamy, yet still retains a smoothness that is a bit hard to place. The tea has also lost the floral flavorstha I saw earlier, and is becoming a much “warmer” tea becasue of it. The caramel flavor is still strong, but there is something that counteracts the sweetness as well. Not sure what it is yet, and I’ll certainly be looking to see what it turns into during my next cup. All in all, the development is still ongoing, and the results actually preserve the complexity of the tea.

Well, as you can see, I didn’t actually get arround to drinking that next cup, as some friends came over and I ended up in a serious card game with them, and before I knew it midnight was upon me. I couldn’t have more tea, or I wouldn’t fall asleep early enough. Sorry about that.

Music of the DayRequiem by Verdi, conducted by Semyon Bychkov

Link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1i-p659VMCc

This is a fantastic version, with very operatic soloists. Considereing that the piece is written by the master of Opera, it makes a lot of sense to perform it this way. It’s some really powerful music, and I hope that you guys enjoy it.

205 °F / 96 °C

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It’s been a while since I had this tea, so I figured that I could do a quick not about it. Today is actually a day for work, since I have several midterms this coming week, and I need to manage my remaining time this weekend carefully.

Anyway, the first cup was prepared with boiled water (I read an interesting guide on how to make tea the Russian way recently, and they made a great distinction between water that had at some point been boiled and “raw” water. It was really interesting, see link at the bottom.), and was let to steep for 15 seconds. The result was very pleasant, with that amazing juicy quality that I love so much. I don’t really “taste” sandalwood, but it’s certainly an importnat part of the aroma of the tea and one of its unique characterisics. Also, I just love how naturally sweet the tea is! I didn’t realize how much I missed this tea until I tried it, so I’ll probably try to drink it more often.

Right, I got really busy with the studying (there was a lot of material to review for Abstract Algebra…), so I didn’t actually take nots on the other steeps, other than I messed up a lot and oversteeped every single one of them. I’m actually impressed, that is extremely unusual for me. Regardless, it was very delicious, and remained sweet the entire time, and I actually remember tasting the snadlewood after one of the steeps. Sure, I’ve never licked sandalwood, but that was the best description of the taste that was present. All in all, it was a sucessful session, alveit high;y unusual.

Music of the DayRhapsody in Blue by Gershwin, conducted by Bernstein while playing the piano!

Link – http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL0DD4766829A4B9A8

This is actually a playlist, since the piece was broken up into two videos. Regardless, Bernstein does a great job, and the piece really comes alive under his expert guidance.

Russian Teahttp://home.fazekas.hu/~nagydani/rth/Russian-tea-HOWTO-v2.html

An interesting guide to tea made in the traditinoal Russian manner. I’m going to have to experiment with this at some point…


I had a sample of this as well and it just so happened that being a tea nerd, I brought my gaiwan and this sample with me on my 119 mile bike ride from Columbus to Cincinnati (on the “Blazeman Express” the last ride on the Iron Horse Challenge, a supportive event for the Central and Southern Ohio Chapter’s Walk to Defeat ALS). I was sitting down to one of my favorite stops on the trail, an old house converted into a English teahouse, ice cream shop, and bike livery..called the Corwin Peddler…anyway…I cupped this out and my first impression was sea salt, apricot, and cedar….It might have been due to the ride but I can see your sandalwood…..

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David included this as an extra sample in my most recent order from Verdant, And I’ve been putting off trying it until I had a large chunk of time to do a proper tasting.

The first cup was prepare with a 15 second steep in near boiling water. The tea has a very unique taste, very smooth and sweet when compared to other puerhs that I’ve had. The flavor starts by tingling across the tongue, then it moves up the mouth to linger on the hard palate for a good two minutes. I’m having a hard time picking out flavors, but I really feel that there is soemthing a bit fruity in this flavor profile. It’s interesting, since I’m reminded of raisins, yet it’s a very “juicy” or thirst-quenching tea, which is a pretty weird contradiction. It’s actually starting to remind me of something a bit more floral, and I’m actually pretty confused, but in a good way. Regardless, it’s a very pleasant and refined tea, and I can’t wait to see how it develops. I will certainly be looking forward to how the flavors start to emerge as the leaves open up a bit more.

Second cup, 10 second steep. The leaves have started to really open up, so this was a good deal stronger than the first cup. There’s a nice spice flavor that helps add a great deal of depth to the taste, and the texture is approaching creamy. The spice are kind of mild, not like cardamon or ginger, and it’s the subtlty that makes it so interesting. It’s a very interesting development, especially given how much the flavor of the first cup has strengthened. The aftertaste is the same, except for the the spiciness also lingers, but not for the full length. All in all, there were some great developments.

cup #2, part 2 – Interestingly enough, the tea gets a lot sweeter as it cools. The spice made the transition well, so It actually tastes really, really interesting. This really is a tea with hidden depths.

Middle Steeps
I decided to break these up a bit more, since I’m drinking a lot of tea while reading Sidereus Numcius for a class. My observations about the middle steeps is that they were sweet with that interesting hint of spice that I mentioned before. The difference between the second steep and these is that they do not actually get sweeter as they cool off, and the other flavors start to come out. This actually makes me think of the Yiwu stone-pressed sheng, but the flavors aren’t as trong, and seem a bit more…refined (for lack of a better term). Very interesting, even though development seemed to slow down.

Music of the dayIsle of the Dead by Rachmaninoff, conducted by Evgeny Svetlanov

Link – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVZWoE3_l4I

I like this piece, especially how it builds to the finale, and then trails off to the end.


If this is purple buds (I have some from Butiki) you should be able to get lots of steeps out of it!)

Joshua Smith

Thanks for the tip! I figured that I would get a lot out of these leaves, since they have showed degradation of flavor so far, which is pretty inpressive.


Nice that you noticed the spice, I thought so too as I remember.


Woah, this sounds pretty good! I got a sample of Rou Gui Dancong oolong(cinnamon) with my last order, which was pretty interesting…Didn’t get a real cinnamon flavor(or at least what I am used to as cinnamon) but it was pretty woodsey, and reminded me somewhat of a sheng puer! I’m interested in seeing if anyone else got a sample of the oolong, hopefully ill get a sample of the purple buds with my next order! Thanks for a great review :)

Joshua Smith

Bonnie – I’m glad that I’m npot completely off my rocker on this review. I found out today that I really do depend a lot on David’s tasting notes when looking for flavors, and it’s nice to know that the one thing that I was confident enough about to comment on is not just a figment of my imagination.

HyBr1d – I’m glad that you like the review, and I hope that you get to try this tea as well! :D

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drank Laoshan White by Verdant Tea
250 tasting notes

This was a sample that came with a recent purchase, so I’m going to take a moment to give a big shout-out to David!

Alright, the first cup was preparrtd with gently-steaming water, and steeped for 15 seconds. The result is a very pleasant sweet tea, which tastes like the finest sweet peas. Unlike most white teas, which get their sweetness from therir floral flavors, this does it by refinig the Laoshan pea flavor. While I wouldn’t call the texture silky, it is a very smooth cup of tea, which is perfect for the lovely weather that I’m enjoying today. I can;t wait to see how the tea develops.

The second cup was prepared the same as the first, except it was only steeped for 10 seconds. It has lost a bit of the sweetness, but not enough to make it unpleasant. The texture has also changed, and is almost creamy, but not quite there. The aftertaste seems to climb up your mouth, and lingers for a good 90 seconds on the hard palate. Wow, that was a lot of interesting developments, can’t wait to see what comes next.

The taste of the third cup is pretty much the same as the second, except the bolder parts havce started to fade away, which is pretty much what I expected, since I rarely get more than four infusions out of a white tea. Oh well, I’ll just have to see what the next cup tastes like, and if it’s too weak I’ll stop.

Right, last cup, REALLY late, and I’m super tired now. This cup tasted adn selt much like an asamushi sencha, with a delicate grassiness and a smooth, almost creamy texture. The taste lingers pleasantly on the roof of the mouth, and stays there for about a minute. A very nice way to end an interesting session.

Music of the DaySymphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47: IV. Allegro non troppo by Dimitri Shostakovich, conducted by Leonard Bernstein.

Link – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogJFXqYEYd8

Pretty good quality, and Bernstein is a great conductor for pieces like this, with lots of energy and emotion.

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drank Earl of Anxi by Verdant Tea
250 tasting notes

IT HAS ARRIVED! Yesterday, my university mailroom sent a notice that this package had been processed…three minutes before they closed, and I was 10 minutes away. Regardless, I managed to reign in my not insignificant ammount of rage, and calmly waited until they opened this morning. After getting back to my dorm, I opend the bag, and was nearly overwhelemd by the strength of the aroma. The citrus and spice overwhelms everything, and I had to take a moment as I wasn’t quite prepared for such a strong aroma.

After I got over the initial smell, I put some in my brew basket, and fired up the electric heater to test the flavor. I followed the directions on the Verdatn Tea website, and used near-boiling water and let it sit for 2 minutes. The resulting tea smells like a fine cup of Tieguanyin, but with subtle fruit and spice notes that lurk beneath the surface. Contrary to the dry aroma, the taste of the tea is smooth and refined, the flavors of the orange peels and the goji berries working together in harmony to accent the tieguanyin, but not to smother it. The delicate green oolong taste still controls the foretaste, and it fades away while allowing the other flavors like orange, berry, and jasmine to take over during the trasnition to the aftertaste. This is certainly a tea with hidden depths, and I can’t wait to see how it develops.

Second cup, same preparation as the first. The frankincense has started to develop. I know it’s the frankincense, since it reminds me of my great grandmoster, who used to have it in her home, and who smelled like it after she came back from church. It’s really taking me back to my childhood, and is truly an interesting experience. Another interesting thing is that the orange flavor has subsided a bit, but the goji berry is still fairly strong. Teh jasmine seems to have subsided for now, but the saffron shines through during the aftertaste, which results in a pleasant and flavorful finish. After this cup, I can’t wait to see what else this tea has to offer.

Third cup, four minutes. The frankincense is really, really strong now in both the aroma and the flavor of the tea. There are still otehr flavors, mostly the orange peel and the saffron, lingereing yet not strong enough to really shine amidst the frankincense, but I’m not really complaining. This tea has undergone such interesting transformations, and I suspect that it will continue to do so for a long while yet.

Forth cup, two minutes. The tea is actually pretty cloudy. It’s like a fine Japanese green tea, but the color is wrong. I suspect that this is because the frankincense is really starting to disolve into the tea, since that is still the dominant aroma and flavor. Unfortunately, stuff has come up, and I can’t take the tea with me, so I have to cut this one short. I’ll try to get another cup or two in before I go to bed.

…Well, real life decided to crash with me tonight (figuratively, not literally), so I’m not going to be able to taste more of this tea today. Sorry about that…

Music of the DayPrelude (oud) dir. Jordi Savall

Link – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FBlA_iGZu4

This is from another album that I bought (I really, really, REALLY can’t resist historically-informed performances), which is another book/CD combo. It’s a lovely album, full of music with rich histories, and the book has lovely essays on the history of Jerusalem.


I’m interested in how you like the tea at about the 3rd steeping when the incense really kicks in.


Nice! Thanks for providing the link!

Joshua Smith

Bonnie – I actually can’t wait for that either. You made it sound so good, that I’m really excited to taste it.

ashmanra – You’re welcome! This particular album is pretty easy to find on youtube, unlikke the other two I have. You also might like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YHM7sD-3-w


My kind of music! Great with this tea. http://youtu.be/gGg6wta1qWA (this is about an hour long run of background Arabic music (Dance ASHMANRA).

Joshua Smith

So far, it sounds very nice. I don’t have time for another cup, so I’ll sit and listen to this for a while before going to my last class of the week. Thanks for the link!


Lol! I will! And Sam puppy will probably dance with me!


Sorry about whatever crashed in life…from my long years I know there are these times and they come and then they go. I hope this is swiftly over then good for you again. You described the tea well.

Joshua Smith

Thanks Bonnie! A friend of mine has been having medical problems this semester, and she ended up in the hospital again…hopefully this is the last time, she’s already missed more than a week’s worth of classes.


Thanks for the update. Prayers for your friend! She’s fortunate to have you!

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WEll, I finally got arround to trying my sample of this tea. It’s been sitting burried under a lot of other, larger bags, but that’s not a good excuse. The first infusion was prepared with my Finum brew basket and just steaming water, which was let to steep for three seconds. The result looks more like a white tea than a green tea, butthe taste quickly removes my doubts. The flavor is sweeter than any white tea that I’ve ever had, with just the lightest hint of grass. I also totally agree with David about the creaminess, which really stands out as you transition into the aftertaste, where it lingers for a good minute on the roof of the mouth. Truly and exceptional green tea.

Second cup, also 3 seconds. Teh result isn’t quite as sweet, and the flavor profile is a lot more complicated now, but I’m not sure what exactly I’m tasting. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great cup of tea, it’s just that it’s in the middle of a transition, so I’ll reserve judgement until the next cup.

Third cup, same as the previous two. The flavors are settlying out, with an interesting nutty flavor that is vaguely similar to cashews being quite noticable. Again, I agree with David about this being similar to genmaicha, but ther edifferences are what makes this tea interesting. The nutty flavor is a bit less refined, and it’s sweeter than most genmai cha, and the grassiness is less prominent. Overall, it’s a vey interesting experience.

Fourth cup, preparedd with the same wter temperature, but steeped for 6 seconds. The tea is back to beaing subtly grassy and very sweet. The creaminess is also back, which is a wonderful surprise, and and interesting spicy flavor has begun to assert itself. This tea seems to have a lot more depth than I initially thought.

Music of the dayExistential Blues

Link – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6cGTq3nOwI

A strange yet funny song from the Dr. Demento show, which a friend’s dad pointed me to earlier this week. I had a hard time listening the first time, since I was laughing so hard.


Ah the joys of a finum basket and good tea!

Joshua Smith

It was definitely one of my better tea-related investments.

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I am a university student, studying Computer Science, who found that I really enjoy a nice cup of tea. I finally got into loose-leaf tea in August of 2011. I am currently in the process of expanding my horizons, and have found that I have a particular fondness for Oolongs in general, and Wuyi Yanchas in particular. The unique mineral taste is very appealing to me, as well as a nice Sencha. More recently, I’ve developed a taste for Sheng puerh, white tea, and black teas. The only things I’ve tried that I didn’t like was Shu puerh, but that might have been because it was quite young. Regardless, I’ve been slowly expanding my horizons, so if you have any recommendations, please feel free to send me a PM.

Just for the heck of it, my other interests include classical musics (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi, Debussy, Shostakovitch, Rachmaninoff, Liszt, and Wagner, to name a few composers). I also have a fondness for a bit more modern music, like The Beatles, all Jazz (by all, I really do mean all), Gorillaz (I love Demon Days), and a couple of Indie artists you will never run across unless you play a lot of semi obscure Indie games. Also, I love cats.


Fairfax, VA

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