Saturday, March 8, 2014
Verdant Tea, Zhu Rong Yunnan Black
Lady Zhu Rong was a legendary dagger-wielding warrior-queen of Yunnan descended from the god of fire. The spice and power of this tea compelled us to evoke her kingdom of Dian, an independent state before it was conquered by China and renamed Yunnan.
The aroma of the wet leaf is that of fresh roasted sweet potatoes... Behind the rich savory sweetness is a potent cayenne pepper aroma.
The early steepings are full and all-encompassing like cedarwood smoldering in an incense censer. There is a dark spice that moves towards clove, but is tempered by a sweet cinnamon note. This new harvest builds on the smoldering base with luscious notes of honey, and waffle wafer cookies.
Later steepings develop towards creamy banana, and the spice slowly builds up towards ginger, galangal and even a hint of cardamom, evoking a warming cup of honey-sweetened chai.
I have said it before on this blog, I love Yunnan black tea. Just by looking at the magnificent leaf, I feel I am in for a treat. My Steepster friends rave on this one as well as many other teas from Verdant. I no longer question whether this will live up to the ravings. I am confident it will.
The dry leaf did not give up any hint of what the steep would bring out. I noticed no scent. Even so I could gaze on it for a long time and not grow weary. Just beautiful.
I used almost 2 tsp of leaf in my press with 205 F water and steeped for about 45 seconds. The resulting brew is caramel in color and shiny. The wet leaf smells divine. It is deep dark chocolate and browned cocoa. It is such a dark scent it almost approaches coffee without any bitter notes. I notice just a bit of malt and grain, maybe more dark bread like. I could go on but you get the picture - there is a lot going on.
The sip is honey and brownies or rich browned cocoa. It also suggests fruity and leans to spicy. It is such a thick feeling tea. As you breathe while swallowing you catch hints of roasting over fire that must have happened during the processing. This is slightly drying but absolutely free of bitterness.
I don't get some of the notes Verdant mentions but that may be the different methods used to brew and the distinct probability that they just have better tasting skills. I think no matter what level ones skills, this would prove to be an interesting and complex tea. Very good.
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