Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Verdant, Sichuan Caravan

Verdant Tea Description:
We love pu’er for its multi-dimensional complexity. One of the most interesting and often overlooked elements of the pu’er experience is the vaguely numbing and tingling sensation that fine pu’er leaves in the aftertaste. Our goal with this blend was to highlight this textural quality of great shu pu’er, while at the same time creating a warming, rich and perfectly integrated taste experience.

We start with the incredible Yanxin’s Reserve ’04 Shu Nuggets. This tea is known for its pastry-like dessert flavors, and its smooth sweet aftertaste. We build on that richness with one of our favorite ingredients to pair with shu pu’er, dried elderberries. The dark sweetness of the elderberries brings out the natural berry qualities of the pu’er itself, and lingers on the sides of the tongue.

Next we draw out the pastry sweetness of the pu’er with a touch of licorice root, which helps highlight and blend the sweet spice of ginger root. Ginger starts to emphasize the tingling texture of this fine pu’er, but on its own, it doesn’t push quite far enough. That is why we added a touch of Sichuan peppercorn to round out this tea and make it whole. Sichuan peppercorn has a uniquely numbing flavor that elevates this blend to a new level. Taken as a whole, no one flavor stands out above the others. They work together smoothly to emphasize everything warm and satisfying that we love about shu pu’er.

My Review:
Looking into the bag leaves me guessing what this is. I pulled up the website and immediately saw pu'er. Well OK. I was pretty sure I saw ginger in the mix and the description confirmed it. In addition there are elderberries - I don't think I have had them before - and licorice root to bring out the sweetness. Sounds interesting.

The dry scent is earthy pu'er and ginger. It also seems a bit smoky but I am not sure if that is cross over from some Russian Caravan I had near by. I used half my sample or roughly 1 1/2 - 2 tsp in 12 oz of water heated to 208 F. The steep was 2 minutes per Verdant's guidelines. The result is a cloudy brew that is orange/caramel/brown. The wet leaf is a little fishy to me. That is what I thought of the previous Master Han's pu'er I reviewed. The wet leaf is also quite spicy of ginger and pepper.

Sipping I get ginger first, then elderberry and licorice root combine to really give this a sweet fruit highlight. Finally it drifts into a tingly warm feeling in part due to the addition of the sichuan peppercorns.

I really can't think of anything to compare this with. It is kind of reminiscent of a fall chai blend but not really. The ginger feels familiar but the elderberry and licorice take it elsewhere. I am still getting a hint of smoke so if it is not supposed to be there on purpose, it is a pleasant accident.

I can't really separate the pu'er out of the mix. Everything else seems very well balanced. I am guessing I am tasting pu'er without it being obvious.

This will definitely make your cheeks tingle. While this is very well blended, and quite complex, spiced teas are really not my thing. Other reviews, I have read, rate this very highly, so I must accept that not every good tea will suit everyone's tastes.

Visit Verdant Tea online.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting combination. I've recently had my first taste of pu-erh nuggets and enjoyed them. Not sure I would add spices, but I agree that it will be appealing to some folks and I'm glad they have a tea they enjoy!