Thursday, April 3, 2014
Verdant Tea, Master Han’s Wild Picked Yunnan Black
Every batch of tea from Master Han is very different from the harvests before. This is because, instead of trying to reproduce results through identical processing, Master Han tastes, smells and carefully evaluates each harvest he picks to determine what will bring out the most in the natural leaf.
This unique black tea is lighter than Master Han’s last harvest, closer to a sheng pu’er in its perfumed florals, crisp vegetal aftertaste and bright body. Yet, it is definitively a black tea in its caramel, malt and chocolate notes. A tea like this challenges the hold fast lines between categories and in doing so, challenges our palates with new pairings. To find so much bright citrus in a chocolatey black tea is something that many strive for through blending.
The creamy sweet body, nutty aftertaste and herbaceous undertones evoke that certain olive oil taste that all of Master Han’s Qianjiazhai teas seem to have.
Did someone say Yunnan black? Yes please! Verdant Tea is pricier than most teas that I drink but they have yet to disappoint. There have been a scant few that were not to my tastes but the quality remained high. So Verdant and Yunnan black, I'm trying not to raise my expectations too high but it is probably too late.
The aroma out of the bag did not reveal much. I only have enough for this one session. A larger bag will most likely have a lot to say. The leaf, however, speaks volumes. There is a lot of beautiful color in the twisted leaf. I'm not noticing it in the picture above but mine had some green and silver mixed in with the brown and orange.
I used 205 F water and a one minute steep which gives me a cup that is caramel in color and very clear. The wet leaf had a forest leaf scent with some darker sugary cocoa scent.
The sip has some bite on the edges of the tongue. This is really light tasting. I am used to Yunnans packing more, well, just more. Hmmm. Maybe the one minute recommendation was not enough. I am getting a light earthiness with what I can agree is olive. In the aftertaste I catch a hint of malt.
Oh, there it is. As the cup cools the flavors come out of hiding. If you drink your tea very hot you might miss a lot with this one. It is still light and earthy with olive, but in addition I am getting more typical yunnan notes of honey, grain, and malt. There is also the taste of grape. The leaf more than the fruity berry.
I thought this when I looked at the leaf, now I am going to share it. This reminds me of the Oriental Beauty Oolong, mixed with a black from Nepal. It's kind of lightly Darjeeling like but subtly.
With the second cup I steeped several minutes on purpose. It did not get overly bitter but it was potent. The flavors remained the same as the first with the added power of over brewing. Not my favorite from Verdant (stupid expectations got in my way) but it is good and an interesting experience.
Visit Verdant Teas here.