|"I don’t think one would mistake it for a spring green as its bakery backed beaniness has a maturity that is deliciously different."|
While summer may be the time that many of us kick back into vacation mode, it would seem there’s no rest for the tea farmers. With the frenzy of harvest in the spring for most teas, particularly green and white teas, those harvests just keep on coming as the tea plant runneth over. While the summer is prime time for Oriental Beauty oolong and there's blacks brimming from Indian summer flushes, I’ve never happened on a summer harvested green tea nor a green tea from China's Shandong province, home of Laoshan, so their Early Summer Laoshan Green tea seemed a dandy introduction to Verdant Tea. Verdant Tea has a handful of green teas amongst a small but off-beat collection of different types of teas of all kinds from China. Due to their small batches for each of their teas, that coincide with their rapid procurement of teas after harvest, at the time of this review, three months after the harvest in June, the tea is sold out, as are all of their green teas. So as fall tumbles in, a remnant of summer is all the more welcome.
Verdant offers lots of information on their teas which is fantastic. While the tea is described as leaves and buds, its hard to tell from the curly array of thin leaves and stems by their dusty foggy green curves. Yet, their bouquet rises as if all that extra summer sunshine done baked up something a bit different in them leaves. The light to medium scent is immediately its own, as bakery inspired, buttery notes weave through stem-like green ones. With a grainy backing to the dried green aromas, they seem hardier to be more like stalks or soybeans than leafy. Accompanied by the butteriness, that is buoyant like artificial butter, the scent tugs of graham crackers, as welcoming as an open lawn chair.
As a further descent from the norm, Verdant Tea recommends steeping an ample three to four grams of the tea per four ounces of water using 190°F water rather than the cooler brew usually reserved for greens. With a mere ten second steep for the first infusion, the tea indeed seems to be game with a vibrant yellow brew. Just as aromatic, the scent has a heartiness and distinctive character revealed in vegetal and grain tinged notes. With a touch of waxiness and kind of biscuit buttery, the green aromas have some maturity, they aren’t a sweet bright green, rather, they seem more like long roasted green beans or edamame which are further livened by a cultured yogurt tang. As a result, it brings to mind green bean casserole, all bread crumbed and comfy. Its flavour is just as full, with a grainy vegetal as if cooked oats and bran were green, providing substance despite the light to medium body. As such, the flavour also has a maturity and seems masculine in character. While it is a rich kind of flavour from its strength and a hint of butter, the way cream is buttery, rather than a vegetal buttery, it doesn’t have the umami savour or protein richness of some greens. Yet smooth, with a nice texture coasting into a round finish, it’s tasty and satisfying with a light echo.
The second cup intensifies in colour and scent to a tad duller green tinted yellow as the aroma is less grainy to seem a bit more like edamame and pandan with hints of cream and mulch. While not as smooth as the first cup with a bit more astringency, it's fuller bodied with a toasty, funky vegetal that’s almost a bit sour to bring to mind unripe olives, soybeans and fried basmati. It finishes slightly drying but sweetening some with a fresh, medium aftertaste of cut grass.
The leaves brew up three more deeply coloured cups as the hue becomes more golden, losing its green tint. However, the tea’s balance seems better fit after the next, at just three steeps. The third cup retains a light to medium fragrance, evolving further, as it gains grassier notes, like marsh grasses with a slight bran graininess to retain some likeness to mature green beans. As the tea becomes drier, the feel becomes less comfortable between sips, yet, it maintains a pleasant green toasted rice flavour. The aftertaste also continues to add an intriguing fresh leafiness, particularly as it builds. In the subsequent cups, the light flavour doesn’t quite seem as engaging to compensate.
Just like the blaze of summer sunshine, Verdant Tea’s Early Summer Lao Shan Green brings plenty to bask in. Its vibrant hue is matched by its meaty character and interesting pocket of scents and flavours. It certainly has its own personality that I don’t think you’d mistake for a spring green. While it may not be available to order now, it does give something to look forward to next year.
— To purchase Verdant Tea Summer Harvest Laoshan Green, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.
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