Autumn Tieguanyin (Verdant Tea)

It’s a brisk Sunday afternoon (gotta love that east coast weather haha), so I’m breaking open the second pack! I’ve heard the name of tieguanyin tea thrown around, but other than its status as an oolong tea, I don’t know much about it. A user on reddit/r/tea recommended Verdant Tea’s aged tieguanyin to me, so I thought I’d try it out before making a bigger purchase.

autumn-tieguanyin-mug
The packaging is adorable. I’m such a fan.

autumn-tieguanyin

The tea leaves smell quite different from the Laoshan Black I had last time – earthy, leafy, and just a hint of sweet. I can already pinpoint some similarities with green(er) tea – tea more on that side of the oxidation spectrum haha. There might be a hint of that fresh astringent-like aroma that I’ve smelled in green tea.

Amount: 5g
Temperature: near-boiling, can’t pinpoint the temperature
Water: 7-8 oz

1st – 20 sec.

I’m noticing how similar it smells to green tea. Probably because I don’t think I’ve ever had oolong, so I’m just comparing it to what I know.

Waaaaaoooo. Taste impressions: very light, smooth, fragrant, sweet; tastes a little milky, but not creamy or thick. It’s completely different from the black or rooibos teas I had over the last week.

Tea is so wonderful. Take a sip and let it refresh your soul.

Maybe at some point, maybe at home, I’ll do a legit side-by-side tea tasting test. I’ll grab a bunch of different teas and steep them and compare. Drinking a single cup is good, but I feel a bit like I’m making judgments on a single cup in a vacuum.

2nd – 30 sec.

Now that I’ve pinned the word ‘milky’ to the tea, I’m tasting a lot more of that… in that I just feel very satisfied after drinking it. It has this full flavor that I really like. Gah, words. I really like it. Trying to remember how it was different from the first steep but I can’t remember. Maybe I should try a successive steeping test too — like, have five cups out, then just make five different cups of tea with the same leaves. Another idea to try.

I always drank tea without thinking much about the flavor, ate food without thinking about its taste. Now that I’m trying to study the tea that I drink, I’m finding my words too little for all the flavors I’m drinking. After all – what does it really mean to taste something? It’s not just a sensation of the tongue, or even the nose, or the other five senses. It’s a feeling, a sensation. To describe a tea as ‘delicate’ – what does that even mean? That its flavor is balanced precipitously between two different tastes in the moments between 20 and 30 seconds? That the tea is something flirtatious, whimsically fluttering from one taste to the next on your tongue?

There is no right way to describe how tea tastes. It’s an intensely personal thing. It’s an experience, not a flavor.

3rd – 40 sec.

I taste more of the leafiness of the tea. It’s delicious. The leaves unfurling themselves carefully in the sachet. Taste earthiness, loamy soil, fresh mountain springs, roots pushing deeper into the ground. The mist settling on lush green valleys, with ridges of tea plants sloping over the hills.

I visited the Boh tea plantation in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia once. What I saw remains to this day imprinted in my mind: gentle hills filled with tea leaves, as far as the eye could see. This oolong paints a scene like that in my mind, only – mist rising over the tea, the gentle valleys deepening into the sides of great mountains, and plants much, much older than the ones in Malaysia.

The more I taste this tieguanyin, the more I like it. It’s a subtler flavor than the Laoshan black that I had, which created an… underwhelming impression at first sip. But with each brew, there’s a deeper flavor.

4th – 50 sec.

My tea sachet is fat with leaves. This makes me very happy.

I’ll be honest, I was playing Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on my 3DS this entire cup, so I don’t remember noticing much different from the previous cup. Too busy trying to beat Moglins haha.

5th – 60 sec.
6th – 70 sec.
7th – 80 sec.

The earthiness is still strong. It hasn’t lost any of its flavor yet, 7th brew. I feel like I could keep making tieguanyin forever. The taste has definitely grown on me. I’ll definitely have to buy more.

8th – 90 sec.
9th – 100 sec.

Both of these steeps were very dissatisfying as I brewed both of them and poured them into an old thermos which – I didn’t realize – carried a lot of other flavors of old, old tea with it. Really need to throw that thermos out. I barely tasted the tieguanyin and there was a kind of grimy undertaste to it. Ewwwwwww.

10th – 110 sec.

Depending on how it tastes, maybe the last steep. Yep – I think the last steep. This whole experience (which lasted from yesterday afternoon to this afternoon) was really nice.

autumn-tieguanyin-leaves-done
Goodbye, autumn tieguanyin. Thanks for the experience.
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