Reviewer’s Note: Samples of the products discussed here were provided to me for reviewing purposes at no cost.
Two tea samples recently arrived in the Flavorful World kitchen from artisanal small batch tea purveyor Verdant Tea. Created with a mind toward the sharing of exquisite tea culture, Verdant Tea is the love labor of David Duckler, who during his time spent in China, researched the origins of teas produced throughout the country by getting to know local tea farmers wherever he went. The varieties I tasted for the purpose of this review are Autumn Harvest Laoshan Green and Laoshan Black (each viable as a hot brew as well as cold), though the full catalogue of teas available is too extensive to list here in full.
The Autumn Harvest Laoshan Green Tea is a pleasantly uncomplicated tasting experience. Its flavor palette evokes elements of earth and oats, grass and faint citrus. As sipping experiences go, it is the equivalent, both in the way it warms and how it soothes, of a morning stroll taken through a dewy garden while all is still, before the world is yet awakened. There’s an intimation of mounting sunshine even in the pale yellow-green hue of its steeped form. Having taken it unsweetened as well as with sugar and again with honey, I enjoyed it best unembellished, with only the tea’s flavor to leave its unaided impression upon my tongue.
The Laoshan Black Tea’s first, most striking characteristic is its aroma, heavily influenced by chocolate and vanilla. When it’s steeped, the chocolate notes carry over into its robust flavor, along with a subtle essence of caramel. The effect is a layering of tastes that lends depth and complexity to this tea and speaks as much of midnight revelry as the Autumn Harvest green variety does of dawn. The Laoshan Black tea seems a well-suited companion to desserts featuring flaky pastry or custard. The Autumn Harvest green, I would pair with a steaming bowl of udon or ramen noodles, or with cold pasta salads.
The entire catalogue of Verdant Teas’ offerings can be found at its website, VerdantTea.com. I’m glad to have been brought aware of its existence for a number of reasons, chief among them being that many of the teas found there would not otherwise be sold outside the Chinese villages where they are produced, were it not for the respectful efforts of Verdant Tea’s creator. There is something furtive and satisfying in getting to experience flavors heretofore known only to those privileged by geography to live local to them. Travel is broadening after all, (particularly, I feel, when one travels one one’s stomach as much as possible,) but nowadays more than ever before it is gratifying, in instances where some limitation or another might hinder one’s ability to hop on a plane, to know there exist ways of experiencing the world beyond our shores without leaving one’s home. It feels good to be in the know, and I hope that any tea lover reading this will take the opportunity to know Verdant Tea as I have and soon will again.