Laoshan Black from Verdant Tea


Laoshan Black: Laoshan Village, Shandong China.

Source: Verdant Tea.

Laoshan black has been one of those teas that I don’t immediately grab when having tea, because it’s the kind of tea I want to save for a special occasion. This isn’t because it is super expensive or rare. It’s because it drinks like something that should be. It is simultaneously a robust wake up tea and a sweet desert tea. I have trouble placing it in the spectrum of black teas. It is made with small, delicate leaves; the same trees that Mr. He of Laoshan uses for his green tea, but I find that it offers different notes than other small leaf blacks.

My steeping parameters are: 205 degree water, 10 second steeps gradually lengthening to 30 seconds  as you see fit, and then minute long steeps. For this steep I used 3.1 grams of dry leaf, but I would recommend 4 grams of dry leaf in about 80ml of water. The leaves don’t expand too much, where you would be faced with an overstuffed gaiwan that could make controlling the early steeps a little more difficult. That being said, this is a very forgiving tea to steep.

Dry Leaf

Tightly rolled and twisted small leaves. Dark charcoal brown.

Scents of sweet, dark chocolate. Dark berries. Toasted, buttered, rustic, wheat bread.

Wet Leaf

Dark chocolate colors come out.

Scents of molasses. Dried, tart cherries. Sourdough bread.

Liquor

Golden amber.

Scents of molasses, butter, caramel.

Lush mouth coating. Flavors of molasses, honey, malt, cocoa. Subtle strawberry rhubarb. Raisins and other dried fruit. Balanced astringency.

Continued Steeps

Laoshan black’s early spiciness and robustness slowly gives way to a gentler, sweeter tea. As the mild astringency starts to disappear, a very subtle creaminess melds with the rising sweetness to offer caramel marshmallow nuances.

Compared to other small leaf black teas, Laoshan Black carries very unique flavor notes. Instead of just a super chocolaty, malty tea, it balances its sweetness with a sort of savory smokiness that is especially prevalent in the aroma of the wet leaves. They are earthy and sour. I come back to this tea so often because I am always surprised at how many different notes are at play in the tea. I know some of them well by now, but Laoshan Black is the type of tea you can sit with and learn something new about each time. The mark of a good tea in my opinion is one that can be coaxed to offer up new flavors and scents as you become better at steeping it.

At $5.75 an ounce, this tea is a bargain. It is absolutely an artisan tea that is offered at the same price that you would find a mass produced, but still decent quality tea. Knowing that this tea is a labor of love, makes the value of it even higher. At Deep in the Steeps, we only share teas that we would want our friends to experience. This is a perfect example of that. I encourage you all to at least try this tea. Even if you prefer a more toned down, mineraly Yunnan black with less spicy bite to it, Laoshan Black will give you a new experience in what a black tea can be.

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