Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Verdant Tea
Master Han is a remarkably talented crafter of wild picked pu’ers and black teas whose workshop and ancient plot of tea forest is an hour’s walk to the nearest gravel road in a national forest preserve. We were lucky enough to meet him at his first tea conference. Tucked away in a hidden corner behind slick modern displays with uniformed reps from Xiaguan and Menghai, Master Han and his young apprentice seemed apprehensive about the operation. We were on our way to a panel on gongfu brewing when the sheer beauty of a bag of his wild-picked black tea caught us in our tracks.
Learn more about this tea here.
Verdant Tea is among a handful of tea purveyors that I consider to be the very best, and so when I see that they have a tea that I haven’t yet tried – like this Master Han’s Wild Picked Yunnan Black Tea – I am quickly putting that tea in my cart when I am tea shopping!
The tea brews up lighter in color than I expected … or perhaps the word I’m looking for is more transparent. It is a transparent copper color … not really “pale” … just not quite as dark looking as a typical Yunnan black. The aroma is rich and sweet.
On the website, the first taste mentioned under “notes” is grape, and indeed, that is the first taste I noticed when I took my first sip. Not really a “muscat” grape that you’d experience from a Darjeeling, this tastes more like the grapes that my grandparents used to grow in their backyard when I was young. They were the kind of grapes with seeds in them, and the flavor was less sweet than the seedless grapes you find in the grocery store this time of year. It was a more complex tasting grape … something that I wasn’t really able to appreciate a lot as a kid (back then, I just wanted the sweet, seedless grapes!) but, now I find myself missing that unique flavor that you simply don’t find in the grapes that are readily available today.
There is a pleasant sweetness to this cup, but it is not the caramel-y sweetness that I often associate with a black tea, nor is it a molasses-y or a honey-esque sweetness. This is more like a fruity sweetness, like a crisp, sweet apple. The tasting note on the website suggest a “linen” like flavor, and I get that too. What I’m really enjoying about this tea is that the more I sip, the more flavors I discover. There is a pleasant malty tone to this cup, but, without the strong sense of caramel-like flavor, it is a “thinner” kind of malty taste.
I found myself searching for the olive oil notes … and by mid-cup, I recognized a flavor in there that remind me of that taste. Sweet and slightly spicy.
This is seriously unlike any Yunnan I’ve ever tried. It has some familiar Yunnan qualities to it, like a malty, spicy tone, but … the best way I could explain this is that it has some of the dark qualities of a Yunnan, combined with the complexity and smooth, soft textures of a dark Oolong.
It’s really quite a lovely experience … one I’m really glad I decided to try when I found it on Verdant Tea’s website. And I notice that the supplies are limited of this tea – so if you’re interested in trying this truly unique Wild Picked Yunnan Tea from Master Han … you should order it quickly before it’s gone!