Verdant Tea’s “Old Tree” Teas vs. W2T’s Little Walk — TeaDB James InBetweenIsode Episode #68

2015 Spring teas. This review features three of the supposedly old tree teas from Verdant (300yr, 1000yr, 1800yr) against White2Tea’s Little Walk as the benchmark.

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40 Responses to Verdant Tea’s “Old Tree” Teas vs. W2T’s Little Walk — TeaDB James InBetweenIsode Episode #68

  1. Doug says:

    Thanks James,
    You’ve done those of us who might have been seduced by Verdant’s marketing of these ancient tree shengs a great favor by comparing them side by side with the inexpensive Little Walk.

  2. Uncle Larry says:

    When you say “Barnyard”, does that include the stalls???

  3. Thank you James. I noticed the headlines myself about the controversy that Verdant’s tea stirred up. Very telling comparisons here and if the issue wasn’t closed already, this buried it six feet under.

    Best, VP

  4. Master Zhou says:

    You dare to say “none of these are remotely good teas for the price”. I will avenge the honor of Verdant Tea even if it takes me 1800 years to do so. 肏你祖宗十八代

  5. brian says:

    I notice d you said “300 y/o trees, 1000 y/o trees, and 1800 year old trees.” But the claim was that each of the teas came from a single tree as opposed to a bunch of trees in the same garden.. Although, in reality harvesting 10,000 grams of leaves from a single old tree would straight up kill it

    • Master Zhou says:

      Fool! Do not question the harvesting technique of an eighteenth-generation tea master.
      Once even a single leaf has been picked off a tree by Master Zhou, the tree will die of satisfaction knowing that it has been selected. Understand this: the remaining 9,995 grams of leaves would be wasted if they were not harvested. But do not weep, for the spirit of the tree lives on in the affordably-priced cakes of Verdant Tea.

    • James says:

      Aha. Good catch Brian. Thanks for the correction :).

  6. John says:

    James
    Thanks for this reasonable assessment. And wow!…I must say I prefer a bit more humility and equanimity in the person making my tea.
    Best
    John

  7. Ghost says:

    I would rather buy a brick of White Whale

  8. Christian says:

    Interesting review from someone experienced with puerh tea. I am not. From watching many of your other videos as well as watching your skeptic face in this video your conclusion did not surprise me. A good thing that you backed up your conclusion with good descriptions of your tasting experience, steep by steep. Made it worth watching and no problem that it took 26 minutes. Thank you!

    I think Verdant Tea does an important job promoting chinese specialty tea and I do not agree that people should avoid them like for instance MarshalN and others suggest. Do not buy their puerh tea, however, because that is not their expertise. Hopefully they will realise that from the recent controversy and hopefully people will give them a chance. We need no more big corporations selling bad quality, scented teas based on slavery and unsustainable production. In that perspective Verdant Tea are really good people.

    • Bef says:

      Personally I wouldn’t want to send my money to a vendor who kept spreading lies and never recognized they were wrong (even when it became obvious). There are so much good and honest vendors out there where you can get the same kind of tea…

      • Marcell says:

        I agree. One strict rule for a vendor is to be honest with their customers.

      • Christian says:

        @Bef: Verdant Tea does not differ from say a wine dealer who had been fooled by one of his partners, a farmer of wine, when the wine dealer should have known better. He may be reluctant to admit this because it is too threatening to his ego and to his business to admit. Admit that in fact he is inexperienced, not as qualified as he is supposed to be.

        In the case of Verdant Tea, what about all the “wisdom” in their many blog postings, E.g. on “how to taste tea”, “how tea should taste” etc.? Publicly admitting to have been fooled (by Master Zhou) and being inexperienced would put a question mark behind everything they have said in the past and say in the future. At least to the majority of people, the less experiened tea drinkers, the future customers.

        So from this, what is to be expected? Verdant Tea will not admit anything but they do wise not to repeat this mistake or their appealing website with many well-written stories about their tea and their tea farmers will not save them. I have a positive attitude and I believe they have learned from this. In case not, I will join the club of tea drinkers opposing and avoiding Verdant Tea in the future.

        Given the above, are Verdant Tea lying? And what about the principle that a tea vendor should always tell the truth? Coming to an understanding of what may be going on and what is at stake is better than being too focused on adjectives and principles.

        • bef says:

          At first, there were 2 possible scenarios:
          (1) They’ve been fooled by Master Zhou. They didn’t know all of that was BS. They’re both incompetent and incredibly credulous, but they’re not dishonest.
          (2) They were knowlingly lying;

          I’d like to draw a parallel with another low-BS vendor here. I asked him if he would sell some “vintage” teaware. He told me that it was a very nice idea, but that he would not do that since he didn’t have enough knowledge on the matter and wouldn’t want to end up selling fakes to his clients. That applies to scenario #1: if you don’t know remotely anything about a market, don’t get into it. Or at least, don’t make any ridiculous claims about your products. And if you’ve been caught, admit it – my 3 y/o son does that.

          However, they still today pretend that their Master Zhou BS is true. So there is no more any gray zone here: they are still lying to their clients, right now, today, and they know they are. So how could you consider that they’ve learned anything from this and won’t repeat that error, while they are still, right now…

          Maybe they have some good teas, but I don’t care at this point, I’ll send my money to vendors who I feel are honest. Other people don’t care about vendors claims and will just keep ordering if the tea is good enough – I’m fine with that. I wouldn’t do that, but that’s just me.

          • Christian says:

            @Bef: I have not seen any new statements from Verdant Tea about the controversy since Lily Duckler wrote her, I believe, single post on Steepster. Back then I think she was very shocked by the reaction and the accusations from people on Steepster and elsewhere. It is likely that she acted out of feelings, not reason, and would write anything to defend her husband and their shared mission/dream, Verdant Tea. Unprofessional, yes. Things that cannot be withdrawn, only regretted.

            In addition to what I have already written, if Verdant Tea were to admit anything they would make it a fact that they are inexperienced and possibly incompetent. On the contrary by not admitting anything it remains accusations from a bunch of people (some aggressive) and it probably will not bother the majority of tea drinkers a lot (less experienced and new tea drinkers, future customers). They probably will never know of the controversy. Only the experienced tea drinkers will know and may never forgive and forget and thereby limited damage.

            A last thing, by admitting anything they would also submit to a competitor, the owner of Yunnan Sourcing, and approve of him judging and criticizing their teas and the way they do things. E.g Scott also criticised their photos and stories on the tea farmers. I am not saying that Scott did not provide any arguments with his critics but above all it is ugly when competitors attack each other and many people have already stated that.

            Let us see if at the end of the year they will present a new range of cheap puerh cakes from ancient trees (as old as Jesus). I have my doubt but it will prove whether they have learned anything from the controversy. By the way, there are no cakes left on sale.

            I understand your expectation and demand for honesty from tea vendors, including Verdant Tea, but for Verdant Tea to admit publicly now is not realistic for the reasons I have stated.

          • bef says:

            @Christian: Let’s not forget that:

            1. Their last public statement was the one we all know about on Steepster. The one with the pictures and in which they played the victim’s role.

            2. Their last known private statement was the one they gave to LP, in which they sent even more pictures and “included some additional information that I’ve been sharing with those folks who have been writing back and forth with me personally over the past few days”. That was after Scott replied to their previous post with the pictures.

            3. They still have these products on their website. Yes, it’s out of stock, but the same statements are there. Same with their Steepster post.

            So it seems like either they stand by their initial statements, or they believe that they can get away with it without answering any of the questions that were raised.

            Also not sure how or why Scott’s comments might offend people. It looks like it’s the case, but I really just don’t get it…

            Anyway, I think that everything that could be said about the so-called Verdant controversy has already been say a hundred times.

          • Christian says:

            @Bef: I have read your latest comment and there were some new info to me but let us end the debate here. It is up to the individual tea drinker to make his/her own conclusion and to make a choice – Verdant Tea or not.

            Time for a peaceful cup of good tea. Enjoy the weekend!

    • Drake800 says:

      I get what you mean, but at least for me there are already plenty of good shops out there for people to choose from online and trust and honesty is probably the number one factor for many people in picking a vendor. If a company is willing to make an obvious lie like that about puerh, how can we be sure any of the other easier to lie about details are true? Are their wuyi oolongs actually from wuyi or maybe actually anxi or Taiwan? There are a lot of easy shortcuts in the tea industry, which is a big reason for premium vendors in the first place.

      I think if they were honest and upfront about the mistake (lie) then it would be more reasonable for people to give them another shot. For people that know their products personally and in detail already, they can probably order and hopefully won’t get burnt on inaccurate product. For everyone else it seems unreasonable to expect them to take on that risk. Customers shouldn’t have to be tea experts to be sure they are getting good tea, especially when they’re paying premium prices.

      • Christian says:

        @Drake800: What do we know about other specialty tea vendors and their teas? Since they wisely do not make too many crazy claims they are not easily exposed. What do we really know about the tea they are selling? Many tea vendors, often very small businesses, I assume, do not have the ressources to oversee the harvest and production, every year, and ensure that what they order is what they really get. To a high degree the relationship between a tea vendor and a farmer is based on trust (and crossing fingers). A tea vendor may be fooled at some point and neither they or their customers may ever find out.

        Do not fool yourself by sticking to some principles (the ideal versus reality). That being said, I am not here to defend Verdant Tea what it might seem. I understand and accept if you do not trust them.

        • hgshepherd says:

          I looked up “sock puppet” in the dictionary… fits you to a T.

          Verdant lied. Shop elsewhere. End of story.

          • Christian says:

            @hgshepherd: I suggest you have a big cup of green tea to treat your anger (based on Traditional Chinese Medicine). Cheers!

        • Drake800 says:

          @Christian But that was precisely my point. If we catch a vendor lying (whether maliciously or out of ignorance), we know they are capable of lying. The nature of the lie and how the vendor handles it is obviously critical. But it is not reasonable to then assume that the fact that one vendor lies means that all vendors must lie in the same way with the ones you catch only being the obvious ones. There will obviously be more credible sources and less credible ones in any market, and everyone must set their own limit for how they consider a vendor uncredible (or in your case, maybe no barrier at all). You can “play the slots” while others “play the stocks” but let’s not pretend these are the same thing just because they both have risk.

          • Drake800 says:

            @Christian If you honestly believe all the reviews and info about vendors out there to be of no predictive quality in judging the quality of their products, I would kindly suggest you to save some money and buy cheaper tea elsewhere. If not, I am not sure what makes Verdant deserving of your special pass here. I’m sure adagio or teavana can equally tell you feel-good stories about farmers that you can’t verify and likely won’t believe just as Verdant can. But don’t be so surprised when others put weight in what they find out about vendors, and allocate their money (bets, risks or whatever you want to call it) differently because of it.

          • Drake800 says:

            @Christian Hope you have a peaceful weekend and many enjoyable cups of tea in the process.

          • hgshepherd says:

            Great points, Drake800. But I suggest you should “assume that the fact that one vendor lies means that all vendors must lie in the same way with the ones you catch only being the obvious ones.” A savvy shopper should initially treat all vendors with suspicion and then use research to figure out which ones have won the trust of other buyers (and which ones have red flags) before spending their money.

            Reviews like James does, and comments like this thread, can help by warning future buyers away from dishonest and/or incompetent vendors. The “web of trust” that a community builds up is a lot stronger than any vendor’s deceptive marketing or sock-puppetry.

            tl;dr Verdant lied. Shop elsewhere. End of story.

          • Drake800 says:

            @hgshepherd Thanks for the tip. That’s always good advice to have reinforced, even though I already do that. What I meant by that line was that it’s not reasonable to call Verdant’s lie par for the course simply because it happens.

            The fact that we can’t know all the lies actually makes it more important to act on the ones we catch, not less. Then, it’s just a question of hoping we are not left with only good liars, which seems unrealistic with all the reviews and specific info about vendors in the community. Maybe I still don’t know if the tea is yiwu material or the tree’s real age, but does it taste like it? Well if I really think about it, that’s all I needed to know anyway.

    • James says:

      Christian, Bef, Marcell, Drake800, hgshepherd,

      I appreciate the involved discussion and different perspectives here.. Thanks all for sharing your opinions.

      Do hope we’re all ready to move past it soon enough.

      Cheers,
      -James

  9. Weasser says:

    Do you have links to the steepster and readit threads you mentioned in the video, James? I had bought a few old tree verdant teas before I saw your video, and decided to try out the 1300 year old single tree sheng today. It’s mostly twigs, and I’m having a hard time getting any flavor out of it, even though I used a sizable amount. I’m still rather new to sheng puehr, but even I can tell that this is not good at all. I’m glad it’s just a 100 gr cake. I still have a few more that I bought to try out, but so far, not so good.

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