1186 Tasting Notes

90

I love Sherlock. By which I mean the BBC series, although I’m also rather partial to the original books. Anyway, I had to try these teas when I saw them, and this was my first pick from the sampler! It seemed like the obvious choice.

I’m not generally partial to lapsang blends, but I’m open to being proved wrong. How will I ever know if my taste for it changes if I don’t try every so often? I gave 1 tsp of leaf three minutes in boiling water, and added a splash of milk. The dry leaf smells quite smoky; it’s like opening the tin releases a little puff of it. Once in the water, it seems less pungent.

Upon taking a sip, it’s immediately obvious that this IS a smoky tea. BUT…it’s somehow a soft smoke, and it’s actually quite palatable. I think the smoky blends I’ve tried previously have mostly been rather acrid and bitter, but this one’s not like that at all. It’s like the smoke at a barbecue, almost. I think the assam helps to tone down the LS a little, and the oriental spice adds a little bit of background flavour that distracts from some of the initial smokiness. The milk probably helps a bit, too. I’m not sure I could drink it without.

Anyway, this blends seems like a fairly fitting tribute to Sherlock to me. It’s a dark and a little mysterious with its background of almost hidden spice (shrouded in smoke, perhaps?) It tastes like I imagine Sherlock’s coat might smell. Not that I imagine that often, of course. Honestly.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
Tealizzy

I didn’t like smoky teas at all until I tried some Keemun that was slightly smoky. I recently ordered a blend from Tippy’s that has a little lapsang in it. I thought it was time to see if I could palate it! You are right that tastes change and we shouldn’t necessrily write off things.

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90

This one is typically my weekend breakfast tea, even though it’s a rooibos blend. I’m actually quite sad that Della Terra don’t make it anymore, because it’s one of the strongest and most flavour-accurate maple teas I’ve tried. I had my doubts about the bacon pieces at first, but they don’t play much of a part in the overall flavour. Maybe a touch of smoky sweetness, but nothing outrageous.

Anyway, in my bid to finish up older teas, I allowed myself a cup of this today. I have a couple more teaspoons of leaf left, so it’s not over yet, but I’ll miss this one when it’s gone. This is a rich, delicious, sweet maple tea. One word: yummy!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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80

I’ve been drinking this a couple of times a week since I went back to work, pre-bedtime. This year’s blend is a lot more chai-like than the one I originally tried – there’s a wonderful spicy ginger warmth that’s really lovely on a cold night. The initial sip is still very cake-like, though, and retains the sweet, almost perfumey, notes of freshly baked gingerbread that I enjoyed so much last year.

I’ve been drinking this one both with and without milk, and it works well either way. The spicing comes out better plain, as you might expect, and the cake notes better with milk. It’s a tea to suit all moods, really, and one I’d definitely keep around during autumn-winter.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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70

Long time no drink. I was musing on my tea stash last night, and I’ve decided to try and pull out some of my older teas again and have a bit of a blitz on those. It’s so easy to get caught up in fabby new teas, but I should really be more disciplined, at least from time to time.

I used 1.5 tsp of leaf for my pre-bedtime cup, for three minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk. Although it’s one of my older teas, it’s fortunately still as nice as I remember. The main flavour I can discern is strawberry, and it’s a wonderfully syrupy, sweet tasting strawberry. Not exactly natural, but very candy-like and pleasing. With milk, this one actually reminds me a little of strawberry milkshake. The rooibos is a little bit too prominent for a completely convincing effect, and there’s a touch of something floral in the background that doesn’t really fit the whole “milkshake” image, but it’s a pleasant cup all the same. A potential future repurchase.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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85

Went for the full 1 tbsp of leaf this afternoon, and a 5 minute steep in boiling water. It came out quite dark and strong-looking, so I added a splash of milk. I’d secretly hoped that might be the case, because I adore a lovely milky chai. It’s one of my favourite things about winter!

I like this as much as I did my first cup. The spicing is perfect for my tastes – lots of ginger/cinnamon to add a spicy warmth, and enough clove to contribute that deep, almost damp-tasting depth. I can also clearly pick out the orange. I like the creaminess the milk gives this one. It’s such a smooth tea anyway, but it’s delicious and comforting like this.

I think it’s safe to say that this one is well on its way to becoming one of my favourite chai blends!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 3 tsp

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95

My first experience with Keemun wasn’t a great one; I found it bitter and kind of smoky, and I’ve more or less avoided them ever since. I received this as a sample with my last Whispering Pines order, though, and based on the success I’ve had with their teas recently, I felt encouraged to give it a try. I followed the recommended parameters and used 1/2 tbsp of leaf, in water just cooled from boiling (about 200 degrees), for three minutes. No additions. The resulting liquor is medium brown, and smells of malt and chocolate.

Upon tasting, I’m instantly reminded of some of the Taiwanese black teas I’ve tried. This shares the same fruitiness, and has the undisputedly delicious bread and chocolate notes that I really enjoy in plain black teas.The initial flavour is chocolate, and while it has a creaminess and a lightness of flavour that put me in mind of milk chocolate, it also has a slight cocoa-like dryness that reminds me of a high quality dark chocolate. After the chocolate comes the distinctive taste of bread; rye like and a little yeasty.

For all the rich-sounding flavours, I’m actually finding this quite a refreshing, clean-tasting tea. There’s a hint of something almost eucalyptus-like right at the end of the sip which leaves a fresh coolness on the palate. I can definitely see why it’s called Pine Peak!

After tasting this one, what I’d really like it to breathe some mountain air. As that’s not possible, I’m going to settle for trying a few more keemuns. Hopefully some of them are as good as this one!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp
Sil

this one is really different than a lot of keemuns that i’ve tried. Sounds liek your first experience was with the smokey variety…

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100

Another Whispering Pines sample! I needed a treat to make this morning at work even remotely bearable, and obviously I turned to tea in my time of need. I used 1.5 tsp of leaf, and gave it three minutes in water just cooled from boiling. No additions. While brewing, the scent is wonderfully savoury – I’m thinking rye bread, in particular.

To taste, it’s just as wonderful as I’d hoped. It reminds me of Butiki’s Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black (which I loved), and even a little of Verdant’s Laoshan Black (although that’s a relatively distant memory now). Initially, it’s quite chocolatey, although it’s an almost bittersweet dark chocolate/cocoa flavour. Then, in the mid-sip, the fruitiness emerges! Plum and blackberry are the descriptors best suited; a little tart, a little sharp, but with a wonderful juiciness that makes this an absolute pleasure to sip. In the aftertaste, I’m picking up mostly bread. It matches the scent almost perfectly, in a savoury, lightly malty way. It’s a wonderful combination of flavours – sitting here, it’s almost got me thinking of summer pudding. Or maybe craving is the right word, if I’m honest.

I’m sure I’ve said it before, but black tea like this makes me wonder why I bother with flavoured tea at all. This tea tastes vibrant and fresh, and is so utterly, perfectly smooth; almost like honey. Definitely one I’ll be needing to repurchase!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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100

Another superbly wonderful tea from Whispering Pines. I’m adding my review here as I believe I have the old version. It seems sad to say that, because I’m enjoying this cup immensely. Still, seasons change and all that. Clearly I’ll have to try the new version to compare!

Anyway, the tea. I used 1.5 tsp of leaf, and gave it three minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk (just the tiniest one, though!) The scent of the dry leaf is wonderfully chocolatey, like opening a tin of cocoa powder and taking a sniff.

To taste, this is probably the nicest quality black blend I’ve tried in a good long while. The initial flavour is chocolate; quite dark and rich, but with a deliciously smooth, creamy edge. A mild fruitiness emerges in the mid-sip, initially cherry (chocolate covered cherry, anyone?), but ultimately turning more towards apricot. It’s light, fruity, and juicy-tasting, and the perfect counterpoint to the chocolate/cream richness of the initial sip. The end of the sip is heavily malty, with all the sweetness that implies, with a touch of honey. It’s also gloriously smooth. The chocolate flavour lingers in the aftertaste, making this an almost decadent treat. I consider my morning thoroughly brightened! This one is definitely going on my shopping list!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
Whispering Pines Tea Company

Do you know when you ordered this? I’d be able to find out if it was an old or new one. :-)

Dustin

Are the two versions significantly different from each other?

Whispering Pines Tea Company

@Dustin, the old version was, in my opinion, pretty bland. To be honest I didn’t enjoy it at all, haha. I spent about 8 months searching for the right dian hong to replace the one in it with, and when I finally found it, North Winds became my absolute favorite tea. I pretty much drink it daily, which says a lot because I generally drink 3 or less teas each day. :-)

Scheherazade

I can see if I still have the invoice…

Whispering Pines Tea Company

I just looked it up! :-) It’s possible that you have the new one, but hard to tell. Around the end of June I started putting the new version in sample packs, so it’s likely you got the new one, but who really knows? :-P

Scheherazade

I liked it anyway :)

Whispering Pines Tea Company

:D woot! I’m glad :)

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100

Finally gave in and used my one-cup sample of this last night. I’ve been holding out for the sake of my wallet, but the temptation finally got too much! I followed the recommended parameters and gave 1/2 tbsp of leaf 3 minutes in water just cooled from boiling. While brewing, it smells amazing, like vanilla ice cream and warm chocolate sauce. I know already that it’s going to be a treat to drink.

It is, of course. From the very first sip, this is almost like drinking a cup of high quality melted chocolate (only less thick, obviously). It tastes wonderfully of dark chocolate, and is almost a little drying in its intensity, like cocoa powder. It’s saved from becoming too dry by the vanilla, which hangs around in the background and contributes a wonderful, rich, creamy-tasting depth of flavour. I wouldn’t say I get fudge, exactly, but definitely chocolate and vanilla, and enough of both to go a long way. After the initial hit of flavour wears off, I can taste a mild fruitiness that could well be the North Winds. It’s cherry, pretty much, and almost syrupy. It’s the perfect end to the perfect sip!

For a blend of black teas only flavoured with vanilla, this is exceptional. Definitely one I’d like to keep around, although for very special days only. If I drank this regularly, I’d probably drink nothing else. Utterly gorgeous stuff.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp
Whispering Pines Tea Company

So glad you enjoyed this one! :-)

Allenblaster

Great review, this makes me want to try this tea a lot!

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100

As I’m on a roll with Whispering Pines teas at the moment, I decided to maintain the momentum. I received this as a sample with my last order, and, as I love Chinese black teas, I was pleased to have the opportunity to give it a try. The dry leaf is a beautiful thing; slightly downy bright golden swirls with brownish black edges, which really do bring to mind snail shells.

I followed the recommended parameters, and gave 1 tsp of leaf 3 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium red-brown, and the scent while brewing is sweetly malty with an edge of grain.

To taste, this one is a wonderfully smooth delight. The initial flavour is chocolate (I’d say milk, as it’s quite sweet and mild), followed by a lightly bready note. Freshly cooked, warm, yeasty bread. The sweetness is maintained into the mid sip, where there’s a wonderful maltiness, and the almost starchy flavour of sweet potato. The flavour deepens in the aftertaste, and I can detect a slightly darker, bittersweet note that works as the perfect counterpoint to the initial sweetness. Now it’s more like dark chocolate dusted with dry cocoa, but there’s absolutely no astringency.

I’ve come to really appreciate teas like this, which tick all the boxes for me in terms of flavours I enjoy in black tea. There are others I enjoy equally, but this is a strong contender and one I’d be happy to keep around long term.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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Profile

Bio

Hi :) I’m Sarah, 26, and I live in Norfolk in the UK. My tea obsession began when a friend introduced me to Teapigs a good few years ago now. Since then, I’ve been insatiable. Steepster introduced me to a world of tea I never knew existed, and my goal is now to TRY ALL THE TEAS. Or most of them, anyway.

I still have a deep rooted (and probably life-long) preference for black tea. My all-time favourite is Assam, but Ceylon and Darjeeling also occupy a place in my heart. Flavoured black tea can be a beautiful thing, and I like a good chai latte in the winter.

I also drink a lot of rooibos/honeybush tea, particularly on an evening. Sometimes they’re the best dessert replacements, too. White teas are a staple in summer — their lightness and delicate nature is something I can always appreciate on a hot day.

I’m still warming up to green teas and oolongs. I don’t think they’ll ever be my favourites, with a few rare exceptions, but I don’t hate them anymore. My experience of these teas is still very much a work-in-progress. I’ve also never really tried pu’erh, and that’s something I’m just starting to explore.

I’m still searching for the perfect fruit tea. One without hibiscus. That actually tastes of fruit.

You’ve probably had enough of me now, so I’m going to shut up. Needless to say, though, I really love tea. Long may the journey continue!

My rating system:

91-100: The Holy Grail. Flawless teas I will never forget.

81-90: Outstanding. Pretty much perfection, and happiness in a cup.

71-80: Amazing. A tea to savour, and one I’ll keep coming back to.

61-70: Very good. The majority of things are as they should be. A pleasing cup.

51-60: Good. Not outstanding, but has merit.

41-50: Average. It’s not horrible, but I’ve definitely had better. There’s probably still something about it I’m not keen on.

31-40: Almost enjoyable, but something about it is not for me.

11-30: Pretty bad. It probably makes me screw my face up when I take a sip, but it’s not completely undrinkable.

0-10: Ugh. No. Never again. To me, undrinkable.

Location

Norfolk, UK

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