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Recent Tasting Notes
Yabao has always interested me, for the colour of the liquor is IMHO the most beautiful. These buds are large with a lemon zest scent. They have sharp herbaceous tones and hay with some oats mixed in. The mixture is a pleasantly sharp sour. I warmed my shibo and placed them inside. The tones open up to heady floral and zesty herbs alike thyme, rosemary, and tarragon. I washed the buds once and prepared for brewing. The stepped white nubs give off a fragrant scent of granola drizzled in honey with some nutmeg spice. The taste is smooth and filling with prominent lemon basil, tulsi, and soft wood. The next steeps bring on hay and sugar water with the same flux of herbaceous medley. This is a great easy sipper. The liquor is the classic translucent aquamarine color that stuns me. I was not able to pull too many steepings, and yabao always leaves me unsatisfied, but it was a nice and peaceful session.
Flavors: Graham, Hay, Herbaceous, Herbs, Honey, Lemon Zest, Nutmeg, Smooth, Spices, Thyme, Wood
I have a sizable stash of WP teas and finally got around to trying Foxtails. YUM. The leaves are tight, long and light gold, and I could smell the cocoa malt aromas off them. I love when light colored black teas deliver big flavor. Although I didn’t pick up the sites described mushroom notes, there was a savory element but mostly a toasty baked goods choco flavor dominant. I used 5 grams for a 100 ml pot and for a black, this was a decently long running tea with many steeps. Very smooth, comforting.
Since I haven’t reviewed too many blends this month, I motivated myself to finally break out the last of this one. A blend of three Chinese black teas, The Jabberwocky has become one of Whispering Pines’ signature teas. It is a highly regarded blend with a wide following here on Steepster. I found it to more or less live up to the hype.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 5 seconds. I followed this infusion up with 14 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 8 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced interesting aromas of chocolate, honey, wood, and stone fruits. After the rinse, the honey and stone fruit aromas intensified and were joined by emerging scents of orange, toast, and malt. The first infusion produced a bouquet that saw malt and toast aromas continue to develop. In the mouth, a pleasant and robust mix of wood, brown toast, fresh bread, cream, malt, honey, orange, caramel, sweet potato, and indistinct stone fruit notes washed across the palate. Subsequent infusions produced a bouquet that was maltier, fruitier, and more honeyed. Aromas and flavors of raisin, apricot, nectarine, and peach emerged. I also began to catch hints of camphor, eucalyptus, and minerals on the finish that I did not previously notice. Later infusions were dominated by wood, malt, chocolate, brown toast, and citrus notes coupled with a touch of caramel and stone fruit. The camphor, mineral, and eucalyptus notes on the finish were also amplified, producing a unique and soothing cooling effect.
This is probably one of the most complex and refined black tea blends I have ever tried. It was not quite what I was expecting (I had heard that this blend was incredibly strong, so I was expecting it to absolutely knock me for a loop), but I was far from disappointed. Though it mellowed a little quicker than I would have liked, it still had considerable staying power as well as a gorgeous layering of aromas and flavors. Definitely put this stuff on your wishlist if you have not yet tried it.
Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Brown Toast, Camphor, Caramel, Chocolate, Cream, Eucalyptus, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Orange, Peach, Raisins, Sweet Potatoes, Wood
Rinse: 15 seconds
Steep 1: 35 seconds, 350 mL almost boiling water
No storage flavour at all. Flavour profile is quite mellow, tastes like wet rocks (not so much minerals, more like the smell of a river or petrichor) , brown dry leaves, and autumn.
Steep 2: 30 seconds, 350 mL hottish water
Stronger tea flavour, the base tastes very oxidised. It kind of tastes like spices (pepper, ginger, maybe nutmeg), but the pot was clean, so it must be the tea. I think it tastes a bit sweet like molasses. Very interesting.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Molasses, petrichor, Spices, Tea, Wet Rocks
Holy wow, this tea is scrumptious! The chocolate and vanilla come through really nicely, but so strong as to mask the lovely earthy notes of the puer. I brewed gongfu and got a good 6-7 steeps out of it before it gave up on me.
This was my first tea from Whispering Pines, and I am very impressed. I have several more from them to try soon!
Ok, I have a hard time telling the difference from WP Ambrosia, Elderwood, and Golden Orchid. All three have luxurious black tea bases with fine quality vanilla. If I was to hazard a comparison I would say GO is on the lighter, dessert side of the spectrum (chocolate, honey) whereas Elderwood has a darker, earthier profile with a subtle peppered flare.
Yep, not a sommalier. I guess the most important part is I would order all three again if/when I have the means! The next time I go with WP I may even check out the actual tea types before blindly ordering.
Flavors: Earth, Pepper, Vanilla, Wood
I finished this a couple days ago without ceremony, which is disgraceful.
It tastes of rich dark wood, ripened cherries, and heady vanilla. It also reminds me of cream soda, with less sugar. Needless to say, it’s on the reorder list for when I’m fabulously rich or the Canadian dollar isn’t so terrible- whichever comes first!
Flavors: Dark Wood, Overripe Cherries, Vanilla
I received this as a sample! Thank you Brenden!
This is delicious and definitely something that I would order. I love black teas with that deep dark chocolate note. I didn’t get too much time to focus on the tea as I had to hurry off to work, so I will pay more attention and rate it next time I enjoy this beauty.
I got this tea as a sample along with some ripe puerh that I ordered from Whispering Pines.
Upon opening the bag, the smell of cocoa was so prevalent that I actually had to check to make sure it wasn’t a blended tea (even though I expect it in a Dian Hong). Brewed up, the cocoa was there in the background but along with a strong maltiness, with strong sweet potato and subtle spices. A very enticing cup of tea. I was impressed – very much in the classic Dian Hong range of flavors, but a very good example of the style.
Flavors: Cocoa, Malt, Spicy, Sweet Potatoes
Sipdown! I am now at 101 teas! How exciting. I hope to be at 80 or less by spring.
So this tea is a chai tea. I am not fond of chai teas and ingredients like ginger and sage make me cringe. However, this tea is quite pleasant. The white tea base is very sweet. The spicy mixture is more cardamon to me with just a bit of ginger and sage. If I was a chai tea fan, I would probably love this tea. Since I am not, I will enjoy this tea today and say goodbye to it.
Flavors: Cardamon, Ginger, Sage, Sweet
Excellent – thoroughly enjoyable. Always remember to mix up the tea before measuring out the leaves or the vanilla flavor will be very weak. Very generous with the vanilla bean – there was so much of it! All of the main flavors others have mentioned were there: cocoa, vanilla, malt. Also a tiny bit of what I call “pavilion campfire” – just a touch of smoke. You can overleaf it a little, especially if you do multiple steepings. I’ll be back for more. Hopefully they aren’t out of stock completely, but I know chances are pretty good they are!
Flavors: Cocoa, Malt, Smoke, Vanilla
Gongfu brewed in my shiboridashi. The Huron Te Ji in cake form is stronger than the loose leaf variety. I would say it has more of the medium range of how shou goes. The tea yields a rich mellow brew with a clean mineral taste to it. Highly recommended as this is the type of shou that deserves to be set aside for the times when you can relax and focus upon the tea and only the tea.
Steep 1: 3 minutes, 80 degrees C water, 450 mL
Very light coloured liquid (light yellow), smells like stale dried flowers
Flavours of dill and white tea, slightly vegetal. Overall, very light in flavour.
Steep 2: 3 minutes, 80 degrees C water, 450 mL
More tannins and tea flavour. Darker liquid (yellow orange)
Tastes of dill and white tea still present, but there is also a flavour like…minerals? Not exactly ash. Maybe more like musty, but in a good way. Kind of like dried osmanthus flowers. The liquid smells like honey, but doesn’t taste like it.
Steep 3: 2 minutes, 80 degrees C water, 450 mL
Additional flavours of dried plant matter: bamboo leaf and corn husk. Notes of grain and lighht fruits are present, but I can’t say which specific fruits.
Flavors: Bamboo, Bok Choy, Cherry Wood, Corn Husk, Dill, Grain, Honey, Mineral, Musty, Osmanthus, Tannin, Tea, Vegetal, Wheat
I bought this tea about a year ago. I was very pleased with the service I got from Whispering Pines, they were prompt with shipping and included a generous sample. I was intrigued to buy this tea for obvious reasons- it’s unique. I am not a black tea fan, but I decided I’d give this a shot. I was very pleased at how much “soul” this tea had. By far the best black tea I’ve ever had and probably one of the best teas I’ve ever had in general. I give it a 91 instead of a 100 because it is on the pricey side, but if you have the coin to spare go for it!
Flavors: Chestnut, Honey, Molasses, Plums
Got a free sample of this from WP in both of the orders I’ve made, so I’ve been meaning to get around to trying this. Steeped it gongfu style last night, and had to take some time to just admire the beauty of the dry leaves. Golden with a very fine down and an earthy aroma.
Each cup of the first steep tastes quite different to me. There is a hint of sweetness rounding out the earth and malt in the first pour, but the flavor is very subtle overall. The next cup tastes like whole grain cereal and has a sweet aftertaste. The last sip, from the very bottom of the cha hai, has the deepest flavor, and after emptying the cup, a bold sweetness clings to it.
I find the flavor really comes out in the third steep, which brings more depth and distinct cocoa notes. I have one more sample of this one and haven’t decided if we’ll do it gongfu again or western. Gongfu is our preference for almost everything, but I’d like to see how it tastes both ways.
Flavors: Cocoa, Earth, Grain, Malt, Sweet
We tried this tea out recently, on a chilly day. We figured a spicy chai would be a good relief from the cold and wind.
This chai is indeed very spicy. Opening the bag, the peppercorns really stand out, with ginger and cinnamon close behind.
We first tried tasting it straight. It wasn’t very enjoyable. Kind of like drinking peppercorn and ginger. Much too savory and spicy, without much balance. Good for clearing out the sinuses, I suppose. So, we moved on to adding milk and honey. This was much better and balanced the savoryness of the of the tea.
This is certainly a unique chai blend. Very spicy and savory, with the peppercorns and ginger overpowering everything else. If that’s your thing, jump on it. However, it just didn’t work for me. I would have preferred the black tea to come through more, along with the cinnamon and allspice.
Overall, it works with milk and honey, but for the price, I’ll pass in the future.
Flavors: Ginger, Peppercorn