Whispering Pines Tea Company

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Recent Tasting Notes

i bought two cakes of this tea just based on the hope that it was similar to the mirkwood blend.. and it is. its very smooth and easy to drink lots of i find- its my favorite shou ive tried so far. even without the mushroom morsels its very “mushroomy.” i think i could have brewed it longer than 4 min to get a richer, darker brew, that would help me pick up flavours in its true form. its almost syrupy with some coco/caramel stuff going on. im also drinking this out of my new mug i got for xmas- it looks sort of rustic with white lining the inside so i can see the teas colors better. good qi to if i m not mistaken, even though i havnt drunk much yet.
anyways thanks for reading and happy teaing and happy new year.

-nycoma

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92

After I finish with this review, the backlog will be empty once again. I’m sure that some of you who may stumble across this review know the tremendous sense of relief that comes with catching up all of your work. Part of what kept me from reviewing this tea sooner was that I made a point of trying to really savor it. I also pushed myself to see how it reacted to multiple methods of preparation.

I brewed this tea both Western and gongfu. I actually tried two different Western preparations. One was a one step preparation in which I steeped approximately 3-4 grams of loose tea leaves in around 8 ounces of 205 F water for 5 minutes. The other method was a three step infusion in which I steeped 3 grams of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 205 F water for 3 minutes and then followed that up with 5 and 7 minute infusions. For the gongfu session, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 5 seconds following a quick rinse. This infusion was followed by 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes. This review will primarily detail the results of the gongfu session, though I will undoubtedly comment on the other preparations at some point.

Prior to the rinse, I noted that the dry tea leaves emitted pleasant aromas of dark chocolate and malt. After the rinse, I noted more pronounced aromas of dark chocolate and malt accompanied by hints of brown sugar and orange. The first infusion produced a similar, albeit slightly more integrated aroma. The mouth was dominated by dark chocolate, though I could detect impressions of sorghum molasses, malt, brown sugar, and wood just beneath the heavy chocolate flavor. Subsequent infusions introduced a fruitiness and creaminess on the nose and in the mouth. The dark chocolate, brown sugar, malt, wood, and sorghum were joined by impressions of cream, orange peel, and black cherry. Later infusions emphasized the wood, malt, and cream impressions, though traces of orange peel, sorghum, and dark chocolate remained. I noted that a slight mineral presence emerged both on the nose and in the mouth, as did a somewhat distant impression of black walnut.

While the gongfu session presented a very elegant, layered tea that revealed its charms over time, the Western infusions predictably produced a more balanced tea liquor overall. The one step infusion emphasized the tea’s woodier, more tannic qualities and presented a more astringent brew that nevertheless revealed strong notes of orange peel, wood, malt, cream, and dark chocolate. The three step infusion moved from heavy dark chocolate, wood, and malt presences during the first infusion to a sweeter, fruitier cup full of brown sugar, cream, orange, and black cherry notes during the second infusion. The third infusion presented a mildly malty, creamy liquor with wood, chocolate, fruit, and mineral underpinnings.

In the end, I was very pleased with this tea. I found it to be very sophisticated, yet also very approachable. While I do wish it had a little more bite, I think fans of smooth, nuanced black teas will find a lot to love about this one. I would have no problem recommending this tea to anyone searching for a high quality Chinese black tea with plenty of character.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Cherry, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Orange, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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83

A bold black tea that went perfectly with my mood while I was cleaning today and ironically organizing my tea collection at the same time.

The smell is nice and the black tea very hearty – I added a tablespoon, so that was more than enough. Steeped for a little over five minutes. I actually didn’t sense any smoke but I’m used to very smokey teas so I could have missed it. A little sweetness on its own, but I boosted it with a little sugar as I always do. Enjoyed the tea, a feel good blend.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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80

A pleasant cup, although not what I was expecting. I don’t have the most sophisticated taste buds in the first place, but I missed a lot of the notes in the first try of this one. I have some left so I’ll keep trying. What I did get was a very pleasant, malty sort of tea with a rich bready taste. Good and comforting. My leaves weren’t purple, but I love the name and the label.

Flavors: Malt

Preparation
4 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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82

I recently received my first ever order from Whispering Pines. Since I’m sitting here looking at the ice outside, I thought I’d go ahead and review the tea I’m enjoying at the moment: Silver Needle. I’m tasting the Spring 2016 harvest.

The leaves are thick, fuzzy buds that look like little bananas. They smell like a nice white tea, very delicate with a little sweetness.

I followed the instructions on the package for my first tasting. I thought it was a little overdone, so I reduced the temperature just a little for this tasting.

The taste that stands out for me is “smoky”. It’s not powerful, but it is present enough that it stands out among the other flavors. Definitely more complexity than other Silver Needles or Silver Tips. The aftertaste is less sweet, and lingers for a while.

Overall, a very good white tea. Perfect for a winter afternoon.

Flavors: Smoke

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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97

I absolutely enjoyed this wonderful tea. Chocolate and vanilla, what’s not to love? It was very smooth without any hint of astringency. There are very slight fruity notes hiding in the background.
I really should have got more than the one ounce I ordered. It’s not too soon to make another order yet right…..

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Great, no words, delicious !!

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83

I’m falling behind on reviews again. I finished the last of this tea a couple days ago, compiled my notes, and then just left them sitting. I’m starting to get really bad about that. Anyway, I found this tea to be a rock solid Dian Hong.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 200 F water for 5 seconds. I followed this infusion up with 11 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted mild aromas of wood, leather, and chocolate. After the rinse, I noted that the chocolate aroma intensified and was joined by a subtle scent of caramel. The first infusion produced a similar, though slightly more integrated aroma. In the mouth, I picked up on mild notes of leather, wood, caramel, and chocolate. Subsequent infusions were more robust and complex. I noted an increased woodiness, as well as the emergence of brown sugar, sweet potato, malt, orange blossom honey, and black pepper aromas and flavors. Later infusions were smooth and mild. Malt and minerals provided the dominant aromas and flavors, though lingering impressions of honey, brown sugar, wood, and sweet potato were just barely detectable on the finish.

This was a nice Dian Hong. This being a wildcrafted tea, I was expecting it to be earthier and rougher around the edges, but all in all, this was good. I would have liked to see more spice character and a little more robust flavor overall, but this was still a very respectable tea. I wouldn’t mind purchasing this one again at some point in the future.

Flavors: Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Chocolate, Honey, Leather, Malt, Mineral, Sweet Potatoes, Wood

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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82

This tea tastes like spring. There are happy, bright flowers. There’s honey and citrus. Maybe there are some orange blossoms.

Floral is the main descriptor though.

Good tea, but not my thing. I’m just not a fan of citrus.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
twinofmunin

the citrus is just so strong. i think i’d like this one a lot more with a bit less citrus.

Hoálatha

Yes! I think I would too.

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70

I’ve decided to up my rating on this tea. I’ve been drinking it a lot recently (cold weather always makes me want tea) and I haven’t really been noticing that odd taste when it cools down like I did before. Not sure what happened there.

There are others from Whispering Pines I prefer more (Golden Snail or North Winds), but this is enjoyable in its own right.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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70

I enjoy the tatse fo this when it is hot. No real astringency, seesm smooth, etc.

However, when it cools down, and my tea always ends up going cold before I finish it, it has an odd sort of taste. Kind of like that instant iced tea mix that was popular when I was a kid (can’t remember the name). And that brings up negative associations.

The wet leaf is quite attractive. Kind of reminds me of shredded cedar chips that are wet from the rain. Looks very pretty.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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74

This is the first tea that I’ve tried from this company, it came my way via the GCTTB. This tea smells more like a dark oolong than a black tea to me. It has the dried fruit flavour that reminds me of some of the darker Wuyi oolongs that I’ve tried. There’s some of the dried fruit notes in the flavour as well but overall the dominant flavour is more malty with a slight hint of cocoa.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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100

My Black Friday purchase arrived last night and I was excited to rip into the box this morning. I love chocolate and I was excited to try this tea. Expensive for a Canadian with shipping and everything, but what the heck I’m worth it!
This tea is so good! Smooth and chocolate with slight sweet cherry notes. Mmmmm

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This tea is strange! I’m not sure how well the two of us get along. I’m not getting all the different notes that others are getting. In part of the sip the taste seems really flat and then further along it seems really heavy and full. I’m somehow getting a hint of seaweed which doesn’t match any of the descriptions others are experiencing. A little bit of hay on the after taste. Sadly I’m not really feeling this one.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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85

I like this one. Such tiny looking curled up leaves are cute. Exactly what I’m wanting this morning. Warm, smooth, relaxing to sip on after a 2 hour commute to work this morning. Flavor stays good even after its had a chance to cool down (this office is way too cold).

And, of course, its out of stock. Otherwise I’d get more for myself for Christmas.

Ohh, but the Imperial Gold Buds are in stock again. My poor bank account,

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Seems like people have waxed poetic about this shou – I see the appeal but I’m maybe too new to shou (shoubie?) to pick up on what’s described as cocoa and mushroom.

I do detect: minerals like river rock, clay, salt

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40

I am not fond of this one. I can’t identify the flavor aspect I don’t like (missing vocabulary again I suspect) but I’m not found of it.

Its not bitter, doesn’t appear to be heavy on tanins, just not my cup of tea. I’ll finish the order, but won’t buy this one again.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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80

I’m upping my rating on this one. I’ve been happily drinking it all day so far and it just hits the spot for this cold wet day.

(Its 20 degrees warmer today than it was all weekend or last week, but the rain just makes it seem colder.)

I don’t think I’ve hit the astringency this time around. Maybe I’ve been drinking fast enough that it hasn’t had time to get cold. Busy day and I haven’t had much time to contemplate the subject.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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80

I like this one. Its got a flavor I have been enjoying, though if it gets too cool a little astringency shows up. I got 3 very good steeps out of the leaves yesterday.

For the most part is a mellow flavor, but I find I don’t really have a good vocabulary to describe it well.

I can see myself putting this into my normal rotation on at least a semi regular basis.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Been drinking quite a bit of white this week, mostly by way of endlessly using the same leaves. No complaints, though. I love white tea.

The leaves of this one are beautiful and they smell lightly vegetal dry, sweet and hay-like wet. Followed the recommendations and did this one western style, which resulted in a sweet-smelling, light-colored liquor.

Texture is smooth, thick and viscous, the flavor light and sweet in the first steep and just a bit bolder in the second steep. Enjoyable and easy to drink, and I definitely want to try this one gongfu style next.

Flavors: Hay, Smooth, Sweet, Thick

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 4 g 12 OZ / 354 ML

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The more I experience Chinese black teas, the more I’m learning to appreciate black teas in general.

Steeped this one in a gravity steeper with boiling water for about 3 minutes. The result was a nice, red liquor with a deep, bready, chocolatey aroma. Each sip has a smooth texture with the taste of cocoa and bready notes, and a creamy, malty aftertaste lingers for quite a while.

I forgot about the tea during the resteep and let it go for a good 10 minutes, but I still got very nice flavor out of it without any unpleasant flavors. Definitely enjoyed this hong, seemingly more than rhinkle, funny enough!

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cocoa, Creamy, Malt, Smooth, Sweet

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70

Day #2 now and still going on the same teaspoon of leaves. I did end up spreading the leaves out on a paper towel over night. When I got into work this morning, they almost looked like they hadn’t been used at all.

Anyway, they are starting to loose some oomph now. Boiling water at 4 minutes and its starting to get a little weak. The color is now a lovely light honey color.

Astringency is almost completely gone (though you still notice it once it gets cold).

Tried for a fifth steep, but I think I’m pushing it. Nice color still, but not much of any flavor left. Added a tsp of a coconut chai (its wet and chilly out) and that will see me through the rest of the day.

This really isn’t a tea I can see myself buying more of, but it was enjoyable and it was very close to what I was in the mood for.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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