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Recent Tasting Notes
I have been eyeing WP teas for a while now, but couldn’t resist a promo sample offer that was posted recently. When my cup is hot, I get a ton of clove and some cardamon to back it up. There is a little malt in the back of the taste that comes out a little more as the cup cools. It has an overall hearty taste and is well balanced. I’m having it without any additions, but would love to try a cup with some cream. Adding cream… it seems to dampen the flavors a little. The malt is dampened, but it does have a sweeter creamier taste overall. I think I prefer it straight. I had my first cup yesterday in class and the caffeine level seemed to go a good job of getting me through the day. Overall I really like this tea!
I was lazy, and instead of fully writing a profile of this specific tea, here’s the review that I wrote earlier of it.
Another lovely offering from White Antlers.
All the notes on here pretty much describe it and I agree with the tasting notes. It tastes like a fruitier moonlight tea with the added bonus of buttery later steeps. Cinnamon butter is a weird description, but it really does taste like you’re drinking a light glaze of it. I’m personally impressed with how the honeydew melon and peach note are stronger than the malt note.
I am very glad to have tried it, but I’m not sure if I would get a full ounce of it. If it were cheaper, I might make it into a seasonal staple.
This was a super fragrant, incredibly flavorful, very generous free sample from Whispering Pines Tea Co. This tea session felt like walking through the semi damp forest in Autumn. Dark brown sugar, fall spice, dark ripened and dried fruits, malt and subtle yam, butternut squash and sweet potatoes hiding in there as well. Towards the end woodsy autumn leaves took over. These are some seriously feel good leaves of love…
5g, 100ml Purion, just under boiling and then up to boiling temperatures for 10s and counting up till around 3m for over 6 infusions.
I shared this little sample with my girlfriend on a misty Ohio day—finals week is in full swing, and it really makes me appreciate the little down time I have.
I think I’m starting to move away from black teas—they tend to have a sort of bitterness that I don’t really like. It’s not like the sweet bitterness of a shou (or even sheng), but a more tangy, astringent bitterness. This isn’t a bad tea by any stretch, but I’m not nearly as into black tea as I used to be.
Anyway, as far as flavor, I tasted classic bready notes in the first infusions, with later infusions tasting more like bitter honey. I’m also getting some mineral notes. Body is not super thick, but it’s nice and mellow. My girlfriend kept getting notes of soy sauce, which was interesting, and it brought her back to her mom’s cooking. She started craving broccoli and tofu—crazy that tea can do something like that.
Anyway, this is a good tea, if not a blow-your-socks-off tea.
This is the third Whispering Pines black tea sample I am reviewing. I mentioned that I found them all to be a bit generic, that is generic to eachother, not among tea in general. Now the other two, I was very curious to try, but this one I just KNEW I was going to like. Why? Because I have had cocoa amore, and other black teas from the same region, with similar notes, and this one was a shoe-in. I am still not sure they send me the correct tea Haha. Bad is definitely not a word I would use to describe it, it was decent, but really, really weird. My first reaction was “This is what they use to make cocoa amore”? MY second reaction was “This tastes like pesto” No I’m not kidding, it really does, I think primarily like pine nuts but with some earthyness too that makes it very pesto-y. Very little chocolate or cocoa at all. I brewed it pretty strong but still, just not as I expected. Very fruity, very floral. Not bad by any mans though, I’m going to give it a lowish grade for now but reevaluate with the rest of my sample.
Flavors: Cocoa, Earth, Floral, Fruity, Olive Oil, Pine
Whispering Pines had this one down as “The highest grade tea you can find outside of china” or something along those lines. It certainly wasn’t a disappointment. It didn’t have any particular flavor in the foreground which I think was the most appealing thing about this tea. There was some cocoa, a bit of malt, definitely flowers. The main thing i thought about this one is that it is a bit too similar to the other blacks I got from whispering pines, nothing really made this one stand out from the crowd for me, except that it was a pretty balanced, and generally satisfying cup of tea. I should say, Whispering Pines teas always surprise me with how much they hold up to multiple brewings. This tea is definitely worth the try.
Flavors: Cocoa, Flowers, Malt, Mineral, Tea
Pretty much as described. It smells just like sweet potatoes. Not like other teas which have a slightly sweet scent, like caramelized sweet potatoes. The taste is pure malt, cocoa, and maybe bread
Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Floral, Malt, Sweet Potatoes
I’ve never tried Whispering Pines before, but I’ve heard lots of great things about their tea, so I was super excited to try the $5 sample pack deal. Today the box arrived :) First up, this lovely Jin Xuan. It’s not a really ‘buttery’ milk oolong, and I can’t detect the pineapple and coconut notes listed in the description, but it does seem slightly fruitier than the average milk oolong, and the flavor and mouthfeel overall is very smooth. Nicely done!
This is my first DHP, so take this with a grain of salt.
This tea is all right. I ordered a sample of it from a promotion the company was having, and was excited to see the package in my mailbox today. I steeped up the tea with 190 degree water, and sipped.
The first steep was good—intense roast on the front end and then fruitiness on the back. However, steeps 2-6 all just tasted like roasted leaves, without nice fruit flavor. I think this might be a freshly-roasted tea…? It’s just so dominated by this roast flavor, which is surprising because the leaves are pretty green. Ah well.
Later steeps are definitely better. The roast dies down a bit and the fruit and flowers come out a little. Still, I can’t help but think that for $40/100g, this tea is not worth the money. Would probably be better if I left it alone for a couple months and let the roast die down.
Okay, get ready for a lot of back logs. The last few weeks were honestly hectic. Had a final presentation project, a twenty page paper on the Ptolemies and Rome, and a book review on a Flo Kennedy biography all due consecutively. It was a lot to handle even for this 4.0 academic coupled with work and the complications of type 1 diabetes…personal drama aside, I was blessed by Whiteantlers in those few weeks with her incredibly generous gifts of tea.
Leading from the implications of that sentence, this tea was indeed one of those gifts.
The dry leaf reminded me of black licorice with anise. The taste gong fu was the same in each steep, each granting a few different qualities of malt and smooth texture that I’ve gotten used to with true Chinese black teas. The licorice stood out to me the most in every cup, and was practically the flavor of the tea.
I will probably write about this tea again, probably with the specifics of my steeping parameters. I definitely liked this tea, and am glad to have little in my possession.
Breaking off from my recent Keemun and lapsang souchong binge, I decided to turn my attention to white tea. I ordered an ounce of this tea from Whispering Pines a little less than 2 months ago and enjoyed a couple glasses of it, but had shoved it to the back of my tea cabinet and forgotten about it. I guess I will now work on polishing the rest of this off before I move on to something else.
As far as preparation goes, I decided on a three step Western infusion. I followed Whispering Pines’ preparation outline and steeped one tablespoon of this tea at a temperature of 190 F. The infusion times were 3, 5, and 7 minutes.
Prior to infusion, the dry leaves showed a lovely dark green with pronounced white tips, offering aromas of cucumber, honey, hay, and a floral, nectar-like sweetness. The first infusion yielded a light ecru cup with pleasant aromas of cucumber, nectar, honey, white peach, and honeydew. The palate followed the nose, producing delicate, subtle notes of cucumber, nectar, honey, white peach, and honeydew, with subtle grain, cream, and hay accents. The second infusion produced a darker, slightly yellowish liquor and a fruitier, grassier bouquet. Notes of honeydew, honey, white peach, and nectar were underscored by cucumber, grain, hay, cream, marshmallow, and grass. I could also detect faint traces of nectarine, white grape, and apricot. The third and final infusion yielded a somewhat lighter cup with a gentle fruity bouquet. The notes of cucumber, grass, grain, marshmallow, cream, and hay skillfully balanced a melange of honey, nectar, white grape, apricot, nectarine, white peach, and honeydew. As hard as I tried, I could find nothing resembling eucalyptus, cinnamon, or honey wheat bread.
The aroma and flavor profiles of this tea tend to be what I think of when I think of a typical unflavored white tea. For what it is, it is very good. I have enjoyed my experience with this tea so far. It is very subtle, delicate, and sweet. In the end, I would say this is a very respectable white tea.
Flavors: Apricot, Cream, Cucumber, Grain, Grapes, Grass, Hay, Honey, Honeydew, Marshmallow, Nectar, Peach
From Dark Matter 2016
I really couldn’t get into this tea. After a 10 s rinse, the first cup tasted extremely bitter, with dirt underneath the bitterness. Second steep was pretty much the same. Third steep, I could detect a bit of cherry, but it mostly tasted like dirt. I’m now suffering from the extremely unpleasant aftertaste.
12:20 am Thursday Indianapolis, IN
This tea soothes every fiber of my body.
I enjoyed it western style with a tsp of vanilla syrup.
Although this tea is good, and the bergamot flavoring is definitely a high quality (the smell in the bag is powerful) I believe I like the flavor of the snails themselves better and would have liked this tea more without the essential oil part. Lucky for me Whispering Pines offers Golden Snails in a more traditional style. Along with that, the tea was astringent. The level of astringency wasn’t a deal breaker but it was noticeable and started getting worse after the 2nd or 3rd cup. Next time I will make it gongfu style.
Lastly, I feel like this tea doesn’t have as much stamina as similar teas I have tried. To me, it could have been better in that area. Those are the main reasons why I gave this tea a 79. I think when I try the plain golden snails the score will be closer to 90. :)
Got this with Dark Matter 2016. Used my whole 4.2g in my 60mL gaiwan with boiled water. I enjoyed this tea, but I continue to believe that I just don’t like shou as much as sheng or oolongs. Used more than I often would for a ripe, so I kept the steep times down a bit longer than usual, sub 10 seconds for the first 4 or 5 steeps. I only did one rinse, so the first steep was a little bit funky. By third steep, funk was mostly gone.
In the aroma of the wet leaves and the first 2 steeps I got hints of a sour almost fruity note that was barely there at all, but mostly this tea was an earthy, creamy sweet tea. Also got some mineral notes throughout most sessions and some brown sugar coming out in the final few steeps. Leaves were pretty small, but seemed mostly intact. Started out strong and dropped off quickly after around 9 steeps. Seemed like a good shou to me, but not sure I’d be inclined to pick anymore up myself.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Earth, Sweet, Wood
From 2016 Dark Matter
Gaiwan brewed, 1 rinse, gradually increasing infusions starting with a few seconds.
I was applying for jobs while drinking this so I powered through it…this is why I split my samples in two. So no great notes but man did I enjoy this. Leaf smells briney, but only a bit of this comes out in the beginning. Good full initial steeps. Lots of mineral flavor throughout. Brown sugar coming out in the end, although a little more unrefined like jaggery or picondillo. Nothing intimidating here.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Mineral
This whimsical tea made its way over to my tea table. The leaves are a chaotic assortment of twisted black tendrils with light gold spotting. Their scent is powerful and aromatic of smooth anise, dry sugar, and chocolate. The scent takes me back to my grandmother’s Italian cookies. I warmed up my gaiwan and pushed these inside. The scent exploded into fresh baked cookies with cherries on top and a light but sharp tone of malt in the background. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. Now I’d like to state that I really dislike anise unless it’s in a cookie. I have a lot of trouble appreciating it, but this tea nails it! The flavor begins with a smooth sweetness then moves into a sharp kick of anise. The leave’s coco base pushes these flavors out and soothes them away. The aftertaste consists of caramel and burnt sugar that linger in throat. The qi is nice and powerful with a lot of red facing, haha. The spent leaves give off a wonderful aroma of baked bread. This tea packs a lot of flavor and lasts for quite some time. The anise is not as overwhelming as I assumed to be in the aroma of the dry leaves. This tea brings a lot of character to the table with no artifices. I really enjoyed it, even though I did doubt it quite extensively.
Flavors: Anise, Baked Bread, Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Cherry, Cocoa, Cookie, Malt, Sugar
OOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH this tea is good.
I thought that my bias toward the Wild Grey would override, but I actually like this one just as much for different reasons. This is the higher quality tea, and a lot more people would like this because it is stronger and thicker.
I started Gong Fu-ing-and the first steep was a strong bergamot balanced by strong, fatty malt. It was almost salty.
The tea got stronger in the following two steeps with more cocoa, a strong sweet potato and salted peanut fatty taste again , and than a spicy aftertaste. I accidentally made the tea closer to a western style, 40 seconds, than 55, but dang was it still good and I will get a lot more out of the steeps following.
This is one of the best Earl Grey’s I’ve had. It definitely reminded me of a chocolate orange, and I can drink this either Gong Fu or Western with great flexibility. That was what Brenden intended making it. It is also by far one of the smoothest Earl Grey’s with its strong spiciness actually coming from the bergamot in conjunction with the tea. This is the regal Earl Grey, while the Wild Grey is the more humble.
Another awesome selection from Dark Matter 2016. Just under 7g in a 120ml bone porcelain pot with boiling temperature. Well over a dozen steeps beginning at 10s and gradually increasing to 90s before the leaf founds its end. Creamy, slight earth and straw, tingling camphor goodness, brown sugar hues. I admit that I will always enjoy sheng over shou as many a ripe tend to struggle for their own identity. This is not one of them and I would definitely pick up a cake when released in October 2016.
Thank you for sending a sample of this one a while back, NayLynn! I’ve had this one before but it wasn’t distinct enough for me to write a tasting note. This is the last of my sample, but I’m still not finding much to note. I think suddenly ripe pu-erh just tastes like ripe pu-erh to me. Its good, but it’s hard to distinguish from other pu-erh. That’s a shame. For a pu-erh, it is of medium depth and darkness. No offensive fragrance or flavors. But not unique enough for me to love it compared to other pu-erhs. Basically this is just a tasting note to remind myself that I tried this. I will have another pu-erh favorite soon to see if all pu-erh is so plain tasting now.
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for a full mug// 9 minutes after boiling // rinse // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // few minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 3-4 minute steep
Gongfu brewed in my shiboridashi. The Huron Te Ji is the strongest shou puerh that I have encountered from Whispering Pines to date in a good way but still in the light medium range of how shou goes. Huron Te Ji has a sweeter mellow taste that is more of a clean mineral taste than earthy. I am looking forward to trying this again in cake form when they get released as I think the cake versions generally taste better than the loose leaf.