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Recent Tasting Notes
This was not at all bitter and much less tannic than other black teas I’ve had. I did two western style steeps, the first was 3 minutes and the second was 5.
This tea really heated me up inside and got me going. I was amazed how warming it was even after the cup had cooled so perhaps more suited to cooler weather, but it was nice to drink a black tea where I didn’t need to load it up with sugar to be able to drink it. Though I guess there is a sharpness to all black teas that sugar or honey complements. I’m sure a touch of sweet would go well with this.
It’s been a few hours since I’ve had the tea and I still feel the effects. Potent stuff! I’m not sure how to rate it yet. I think I can brew it better but definitely one to explore more!
So now we’re back to oolongs for awhile. This is a tea I have been looking forward to reviewing. I love Wuyi rock oolongs, and Da Hong Pao, in particular, is one of my favorite teas of all time. In my opinion, this one is a stellar example of a fine Da Hong Pao.
I brewed this tea gongfu style. Following a quick rinse, I steeped approximately 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 190 F water for 5 seconds. I followed this infusion with 10 additional infusions, with an increase of 3 seconds per infusion. Steep times were as follows: 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29, 32, and 35 seconds. Note that I rotated the leaves in the gaiwan after the fifth infusion.
On the initial infusion, the liquor showed a brilliant golden amber in the cup. I immediately detected the unmistakable aromas of wood, char, minerals, wet stones, mild spice, and stone fruits that I immediately associate with Wuyi oolongs. In the mouth, I discovered rich notes of mild cinnamon, wet stones, moss, wood, char, burnt sugar, brown butter, minerals, apricot, golden raisin, nectarine, and yellow plum. There was also something of a subtle creaminess that balanced some of the minerality. Subsequent infusions saw the butter, spice, and stone fruit aromas strengthen. On these infusions, I noticed the emergence of slight cardamom, anise, and black peppercorn notes, as well as an intriguing and unexpected white grape note on the finish. Infusions 5-7 saw the mineral, butter, sugar, char, spice, and stone fruit aromas and flavors become more balanced. The touch of white grape on the finish remained, accompanied by stronger presences of stone, minerals, and wood, as well as a slight vegetal taste. The later infusions saw the complex aromas and flavors slowly fade, leaving fleeting impressions of wood, wet stones, mild spices, char, and minerals underscored by a touch of vegetal flavor.
This tea is a rich, deep, and incredibly complex beauty. It really rewards a lengthy session and demands one’s full attention to understand and appreciate its finer qualities. I’m not sure if I would recommend this as a starter Da Hong Pao, but I would have no problem recommending this to established fans of Da Hong Pao and other Wuyi rock oolongs.
Flavors: Anise, Apricot, Black Pepper, Burnt Sugar, Butter, Cardamon, Char, Cinnamon, Cream, Fruity, Mineral, Moss, Plums, Raisins, Vegetal, Wet Rocks, White Grapes, Wood
Generously provided as a sample by WP many moons ago, I only cracked open this tea in the last little while. There’s somewhat of an evident flavour fade, but the chocolate and malt notes are still distinct. There’s also a bit of honey, although it’s more washed out.
I won’t rate this because of the age, even though the tea is still pretty fine albeit not particularly exciting (to my palate anyways). I’m still in a bored phase when it concerns chocolatey Chinese black teas.
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Honey, Malt
Oh ho, this is just plain nice.
I mean this as the highest compliment. Its a tea that has no bells or whistles (and normally I am the head of the bells and whistles section of the orchestra), and yet manages to be special, have presence, and just be so gosh darned nice.
Pleasant, smooth, flavorful without becoming overwhelming or intense at any point, this is just a good time in a cup.
As this is the first thing I’ve tried from Whispering Pines, I must say I am excited for things to come, and more tea to try.
Another sample Brenden gifted to me during our tea session. I put 8g of this into my 100ml gaiwan.
I didn’t get much scent from the dry leaf. I rinsed the dry leaf chunks for about 5 seconds. I first detected a camphor type of scent. As I was sniffing that and trying to really make sure that is what it was, a brown sugar note hit my nose. Whoa. That was not what I expected based on the original scent I was getting. Very interesting.
1st steep, 10 seconds. The leaf scent went to the fermentation side after this steep. But the liquid has a sweet mineral mushroom scent. The first sip or two left me with the impression of smooth, slightly sweet, slightly creamy, and a mineral-like note. Just a hint, though. The color of this infusion is like a bronzed orange. Wow, yeah, as I drink it there is this caramelized brown sugar scent that wafts up. It isn’t exactly in the flavor but the scent is there.
2nd steep, 10 seconds. The scent of the leaf here is more brown sugar sweet. The shou chunks broke up and turned this steep liquor into a much darker color. Cola-like. The scent of the liquid has more of a typical shou character. Earthy. And the flavor gives off a bitterness on the back of the tongue. Maybe I steeped it too long for the leaves breaking up but wow this stuff is all over the place. Perhaps one of the more complex shou’s I’ve had in those terms. I do hope the bitterness goes away in further steeps as it is not an aspect I enjoy. It is not completely overwhelming but certainly makes itself known on the back end.
3rd steep, 10 seconds. I had to take about an hour break here but I’m holding at ten seconds in order to take care of the bitterness. While it is still there it is less pronounced. A bit smoother.
4th steep, 15 seconds. Ok, I feel better about this steep. We are back to a smooth creamy shou flavor. Very drinkable again. Also, excuse the fall off in detail of reviews. It has been a total of 3 hours since I’ve began drinking this. Life happened. Electrician stopped by and did some work. Kids wanted me to push them on the swing set. Dinner needed to be started. So, forgive the lack of detail. It started out so strong, too!
5th steep, 20 seconds. This is settling in to a nice session. I have to end the review here though.
Overall this comes in as a nice shou. The bitterness throws one off a bit in the first few steeps but after that it settles down and becomes fairly dependable.
Flavors: Bitter, Brown Sugar, Burnt Sugar, Camphor, Creamy, Mineral, Mushrooms, Sweet, Wet Earth
It’s 3am and my back pain has been keeping me awake. Despite painkillers and my heating pad I just can’t sleep and I need liquid comfort. I dragged myself out of bed and to my little tea making station in the bathroom(yeah it sounds weird but I don’t like to go downstairs at night, so I keep a few select teas and a cheapy electric kettle in my bathroom.)
I can’t really write a decent review because I’m way out of it but this is exactly what it needs to be tonight. Liquid comfort. It’s smooth and rich. And teay(yes spellcheck that is what I meant to type). See what I mean about being out of it?
Sometimes this tea is good to sip but it also stands up to being gulped. It seems like not a lot of teas are truly lovely when being gulped down by the mouthful but The Jabberwocky doesn’t lose it’s charm.
Ok, my cup is almost empty so I should try and close my eyes again. I am feeling a bit better. Vicodin or tea? Probably both.
The first sample I’m trying from the puerh plus TTB.
1st off if this box has taught be anything it’s that I can’t say no to a tea that smells like chocolate. I grabbed samples of all three teas where I whiffed some cocaoy goodness. This being the only tea that contained actual cocoa was unsurprisingly the best smelling of all of them. So much so that when I added hot water the room started to smell like I was making brownies.Now you need to understand that I love chocolate. Not “chocolates”, not melty dove bars or sweet mockolate candies, not even Hershey’s “special dark” if they still embarrass themselves by calling it that. I’m talking straight up cocoa nibs, 80-100% bars, hell I won’t even go less than 60% cocoa content for the chocolate chips I put into cookies. I always worried that cocoa containing teas just wouldn’t be enough. I was wrong.
This tea brings out all the cocoa and the puerh adds a good dark base that keeps it from tasting watery. I brewed this in a gaiwan and through 10 steeps the nibs were present in every cup from the first light colored one to the later dark cups. The aroma cannot be talked about only experienced. The puerh did not get in the way of the chocolate which might happen with western style brewing. I may have ate all the nibs out of the tea when I was finished.
One note with this tea. It contains cocoa butter in the nibs which will slowly come out of the tea leaving a slight sheen on the top. Because of this you’ll want to make sure to use glazed teaware and give everything a good wash afterwards to keep from contaminating your next tea.
This is really a tie-in review to my other Whispering Pines black tea reviews. I found the black tea base of this tea to be, similar to the ailaoshan black, a bit on the pesto-y side of flavor. Very floral, a little nutty, a bit sharp for my taste. I also found this years “batch” of cocoa amore to be a bit more along these lines as well, so I think it is likely just the qualities of the tea changing a bit. I like it a lot, but Having had it multiple times now, it’s a tad cloying for an everyday tea. I brewed this one a long time, but I tend to do that with black tea :) The Vanilla is AMAZING, such good quality, aromatic, and flavorful, very pleasant overall. Not as chocolatey as I was expecting, but the cocoa amore seemed less chocolatey as well. I highly recommend if the above is to your liking.
Flavors: Floral, Olive Oil, Pine, Vanilla, White Chocolate
Cocoa Amore… The tea that I have probably pined over the longest. I remember first joining Steepster and seeing it up there at the top of the rankings and thinking, “Now that sounds like my kind of tea.” Sadly, it was out of stock every time I went to look for it or make an order. Even this time, I went to order it, and shortly after is when Whispering Pines had the Great Tea Flood of 2016. But, Brenden came through and was able to get it shipped out a few weeks after some recovery time.
My first thoughts upon smelling the bag of this is chocolate covered cherry cordial. Heavier on the cocoa/chocolate smell with the cherry being underneath. Very intoxicating.
I brewed Western style, per the suggestions, and I was very happy with what came out. I may have had a lighter hand on the tea but it still had a really nice cocoa flavor with a light cherry underneath. I think if I pushed the leafing a little more that these flavors would be a bit more pronounced.
I was only able to do two steeps (again, the light handedness of the leafing) but they were both very enjoyable. I am really happy that I finally have this tea in my possession. I just want to bathe in the scent of the leaves and Tahitian vanilla.
Flavors: Cherry, Chocolate, Vanilla
Backlog 29 July 2016
Notes taken while playing video games.
Dry leaf: A nice golden black hue to the leaf. Smells malty and sweet.
Wet leaf: Reminds me of baked bread/dark beer. Has a slight dark chocolate note. Very rich caramel note after the third steep. Slightly bitter after the fifth steep; however, it remains rich and tasty. Dry mouthfeel.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Caramel, Dark Chocolate
Cocoa Amore is a tasty and healthy drink that i would suggest and prefer. Its really yummy and no words to explain about its taste.
A cup of malty good liquor. I’m drinking the second half of the sample in my Gaiwan, and I must say that it’s pretty good stuff. I noted a few days ago that it released a lot of caffeine through my veins and kept me energized for the 50 students at Summer Camp.
However, this tea is wonderful. I enjoy the nutty-malty-chocolaty undertones to the brew; which fortunately will allow me stay up later tonight on the account that it’s Friday, and that I don’t need to be anywhere tomorrow morning.
On a side note: I had recently experienced a mishap to my electric water kettle, and had to purchase a second one—although much more fancy than the last—which allows me to brew to the precise temperature needed for each tea. Plus, it was a fairly priced pot that I was discounted due to the frequent stops that I make at the local shop. The owner even gave a few samples to try that he thought I’d like; which was thoughtful.
Generously received this sample as a part of my WP order.
Unflavoured black tea is currently resides in the “unfavoured” pile, along with sheng puerh, flavoured green (“sencha”) tea, and honeybush. That’s not to say I dislike those guys, or that I don’t have all-time favourites residing in those categories, but they do get a low priority stamp.
This Ailaoshan black is smooth, has some great flavours, and I can easily drink a whole pot serving, as opposed to a single mug steep and/or a gongfu session. Still, drinking through my black teas right now is a bit of a chore. My most voluminous teas are currently (mostly Chinese) black and rooibos blends, and I’m so very done with all that.
Maybe my tastes will change in the winter. Maybe I need to mix up the black tea section with a little darjeeling. Oh, hum.
Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Malt, Pepper
This tea has flowers that you can watch open while you steep it. That’s really fun — and an inkling of what’s to come.
This is a super foresty and earthy blend. At first sip, I didn’t care for it. I was like “am I eating dandelions out of my front yard? Am I a rabbit?” (No. But I am a philistine.)
But as it’s cooled, I really like the deeper notes in here. It’s a claylike*, round taste that I appreciate.
*Disclaimer: I don’t eat a lot of clay, but it’s what I imagine clay would taste like. And, oddly, “clay” is a flavor you can pick below. So I am not the only person that’s like “it’s, you know, a pottery-in-progress kind of taste.”
As I approach the bottom of the cup, I’m really coming around. This isn’t something I would have picked out, but I’m glad I tried it.
I’m going to take this home and try steeping it before bed sometime. I think it would be a nice evening tea. As, I suppose, one would expect from something called “Moonlight Sonata.”
Flavors: Clay, Dandelion, Dirt, Flowers, Grass, Spices
My excellent friend mtchyg sent me a giant bag of samples, so strap in and feel the G’s, kids. We’re going on a ride.
I picked Jabberwocky first because I hear the world of Whispering Pines, plus I liked the name. It’s a mix of Harvest Fujian, Ailaoshan and Wild Arbor Yunnan black teas, according to Oolong Owl.
I know what it is made of, because I couldn’t believe how flavorful it was. I had to look it up. This is just straight tea — not tea pus a zillion other types of hazzurah thrown in, which is what I usually drink. It’s got great flavors. Citrus and woodsy and a little bit sweet.
There’s also a rich note, hiding near the bottom, of a sort of chocolate/pu-erh/earth note. I’m not quite sure it’s there. It’s like the Loch Ness monster, where I think I spot it, but then it slides underneath my radar.
I had no idea that “plain” tea could be so good.
Is this a whole new world? Am I going to have to sing about it on a flying carpet? I’m already chasing down Pokemon in the real world, so I might as well fully grasp the nostalgia while it’s hot.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Chocolate, Citrus, Malt, Molasses, Wood
From a swap with Zennen. Thank you!
This one is unusual. It’s quite mild with a single teaspoon, so I think I might use two next time. It uses some ingredients you don’t see every day, which I do appreciate. I could definitely taste the ceder and the oolong, but I think I would be able to pick up on more flavors if I brewed it stronger.