I’m reviewing the Autumn 2014 harvest (according to the Whispering Pines web site), purchased in October 2015. I brewed it gong fu style using the timings recommended by WP (10/10/15/30/45/75/120/180 seconds)
Tasting notes on Steepster from a little over a year ago speak of cocoa and caramel notes. Other than a hint of cocoa in the aftertaste on steep 2 and a whiff in the aroma in steeps 5 and 6, no cocoa notes were found in this harvest and no caramel notes at all. Early in the session I was disappointed by this.
As the steeps went on, however, I gained an appreciation for this tea. It has good balance, with no one taste really standing out throughout the session. It’s a medium bodied tea with a moderate intensity of flavor.
There are other China black teas I adore because of a particular dominant note, but can’t drink them every day because I get tired of that note.
I will have to drink this tea a few more times before I can say for sure, but this feels like one I might not get tired of. It has a buttery mouthfeel and complex aromas of sweetness, malt, tart stonefruits, occasional spice, dried apricots, vinegar, and a few faint cocoa notes. And on the last steep (3 minutes) I smelled sauerkraut. Yep, that’s in there too.
The flavors were primarily tart stonefruits, honey sweetness, some sweet fruitiness, and Yunnan spice.
I’m not going to rate this until I’ve had it a few more times, but my initial reaction is quite positive.