101 Tasting Notes


The dry tea for this one comes in little fuzzy golden coils. The name is very accurate! The dry aroma is earthy, with pumpkin or squash notes, like a lighter version of Verdant Tea’s Golden Fleece, which is the only other experience I have with a “golden” Yunnan black tea.

During brewing, the little snails unfurl fully, and the liquor becomes a golden orange color. The taste is rich, again having some mellow pumpkin in the profile, which becomes quite harmonious with delicate sweetness, a hint of something cocoa-like, and an identifiable, crisp and clean black tea fragrance. The finish is very smooth.

Being curious, I brewed Golden Snail and Golden Fleece side by side. The biggest difference might be color—Golden Snail leaned warmer while the Golden Fleece liquor was more green-tinged. In terms of taste, they are very similar, with Golden Snail having less of that lingering buttery finish. But the best qualities of both teas are very close to each other. After trying to compare, I poured the remainders of the two cups together, and that was somehow even better. In order for them to balance each other, there had to be a difference, I just haven’t put my finger on it yet.

I may cold brew this one later to see if I can bring out the full extent of its attributes, and any subtle differences. (After all, cold brewing got Golden Fleece its 100 point rating so it’s only fair!)

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New tea from Whispering Pines, and 100th tasting note!

This tea is very pleasing to look at, coming in the form of little buds with silver down on them. Once brewed, the buds open up slightly. The aroma is, surprisingly, a lighter version of Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, with musky pine and longan fruit sweetness. The taste is much more subtle and faintly sweet. It reminds me of a southern California garden in full sun with the fragrance of drying herbs, but not many flowers. Looking at the description later, rosemary was probably what I was thinking of, we have plenty of that around here! A very enjoyable light tea that I will experiment more with.

(This tea is now sold as Yabao on the website instead of Winter White Buds.)

Whispering Pines Tea Company

Oh, thanks for reminding me, gotta update that on here :)


That was fast, thanks for paying close attention to customer input!

Whispering Pines Tea Company

No worries, thanks for providing the input! How else would I survive? :-)

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New tea (hooray!) but one that I can’t add to my cupboard or the database, because, well…it just says “tea” on the package. It’s a green tea from China, and while it comes in a tin, the packaging is not very pretentious or gifty, which raises my hopes.

The leaves are flat and pressed-looking, with fine silver hairs. There’s a warm, vegetal and bread-like aroma. The brewed liquor is pale gold, and the taste is initially very subtle and light compared to what the aroma might suggest. Mellow and lightly grassy, with just a hint of richer flavors, and something I can’t quite put my finger on that is the most surprising note in the background, which leads to a stronger finish. This morning I just can’t seem to think of the right word for it. It’s a good standard green tea to have on hand.

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With no new teas for a while, I’ve had some time to experiment with the existing (and slowly decreasing) supply of teas I already have. And I can safely say that of the ones from Verdant Tea, this is the one that I would order again. It’s complex, but in such a way that every note in the complexity is enjoyable. Slower brews were the key here; I’d previously noted that it could be too sweet with gongfu-style infusions, but that’s not an issue with my regular steep times of three minutes or so in a large cup. The little bit of astringency that comes out balances the sweet notes, and isn’t unpleasant at all. As for the other components, they are all still there and I love them.

(increased rating)

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Sample cube 18/18!

This one had a very intense citrus aroma as soon as I opened the package. The sachet contains not only green tea bits but also very finely chopped pieces of something lighter, which I think is lemongrass in spite of it not being labelled on the package. (Later I checked the website and lemongrass was indeed one of the ingredients). The brewed tea still has that very strong citrus scent, almost like lemon drop candies. The flavor is quite mellow, not really sharp or vegetal for a green, with that familiar lemongrass zest. It’s not bad, though not something I’d seek out often.

And that’s it for the sampler! Now back to being busy…

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drank Green Tea by Bigelow
101 tasting notes

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drank Paris by Harney & Sons
101 tasting notes

Every time I have this tea (which is not often enough), I forget why I ever bother with any other breakfasty black tea blends. It’s just that good. The occasional find like this is also why I’ll never swear off flavored or blended teas completely.

I ordered a tin of this along with the sampler from Harney and Sons, and it was so filled to the brim that it almost exploded upon opening this morning. Good on them!

(increased rating)

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drank Bangkok Blend by Harney & Sons
101 tasting notes

Sample cube 16/18

I ended up enjoying this much more than the typical fruit/herbal-heavy tea blend, for a very simple reason: all of the ingredients promised by the description could actually be tasted in the brew, and got along well with each other. The coconut here is lovely, very soft and more reminiscent of coconut milk than the stronger flavor of dried coconut pieces, if that makes any sense. The ginger adds a warm, sugary spice that’s far enough in the background to not overwhelm, and the lemongrass brightens everything a bit. The green tea itself is very light and smooth. Overall it’s rather like coconut curry soup, but much lighter and quite refreshing as an iced tea.

Almost done with these samples. Then I’ll be back to a regimen of trying to finish things in my cupboard…

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Sample box 15/18

Tightly coiled pearls with a distinct, not-too-perfumey jasmine scent. The pearls unfurl during brewing to fill up the sachet, which fortunately does leave enough room for them. The tea brews out to be very smooth, light and a tad sweet, not very vegetal, and definitely more forgiving toward longer steep times than some other greens I’ve encountered. The jasmine fragrance is pleasant, fresh, and not overwhelming. Overall a very nice jasmine tea that is definitely above average.

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Biologist, aspiring writer, and a cat that learned to type.

A former, or rather reformed, purist.

I grew up in a very Asian family of academics with more teapots than friends (and they weren’t lacking in friends). For the first part of my life my experience with tea was limited to traditional Chinese styles, and while it made me appreciate tea as a part of daily life, there were many other styles and varieties of tea I didn’t know anything about. (And I admit I didn’t understand everything my family was saying about tea either…) Since then I’ve been trying to broaden my horizons and explore teas unusual or unfamiliar to me. But a good oolong is still the surest way to make for a perfect afternoon.

I usually won’t log teas I’ve reviewed before unless I have something to add, have changed the preparation, or if it’s a sipdown.

90-100: definite repurchase if possible, recommended
80-90: enjoyed, might repurchase
70-80: fair to good, wouldn’t mind a cup now and then
60-70: not great, won’t actively warn people away from it
50-60: there’s still a chance I’d take this if it were free
under 50: didn’t like it


Southern California

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