187 Tasting Notes
An unusual tea. This is a Yunnan Red that is fruity and sweet as an oolong. A lot of apple skin and baked apples in it, plus some caramel and berries. If you steep it longer it gains some malty backbone but never gets bitter. It’s very smooth. and flavors are well-defined.
It’s quit a unique tea if not super complex.
Flavors: Apple, Berries, Candied Apple, Caramel, Malt
I had higher expectations about this tea based on the quality of packaging (a pretty neat sachet ) and the tea leaves in it, which were relatively large and unbroken. The tea tastes pretty generic for a bagged Ceylon, i.e. does not have any memorable taste at all. The bergamot component does not come off as particularly fresh or interesting.
I expected it being a step above similar products from Stash and Bigelow and it wasn’t the case. In short, there is nothing that differentiates this Earl Grey from others and makes me want to come back. It’s drinkable and it is definitely an Earl Grey but that’s that.
This is a well-reviewed tea so I will not go into specific details: they have been exhaustively captured already. Just my general observations.
This is the best Golden Snail/ Black Bi Luo Chun I have tried so far: intense aroma, strong, fresh and complex taste without any hint of bitterness. It resteeps well. Also, this tea is well-suited for both gaiwan and Western preparations and in general rewards those experimenting with times, temperatures and amounts.
Few reviews of this tea could be found on Steepster, which probably reveals that not that many folks are into smoked Lapsangs. And I can’t blame them to be honest: this tea is a fine representation of the type but its complexity cannot compete with other Whispering Pines reds. One has to be really into the taste and smell of campfire to enjoy it – and, luckily, I kinda am.
The dry leaves are quite small and not very interesting. This is one of the fairly strongly smoked Lapsangs, so the taste of the tea itself comes out only at the end of a sip: initially it’s all about smoke. Now, the smoky component is great: strong, clean, very natural and “real”. A lot of complexity in the smokiness but it is not a usual tea palette at all. I know it’s a cliche but the Islay Scotch fans would find plenty to enjoy in this Lapsang.
The tea taste comes later and it’s all about the honeyed and fruity sweetness, which goes fairly well with all this smoke and softens its austerity a bit.
Ashes of Autumn is a very nice representation of the type, with no corners cut and nothing artificial or one-dimensional about the smoke – which is, regrettably, very common with many Lapsangs. Still, this tea is certainly not for every day but for a very specific mood. As the name aptly suggests the late fall could be a good time to sip it, while looking at fallen leaves, starkly naked tree silhouettes, and caravans of birds flying away.
Flavors: Campfire, Fruity, Honey, Smoke, Wood
I really wanted to love this tea but something did not click on our first date. Which is strange, because this puerh does display many positive traits: a fairly complex taste with no funkiness, decay or excessive bitterness, a pleasant long aftertaste, resistance to over-steeping…
It just that I did not see any appreciable personality and uniqueness in it. Nothing controversial, eccentric, charmingly odd. This tea was assiduously virtuous, proper and careful about not displaying any negatives. You cannot go wrong with it but you will never get excited either. And why bother then?So, no second date for this one.
Flavors: Citrus Zest, Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Herbs, Mineral
A delicate, smooth and complex dianhong. The early autumn peacefulness and richness of aromas. Its unique taste gently but resolutely resists the attempts to describe and deconstruct it. However: some malt, caramel, plum, spices, baked goods, sweet potato, herbs…
It induces wakefulness, sharpens your senses and brings a note of nostalgia.
[Spring 2019 Harvest] This is a Yunnan Red from old wild trees that Whispering Pines started offering recently. The tea is complex and reminded me of drinking a good red wine. There are so many different flavors that I will not even try to describe all of them. It’s easier to note what is NOT there: I did not find any fruitiness or mineral notes.
I had it Western but I think it would be good gong fu as well. Herbs, malt, honey, bitterness… Very well balanced, so nothing dominates. Vibrant. It tasted and smelled much like a good Zhen Shang Xiao Zhong (my favorite kind of tea) but with a distinctly dianhong-ish sweet note at the end. This tea has a pleasant aftertaste and re-steeps well, although losing most of its original complexity.
I liked it.
Flavors: Bark, Berries, Cherry Wood, Dark Bittersweet, Herbs, Honey, Malt
Aroma (dry): A+, appearance: A+, taste: B+.
For a pure bud Yunnan it looks and smell great, but the taste is muted and not particularly multilayered: apricot, carrot, vegetable stew, malty sweetness. Thanksgiving in a cup.
There are other pure bud teas from Yunnan Sourcing that are more complex and their Black Gold Bi Luo Chun has more of a backbone. Maybe the Imperial version of this tea elevates it to a different level – I have not tried it yet.
Flavors: Apricot, Carrot, Malt, Sweet Potatoes, Vegetable Broth
It is a little ball of puerh suitable for a single session and individually wrapped. Nothing to remarkable: grassy, floral, flowers, some astringency balanced by sweetness. It does not easily slides into excessive astringency when oversteeped, which is a plus.
This tea is solid and convenient but not remarkable. You can definitely do worse if you are looking for individually wrapped puerh for drinking on the go, but puerh cakes will give you a more interesting experience.
Flavors: Astringent, Floral, Flowers, Grass, Sweet
I was a bit hesitant opening the bag with this tea: it looked suspiciously like one more gimmick of trying to sell an unfinished product on its novelty. I never had tea nuggets before. I should admit that I was totally (and pleasantly!) mistaken.
This tea has a surprisingly pleasant dry leaf aroma for a shu : fragrant hay, stone fruit, old books. The first steeps ( I had it Western at 212) were mild and very sweet. I was able to pick up stone fruit (including peach and cherry), dried apples, lake water, honey, warm hay, and molasses. So yeah, this ripe puerh unexpectedly tasted very much like a fruity oolong – only at the tail the familiar earthy bitterness of shou made a brief entrance.
The latest steeps added mushrooms and rose to the nose and mild rose, marmalade, rock candy, burnt sugar, blueberries, gooseberries and some general sourness to the palate. The taste was somewhat reminiscent of Liu Bao, especially the long aftertaste.
To summarize, this is a ripe puerh that with a pleasant and complex fragrance and aroma. It evolves with subsequent steepings. It possesses a unique character. It has a good long aftertaste. And last bot not least – these tea nuggets are incredibly convenient for easy picking just the right amount of tea to brew.
If this tea has some weak spots I was unable to find them yet. It was one of the most enjoyable ripe puerhs that I tried so far.
Flavors: Blueberry, Burnt Sugar, Candied Apple, Candy, Dried Fruit, Honey, Hot hay, Molasses, Mushrooms, Paper, Pleasantly Sour, Rose, Stonefruits, Sweet, warm grass