931 Tasting Notes


I’m a sucker for hints of cedar in my less oxidized teas, especially when vanilla is in the mix. It’s the reason I bite the bullet and buy blends like Bellocq’s overpriced White Wolf. It’s also why I decided to order from Whispering Pines again, one month later. I’ve been meaning to try this tea for years. Also, no one told me WP carries Taiwanese Assam and Wild Mountain. Hello again, long lost friends.

It’s been a while since I read or watched LotR, but isn’t Rivendell essentially a spa retreat hidden away in the middle of misty mountain wilderness (with elves)? That’s this tea to a “T” (although, possibly minus the pretty elves). This cup and hot springs are meant for each other.

Main flavour notes are vanilla, cedar, fruity pear, vegetal somethings, floral fruit blossoms, cedar, citrus, frankincense (sort of like eucalyptus/mint but sweeter/muskier and with more tree resin). Floral berry aftertaste like cherry and/or pear blossoms and chocolate.

I oversteeped the second steep just a tad and now it smells a little like banana runts. Still good though.

Steep Count: 3

Flavors: Cedar, Cherry Blossom, Chocolate, Citrus, Eucalyptus, Floral, Mint, Pear, Pine, Resin, Vanilla, Vegetal

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Daylon R Thomas

I ordered some myself. I almost got the Assam, but I hesitate with Malt. The Wild Mountain is my favorite so far besides Ancient Spirit.


Daylon, the Premium Taiwanese Assam is not the malt-bomb you might be expecting. It’s really as the description suggests. Thick mouthfeel to boot.

Daylon R Thomas

Hopefully that comes in the sample cause I know I’d like that!


I haven’t had Taiwanese Assam since Butiki closed shop (will fix that tonight), but I also recall it being an smooth, “easy drinker”. Six years ago, it was one of the only black teas I would drink during my “I don’t like black teas” phase.


Daylon, If you don’t receive a sample and it fulfills my memory’s high expectations, maybe I can send you a little.

Daylon R Thomas

That sounds good. :)

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This is a fine oolong and I wanted to have a proper reflective sitting with it, but life often doesn’t go as planned, eh? I tried drinking it at the office (nasty water and not worth bringing nice teas there), at home, and now here. I’ve stretched this last serving over the course of three days, hoping I’d have time to savour it (nope).

First steep: grassy, orange blossoms, citrus, silky, almost creamy. Honey-fruit notes to finish that become more apparent as tea cools. (I got to here).

I guess I’ll just have to order more. Life’s tough.

Steep Count: 4-5, usually

Flavors: Berry, Citrus, Cream, Grass, Honey, Honeysuckle, Nuts, Orange Blossom, Stonefruits, Sugarcane

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec
Daylon R Thomas

That one is a personal favorite. I’ve had higher end and graded Li Shan’s before, but the silky orange blossom and honey notes make it a winner for me. And I hate having bad water for tea, which is why I bring my own for work.


Daylon, that must be what it is… The orange blossom. I just finished a sipdown on this and was said for it to go even though I have other Li Shan’s left. I think on my next what-cha order, I’m adding it again.


Oooh, this sounds good! I need to order this.

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This sample was generously provided by Whispering Pines

Everything about this tea tastes like delicious stout. The cereal. The chocolate. The sweet, almost syrupy, rich malt. Stout… I swear it has some carbonated fizz too. Beer vibes all around.

I don’t drink alcohol that often because even small amounts make me feel like crap, but I miss my old staple stout Dark Matter (Hoyne’s Brewery, Victoria, BC). It’s such a local favourite that I’ve see a few food businesses incorporate it into their products- the most noteworthy (to me) being Cold Comfort’s ice cream. I miss Victoria sometimes. (thank you for taking me to that happy place, tea).

Steep Count: 2

Flavors: Baked Bread, Chocolate, Cocoa, Cream, Malt, Roasted Barley, Spices, Sweet Potatoes

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

I would love to visit Victoria! The closest I’ve been are San Juan and Orcas Islands. Stouts are one of my favorite beers but they don’t go too well with central California weather. Maybe I’ll pass on GABA Black Pearl?


Yeah, It’s a fun tea but I would try to grab a sample first. And while central California weather may not be great for frequent stout drinking, I think it’s perfect for yearly consumption of “summer” Hefeweizens. I could die happy with that. Or a tea that tastes of wheat, banana, and clove. :P

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I initially thought two things when I first tried this tea: 1) Holy Bergamot, and 2) Sil would not like this at all.

The Bergamot is strong but not enough to curdle milk. I wouldn’t normally add milk to a Dian Hong but this scented tea takes it well- Like a freshly baked citrus loaf, with sweet potato and butterscotch notes. Someone else mentioned taro root and that is spot on. I also get a marmalade finish, which sours into a red wine aftertaste (and man, is that noticeable after cooking with our old syrah tonight).

Flavors: Baked Bread, Bergamot, Butterscotch, Chocolate, Citrus, Citrus Zest, Honey, Red Wine, Sweet Potatoes, Tangy, Taro Root



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drank Coconut Cream Pie by DAVIDsTEA
931 tasting notes

Something about this tea is too aritificial. Not sure if it’s the white chocolate, added sugar, or dairy (would’ve preferred this to be Vegan) but this coconut pie is more sour and cloying than I would like it. While it makes a passable latte, I don’t think it offers up much competition or innovation to the other coconut oolong blends already out there.

Flavors: Artificial, Coconut, Grass, Milk, Sour, Vanilla, White Chocolate

Evol Ving Ness

Yeah, sadly, this one held such promise in the name.

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drank Lemon Pound Cake by DAVIDsTEA
931 tasting notes

Omg, I was hoping to finish this off today but the rest of my packet went missing at work. BOOOOO. Because this was actually pretty for a flavoured oolong from David’s Tea; second steep was like a lemon meringue pie.

Wish I had picked up a little more (and taken it home). Why do I learn to like a David’s Tea offering just as they are discontinuing it?

Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Cream, Lemon, Lemon Zest, Lemongrass, Tangy

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Evol Ving Ness

Have you learned to like Maple Syrup Oolong yet? Start liking it now!


I bought some but still have yet to try it. Maybe tomorrow :)

Evol Ving Ness

Excellent news! Looking forward to hearing your impressions.

Roswell Strange

For the record; whenever a tea is announced as discontinued/retired I always try to drink it & log it here on Steepster the same week – and call out it’s discontinued. That way, I hope as many people who are fans of the blend get to see it’s been retired as soon as possible & have time to stock up (if they want to).

Evol Ving Ness

Thank you, Ms. Strange. We appreciate you!



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Sample Generously Provided by Whispering Pines Tea Company

I’ve had this one before but this time around it’s hitting a sweet spot. Maybe this harvest is more to my taste than the one in the past. Maybe I haven’t had a Chinese black tea in my cupboard for a long time and now I’m latching on to the first one I try. Who knows.

One of my cups had delicious spicy-fruity aroma that reminds me of Verdant’s old Vanilla Citrus Spice blend (the batches that didn’t taste like dirt; orange, ginger, and cinnamon notes apparent). The taste throughout the various sessions were often starchy-sweet (banana, sweet potato), meaty-starch nut (chestnut), syrupy or jam-sweet (plum, marmalade, molasses.. possibly caramel? I didn’t get that much caramel except maybe to finish). Aftertaste is partially salty, partially sweet musky tobacco.

All in all, this is a pretty filling cup, with a lot happening! I’m glad I had the opportunity to give this tea a second chance.

Steep Count: 2

(2018 Spring Harvest)

Flavors: Anise, banana, Chestnut, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Ginger, Licorice, Malt, Molasses, Nuts, Orange, Plums, Spices, Sweet Potatoes, Toasty, Tobacco, Yams

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Sample generously provided by Mandala Tea

(I think this is the Golden Daylily although my sample was only marked as “Jin Xuan”, so apologies if it’s another variant).

I was baad about mindfully drinking this sample; I meant to savour and make note of it properly but it turns out this Jin Xuan is an easy drinker (aka- totally chugged it. Sorry).

I do recall that it was juicy, silky and somewhat buttery, although not to the extent of the scented Milk Oolong, which knows no equals in its richness and creaminess. There was one particularly noteworthy cup where this Jin Xuan transformed into an extremely happy mango pudding; that was one fine cup.

Steep Count: 6

Flavors: Butter, Cream, Floral, Fruity, Mango, Smooth

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 30 sec

Mango pudding tea sounds divine. Too bad it was only one cup, haha.

Evol Ving Ness

Happy mango pudding! Omgwow!


I’ve encountered the mango note in Jin Xuan before (What-Cha’s China Fujian Anxi Jin Xuan had it), but this one outlier cup here was tastier. I would now like to see a mango flavoured milk oolong. XD

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drank Colored Species by Mandala Tea
931 tasting notes

Sample generously provided by Mandala Tea

This vibrantly green oolong is like drinking a silky bouquet of spring flowers. During various sessions I picked up notes of honeysuckle, clover honey, lilac, citrus blossoms, and… licorice to finish once? (the latter is probably the result of a White Wolf anise contamination but it was still lovely).

The enthusiastic garden display reminded me a tad of this ridiculously floral Gewürztraminer I once had. Like aforementioned wine, this turned out to be a happy pairing with Palak Paneer, Dahl Makhani and some garlic naan. Maybe I should try more floral-sweet tea with spicy food pairings in the future.

Steep Count: 5

There was always a long break between the first steep and second steep because I could never get into the first cup, even with a rinse. Consecutive cups were almost always better and more complex

(2018 harvest)

Flavors: Citrus, Floral, Honey, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Smooth

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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I started my Steepster loose leaf adventure back in 2012. I can’t say I’m completely new anymore, but I still view oolong as a magical, extraterrestrial creature that unfurls in water.

Ingredients/flavours I tend to dislike or stay away from: apple, cocoa nibs, marine, peach, stevia, dairy products

Subjective Rating System 2.0:

90-100: My absolute favourite tea. Will impulsively buy and hoard like a dragon.

85-89: A favourite tea. May have quality flaws that I choose to ignore.

76-84: A lovely tea, maybe of high quality or masterful blending, but not one I’m likely to order again.

70-75: Enjoyable, but I may have few minor problems with quality, consistency, ingredient chemistry and/or personal preferences.

50-69: Quality, consistency, blending, or personal preference problems are apparent, but I wouldn’t pass up a cup.

11-49: Varying levels of undrinkable tea. I don’t give a lot of these ratings out, since I tend to grab teas I know will appeal to me.

1-10: Nightmare tea from the chaos realms. This is last year’s low-grade bancha mixed with rancid coconut, stale cocoa nibs, over-enthusiastic hibiscus, and stevia sweetener. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist.


BC, Lower Mainland

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