Whispering Pines Tea CompanyEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
Dear glorb, who would have thought jasmine and black tea would marry so wonderfully in flavor and aroma? This is the best jasmine-scented tea I’ve ever had. So easy to drink. The Yunnan black really brings the heady florals of jasmine down a notch despite the strong yet pleasing non-perfumey aroma of the contents of the bag. Jasmine top note, fruity mid and cocoa base. Thick, sweet and some astrigency that I find pleasing and may be well masked if you’re the type of person to add milk to your tea. Interesting kind of spicy warming feeling that sticks around. This tea is very pricey but M. Whispering Pines is a master at the blending/scenting game. Curiosity wins again.
Edit: I keep upping the rating as I think about it more.
(Western, 1tsp, 8oz, 212F, 3/5m)
I love star anise, so I was really looking forward to this sample I got from derk. The dry leaf aroma displays star anise and black licorice. I didn’t pick up anyhting behind these, but truth be told, my olfactory abilities are still very much impaired by the sickness. Same goes for the wet leaf smell, which is much more pungent and very woodsy. Amazing aroma, there’s no denying that.
The taste is also reminiscent of licorice, but I think I actually like it much more than licorice itself. It doesn’t overpower the Ai Lao black tea characteristics, which are present, rather it is a nice complement to it. It’s fruity, sour with a bitter finish and fragrant aftertaste. I’m loving it.
This is probably the first scented/blended tea that I actually liked. I feel that the scenting here adds to and complements the experience rather than covers a subpar (at best) tea. I will need to pay even more attention to WPT. Several times, I already almost placed an order on their teas, but got put off by the high shipping costs.
edit: The second steep is far less spectacular, I would definitely recommend western style brewing with probably just one infusion.
Flavors: Anise, Astringent, Bark, Bitter, Cherry, Fruity, Licorice, Medicinal, Sour, Wood
I just realized I never reviewed this one! I absolutely adore it, it’s so cozy and mysterious at the same time – like I’m in a cabin with a crackling fire under a down quilt, in woods that are friendly yet a little bit scary. It’s wonderful if you have a cold or sore throat, but lovely at other times as well. I wish he still made this one, as I just made my last cup and my son stole it from me.
Flavors: Lemon, Resin
A very nice, smooth tea. I decided to try another of my new teas tonight (I really need to drink some down though!) I enjoyed this one. The smoke flavor wasn’t very strong to me. Possibly because my sense of smell is gone. But it was present, and I liked the tea. As I said, the tea goes down smoothly with no acidity or bitterness. I think I’ll enjoy this one. Glad I got it.
It’s time to get one of my few remaining August reviews out of the way. I think I finished my pouch of this tea either shortly before my injury or at the end of the month when I was about done recovering. I recall it taking awhile for me to get used to this tea. I was expecting something a lot more boisterous and powerful, but instead got something that was very layered and sophisticated with tremendous depth and complexity.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of honey, plum, raisin, and cinnamon. After the rinse, I detected aromas of malt, toast, caramel, roasted almond, and blackberry. The first infusion allowed hints of cream and butter to shine through on the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of malt, cream, honey, raisin, plum, blackberry, roasted almond, date, and black grape that were accented by hints of butter. Subsequent infusions saw cocoa, pear, sweet cherry, date, vanilla, and black grape aromas emerge. In the mouth, I found belatedly emerging impressions of cinnamon, toast, and caramel accompanied by notes of minerals, wood, cocoa, pear, vanilla, sweet cherry, red apple, and powdered sugar. The final few infusions emphasized lingering notes of minerals, malt, wood, and cream that were underscored by delicate impressions of roasted almond, blackberry, raisin, and honey.
This was an incredibly nice Taiwanese black tea. There is not much more I can say about it. If you are looking for a black tea that offers wonderful aromatics as well as tremendous flavor, body, and texture, then this is your tea.
Flavors: Almond, Blackberry, Butter, Caramel, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Dates, Grapes, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Pear, Plums, Raisins, Red Apple, Sugar, Toast, Vanilla, Wood
Rich, strong, and smooth, PTA is a dreamy breakfast tea! The long wiry leaves give a nose of chocolate, raisin, and spice, with a warm and mellow sweetness. The opening taste matches that scent perfectly, with chocolate and raisin dominating. A sweetness comparable to brown sugar holds though the session while other nuances such as cream, caramel, malt and fruit peek in every once in a while.
Sampler Sipdown September! I loved the Wild Lapsang Souchong sampler I got from Dazzle Deer, but that 5g was gone in no time (like, a day). So I picked up this wild lapsang souchong sampler by Whispering Pines Tea Company from a cupboard sale by Ost. Thank you, Ost! The dry leaf smells like rose petals to me, which I don’t remember of the Dazzle Deer version… (Did I sniff the leaf that time? Hmm…)
I only brewed the Dazzle Deer version western, so this time I decided to make the tea both gong fu and western, as it’s the weekend and I have the time to do a gong fu session! And yes, I’m using my tiny, adorable 50ml gaiwan again. The more practice, the better. I think a black that doesn’t have the crazy expansion of a rolled, super-leafy oolong may be a bit easier for a noob like me, anyway.
(I will say my pour was much better this time, I only dribbled on the table three times this time!)
Gong fu / 2g / 200F / 50ml / Rinse|5s|8s|12s|15s|18s|25s|30s|60s
The aroma of this tea smelt like rosebuds, hot chocolate, orange rinds, and happiness! Usually I can’t answer when someone asks me “What is your favorite tea?” but unsmoked wild lapsang souchongs may start becoming my go-to answer to that question! The first infusion was a bit malty with a citrus-orange flavor, but had a strong floral finish that tasted just like chocolate roses… divine! The tea was so smooth and sweet, with so little astringency left on the tongue it is hardly worth noting. The orange flavor was a little more pronounced at the beginning of the sip on the second steep, but the finish was the same chocolately-rose note. The third steep was the most unique; the floral note wasn’t as pronounced, the chocolate note was more dark/bittersweet, and there was a peppery spice note on the finish, so the fruity orange flavor mixed with the spice reminded me of a mandarin sauce. The remaining steeps were very floral, with a rosy aroma and flavor, with a citrusy finish. By the sixth steep the tea was starting to lose flavor, but I pushed it to eight, remaining to get a little malt, orange, and rose, albeit weaker, in the later steeps.
Western / 2.4g / 200F / 350ml / 3m
The aroma of the brewed tea smells like sweet mandarins, reminding me of sweet and sour sauce. I’m not getting any of that rosy aroma that was so prevalent during my gong fu session.
This is certainly more similar to the Wild Lapsang Souchong I had before from Dazzle Deer — but then, I only ever had that one western brew, as well. I’m getting a rich cocoa flavor, though the finish is slightly malty, with hints of orange and a very subtle pepper spice. The tea is over all very sweet and smooth, and I think, thanks to my prior experience drinking a cup of this gong fu style prior, that the sweetness left on my tongue in the aftertaste is more of a floral rose sweetness, rather than a honeyed sweetness, which is what I was tasting from the Dazzle Deer Wild Lapsang Souchong. Is that simply a matter of them being different sources/harvests, or a matter of my palate reading that flavor note differently thanks to the gong fu session? No clue! I will say it certainly isn’t a strong rosy floral note like I was getting during the gong fu session, where I felt like I was walking through a rose garden, the aroma was so strong, and I could’ve sworn I suddenly had a rose-flavored black tea; that particular note is very subtle in the western brew, while the malt and fruity orange notes are much more dominant.
Honestly, I enjoy both! I love the really chocolate-rose flavor fading into delicate-rose-garden, and I also enjoy the malty, cocoa, fruity orange notes with that hint of floral sweetness. I think this is just a tea that can do me no wrong!
I think I prefer this wild lapsang souchong just slightly over the one I tried previously, only because of the rose floral note that I tasted in this one that I don’t remember tasting in the other, which I enjoyed so much, especially coupled with the natural cocoa and orange notes in this tea. Delicious!
Flavors: Citrus, Cocoa, Floral, Fruity, Malt, Orange, Pepper, Rose, Smooth, Sweet
I am going to break a long-standing rule of mine with this review. I have previously made it known on at least a couple of occasions that I do not and will not assign perfect scores to any tea regardless of how great it might be. Honestly, I’m pretty free and easy with grades of 80+ because I tend to buy, drink, and review things I know and like from vendors in which I have some degree of confidence. You may notice, however, that it is very difficult to get me to assign numerical scores higher than the 90-94 range, and for those who are interested, that is because I have established different degrees of excellence in my head. A score in the 95-99 range is reserved for teas that I believe to be a step above those I feel to already be more or less exceptional. A score of 100 would then refer to a perfect, world-beating tea which could not be topped by any other tea of its type. While I have come close to assigning perfect scores in the past, I could never motivate myself to do so, but here I am doing it now because I really do believe this tea to be that special. It was excellent to start with, but if anything, it managed to improve considerably in storage.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of tobacco, clove, camphor, eucalyptus, black pepper, caramel, honey, brown toast, and malt. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of butter, cream, and raisin accompanied by stronger malt and honey scents. The first infusion then introduced roasted almond, roasted cashew, and pine aromas. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of tobacco, clove, caramel, black pepper, cream, malt, raisin, butter, brown toast, honey, and pine that were chased by hints of roasted cashew, cinnamon, camphor, eucalyptus, and menthol on the swallow. Subsequent infusions introduced cinnamon, nutmeg, and sweet potato on the nose. Roasted almond appeared in the mouth along with new flavors of black cherry, nutmeg, ginger, juniper, minerals, peat, orange zest, heather, anise, and sweet potato. The final couple of infusions offered subtler notes of cream, pine, caramel, malt, and brown toast that were balanced by somewhat less defined orange zest, raisin, ginger, tobacco, and camphor impressions.
If anything was missing from this hong cha, it was the familiar molasses presence I often find in teas of this type. There was, however, so much else going on in this tea that was so unique and special that it was not missed at all. This was a truly fantastic tea, and in terms of feel and the way it expressed itself, it was unlike any other Yunnan black tea I recall trying over the years. I would have no issue recommending it to anyone with an interest in such teas.
Flavors: Almond, Anise, Black Pepper, Brown Toast, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Cherry, Cinnamon, Clove, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Ginger, Herbs, Honey, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Nutmeg, Nutty, Orange Zest, Pine, Raisins, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco
I received this as a freebie with my latest order. Thanks! The envelope says Spring Harvest with no year indicated and the website states Spring 2017. Who knows.
This tea struck a very positive and uplifting note with me but is a one-hit-wonder following the recommended brewing parameters of 1 tsp, 8oz, 212F, 3/5 minutes. I even did a third steep at what was going to be 8 minutes but turned into 11 due to forgetfulness.
The dry leaf is a sight to behold, full of twisty brown, black and gold needles that smell only of malt and sweet potatoes. The aroma of the first steep promised an exciting session with scents of orange, moss, orange blossom, molasses and milk. Indeed the first steep tasted wonderful, possessing notes of orange, walnut, mossy wet river rocks, milk, malt, light brown sugar and non-spicy ginger. The mouthfeel was smooth and milky, like 1% milk. There was a lively energy in the mouth. I was instantly warmed from the inside-out and happy.
Unfortunately, the second steep fell flat. The aroma of the liquor lost everything but the orange. There was an addition of orange zest and light ginger and the milk faded. The body became very light and watery and the mouthfeel slightly tannic with tastes of orange, apricot and wood. I wanted more than this so I went for a Hail Mary third steep. Sadly, even after 11 minutes, I was left with a nose of orange zest and orange and a taste of apricot. Very watery. There were no lingering tastes, but as I write this review, I notice a pleasant kind of watery, sour apple mouthfeel. I will say it made an excellent post-dinner drink that complemented my salmon, rice, broccoli and sweet corn.
This would be the perfect tea for those gray and frozen winter days when you need a ray of sunshine. I’ll move this one to the back of the drawer for now. Hopefully some light aging will work its magic and allow for some longevity and cocoa notes to develop but I feel like realistically it might not happen.
Edit: I think I was too harsh on this tea. Ratings are tough without clearly defined criteria and I sometimes think about dropping that habit. That said, I’m not ready to drop the habit yet. I was disappointed to not pick up on any of the chocolate I’ve gotten in other dianhong teas. There’s something really nice about this tea that I can’t define. Some of the best things come in short bursts. Increased rating. Still going to let the tea sit for a while.
This is one of the teas with a flavor profile that I used to refer to as “mushroom,” although it doesn’t exactly taste like a mushroom. I associate the smooth, slippery, heavy mouthfeel of it with mushrooms. Now that I have more experience with flavor profiles, I’ve come to learn that honey is at least one common denominator among all these “mushroom” teas.
It’s a flavor profile I really disliked in the beginning, but have slowly acquired a tase for. I especially appreciate it after long breaks from high-end teas. I usually prefer bold, astringent, and malty black teas. But every once in a while, its nice to change things up so that I can appreciate a sense of newness in the flavors I get too accustomed to.
Despite having been on Steepster for so many years, I have not developed the tea-conossier tasting sensitivity so many of you others have, so my reviews tend to be pretty basic (sorry!). What I can say for this tea is that is stands out from the crowd with its subtle minty finish.
Flavors: Floral, Honey, Mint, Musty, Smooth