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Recent Tasting Notes
Mastress Alita’s Monthly Sipdown Challenge
June 2022 → A pricey tea
This is my priciest non-caffeinated tea, so far as I can tell, and it really is remarkable. I was excited about it when I first saw the listing and bought a couple of small pouches to try. I don’t think it’s still available, but I do hope it comes back at some point.
The liquid is much lighter than I expected. It definitely steeps up like an herbal blend. The flavor and aroma is mostly bittersweet chocolate, which I love. It’s almost too bitter, but manages to keep itself on the side of fancy dark chocolate rather than falling over into bitter dandelion brew territory. It does have that earthy quality from the dandelion, but it lends more to the complexity rather than tasting like straight dirt (as some dandelion herbals do). It seems to get richer as it cools, a nice surprise. This is one of those rare teas that I can drink without any additions. In fact, I think I might almost prefer it that way. I added a bit of honey to this cup, but it overwhelmed the flavor a bit.
Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Earthy
This was a freebie sample with my Whispering Pines order. I under leafed it a bit and that didnt’ hurt it at all. It is a pretty smooth tea. No jagged edges of bitterness nor sharp edges of astringency. Without a sense of smell, I get no particular flavor profile, but it was very enjoyable. When I make my next order (sometime around Christmas?) I may grab a couple of ounces of this one if it’s available. I think I’ll finish the sample off as a cold brew since it seemed brighter somehow as it cooled.
My new order from Whispering Pines arrived over the weekend. I brewed a pot of this on Saturday afternoon. I was a little disappointed. There was definitely an astringent note. That smoothed out as the tea cooled. I may have over leafed it. I will try it again. I may try it iced too, since it was better for me when it cooled.
2022 Sipdown 93/365!
Mastress Alita’s Sipdown Challenge March 2022: Sleepytime tea
Totally thrown off of this by my vacation… so I’m just going to finish off the March prompts before getting to the April ones!
This tea was okay, but very light in flavour and I’ve had variants of this that I’ve much preferred. It’s also all very small pieces, therefore really needs to be used with a fine filter. I see it’s discontinued; probably for the best as I feel like an improved version could likely be blended with more success!
Mastress Alita’s sipdown challenge, April 2022: A tea that includes a color in its name
Of course I fall in love with the tea whilst sipping on my last cup. Ugh.
So, this tea – it totally deserves its name. It tastes red like rust, like wine, like cherries. It’s so earthy – with notes of leather, wood, tobacco, cooking herbs, and smoke. Its bold, brisk profile is a nice contrast from the floral/fruit-inclined teas I normally favour. As it cools, it becomes subtly creamy and spicy. It reminds me a little of a sheng puerh.
Flavors: Allspice, Bittersweet, Cherry, Cherry Wood, Cinnamon, Cloves, Cocoa, Creamy, Drying, Earth, Floral, Herbs, Honey, Leather, Malt, Nutmeg, Pepper, Raisins, Red Wine, Rosemary, Sawdust, Smoke, Spices, Tannic, Thyme, Tobacco, Wood
I’m back after a long absence. A lot has happened in the last 2+ months. As some of you may recall, I accepted a position with the state back in November. That did not work out. Friday will actually be my final day in the position. I am supposed to be starting a new job on Monday, but now a monkey wrench has been thrown into those plans. Earlier today, I was offered my first real position in my field. The Pike County Public Library District offered me a contract to fill the vacant catalog manager position and have asked that I provide an answer by Monday. I clearly have a very big decision to make. Anyway, I am way behind on posting tea reviews due to my two jobs, school, laziness, etc. I’m trying to get back into it now, but I make no promises as to how well this will go.
This was one of my sipdowns from early February and a tea that I had been meaning to get around to trying for some time. For whatever reason, I became very focused on Chinese tea in 2020 and 2021 and did not devote much time or money to teas from elsewhere in the world. The newer Taiwanese teas went pretty much totally ignored. I wanted to rectify that oversight and opted to try this one first. Honestly, it was a very solid GABA oolong. I have been a little surprised by some of the lower scores I have seen for this tea.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of the loose leaf and bud sets in 4 fluid ounces of 190 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 18 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, and 30 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf and bud rolls emitted pleasant aromas of cinnamon, honey, straw, sour cherry, black raspberry, plum, and bread. After the rinse, I detected a stronger sour cherry aroma alongside novel aromas of roasted almond, raisin, and cream that were underscored by a subtle vanilla scent. The first infusion introduced a mineral aroma and subtler scents of toasted rice and earth. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, oats, butter, roasted almond, honey, sour cherry, bread, and minerals that were chased by delicate hints of banana, vanilla, toasted rice, raisin, and sugarcane. The majority of the subsequent infusions added aromas of pie crust, oats, butter, orange zest, sugarcane, pine, and roasted carrot to the tea’s bouquet. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of raisin and sugarcane appeared in the mouth with impressions of pie crust, black raspberry, orange zest, chocolate, pine, apple, and roasted carrot in tow. I also noted pleasant, persistent hints of plum, straw, earth, molasses, cinnamon, caramel, pear, and horehound in the mix. As the tea slowly faded, the liquor began to emphasize notes of minerals, honey, cream, bread, roasted almond, sugarcane, orange zest, oats, and raisin that were chased by somewhat ghostly, lingering touches of sour cherry, plum, pie crust, apple, butter, caramel, vanilla, and pear.
At the time I was working my way through what I had of this tea, it had been ages since I had tried a GABA oolong. I was expecting something heavier, maybe a bit more like a Taiwanese black tea, but this tea immediately reminded me of some of the other GABA oolongs I had tried. I couldn’t really tell that the heavy oxidation had added all that much to it. That gripe aside, this was still a very likable GABA oolong. It displayed great complexity in the mouth and very respectable longevity. It also produced a lively, heavily textured tea liquor that shifted from syrupy and almost cloying to smooth and creamy to thin, sharp, crisp, and mineral-heavy over the course of a lengthy gongfu session. I’m not sure I would ever pick it over some of the other GABA oolongs I have tried, but I did enjoy what it brought to the table. It was a very solid, appealing tea overall.
Flavors: Almond, Apple, banana, Black Raspberry, Bread, Butter, Caramel, Carrot, Cherry, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Herbal, Honey, Mineral, Molasses, Oats, Orange Zest, Pastries, Pear, Pine, Plum, Raisins, Straw, Sugarcane, Toasted Rice, Vanilla
Mastress Alita’s Sipdown Challenge February 2022: A cherry tea
The cherry may be a bit of a stretch here, as the profile is mostly dark chocolate, vanilla, and malt – but there is some red and fruity-floral here. It’s lovely but I tended to drink it mindlessly.
Second steep also reminded me of a vanilla cherry cola. Interesting stuff.. And it’s gone (goodbye, hard to acquire delicious tea).
Flavors: Bread, Cherry, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Malt, Smooth, Stonefruit, Vanilla
I saved this sample from Daylon for a special occasion and enjoyed it on Christmas Day. (I’m posting my note today because I had a couple more steeps to savour.) Given their high shipping cost to Canada, I haven’t had many teas from Whispering Pines and was very much looking forward to this one, particularly as I have a soft spot for fluffy golden teas from Yunnan. I steeped the entire 6 g sample in 120 ml of water at 195F for 7, 10, 12, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
As expected, these fuzzy black and gold leaves are pretty! The dry aroma is of rye bread, dark chocolate, caramel, and malt. The first two steeps have notes of rye bread, malt, caramel, cocoa, dark chocolate, butter, molasses, wood, and fleeting hints of cherry and apricot at the front of the sip. The chocolate really steals the show. The next couple steeps add hints of vanilla, although there is some slight astringency to complement all the decadent flavours. The stonefruit also goes into hiding at this point and doesn’t return. In subsequent steeps, the tea doesn’t change very much, though it seems to get more caramely and bready as the session goes on. The tea eventually fades into faint chocolate, malt, caramel, wood, minerals, and tannins.
If this one is any indication, Whispering Pines has some wonderful offerings. Though I would have been happy if those stonefruit notes had stayed longer, the chocolate, caramel, and rye bread made for a cozy Christmas gongfu session.
Flavors: Apricot, Bread, Butter, Caramel, Cherry, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Rye, Smooth, Tannin, Vanilla, Wood
Well…this weekend turned out quite different than planned. My boyfriend and I were set to leave to visit his mom for a week. The first time since I started working that I could take Christmas off. We were renting a house on the beach, and I was very much looking forward to it.
Cue COVID exposure at work. Boyfriend’s mom is immunocompromised, so we couldn’t risk exposing her to something. Had to cancel the trip. We both got negative results back, but I’m feeling sick. Boo COVID. We are both vaccinated and boosted.
So, I am still taking the week off of work and planning on drinking lots of tea.
This pone is particularly delicious. Bready, malty, caramelized. Smells like cacao powder.
Flavors: Caramel, Dark Chocolate, Malt, Rye
After seeing Evol Ving Ness’s tasting note I remembered I had this one unopened in the tea drawer and decided to brew it up. For some reason I was expecting something smoky. This is not smoky. It is black licorice (I love black licorice, but only a couple of pieces, because it quickly becomes too much) I saw some reviews that said it was bitter and astringent, but I am not finding it that way.
For someone without a sense of smell, this has a definitely anise flavor. The sip ends with a slightly sweet note. The flavor, for me, was enhanced as it cooled. I enjoyed it very much. It might become a little much if I have more than one cup at a time. As with black licorice, a little bit goes a long way. But this one will go into the regular rotation.
This one’s been kicking around for a while.
Whenever I pick it up to steep, I remember that anise bite and I think, ah no, and put it down again.
Too bad because this is one delicious tea. Prune, plum, dried cherry, stone fruit, dried fig, malt.
The anise peeks through ever so slightly. Perhaps age has muted it. Perhaps a cooler steep has.
I’ll be sorry to see this one go. Sometimes hoarding is not such a bad thing.
The aroma of the tea while steeping is divine fruit richness.
Mmm, stone fruit, berry, fig, cherry, smooth, maybe a bit of vanilla. Quite lovely.
I don’t know where the anise has disappeared to. Maybe age has turned it into malt and fruit. Or maybe there wasn’t any in my spoon.
It’s a damp gloomy day out there. Perfect for something like this.
Starting to feel that it’s time to begin to bundle up.
A tea I have finally recieved from derk but actually there is White Antlers written on the pouch, so… thank you both!
I took this one, as it is only tea I have received today (more to come…) which is not single or two serves only. Decided to go western, rather than gongfu, just because I was lazy with preparation as I am truly tired from work today. Two urgent consigments aren’t fun to manage well, especially when one is hazmat and second is safe, but liquid. And you don’t have proper cardboard box for the jerrican, so you use steel drum instead.
But I have digressed greatly, so sorry if you don’t care about my work troubles. It’s my problem and not yours.
Honestly, the aroma of the dry tea was quite strongly mushroomy for me, with some decaying wood notes. Kind of medicinal too.
I took only one tea spoon, and not even heaped, because, what if, I don’t like it. I let it steep for 2 minutes approximately, and I was moving up and down the bag, mostly because I wanted to steep it properly and all the tea I had in.
The taste was indeed savoury as derk noticed not that long ago. I can notice the leather too, and it was, as the smell prepared me for, kind of mushroomy, wet wood, and sometimes a bit medicinal. Sometimes a bit stone-like — read: mineral, and some sips this quality overpowered the others. I don’t know why, as the mug should be same all the time. It was easydrinker though and it gave me so much needed comfort.
Certainly a tea to dig more into. So, that said, no rating from me yet.
Flavors: Medicinal, Mineral, Mushrooms, Savory, Wet Rocks, Wet Wood
Mastress Alita’s sipdown challenge Saturday, November 13th: National Hug a Musician Day – Fleet Foxes
Ok, this is not actually a sipdown – I’ve too much of it for that as I tend to hoard my Whispering Pine Teas, but the theme of today felt like a good reason to pull some out!
Every time I see this tea’s name Fleet Foxes “Meadowlarks” gets stuck in my head. It’s like magic. Annoying magic. Whispering Pines whole vibe reminds me of Fleet Foxes, and indie/chamber folk acts in a big way for some reason (it’s 2012 again, folks). Fleet Foxes is from Seattle, Washington, which is around my neck of the woods, and their music tends to sound like quintessential Northwest Coast (their sound also has an uncanny tendancy to transport the unsuspecting listener to inside a Starbucks… circa 2012).
Like the subject music, this tea is deceivingly simplistic and “quiet”; it’s a soft green tea, with light notes of sweetgrass, snow peas, and soybeans. At first it feels like there’s a lot of space between the delicate flavours, but over time (and sips) the vanilla-floral note of orchid (not a little unlike a heliotrope) builds into a vivid and decadent hue. Its veggie and floral-sweetness creates a heady nectar on a pillow of soybean cream. I can see why others don’t have time for this kind of thing but it feels like home to me (and also being warm in a field, which is a comforting thought as it currently pisses outside like it’s inclined to do at this time of the year).
Steep Count: 3
PS – less is more with this one.
Flavors: Cream, Floral, Garden Peas, Nectar, Orchid, Soybean, Sweet, Warm Grass, Vanilla, Vegetal
A full leaf, very dark tea, very smooth. Bought based on the recommendations of their website, and it does not disappoint. Seems like the last 5 new teas I’ve tried have all been disappointing, this one restored my faith. I forgot while steeping, and instead of my normal <2 minutes, let this one go 20 minutes, and it’s still not bitter; strong but very flavorful and drinkable. Full leaf teas are always so much fun to try and get out of a container, or into a tea ball, but are often worth the effort in being a smoother tea, for some reason. Fewer broken leaves = less tannins?