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Recent Tasting Notes
Another sample from Brenden! Thanks so much! I really appreciate it. I never tried the Butiki version of this, so I don’t have anything to compare it to. But I think this is also sourced from the same place as the Butiki Wild was? I tried to steep this similar to the PTA I had the other day but I went with three teaspoons here, as Brenden suggests a tablespoon for eight ounces of water (I am using a full mug of water though.) I was worried that would be too many leaves, but I shouldn’t have been worried. The flavor practically can’t be bitter. Which is odd… such dark huge leaves could somehow never be bitter and have the sweetest flavor. The leaves here look similar to PTA, but possibly more wirey (wilder), darker, and have little brown pieces that look like twigs mixed in? I’ve never seen that before. The flavor notes are similar to PTA but subtler and less unique. The flavor is lighter: like peaches and cream, maybe only hints of the strawberry that is so abundant in the PTA. A lighter version of a Ruby black perhaps. Always smooth with an occasional mint hint which is very odd with these types of tea. Three very solid mugs of tea that were very similar anyway. All those leafhoppers must have made this tea extremely sweet. With more leaves for less flavor, I still think the Premium Taiwanese Assam is the better option. But that’s my taste buds!
Steep #1 // 3 teaspoons for a full mug // 18 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 10 minutes after boiling // 2 1/2 minute steep
Steep #3 // 9 min after boiling // 3 min
Brenden over at WP teas saw me mention Butiki’s PTA recently and told me Whispering Pines was now selling PTA!! Somehow I didn’t know this very important fact? I was ecstatic. Then Brenden sent over a sample. Even more ecstatic. THANKS VERY MUCH! PTA was one of Butiki’s glowing jewels (heck that was most of their teas, but definitely PTA). Premium Taiwanese Assam is a very unique tea and when Butiki closed, I wasn’t sure any other shop would ever carry it. I thought it would be lost forever.
I’m happy to report, this tea is in fact, even crazily similar to those harvests from a few years back now! That alone is amazing: similar harvests. On appearance, I compared this PTA to the older Butiki leaves, side by side, and they look exactly the same: color, length, width. Amazing again. Long, dusty, twisty, black leaves with the sweetest scent. The flavor simply can’t be compared to any other tea. How is a tea leaf so sweet? It’s like caramelized strawberry, with hints of grape, a maltiness, brown sugar. The brew is a light mahogany color. The first steep has the most distinct flavors, the second and third steep lose a little bit in the flavor strength, but still very delicious (I think this was because I was delicate with the parameters – I think with the Butiki if I steeped too hot or too long, the flavor would be mostly oaky… so it’s all in the delicate parameters.) The third steep seems to take on a cantaloupe note, while all three steeps have a syrupy mouthfeel. The closest tea I could think of to this would be a Ruby, but even that is entirely different from this tea. This is an essential cupboard tea for me. I’m so grateful that there is a source for this tea again! Thanks to whomever grows this lovely tea, and thanks so much for finding it, Brenden!
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for a full mug // 18 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 10 minutes after boiling // 2 1/2 minute steep
Steep #3 // 8 minutes after boiling // 3 min
Also, I can attest from my Butiki leaves of PTA that this tea ages fairly well over the years. It might lose a little flavor from the fresh tea, but certainly not as much as most teas can lose flavor. (Yes, I had to hoard the PTA when Butiki closed, but not so much now with Whispering Pines carrying it!)
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Cantaloupe, Caramel, Grapes, Malt, Strawberry
Hey Guys! I recently did a review on the wonderful Whispering Pines “Cocoa Amore”. Well when I bought that, they sent me a sample of this! It was only enough for two sessions, but I figured I’d review it while I had a bit left.
Ok, I brewed this a bit stronger than it said to. I used a full teaspoon and a half maybe for 16oz of water. Also, the cuppa I’ve got right now I lost track of and brewed a bit over the 5 minute recommended mark. But all that behind us, let’s get onto the tea.
Taste is… very robust, if that is the word I’m looking for. It’s very rich, with a strong black tea flavor, along with (let me try and suss this out here…) I think I’m getting a bit of Malt, Raisin and some Leather too. My palate is not nearly refined enough to pick out all the flavors, but there are a ton of different notes here. Ever so slight cacao flavor, but nowhere near like my Yunnan Golds have. It’s a very warm and inviting flavor, and I think this would be a good starter tea for people wanting to get into loose leaf. Even overbrewed like I made this cup it is still very lovely. This is my first cup of Aliaoshan that I recall actually having, so I think I will have to experiment more in this field. This was wonderful. Highly recommend.
Flavors: Cacao, Leather, Malt, Raisins
Well, here I am finally reviewing this. I had put myself on the “To be notified” list for this one because it just sounded so yummy. I was infinitely intrigued by the concept of a chocolate cherry dessert tea. So, naturally, when the tea was reblended recently, I got myself a bag.
Smell in the bag is heavenly. You really get the cherry cordial tones from the bag alone! I had to wonder, would that translate to taste.
So I brewed this according to their instructions, for the most part – I used my Keurig for water which I think is supposed to be about 200F, and steeped 1.5 tsp for 3 min in 16 oz water.
Taste is… hmmm. It isn’t nearly as sweet tasting plain as the bag smells. I am getting some definite cocoa notes, along with cherry notes, but it is closer to cacao and bing cherry than milk chocolate cordial cherry. I drank the first cup plain. It isn’t really bad, so to speak, just not what I was expecting. The resteep, I added a single splenda to it. Ahhh, there is the cordial cherry! With the addition of a bit of sweetness, I am now getting a strong milk chocolate and sweet cherry flavor. I don’t know why I always need that extra sweetness to be satisfied. Maybe it’s my diabeetus craving sugar. But I must say, I enjoy this tea much more with a touch of sweetener. I did try a third steep for 7 mins but it didn’t work out the best. Guess this really is a two steep tea. Overall, a delicious tea with sweetener that really isn’t that bad plain either. I think I will hold onto this one for a bit, as I have other dessert teas I can alternate this with. But if I’m ever in the need for a chocolate covered cherry pick me up, I know where to turn!
Flavors: Cherry, Chocolate, Cocoa
Very balanced and refreshing. It’s definitely close to a Mao Feng green in its minerality and morning dew quality, but it stands out as a Bao Zhong with the usual lilac note that you can fall in love with. Daffodil and gardenia are also prominent. It’s also super friendly Gong Fu, and very thick. This note is more footnote than essay right now, but just know that I think this tea should have more appeal than it does currently. That is all for now.
*Edit: I actually like this tea a bit more as it cools down. Could make a good black iced tea. Slight rating boost. from mid 60’s to 70.
Received this from Brenden as a sample. It is a rainy spring day here in Michigan. I had boiled some water in my electric kettle in order to make a jello brain (using a mold) for my book club tonight. We read The Hunger by Alma Katsu which is a supernatural retelling of the Donner Party so I’m making the jello brain and also providing beef jerky (heh). I’m excited to see what others bring. Anyway, I had some water on the boil at the ready so I thought, “Why not pour the rest over some tea?”
After steeping, the leaves had a smokey/char type of scent. It reminded me of a campground in the early morning. Now, that is not to say this tea tastes smokey. It doesn’t. The taste for me is… lacking a little bit. It is a perfectly acceptable tea but lacks something special. It has kind of a basic… I’m leaning towards malt but I don’t really want to say that because I associate malt with a sweeter note (right or wrong as that may be) and this doesn’t really give off sweet as a first impression for me. I also don’t want to say cardboard because while the flavor lacks and might be a bit flat it’s also not completely bland. It is somewhere between those two notes.
Either way, I’m not huge on cream and sweeteners in my teas but this one might take to it fairly well. It is a straight forward, semi-bold tea that lacks any defining character. Safe and dependable might be the way to describe it. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
I just received another order with several teas from Brenden at Whispering Pines—I am always happy with my purchases from Brenden! My order arrived very quickly too.
This is another delicious black tea with clear hints of cocoa, cherries, and light vanilla as the name suggests. I’ve wanted to try this one for a long time but it was so often found to be sold out.I would definitely buy this again…
I am giving Ancient Spirit a slight edge for now (so good).
Up next….Alice and Ambrosia =P
Flavors: Berries, Cherry, Cocoa, Vanilla
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
Catching up on teas of the last few days…finished off a bag of this when I needed something to get going while waiting for breakfast.
Very straightforward, unsurprising green tea. Clean, green, and just a tiny bit nutty. I don’t drink a whole lot of green teas, but this is one I sometimes have on hand for when the mood strikes. Just a little astringent, which I think makes it a nice wake-up tea. I only made one cup this time, but on previous occasions have gotten quite a bit more out of it.
Flavors: Nutty, Pine, Vegetal
This sample was generously provided by Whispering PinesEverything 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
Wow, this is almost too decadent for an at-work tea. I think it’d be better suited to a day of indulging in a good book somewhere comfortable where I could really enjoy.
First cup is a little malty and sweet with a whole lot of vanilla. Honestly reminds me of these chocolate scones at a local coffee shop – something warm and freshly-baked (there’s a hint of chocolate here, but it’s not the main point). Texturally, it’s kind of silky and easy to drink.
Second cup is way more intensely chocolate, with a little more dimension to the sweetness – it’s described as cherry, which I guess works as long as you’re thinking sweet cherries and not tart ones (so…not what I was expecting, oops).
Back to work I go, will make more tea later throughout the day, but so far this one is really lovely.
Flavors: Cherry, Chocolate, Malt, Sweet, Vanilla
This is the first true tea I am trying from the new set of samples I got from derk, thanks a lot my friend! :)
As for the tea, it’s magnificent. Bitter-sweet. Very mouth-watering, soft and biting mouthfeel. Perfect balance of the jasmine florals and dian hong maltiness. Long lasting and evolving aftertaste. One of a kind.
Flavors: Anise, Biting, Bitter, Citrus, Coffee, Floral, Jasmine, Malt, Smooth, Sweet, Vanilla
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
I adore the name of this one, and it’s beautiful when dry with all the buds – they do look like fox tails! Beyond that, it’s a cozy and comfortable tea. No bitterness, nothing deep and dark. A little earthy, sometimes just a hint of a little peppery/herbal in the background. The sweetness is pretty mellow too, it doesn’t taste like fruit or desserts or anything like that. I didn’t think of sweet potato while drinking it, but seeing other people describe it that way makes sense. It’s not my longest lasting tea, but I got several good cups out of it.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Earth, Malt, Sweet Potatoes
I finished off my bag of the Spring 2018 harvest several days ago and it took a while to background process my opinion.
While this tea is complex and layered flavor-wise because of the mix of Chinese red teas, I feel like the Jabberwocky’s bark is bigger than its bite. It’s an easy tea to slay, one I could drink all day but I was always left longing for something a little deeper, a tea I could sink my teeth into, a beast that would put up more of a fight. I may have preferred this tea gongfu actually, because each type of leaf in the blend waxed and waned. There was however, always a bit of flatness to the body regardless of brewing method. The description is mostly apt, but I was missing out on that camphor and eucalyptus.
I think this tea would be very appealing to those who like slightly sweet and softly poetic Chinese reds.
Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Burnt Sugar, Cocoa, Honey, Malt, Milk, Mineral, Plums, Salt, Smooth, Wood
A word to cold-brew fans.
I typically leaf my cold-brewed greens lightly. Last night, I used 3 grams to 500mL and tasted the tea this morning. It’s really light, even for me. I won’t at the time recommend doubling your leaf amount since I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ll be doing so tonight. The wet leaf smells so lovely sweet and creamy. I’m hoping a heavier hand will bring out some of that in taste.
Hello and good day. I’m excited about having my first green tea of 2019. Spring is here in this region of the states. I welcomed its arrival by prepping the garden which had fallen victim to snails, Bermuda grass, Himalayan blackberry, English ivy and baby palm trees. Mowed the grass, weed whacked and set to work digging up all the bristly ox tongue before it bolts and flowers. I also spent Friday cutting down 8 trees on a friend’s property for a nice sum of cash which bought me a new mattress and the leftovers of which will feed my recent puerh buying habit. I haven’t been drinking much tea this past week because I’ve been so damn busy.
I tried this a few days ago using Brenden’s parameters Western style, with 1T, 8oz, 180F and 3 steeps at 2/3/5 min. The tea was ok. It didn’t really awaken the crisp, spring green desire within me, being rather vegetal and muddled in flavor. I tend to like my green teas light and gentle, so I will have to play around with amounts and temperatures Western style.
This morning, though, I opted to brew the leaves gongfu and am much happier with the result. 6g, 150mL, 175F, 8 or 9 short steeps. The dry leaf smells soft, sweet, floral and young grass. Rinsed, I picked up on white chocolate, steamed veg and spinach and soft florals. The liquor is a crystal clear very light green-yellow without much aroma. The taste is crisp and light with fresh grass, minerals (salty), and florals with a light stonefruit-osmanthus aftertaste. In the mouth, the tea is thick and glassy early on moving quickly to a light body with soft astringency. The flavor ends more vegetal, perhaps green bean with a hint of oat creaminess. I thought maybe the tea got a little fruitier in the late steeps, but it was just the aftertaste that lingered.
Overall, brewed gongfu, it’s a very mineral yet delicate, light and crisp green tea that embodies what I’m looking for in the first days of spring. I imagine I’ll finish this bag today since the weather will be warm and sunny. A few more cloudy and rainy days are on the horizon.