Whispering Pines Tea CompanyEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
Brenden, you magnificent son of a bitch. You really did it with this one.
I remember specifically having tea with Brenden and listening to him talk about the field of jasmine he rode past on his bike and how it triggered this whole adventure of his into blending. I connected with that because I also adore the scent of jasmine and jasmine scented teas.
So, I know that this has to be a special blend for him. And it really, really is a special blend. It takes two of my favorite things in tea, a glorious golden snail tea and the scent of a high quality jasmine, and blends them beautifully. Seriously, between the visuals of the golden snail and the smell of the jasmine… this is one of the more perfect teas I have had.
Brenden, please. PLEASE. Keep this in your rotation.
Flavors: Honey, Jasmine, Malt, Sweet
Brewed this at 212F in a 100 ml gaiwan. First two infusions tasted like straight up mushroom tea. By the third infusion, the mushroom note was blending with a simple, smooth black tea. Fourth infusion was bland and mediocre, despite brewing time of 1:30. I’m not a fan of mushrooms, so this gets a thumbs down from me.
I tried this tea twice and I just don’t care for it. The first time, I followed the brewing guidelines on the package. (NB: I brew Western style.) The tea was unremarkable. I tasted very little vanilla, but perhaps I didn’t stir the contents of the tea pouch enough.
I brewed a second batch (new leaves, well-stirred) using my traditional brewing method, 212F at 2:00 minutes. The tea was actually bitter and made me belch. I’m really sorry about that, because, at $10/oz., this was a rather pricey failed experiment. However, I gave the rest of it to my friend, who loves it, so an ill wind and so on.
Wow – the cocoa notes in this tea! Rich, dark, cocoa that complements rather than overpowers the tea. Surprised that there’s only tea and vanilla in this blend, since it’s so full-bodied, earthy and complex. I shamefully did not do a second steeping, which is such a waste. Next time I brew it, I’ll make sure to get all I can out of it. Wonderful quality (as one would expect from this vendor), perfect for breakfast on a chilly day. Or after dinner on a chilly evening. Or anytime the mood for a bold tea strikes.
Here’s Hoping Teabox – Round Seven- Tea #34
The tasting notes for this one are so complex, but I was only tasting the lightest of flavors here. I think these types of golden yunnans are VERY delicious when they are fresh but I think they are the most sensitive tea to aging, as they seem to lose their flavor very fast and end up tasting like cardboard (the other teas most sensitive to age seem to be green teas and definitely Darjeelings). I’m sure this is delicious when fresh, but I’m only tasting light honey notes.
I’m continuing to clear out the backlog with this one. It took longer than expected for me to get to this tea. I was aware that it was very popular and had a great reputation here on Steepster, and I think that may have played a role in my initial lack of desire to review it. Everyone had already said so much about this particular blend, what, if anything could I add? Well, now I am finally getting around to reviewing this blend and I have to say that I found it to be incredible. I have long felt that some of the best offerings from Whispering Pines Tea Company are their blends and my experience with this one only further reinforced that opinion.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a flash rinse, I steeped 6 grams of the loose blended material in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 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, I detected aromas of vanilla, chocolate, honey, spices, and stone fruits. After the rinse, I found new aromas of raisin, malt, orange, leather, and wood. The bouquet of the first infusion was practically identical. I found mild notes of vanilla, malt, cream, wood, and chocolate in the mouth. Subsequent infusions brought out orange, black cherry, raisin, toast, leather, honey, plum, and mineral notes. I also found touches of camphor on the finish. When I focused in, I could detect additional notes of baked bread, clove, anise, nutmeg, menthol, and eucalyptus as well. The later infusions primarily offered mineral, baked bread, toast, cream, malt, and wood notes underscored by fleeting impressions of vanilla and calming, cooling herbal notes.
When I first tried this, it took me a couple minutes to adjust to it. I think I was expecting it to be much sweeter than it was, but fortunately, this was a very balanced, complex blend with a wonderful mix of aromas and flavors. The vanilla never came close to overpowering what the tea base had to offer. Instead, they complimented one another beautifully. Furthermore, I greatly appreciated the fact that no artificial ingredients were used in this blend. Overall, I have a hard time imagining that there is a much better vanilla black tea blend on the market. Definitely make a point of trying this one.
Flavors: Anise, Baked Bread, Camphor, Cherry, Chocolate, Clove, Cream, Eucalyptus, Honey, Leather, Menthol, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange, Plums, Raisins, Toast, Vanilla, Wood
It is hard to go wrong with the Golden Snail tea base, opening the packet there is an overwhelming smell of a misty fresh jasmine that permeates the golden leaves. It comes through very strongly in the first steep and balances well with the bold flavour of the base, it is smooth and in no ways bitter when steeped for the measured times. This is my favourite black jasmine of all that I have tried, the taste of this tea is pleasant in all areas of the mouth and the aftertaste is an enjoyable continuation of all components of the warm and sweet flavours without the traditional dry mouth astringency that usually accompanies black jasmine teas. The second steep rings truer to the base tea when done for the recommended 5 minutes but still retains 75% of the jasmine flavour which was a nice surprise. Keep a tight air seal on this tea so you don’t lose the misty freshness of the jasmine .
Flavors: Honey, Jasmine, Malt, Ocean Breeze
I’m not normally a huge green oolong fan. Probably explains why I’ve taken so long to try this one.
And while the tropical notes described are faint and more prominent on the aftertaste, this IS a very creamy and drinkable oolong. My son keeps stealing away sips. I’m pleasantly surprised.
Flavors: Creamy, Smooth
This was yet another back-of-the-tea cabinet discovery. I knew I had bought an ounce of this last year, but apparently, I had forgotten about it entirely. It was all the way in the back, still sealed, and just waiting to be tried. I finished the last of the pouch this morning after spending a couple days with it. I could not tell that it had faded all that much, if at all. Just as a side note, this review will primarily be concerned with the gongfu session I conducted with this tea yesterday, but I also tried it iced and Western. Of the three preparations, the gongfu was probably the best, though as an iced tea, this worked quite well too.
As mentioned above, I prepared this tea gongfu style. I started by steeping 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 175 F water for 5 seconds. I did not rinse this tea. While starting this session, I got it in my head that a rinse may sap some of the life out of the tea due to its age, and since I do not always rinse green teas anyway, just decided to skip it. The initial 5 second infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for them were 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the first infusion, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of honey, malt, grass, and hay. The first infusion saw the emergence of smoke, nuts, and zucchini on the nose. In the mouth, I picked up a very delicate, subtle mixture of butter, malt, grass, and hay chased by a distant, vague nuttiness. Subsequent infusions brought out the butter on the nose, as well as the honey, smoke, and zucchini in the mouth. I also picked up much clearer impressions of roasted chestnut and pine nuts. Pine needle, pine resin, and soupy umami notes showed up as well, but were balanced by touches of lettuce, minerals, seaweed, and asparagus. The later infusions were very mellow and somewhat flat, offering up a noticeable mineral aroma and taste coupled with hints of lettuce, grass, malt, and chestnut.
When I first tried this tea, I thought that it was just about dead and that I would have to end up throwing it out, but that changed quickly. As it turned out, I just did not give the first infusion enough time. I initially attributed this tea’s lack of complexity to its age, but I no longer think that is the case. Reading other tasting notes for this tea revealed that it struck others as being a mostly vegetal green tea with pronounced umami notes, and in retrospect, I totally get that. Also, I have tried similar teas in the past and I do not recall ever having one that totally wowed me with its complexity. In essence, I was looking for something that wasn’t there. With that in mind, I have to say that I greatly enjoyed this green tea for what it was. In my opinion, it was more or less exactly what a traditional Xinyang Maojian should be.
Flavors: Asparagus, Butter, Chestnut, Grass, Hay, Honey, Lettuce, Malt, Mineral, Pine, Seaweed, Smoke, Umami, Zucchini