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, Bread, Camphor, Cherry, Chocolate, Clove, Cream, Eucalyptus, Honey, Leather, Menthol, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange, Plum, Raisins, Toast, Vanilla, Wood