Thank you Nichole so much for this tea! This was one I really wanted to try from Whispering Pines for obvious Tolkien reasons. The description is very accurate for this one; it is like picking berries in the Shire. Very light and short, like a halfling of a black, but fully packed and prepared to take you on an unexpected journey.
……..sorry….I had to. I’m such a geek! XD
The first infusion at 20, it reminded me of blackberries and a little bit of malt thrown in, and wildflowers. Second at 15 one was more like black currant in throughout with a chocolaty surprise in the middle of the sip. Third at 30 was more floral, less chocolate, and more currant. Fourth at a minute and 15 seconds was mostly malt with a caramel like texture and honey sweetness. Fifth at two minutes was too faint, so I upped it another 30 seconds. It reminds me of a later steeping of a Dian Hong because it has lingering sweetness that’s kinda like a very watered down sweet potato. The final sixth is light and very similar to the first brew. I’m there and back again, looking for the last few berries in the Shire, but it’s different. It’s a faint memory now, a memory that drifts nothing…then towards grey shores….
Okey, bit of an exaggeration. I’m not apologizing at all for that. Now, for what I think of this tea.
I’m surprised that this one doesn’t have a higher rating. Maybe people expect something stronger and maltier like North Winds or an Irish Breakfast, but this is a lighter black tea that is packed with flavor. I tasted no astringency or bitterness, it was just sweet and smooth. I actually preferred this much more to the Golden Orchid sample I have, though I’m going back to that one to figure out my preferred brewing parameters. This one might the same age though, and it’s brewing fine as an older tea. Also, preference: I had this one at night, so I want something lighter.
Another GIANT reason why I’m rating this one so higher and why I think that the rating should be higher is the cost. Yes, I got this one in a trade, but it’s priced at $7.75 on Whispering Pines. This is so much more affordable than a lot of the other teas that Whispering Pines offers, and it’s honestly just as good as some of the more expensive selections I’ve had from the company. It’s a pity this one isn’t in stock.
The only other two that I might prefer over this one so far are the Ailaoshan Black and Imperial Bud, though again, I think it depends on my mood. They are altogether very different teas. Ailaoshan is like having fine currant wine with buttered bread and a side of chocolate. The Imperial Bud is like cooked, almost caramelized sweet potatoes lightly sprinkled with butter and brown sugar with coconut water to wet your mouth. In a Tolkien narrative, the Ailaoshan is like Aragorn, the Strider, and the Imperial Bud is the one ring, the one tea to rule them all. After I had Imperial, my taste preferences for blacks completely changed. I can imagine it turning some people into Gollum like creatures because it’s so…precious. I’m so tempted to get some more, but I need to budget better. There’s a lot I want to trade or sell, though I’m not sure how much of them I am able to.
Flavors: Berries, Black Currant, Caramel, Chocolate, Flowers, Honey, Malt, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes