Tea type
Yunnan Black Tea
Bread, Cherry, Cranberry, Cream, Earth, Forest Floor, Grapes, Hay, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Pine, Raisins, Smoke, Spices, Squash, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Tannin, Tobacco, Tomato, Wood, Camphor, Eucalyptus, Roasted Nuts, Almond, Berries, Cherry Wood, Jasmine, Brown Sugar, Citrus Zest, Leather, Meat, Plant Stems, Sawdust, Smooth, Straw, Caramel, Cloves, Floral, Fruity, Petrichor, Stonefruit, Toast, Anise, Black Pepper, Brown Toast, Butter, Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Herbs, Menthol, Nutmeg, Nutty, Orange Zest, Astringent, Black Currant, Coffee, Grass, Sage, Salt, Tangy, Thyme, Autumn Leaf Pile, Clay, Dry Grass, Maple, Oak, Wet Moss, White Grapes, Cocoa, Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by Daylon R Thomas
Average preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec 5 g 17 oz / 502 ml

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22 Tasting Notes View all

From Whispering Pines Tea Company

Straight out of the oldest tea forest in Yunnan comes the finest wildcrafted black tea we have had the pleasure to taste. Picked from wild trees up to 300 years old, Ancient Spirit is a pure embodiment of deep, ancient wilderness.

Toss the leaves into a warmed gaiwan and you take in the aromas of an old growth forest in the summertime, with powerful notes of warm wood, citrus, and medicinal herbs among a slight floral background. The wet leaves smell herbaceous and hint at aged tobacco, malt, and wild berries.

The taste is huge and complex. Medicinal herbs and flowers take the front, with orchid and jasmine being the most prominent florals. A grounding bitter note pulls it together with a middle of tart and sweet — black cherry and elderberry. Near the finish there are notes of spruce and a touch of mushroom, finishing with a light mineral bite and spice not unlike that of fresh wintergreen berries. You may find yourself lost in the taste and the powerful aroma of petrichor, not noticing the immense energy this tea brings with it!

Please take time to savor this tea…it is truly a huge gift from nature and I have never been more excited to share such an incredible tea with my customers. Take from it what you will…but for me, this tea is transcendent and brings me back to my roots.

Aged Tobacco
Old Forest
Medicinal Herbs

About Whispering Pines Tea Company View company

Whispering Pines Tea Company is dedicated to bringing you the most original, pure, beautiful tea blends. We use only the highest quality ingredients available to create additive-free teas teas inspired by the pristine wilderness of Northern Michigan. Our main focus is on customer satisfaction and quality.

22 Tasting Notes

364 tasting notes

It’s always nice to get tea from Whispering Pines, since shipping costs from the U.S. to Canada are so high. Thanks to Daylon for the generous sample! I steeped 6 g of leaf in 120 ml of water at 195F for 7, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus some uncounted steeps.

The dry aroma is hard to pin down, with elements that remind me of cranberry, grape, hay, malt, tobacco, tomato vine, and wood. It smells like a wild Yunnan tea, if that’s helpful. The first steep has notes of earth, forest floor, minerals, grapes, squash, honey, hay, malt, and wood. The next steep is sweeter, with molasses, tobacco, bread, red grapes, cranberries, pine, and maybe some spices. In the third and fourth steeps, I get bread, honey, sweet potato, raisins, hay, malt, cream, pine, earth, smoke, wood, and minerals, and the tea is a bit drying. The aftertaste is particularly sweet, though this is a savoury tea overall. I get berry and cherry notes in the next couple steeps, and the tea is a bit sweeter. As the session goes on, the tea becomes more like a standard Yunnan tea, with notes of bread, honey, pine, tannins, malt, and wood. The final steeps feature malt, wood, tannins, minerals, honey, and raisins, with some red grape sneaking in on the longer steeps.

This is a rustic, wild Yunnan tea that is nonetheless nuanced and complex. Its sweet, earthy flavours really do evoke a forest, particularly in the first few steeps, and I had fun trying to detect everything that was going on. I don’t usually gravitate toward these types of teas, but would highly recommend this one.

Flavors: Bread, Cherry, Cranberry, Cream, Earth, Forest Floor, Grapes, Hay, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Pine, Raisins, Smoke, Spices, Squash, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Tannin, Tobacco, Tomato, Wood

195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
Daylon R Thomas

I’m really glad you appreciate that one. I love having it on a rare occasion, but I have to really sit down to enjoy the tea fully. IF I rush it, it’s just an earthy black tea.


Agreed! I’ve had two sessions with this tea, and on the first, less attentive one, it tasted like a Yunnan purple tea to me. I paid more attention during the review session and got more out of the leaf.

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1692 tasting notes

Deep, dark, mysterious. Like sipping trimmings of an old tree growing in the middle of a damp forest.

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60 tasting notes

Overall, this is a good tea with nice woody flavors, roasted nuts, and only hints of sweetness; this is mostly a savory tea. It starts off very mild in flavor with the 1st infusion and gets better from there. There’s a medium robustness in the tea with a good viscosity. I also got a lot of steeps out of this.

It’s a decent enough black tea, which is not quite in my preferred flavor profile, but won’t say No, if offered. The cha qi in this tea is pretty darn good.

I tried this GF style. (I’ll try this via WP’s recommended Western brew style later then update this review.)
Tea: 5.04g
Wash: No
Water: 150 ml
temps: ~195

1) 15 seconds @ 194F – Liquid is medium gold amber and gives off a faint woody smell. The wet leaves give off high notes of fruit and low notes of roasted / herbal scents. The flavor starts off with roasted nuts & camphor — there’s the mild sweetness of nuts; then a mild creamy aftertaste with hints of tobacco. It has a mild viscosity that coats the roof of my mouth but not my tongue with a very long finish

2) 30 seconds @ 196 — This is a much better infusion. The liquid is reddish amber with smells of wood, camphor/eucalyptus. The wet leaf has nigh notes of cocoa and low notes of roasted nuts, bittersweet chocolate.
On drinking it, I taste nuts on the tip of my tongue followed by cocoa, mild camphor/eucalyptus and wood. My tongue dried instantly; there’s a mild cha qi hitting my head.

3) 45 sec @ 193 deg. The tea is definitely getting a much darker red and I smell more camphor from the liquid, but the scent of the wet leaves hasn’t.
It still tastes of nuts, wood, and cocoa nibs. The flavors are becoming more robust and I can taste malty flavors. Viscosity has increased and the astringency has hit my tongue! Cha qi in the head has increased too.

4) 60 seconds @ 195 — The color is slightly less than the #3 steep. The liquid definitely has a camphor/eucalyptus scent, but the leaf now has high notes of brown sugar.
The flavor profile is changing slightly too — nuts, wood, and now resin.

5) 75 seconds – @ 200F — This is interesting. The liquid has gotten darker by increasing the temperature of the water, but the flavors haven’t really changed….they’re starting to actually got less intense

6) 1min30sec @ 200F — The liquid is still an amber red, and the flavors are still there, although lessening to a degree. There’s a hint of things starting to wash out at this point, but I might be able to get a few more steeps out of it.

Flavors: Camphor, Cream, Eucalyptus, Roasted Nuts

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 150 OZ / 4436 ML

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78 tasting notes

Luxuriously complex…rich & velvety. Just smelling this brewed tea makes me happy.
If you haven’t indulged in this lovely tea yet I highly recommend you do! Sip & savor.

Flavors: Almond, Berries, Cherry Wood, Jasmine, Malt

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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875 tasting notes

I tend to compare every wild arbor black tea from Yunnan to W2T’s Arbor Red nowadays, it has become the staple tea of this category for me. As for Ancient Spirit, this one seems to have a really good reputation on here so I was excited to try it. All in all, it doesn’t reach the heights of Arbor Red in my opinion. It is less well balanced and is not as complex. On the other hand, the longetivity and texture is just as good if not better.

The dry leaf aroma is slightly metallic with notes of sawdust, tomato vine, leather, and cranberry. From the wet leaves I get scents of forest floor, smoke and later in the session also roast lamb. The taste is very smooth and elegant. There are flavours of straw, citrus zest, leather, wood, and brown sugar. They turn into a mineral, woody, and fragrant aftertaste. I quite like the mouthfeel, which is buttery, smooth, soft, and somewhat fleeting.

It’s quite hard to describe this tea overall, but it is very mineral, a bit smoky, somewhat savoury, and lightly sweet. Late steeps then turn out to be distinctively woody.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Citrus Zest, Cranberry, Forest Floor, Leather, Meat, Mineral, Plant Stems, Sawdust, Smoke, Smooth, Straw, Wood

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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1547 tasting notes

Finally I had time for a more complex tea than some tea bags.
I sample from Derk and I really like it.

Preheated gaiwan, 3 grams of tea.
Oh, right after first notes started to appear! Mineral as well spicy, grapes, other stone fruits. Hmm, very, very interesting.

No rinse; too lazy to do it. I did not even had some precious time managment, just brewing as I like it. Once it was 30 seconds, then 90 seconds. I don´t care :D I was just preparing it somehow.

Tastes? Oh, so many. Red grapes probably most, but there are mineral notes, pine, forest floor, kinda woody, come on? It is so complex as well very velvety, smooth, cooling down a bit I guess. It is so good! Really! Maybe I feel bit nostalgic, as I also noticed antique shop aromas and as well a old books. Really fancy tea!

Derk, why you have not send me more? I would love to try it in different ways too! But of course it is bit ironic; it is lovely tea and really thank you for this sample.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 85 ML

Lol, I know, I know. It was the last of my bag!

Martin Bednář

It is nice that I had chance to try it


Glad you liked it, Martin. It’s my favorite black tea.

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379 tasting notes

Happy Valentines Day all ❤️

Thank you Derk :D for this sample. This has been on my wishlist for a very long time. Like many of my wishlist items, it was a tea that is long gone (at least for now) and the likelihood of being able to try it is also long gone. I was so delighted to get this that I just wanted to keep the sample of it for as long as I can… Maybe just frame it. lol

There are a few really great and thorough reviews on this tea. It is such a complex tea. I enjoyed reading them all. First thought after taking my first sip or two… This is Yunnan black tea? Did I grab the wrong one? Started out woodsy, citrusy, fruity, stonefruits, slightly floral, orchid. For an infusion or two, early on, it reminded me of a sheng I like. It was unique in its taste because it just didn’t taste like any of the Yunnan black teas I’ve tried (note: I don’t have a lot of experience with black tea. Thankfully someone else far more experienced said that too.) But this “Sheng” taste went away, it’s so complex that when I thought I somewhat understood the taste profile, it morphed into something else. Just as tasty, but different. There were berries, fruits, honey, clove, spices, and later some minerals, sweetness versus perfect tart notes here and there. In the long infusions, in the end, I got the malt, the sweet potatoes, the brown toast, the caramel along with the citrus and berries notes that were still there. Ah! I didn’t grab the wrong sample after all :).

So yeah, this was quite a journey. It lasted throughout the whole day. I look forward to trying it again if it ever becomes available. So, for now, my first impression is that it is a wonderfully complex and tasty wildcrafted black tea. I’d like to try it all the different ways as well.

3g, 110ml, 205F, rinse, 10 steeps, 25s, 35s, 45s, 55s, 65s, 75s, 85s, 2m, 3m, 5m.

Flavors: Berries, Caramel, Cloves, Floral, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Petrichor, Spices, Stonefruit, Sweet Potatoes, Toast, Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 4 OZ / 110 ML
Whispering Pines Tea Company

I think you’ll be happy to hear that I was able to secure a bit more of this one just yesterday and it’s on the way from China as we speak :-) happy you love it!


RIght as I’m about to place an order, no kidding. Thanks for the update.


And it looks like you added a few more new teas :)


Thanks, I hopped on it too. :D

Whispering Pines Tea Company

Sure did, Derk! :-) no worries, thanks for the orders!

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1415 tasting notes

A name has never been so appropriate for a tea, one that transports me through environments and time. Ancient Spirit hits all the right notes and feels. Complex (see the other reviews!), substantial yet light, stimulating yet grounding. Performs well gongfu, western and grandpa and oversteeping is not disastrous. Good for breakfast, lunch or dinner if you don’t mind staying up past your bedtime.

I’ve had two harvests of this so far. The one I’m currently sipping on is 2017. I so, so hope Brenden continues to carry Ancient Spirit!

200 °F / 93 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

how dare you. I miss this tea so much.


Who me???


hahahaha, it’s been out of stock for a million years!! thanks for the reminder of how wonderful this tea is :(


It really is great. Was this year’s harvest offered?

Mastress Alita

I see great reviews for Whispering Pines all the time, but any time I go to their website, their teas seem to always be sold out. In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen them in stock. I’ve only ever tried their teas through cupboard sales/trades/teaboxes. Are they like this Black Friday ordeal that gets tea once a year and it sales out in one flash weekend, never to be seen again until the next legendary harvest?


A lot of the blended teas, yeah, but not extreme like a weekend sell-out. He typically list the majority of plain teas in the spring, followed by blends and some other teas in the fall. This year had a different cadence to the tea releases. You can sign up for the mailing list at the bottom of the main page.

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1048 tasting notes

I am going to break a long-standing rule of mine with this review. I have previously made it known on at least a couple of occasions that I will not assign a perfect score to any tea. Honestly, I’m pretty free and easy with grades of 80+ because I tend to buy, drink, and review things I know and like from vendors in which I have some degree of confidence. You may notice, however, that it is very difficult to get me to assign numerical scores higher than the 90-94 range, and for those who are interested, that is because I have established different degrees of excellence in my head. A score in the 95-99 range is reserved for teas that I believe to be a step or two above those I feel to already be more or less exceptional. A score of 100 would then refer to a perfect, world-beating tea which could not be topped by any other tea of its type. While I have come close to assigning perfect scores in the past, I could never motivate myself to do so, but here I am doing it now because I really do believe this tea to be that special. It was excellent to start with, but if anything, it managed to improve considerably in storage.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 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, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of tobacco, clove, camphor, eucalyptus, black pepper, caramel, honey, brown toast, and malt. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of butter, cream, and raisin accompanied by stronger malt and honey scents. The first infusion then introduced roasted almond, roasted cashew, and pine aromas. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of tobacco, clove, caramel, black pepper, cream, malt, raisin, butter, brown toast, honey, and pine that were chased by hints of roasted cashew, cinnamon, camphor, eucalyptus, and menthol on the swallow. Subsequent infusions introduced cinnamon, nutmeg, and sweet potato on the nose. Roasted almond appeared in the mouth along with new flavors of black cherry, nutmeg, ginger, juniper, minerals, peat, orange zest, heather, anise, and sweet potato. The final couple of infusions offered subtler notes of cream, pine, caramel, malt, and brown toast that were balanced by somewhat less defined orange zest, raisin, ginger, tobacco, and camphor impressions.

If anything was missing from this hong cha, it was the familiar molasses presence I often find in teas of this type. There was, however, so much else going on in this tea that was so unique and special that it was not missed at all. This was a truly fantastic tea, and in terms of feel and the way it expressed itself, it was unlike any other Yunnan black tea I recall trying over the years. I would have no issue recommending it to anyone with an interest in such teas.

Flavors: Almond, Anise, Black Pepper, Brown Toast, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Cherry, Cinnamon, Clove, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Ginger, Herbs, Honey, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Nutmeg, Nutty, Orange Zest, Pine, Raisins, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco

6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

It’s zee best! So complex, even when brewed western. I pick up forest mushroom that way, too. Like a fresh king bolete (porcini) plucked from the fir duff.


Wow. A 100. And it does not cost an arm and a leg. Will need to try.

Daylon R Thomas

It’s definitely my favorite black from Whispering Pines.

Daylon R Thomas

And a 100 really is not off for that one.


I am going to have to check this out.


This sounds amazing. Off to check out Whispering Pines…

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81 tasting notes

drinking the last of this and I’m gonna miss this glorious forest.

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