This tea has mellowed out the past few months I’ve had it. Cutting back on the leaf a little bit was also a good idea because the astringency and bitterness have been non-issues.
I still get the red plum, malt, and honey in terms of smell and an occasionally fruity body, but it’s shifted more into elusive “chocolate” note territory with the brown sugar notes. Think a slightly darker milk chocolate that isn’t quite dark chocolate. I’m actually getting these notes western from 4 ish gram of the tea after 3 and 4 minutes. When I’ve tumblered it, the tea is actually very juicy and fruity, but still dense with malt.
I’m finally going to rate it at least in the 88-90ish range as I finish off the rest of it. I think the main thing holding me back from a higher rating is that it really doesn’t always last that long depending on how you brew it. I usually haven’t gotten more than four or five great cups before it fades out into a thinner tea. You still get plenty of honey and viscosity in later rounds, though the malt fades with each steep. Steep two or three are usually my favorites for that reason, but the first brew can be the fullest in flavor and body.
I’m really glad this tea was in Whispering Pines selection because for me, it’s a unique black that shares more qualities with Fujian and Taiwanese blacks. I’m biased towards those types, and I think this tea is an easy stepping stone for people getting into straight teas. I also don’t think it’s too expensive, but there are other favorites I might pay cheaper or the same amount for despite this tea standing toe to toe with them. The tea has my approval either way.
Flavors: Chocolate, Honey, Malt, Plum, Smooth, Sweet