13 Tasting Notes
This was an expensive tea, unique, aged, with interesting notes, and I toyed with buying some for a while, before requesting a sample. I brewed it gong fu for amounts increasing from about ten seconds, using five grams, 8 ounces of water at about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The recommendation on the website is to start at five seconds and add three every time, which may give the tea slightly longer longevity, but I can’t imagine it would eliminate the detractors to any great extent.
Firstly, this tea is pretty cool, whatever else you can say about it. I got six steepings out of it, and there were definitely some of the coffee like notes present, as advertised, as well as other complex savory flavors. It is nicely aged and instantly cooled and tingled my mouth and lips. It has excellent qi, and left me feeling very “tea drunk” if you will. At it’s highest moments, it was sublime, and I loved it.
Now for the low moments. There’s really just one bad thing. Something that I have noticed in aged teas but never like in this one. It smelled and tasted like fish. Not every time I drank it, not every steeping, but enough of it that I found it to be very off putting, and would prevent me from ever buying a full ounce. Which is too bad, because otherwise it was really outstanding.
I would recommend the full roast big red robe which is similar, but without any detractors!
Flavors: Coffee, Fishy, Honey, Tea
Flavors: Cinnamon, Hay, Melon, Mint, Spicy
This is really a tie-in review to my other Whispering Pines black tea reviews. I found the black tea base of this tea to be, similar to the ailaoshan black, a bit on the pesto-y side of flavor. Very floral, a little nutty, a bit sharp for my taste. I also found this years “batch” of cocoa amore to be a bit more along these lines as well, so I think it is likely just the qualities of the tea changing a bit. I like it a lot, but Having had it multiple times now, it’s a tad cloying for an everyday tea. I brewed this one a long time, but I tend to do that with black tea :) The Vanilla is AMAZING, such good quality, aromatic, and flavorful, very pleasant overall. Not as chocolatey as I was expecting, but the cocoa amore seemed less chocolatey as well. I highly recommend if the above is to your liking.
Flavors: Floral, Olive Oil, Pine, Vanilla, White Chocolate
This is the third Whispering Pines black tea sample I am reviewing. I mentioned that I found them all to be a bit generic, that is generic to eachother, not among tea in general. Now the other two, I was very curious to try, but this one I just KNEW I was going to like. Why? Because I have had cocoa amore, and other black teas from the same region, with similar notes, and this one was a shoe-in. I am still not sure they send me the correct tea Haha. Bad is definitely not a word I would use to describe it, it was decent, but really, really weird. My first reaction was “This is what they use to make cocoa amore”? MY second reaction was “This tastes like pesto” No I’m not kidding, it really does, I think primarily like pine nuts but with some earthyness too that makes it very pesto-y. Very little chocolate or cocoa at all. I brewed it pretty strong but still, just not as I expected. Very fruity, very floral. Not bad by any mans though, I’m going to give it a lowish grade for now but reevaluate with the rest of my sample.
Flavors: Cocoa, Earth, Floral, Fruity, Olive Oil, Pine
Whispering Pines had this one down as “The highest grade tea you can find outside of china” or something along those lines. It certainly wasn’t a disappointment. It didn’t have any particular flavor in the foreground which I think was the most appealing thing about this tea. There was some cocoa, a bit of malt, definitely flowers. The main thing i thought about this one is that it is a bit too similar to the other blacks I got from whispering pines, nothing really made this one stand out from the crowd for me, except that it was a pretty balanced, and generally satisfying cup of tea. I should say, Whispering Pines teas always surprise me with how much they hold up to multiple brewings. This tea is definitely worth the try.
Flavors: Cocoa, Flowers, Malt, Mineral, Tea
Pretty much as described. It smells just like sweet potatoes. Not like other teas which have a slightly sweet scent, like caramelized sweet potatoes. The taste is pure malt, cocoa, and maybe bread< with a small bit of fruitiness, and a definite floral note. I would hazard more towards lilac than gardenia, but of course that’s just a point of taste. In general a very satisfying tea, that (though this was just a sample) I would buy again.
Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Floral, Malt, Sweet Potatoes
This is an odd tea. I bought some because I wanted to try a more spicy pu-erh, with cinnamon overtones, and this one had secondary flavor notes of maple, and old books. I feel like this tea should be called “Old Books”, It tastes like a used book store. It’s not the least pleasant thing I have ever tasted, more along the line of a savory dessert, so seemingly out of character that it is hard to take it for what it is. The agedness of this tea is maybe just a bit much for me, though I would definitely not call it bad, because I have had bad tea, and this is not it. I definitely get the maple overtones which are pleasant, though I tried one infusion with a tiny bit of sweetener to bring out the maple and nuttiness, and I strongly recommend NOT doing this, it is not pleasant. The radish was definitely there too, but I did not get any of the spicy overtones. I won’t buy this tea again, but I wouldn’t discourage those who appreciate these qualities from doing so.