I’m wary of smoky teas in general, but I can make an exception for Whispering Pines. I get along with their brand of smoke better than I do any other, and their blends are so gloriously evocative it seems more like part of an experience than just smoke for the sake of smoke. So, although I’ve let this one languish for a while, I’ve finally pulled it out to try on this cold January morning!

I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it a cautious 3 minutes in boiling water. While brewing, the scent is strongly smoky. It’s immediately obvious that this is a lapsang blend! After a couple of minutes, the smoke does fade a little, and some of the spice notes start to come out.

To taste, this pretty much encapsulates the experience of sitting around a campfire on a cold night. The smoke is prominent in the initial sip, and is a little resinous and piney, like burning logs. It’s also somehow “soft”…a gentle smoke, rather than being harsh and acrid. Even if you’re not a fan of smoky tea, this one is palatable.

A mild spiciness emerges in the mid sip, primarily characterised by the dank flavour of cloves. This works really well with the campfire/forest evocation, reminiscent of damp leaves or earth after a heavy rain shower. There’s a hint of orange at the very end of the sip, which brightens the flavour a bit, but it’s fleeting and barely there. I can’t really detect the rooibos at all, although I noted the tell tale red leaves when spooning this into my infuser. Perhaps they’re responsible for the “softness” I can taste – I can’t attribute it to anything else!

I’ve tried a few smoky teas, but this has to be one of my favourites. It’s very natural-tasting and by no means overpowering, and I would extend my rather cautious brew time in future now that I know the smoke flavour isn’t too acrid. An evocative wintery delight.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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Hi :) I’m Sarah, and I live in Norfolk in the UK. My tea obsession began when a friend introduced me to Teapigs a good few years ago now. Since then, I’ve been insatiable. Steepster introduced me to a world of tea I never knew existed, and my goal is now to TRY ALL THE TEAS. Or most of them, anyway.

I still have a deep rooted (and probably life-long) preference for black tea. My all-time favourite is Assam, but Ceylon and Darjeeling also occupy a place in my heart. Flavoured black tea can be a beautiful thing, and I like a good chai latte in the winter.

I also drink a lot of rooibos/honeybush tea, particularly on an evening. Sometimes they’re the best dessert replacements, too. White teas are a staple in summer — their lightness and delicate nature is something I can always appreciate on a hot day.

I’m still warming up to green teas and oolongs. I don’t think they’ll ever be my favourites, with a few rare exceptions, but I don’t hate them anymore. My experience of these teas is still very much a work-in-progress. I’m also beginning to explore pu’erh, both ripened and raw. That’s my latest challenge!

I’m still searching for the perfect fruit tea. One without hibiscus. That actually tastes of fruit.

You’ve probably had enough of me now, so I’m going to shut up. Needless to say, though, I really love tea. Long may the journey continue!

My rating system:

91-100: The Holy Grail. Flawless teas I will never forget.

81-90: Outstanding. Pretty much perfection, and happiness in a cup.

71-80: Amazing. A tea to savour, and one I’ll keep coming back to.

61-70: Very good. The majority of things are as they should be. A pleasing cup.

51-60: Good. Not outstanding, but has merit.

41-50: Average. It’s not horrible, but I’ve definitely had better. There’s probably still something about it I’m not keen on.

31-40: Almost enjoyable, but something about it is not for me.

11-30: Pretty bad. It probably makes me screw my face up when I take a sip, but it’s not completely undrinkable.

0-10: Ugh. No. Never again. To me, undrinkable.


Norfolk, UK

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