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Recent Tasting Notes
Steepster has unfortunately now eaten my review of this tea twice, so let’s see if the third time is the charm. I generally don’t go for pu-erh or blended teas, so one would expect this tea to not do much for me, but one would be wrong. This was an absolutely fantastic pu-erh blend.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of the loose pu-erh, cacao nib, and vanilla bean piece blend in 4 ounces of 212 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 20 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, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, and 30 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea blend emitted aromas of earth, mushroom, cocoa, vanilla, and marshmallow. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of malt, wood, and wheat toast. The first infusion introduced the aroma of old paper and a subtle scent of smoke. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of earth, cream, butter, malt, mushroom, marshmallow, wood, wheat toast, cocoa, and vanilla that were complimented by subtle notes of cinnamon, black pepper, camphor, smoke, and old paper. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of cream, butter, molasses, and caramel. Notes of minerals and dried tobacco appeared in the mouth alongside subtle hints of molasses and a brown sugar note that quickly transformed into more of a caramel presence. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized mineral, cream, wood, vanilla, cocoa, and caramel notes that were complimented by hints of marshmallow, camphor, wheat toast, butter, and mushroom.
At this point, all I can do is re-emphasize that I thought this was a fantastic blend. Nothing was out of place. Everything worked together. It was just beautiful. Brendan consistently does an incredible job with his tea blends, and this one was another winner. Anyone looking to craft a quality pu-erh blend should check out this tea and some of Whispering Pines’ similar offerings.
Flavors: Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Molasses, Mushrooms, Paper, Smoke, Toast, Tobacco, Vanilla, Wheat, Wood
It is a very clean, bright and cheerful puerh. Wood, molasses, camphor, limestone, a hint of dried apple. Some decay on the nose but none on the tongue.
It is a sunny-morning tea, full of optimism and promise. Kinda amazing how many dramatically different puehrs are there in the world. This is one of the better ones, but then again everything that I have tried from Whispering Pines was firmly above-average.
Flavors: Camphor, Dried Fruit, Limestone, Molasses, Wood
I’ve been having this with breakfast the last few days, and cold brewing the spent leaves. It’s a solid unflavored black, but no malt, which for me is strange in an Assam. Despite the lack of maltiness, it has a sweetness and full body that I enjoyed. And the spent leaves make a great iced tea.
First impressions from the first cup. I usually always do gong-fu but my schedule has drastically changed since having my nephew around. :) I prepared it with 1 heaping tablespoon, 212F, 3 min steep in 16 ozs water. The second cup for 5 min. infusion.
Soft, silky mouthfeel. A very warm, comforting spice that I can not name, not quite cinnamon but cinnamony-like. Oats, apple, berries, spices… It reminded me kind of a cinnamon-oatmeal-apple pie but in liquid form. Cream notes, barley notes, naturally but delicately honey-raisin sweet. Unique and wonderful flavors throughout the two infusions. The second infusion not as delicious as the first as it seemed that the oats/barley notes were more subdued. Am looking forward to a gongfu session with this to see where all these splendid notes come in and come out.
Flavors: Apple, Apple Skins, Berries, Cinnamon, Cream, Creamy, Honey, Oats, Raisins, Roasted Barley, Smooth, Spices
I got a sample of this on my last order.
Its a rainy and cold day. Just got into work and decided to give this one a try. As it was steeping, all I could think was someone had brought french toast into the office. Its not a sweet tasting tea, but the flavor reminds me of a rich pastry without the sweetness.
Its difficult for me to explain, but I really like the aroma and taste of this tea. I hope there is still some left when I’m ready for my next order.
Gongfu Sipdown (704)!
Many thanks to TheWeekendSessions for the tea sample! This is something that I picked up from him when I was in Winnipeg, and I was really, really excited about it! I knew WP was carrying this tea now – but I haven’t ordered from them in ages, and I generally don’t love making orders just for one tea so I’d not looked too seriously at it. However, I remember Butiki carrying this and it was amazing. One of the first straight teas I ever fell in love with – definitely a life changing tea!
So all that said, here’s what I wrote about it on instagram:
So yammy/sweet potato heavy with delicious malt, stewed plum, raisin, caramelized sugar, molasses, and cinnamon bread notes. Very thick, coating liquor and lingering sweetness. A really well rounded profile!
It’s basically love in a cup/gaiwan, and painfully nostalgic for me! I completely brewed out this tea, and it was definitely one of the best things I’ve drank all month!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHEvjLJgWM8
Another good Ruby White from Taiwan. I’m a sucker for them it seems. I like the menthol/wintergreen and fruitiness of this style of tea. This Spring 2019? harvest is especially smooth despite possessing plenty of oomph. Complex but round enough to quaff away without thought.
Kawaii433 said, “I wish I wasn’t the only one who reviewed this because I’m sure there is so much more…” I sipped the whole ounce as western preparations except for a lone gongfu session and I didn’t take notes but I think her flavor descriptors are spot on: https://steepster.com/kawaii433/posts/388875#likes
Thanks so much for allowing me to try this one, Kawaii433! I love the name. To be honest, I don’t love WP’s Ontario pu-erh base for this one. Ontario is GOOD, but not one of my favorite dark pu-erhs. I certainly don’t think it’s dark enough for the awesome name of this tea! Nothing distinct about Ontario for me and my original note says I “wrote a note to remember I tried it”. It’s at least smooth with no offending flavors! I’m not sure how cocoa nibs will help this but it probably can’t hurt! Somehow the Ontario seems stronger and tastier than I remember, though before I used two teaspoons rather than the 1 3/4 teaspoons that I used today. Go figure. Otherwise the parameters were pretty close without me checking the old tasting note beforehand.
This time around, the flavor seems darker than I remember, not specifically chocolate from the cocoa nibs but if anything, this blend gives me the awesome idea to throw in some cocoa shells with some other ripe pu-erh or even some cocoa powder like I’ve been trying with some chai lately, especially if any ripe pu-erh needs a flavor boost. Cocoa pu-erh! Not chocolatey enough for me with or without the cocoa, but as usual, I appreciate trying it. By the extremely long third steep, the flavor was mostly gone.
Steep #1 // 1 3/4 teaspoons for a full mug // 12 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // 6 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 10 min
2019 sipdowns: 55
This long-leafed tea has a very comforting aroma and taste of malt, sweet potato and baked bread: Thanksgiving in a cup. It’s not astoundingly complex but is very reliable in bringing relaxation and a happy smile. At least, it does it for me. And this tea is also priced quite below other offerings by Whispering Pines, which helps.
Given all that, this is a good choice for a daily drinker at work or on any busy day when there is a need for a short mindless relaxation break.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Malt, Sweet Potatoes
I got a free sample of this (yay and thank you) and have decided that I won’t put a numerical rating on it because well, I’m not a mint fan.
But here’s the deal.. This is really good if you do like minty freshness. It is unique and has all the right notes of a good black tea. The mint notes are very light, not overpowering, it balances well with the spices. I got a few clove notes, some anise. It’s delicately sweet with honey and it lingered well after I finished my sip, and so did a light fresh cooling sensation. If you like mint and a great black tea, then I recommend this. If you’re like me and mint just isn’t your thaaang, then pass. ^^
Hope you’re all having a wonderful and productive day, teafriends.
Flavors: Anise, Camphor, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Mint, Spearmint, Spices
I seriously haven’t written a note on this one yet? Fail.
Anyway, it’s hands down one of the best Assams I’ve had. The caramelized brown sugar note really does me in, and I cannot pin down the rest of the top of my head other than being fairly fruity, and well, Assam like and sweet like dark chocolate or cocoa nibs. I feel like I have to check my bloodsugar with it. It does have the rounded raisin-malt taste of a good Assam, but it barely becomes astringent keeps a unique sweetness that few teas have. Now, the tea can become bitter or astringent if I mess around to much, but for the most part, it’s a forgiving tea with less leaves. It’s been my go to breakfast tea so far. Deserves the praise indeed.
I think this teas covered in detail, but since I have a decent amount of it, I’ll probably write about it pretty often. I’ve stayed towards a western style in a french press as of late, but even then, I easily get 4-6 cups out of it. Very, very good. I do like the Wild Mountain a little more, but I drink this one more often. I am excited to see how the Guan Yin turns out when people write about it. It’s a shame I’m over budget for tea.
Fantastic Assam. I got a package from Whispering Pines today. I tried the new ones that I’ve never had before, and this one was today’s favorite. Loved their Jin Guan Yin Black too (I’ll write about that soon). I may add some thoughts as I work through my ounce of it later on but I think Tea-sipper gave a fantastic review on it so that’s all I’m going to say for now. ^^
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cocoa, Cream, Dried Fruit, Fruity, Malt, Raisins, Smooth, Sweet
An unusual tea. This is a Yunnan Red that is fruity and sweet as an oolong. A lot of apple skin and baked apples in it, plus some caramel and berries. If you steep it longer it gains some malty backbone but never gets bitter. It’s very smooth. and flavors are well-defined.
It’s quit a unique tea if not super complex.
Flavors: Apple, Berries, Candied Apple, Caramel, Malt
This is a well-reviewed tea so I will not go into specific details: they have been exhaustively captured already. Just my general observations.
This is the best Golden Snail/ Black Bi Luo Chun I have tried so far: intense aroma, strong, fresh and complex taste without any hint of bitterness. It resteeps well. Also, this tea is well-suited for both gaiwan and Western preparations and in general rewards those experimenting with times, temperatures and amounts.
I had this tea in my cupboard for a couple of month and it has changed quite a bit – despite being in a well-sealed Ziploc bag. It lost the fierce smokiness in both taste and aroma that precluded me from drinking it more often as it called for a very specific mood to enjoy it.
Now it comes off as very full-bodied, expansive and incredibly sweet. A lot of complexity and a good strong finish. This tea reminds me of fall, bountiful harvests, Thanksgiving, big dinners and camaraderie. I like it even more than before and will certainly reorder (bumps the original score up a notch).
Few reviews of this tea could be found on Steepster, which probably reveals that not that many folks are into smoked Lapsangs. And I can’t blame them to be honest: this tea is a fine representation of the type but its complexity cannot compete with other Whispering Pines reds. One has to be really into the taste and smell of campfire to enjoy it – and, luckily, I kinda am.
The dry leaves are quite small and not very interesting. This is one of the fairly strongly smoked Lapsangs, so the taste of the tea itself comes out only at the end of a sip: initially it’s all about smoke. Now, the smoky component is great: strong, clean, very natural and “real”. A lot of complexity in the smokiness but it is not a usual tea palette at all. I know it’s a cliche but the Islay Scotch fans would find plenty to enjoy in this Lapsang.
The tea taste comes later and it’s all about the honeyed and fruity sweetness, which goes fairly well with all this smoke and softens its austerity a bit.
Ashes of Autumn is a very nice representation of the type, with no corners cut and nothing artificial or one-dimensional about the smoke – which is, regrettably, very common with many Lapsangs. Still, this tea is certainly not for every day but for a very specific mood. As the name aptly suggests the late fall could be a good time to sip it, while looking at fallen leaves, starkly naked tree silhouettes, and caravans of birds flying away.
Flavors: Campfire, Fruity, Honey, Smoke, Wood
A delicate, smooth and complex dianhong. The early autumn peacefulness and richness of aromas. Its unique taste gently but resolutely resists the attempts to describe and deconstruct it. However: some malt, caramel, plum, spices, baked goods, sweet potato, herbs…
It induces wakefulness, sharpens your senses and brings a note of nostalgia.
[Spring 2019 Harvest] This is a Yunnan Red from old wild trees that Whispering Pines started offering recently. The tea is complex and reminded me of drinking a good red wine. There are so many different flavors that I will not even try to describe all of them. It’s easier to note what is NOT there: I did not find any fruitiness or mineral notes.
I had it Western but I think it would be good gong fu as well. Herbs, malt, honey, bitterness… Very well balanced, so nothing dominates. Vibrant. It tasted and smelled much like a good Zhen Shang Xiao Zhong (my favorite kind of tea) but with a distinctly dianhong-ish sweet note at the end. This tea has a pleasant aftertaste and re-steeps well, although losing most of its original complexity.
I liked it.
Flavors: Bark, Berries, Cherry Wood, Dark Bittersweet, Herbs, Honey, Malt
Another sample from Brenden! Thanks so much! I really appreciate it. I never tried the Butiki version of this, so I don’t have anything to compare it to. But I think this is also sourced from the same place as the Butiki Wild was? I tried to steep this similar to the PTA I had the other day but I went with three teaspoons here, as Brenden suggests a tablespoon for eight ounces of water (I am using a full mug of water though.) I was worried that would be too many leaves, but I shouldn’t have been worried. The flavor practically can’t be bitter. Which is odd… such dark huge leaves could somehow never be bitter and have the sweetest flavor. The leaves here look similar to PTA, but possibly more wirey (wilder), darker, and have little brown pieces that look like twigs mixed in? I’ve never seen that before. The flavor notes are similar to PTA but subtler and less unique. The flavor is lighter: like peaches and cream, maybe only hints of the strawberry that is so abundant in the PTA. A lighter version of a Ruby black perhaps. Always smooth with an occasional mint hint which is very odd with these types of tea. Three very solid mugs of tea that were very similar anyway. All those leafhoppers must have made this tea extremely sweet. With more leaves for less flavor, I still think the Premium Taiwanese Assam is the better option. But that’s my taste buds!
Steep #1 // 3 teaspoons for a full mug // 18 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 10 minutes after boiling // 2 1/2 minute steep
Steep #3 // 9 min after boiling // 3 min