1224 Tasting Notes
Mixed feelings about this one. The flavors are overpowering for me in the jar, but not so when I brew it hot.
It’s very marzipan-y, and not quite as astringent as I expected. Like some other reviews have suggested, the almond cocoa combo makes this tea taste like a darker oolong or Yan-Cha. It has the Assam bold malt and cocoa, but it’s much more subdued and smooth. It takes agave well, but it’s not bad unsweetened. It does taste natural, but it is still a little bit overwhelming and bordering on sun tan lotion. I’ll have to figure out the way I like to brew this one.
When I first came across this online, I thought “Oh look-obligatory chai blend.” Like the breakfast blend, I expected this one to be relatively generic, but when I looked at the loose leaf they advertised online, I wondered if the tea base was in fact an oolong because some of the leaves looked rolled an light brown. I could have been wrong, but that would not be a bad thing considering how good their Zealong black is.
Since I could not find a single bag sample, I risked a whole box. Luckily, I had Kiwi credits, but I found it was worth it. I drank as many as three bags in a day during work, and that’s including re-steeping it.
As for the taste and smell, the spices are doubtlessly warming chai, but with that edgy char in profile. Tasting it and drinking it, it’s extremely well balanced. The pepper is fairly prominent with the cardamom, the ginger is more obvious mid body, and clove and cinnamon finishes it off nicely with the tea’s cocoa-char note. The overall body is very smooth and a little bit malty, but naturally soothing. It’s not as malty in the second brew with the clove and ginger taking over a little bit more, but the tea is a little bit sweeter and nearly caramelized. It’s not THAT sweet, but the tea is incredibly pleasing on the palette.
I feel like I’m missing something in the description because the tea is just that good, and someone who pays more attention to their palette might describe it better. If it weren’t so expensive, I’d be getting a lot more since this ranks as on of my top three masalas. The roasty Zealong base makes a difference, and whoever blended the spices did a fantastic job balancing everything out. Foodie recommended-it may be too mellow for some, but it’s great for those looking for smooth and balanced chais. I’d also rate it a 90, or something close to it.
Flavors: Black Pepper, Cardamom, Char, Cinnamon, Clove, Cocoa, Ginger, Malt, Roasted, Smooth
I caved in to a need for sachets last month. I got this as a free sample, and it pleasantly surprised me. I expected something bold and astringent like an English Breakfast, but this was an incredibly smooth tea with a much desired roasted cocoa profile in aroma and taste, with an accent clearly identifiable as honey. It is in fact as mellow as the company describes, and it does have a nice citrus note. The mouthfeel is also pretty great-it had a little bit of the nectar profile some Taiwanese blacks have.
I could easily see drink this every day if it were not so expensive. It may also be a little bit too mellow for some people, but it pleases this foodie’s desire for flavor and just a hint of complexity. It is a straightforward tea, but still very enjoyable. If you can find this or want to treat yourself with a good breakfast sachet, this is not a bad bet. I’m personally rating it 80, though I think 85-92 is really the tea ratings range.
Flavors: Citrus, Cocoa, Honey, Malt, Nectar, Roasted, Smooth, Spices, Wood
Sipdown, and a sad one at that. I wish I ordered more of this one than Ancient Spirit. It can get a little bit woodsy, whereas this one is like drinking fruit leather. I have tons of Taiwanese blacks to drink anyway, and so many frickin’ notes to write, but I wanted to start off with this one. I’m seriously surprised there are not other reviews because this is easily one of the best blacks Whispering Pines has offered.
I know I promised more description, but I only have energy for a rating and a comment. Like I said before, I think that this tea should garner more attention. It’s certainly on the greener side, but there’s enough oxidation to make it savory and to give it a sweetened edge. Gardenia and lilac are still apt with green apple, honeysuckle, butter, nutty hints, grass, melon, sweet pea, and others. I’ve gotten mineral on occasion, but more like the minerals of sugarcane sugar overall because it is green. It’s actually a very friendly brew with light leaves and long steeps, and it serves me well grandpa or gong fu. I actually prefer this one to some of the other oolongs on Whispering Pines’s selection because it’s refreshing and well balanced. It also compares considerably well to other’s I’ve had. There are some Bao Zhongs that are much greener than this one, and I actually think it’s a decent balance overall. I keep coming back to it and remain satisfied.
Very balanced and refreshing. It’s definitely close to a Mao Feng green in its minerality and morning dew quality, but it stands out as a Bao Zhong with the usual lilac note that you can fall in love with. Daffodil and gardenia are also prominent. It’s also super friendly Gong Fu, and very thick. This note is more footnote than essay right now, but just know that I think this tea should have more appeal than it does currently. That is all for now.
Got to try this at a bougie, but incredibly pleasant coffee shop to complete the Trifecta of Harney’s European City named Earl Greys. This one was very light and took a bit to steep, but it was very smooth. It starts out subtle, and then transitions into the flavors nicely. Malt and tea are the obvious notes with a little bit of a cocoa note and some vague spiciness. The caramel coats the background, and as it steeps longer, the bergamot emerges as a friendly accent, and the currant tags a long as that sultry friend that gets around, and together, the form a creamy desserty tea with just enough fruit to add some character. I think that I may prefer the Tower of London blend a hair more, but if I were to have an entire tin of this tea, my mind could change depending on my mood. I will say it is the smoothest out of the three, and this tea is one of Harney’s best sellers for good reason. It’s the kind of fancy desert tea that anyone can love with just enough complexity to satisfy even the more particular customer.
It’s been a while since I had a smooth black version of this one. Wintergreen Mint and cinnamon notes are apt. It’s fairly resilient to astringency, but it can get there. It was like a melted chocolate candy cane when I sipped it after an accidental western steep. Otherwise, it had the usual notes of tomato and eucalyptus as well. It’s a very good example, and a sample I was glad to have. I’m not sure if $13 an ounce is a good price, however.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Cocoa, Eucalyptus, Malt, Mint, Pepper, Pine, Smooth
This is a solid one. It had the marigold lemon loaf flavor that I loved in previous Yu Shans with some pineapple notes. It was very creamy, a little bit savory and sweet like corn bread. It also had a floral vanilla in the hints, and it had a little bit of spinach notes that are so slight to give the background some body. It was more cake-ish than I expected, however, and more savory.
$13 bucks an ounce is a little much for this, however. That’s the only reason why I’m not rating it in the 90’s.
Flavors: Cake, Creamy, Floral, Lemon, Pineapple, Spinach, Sugarcane, Sweet, Vanilla