123 Tasting Notes
It looks like I have the original version of this tea, with a gunpowder base rather than bancha. I’ll press on anyway, because I like this and I suspect I will like the bancha version even better!
This is mildly smokey, present in the scent of both the dry leaves and steeped tea and as an aftertaste but not necessarily when held on the tongue. (I tried Daniel’s technique of exhaling, holding the tea in my mouth, and inhaling.) It would be a good introduction for someone who is not sure whether she would like a smoked tea. It would also appeal to someone who would like to try a lighter version of lapsang souchong, perhaps someone who is trying to increase consumption of green tea and cutting back on black.
Smooth and basic, subtle like the other blends from Whispering Pines that I’ve tried. Not sure whether the suggestion for multiple steepings would apply to the gunpowder version so I think I’ll skip a second steep from these leaves. I also think I’ll be ordering the new, bancha version soon!
UPDATE: The website says this is out of stock. Am hoping this is a temporary situation!
It’s been years since I tried yerba mate, and I don’t have any clear memories of my reaction. I must have been underwhelmed.
So when I picked up my packet of Black Bear Breakfast and reminded myself of the ingredients, I thought, “OK, time for breakfast, let’s try this out.”
I think yerba mate is still not my brew of choice. I can’t seem to single out what the mate is contributing to the flavor, but mostly I’m getting mild, slightly sweet, with an aftertaste of mint. Not getting the elderberries.
This is reminiscent of Manistee Moonrise but not as distinctive, a wakeup tea with a refreshing afterbite and probably a good introduction to yerba mate blends for the slightly mate-phobic like me!
Looking forward to trying my final two samples from Whispering Pines.
I’ve been MIA again because of work and a mild (probably stress-related) puniness so I am somewhat behind in tasting and in tasting notes.
Madam Potts has scored again! This is really uncanny. For those who don’t know about www.madpotsoftea.com, [CORRECTED! So sorry!] if you go there and choose Personalitea, you can fill out a questionnaire that Madame will then consult and anaylze to blend a tea specifically for you.
I felt like my questionnaire responses were all over the place, but in the note I got back with my tea Madame said that she had focused on a favorite scent family (chypre) because it was one she hadn’t worked with extensively, and on my fondness for Santa Fe.
When I read the ingredients (see above) I thought, hmmm. They didn’t exactly proclaim “Santa Fe” to me. Then I prepared my first cup, and guess what? Santa Fe.
The chypre must be coming from the lavender and cornflower. I’m getting a little coolness that must be from the valerian and clover. The pecans may be the source of the slight smokiness. And then there’s the orange peel, carob, cinnamon, and ginger, none of which stand out sharply, but all of which seem to blend into something subtle and exotic like a mole sauce — the classic Mexican sauce based on unsweetened chocolate and cinnamon and chiles.
I’ve had two cups so far. Both times I boiled the water, steeped 5 minutes, and let it cool to almost-tepid before drinking most of it. (I wanted to try the second cup hot, but my boss came up to chat with me.) Using an Earl Grey as the base ties the flavors together in a way I would never have guessed it could.
This is mysterious and seriously addictive for me, and I’m planning to order more.
I wish I could show you a picture of it. I have resisted moving into the smart phone era and do not have a digital camera. The bright blue of the cornflower petals and the pale lavender buds really stand out against the black tea leaves. And then you see the little chunks of orange peel and pecans and carob.
You should try the questionnaire. I am amazed by and very happy with my blend.
I just bought this last night and tried it out today. I am completely satisfied with its performance and I love being able to see the color of the brewed tea. It’s a little more difficult to see what’s happening with the leaves, but I could see well enough to get the idea as they unfurled and sank.
I deliberately picked a white tea with what I hoped would be subtle accents to find out whether the filter contributed to the taste in any way. It did not.
This one’s going to live at work but I think I’ll probably get one or two more — one for home and one to stash at my sister’s place until she begins to understand what she’s been missing, at which time I MAY get her one, too.
Another from my introductory samples. I christened my new Bodum Tea For One set with this — it’s a double-walled glass cup with no handle and a nylon mesh filter.
The dry tea smelled more of ginger than orange, and so do the steeped leaves. Dry, the sample packet looked like it may have been crushed a bit in the mail even though both the outer paper envelope and inner plastic bags were intact. But, I’m pleased to report, none of the finer particles made it through the Bodun’s mesh.
The liquid is a lovely medium gold, a glowing orange when I hold it up to the light (yay clear glass cup!) And I really catch the scent of orange as well as ginger when I sniff it. Sweet! Literally.
I may have been too impatient to let the water cool enough. I brought it to a boil but let it sit for a minute before pouring — maybe should have waited two minutes. That’s why I put the water temperature at 185, below. There’s just an edge of bitterness in my first couple of sips.
But ooh, pretty. I was afraid the ginger might overwhelm the orange, but it hasn’t done so. It’s more of a background note. Mind you, I like ginger. But I didn’t want it to be the strongest flavor in this, and it isn’t. Again, as I found with Manistee Moonrise, the flavors added to the tea are very delicate and subtle. Yet there seem to be a lot of bits of orange peel and chopped, dried (NOT candied, bless Brenden) ginger in the mix.
Now I’m getting a very sweet orange taste in the back of my tongue. I almost don’t want to take another sip until it goes away. It isn’t cloying. Nothing in this tea is overdone.
As it cools a bit, the ginger is coming out a little more, replacing some of the thermal heat with gingery heat. But again, not overwhelming.
This stuff is fascinating, and I’m looking forward to trying more of my samples over the next few days.
First, thanks to Brenden for the opportunity to sample your teas!
This tea is wonderfully subtle and calming. It does, indeed, evoke a feeling of being in the woods. There’s the slight hint of smoke, the freshness of the lemon grass and spearmint, and the barely-there suggestion of sweetness.
I am not a big fan of spearmint, though I’m learning to enjoy it in blends with other flavors. This way it just tastes wild, in a good way, without the cloying flavor I’ve associated with it in after-dinner mints and chewing gum.
Somewhere Brenden recommended a second steep, six instead of five minutes. I’ll definitely be trying that too.
This is not something I’d drink every day, but it is definitely going on my shopping list. Some people dream of tropical vacations and the beach, but I dream of deserts and pine-covered mountains. This tea takes me right there to the high country. I’m looking forward to the rest of my samples.
Update: re-steeping per the recommendation in comments on Amy Oh’s tasting note. The liquid is still dark, dark, dark, but the smoky taste is just about gone and the lemon is predominant with a minty aftertaste. I was not expecting such a strong flavor from a re-steep. I think I prefer the smokiness in my first cup, but this is also good — just in a different way. And there is no bitterness at all despite the two rather long steeps. This is a winner.