55 Tasting Notes
This tea is now one of my favorite things. It steeps up to a rich amber color (the darkest white tea I’ve ever had). The viscosity is slightly thicker than water, but not thick enough to be weird (lol). It’s not bitter and has practically no astringency (just the merest hint to keep it from being boring) and it tastes like . . . honey? Only better? It’s sweet (but not sickly sweet) and has just a touch of floral without stinking of jasmine (I like jasmine, okay, but I prefer it in . . . well, anything other than tea). It’s friendly and approachable, yet elegant and refined at the same time. Basically it’s awesome and I wish there were more aged white teas available for me to try.
NB: The only issue is that brewing recommendations were by the tablespoon and the leaves are so big and flat they don’t really fit in a tablespoon at all (not that I mind having big leaves!!) so I just tossed a bunch in so now I have basically no idea how I brewed it. :P
Soooooooo good!! When I first started trying loose leaf teas last year, oolongs just tasted strange to me. But nowadays they (roasted oolongs at least) always make me feel like my taste buds are going to die with happiness (which can be alarming but only if you stop to think about it too much). I think I’ll have to revisit nonroasted oolongs and see if they have a similar effect.
I got this tea from TheLastDodo’s stash sale a while back . I’ve never been much of a sheng person (I wonder what would have happened to me if I had tried pu-erh before shu was invented? lol) but I was enticed by the color and the aroma. Also by the fact that the reason I’d wanted samples of sheng in the first place was so that I could try them out often enough to accustom my palate to their unique notes and decide which of the notes I like and which I can do without.
So anyway, it’s from 2012 I think, but I’m not sure if that makes it a youngish sheng or a middle-aged sheng. (Hopefully it’s old enough not to disagree with my stomach even though I haven’t had anything to eat today.) I just used about half of my sample instead of measuring the leaves because I couldn’t find any guidelines on steeping this anywhere on the internet, so I just used boiling water and steeped it for about a minute to begin with. (I wonder if I should have rinsed it first? Or is that just shu?)
It’s a medium amber color, which I think is darker than other shengs I’ve tried, although I’m not positive because I don’t have a photographic memory. Anyway, it looks nice. And it smells tantalizing. When sipped, it has that unique tang that only sheng provides, as well as a minor-to-moderate astringency and some rather robust savory undertones. The overall effect is pleasant, although it tastes nothing like any of the teas I normally drink so my taste buds are a little wary of it.
Overall, I surmise that this is a good sheng, despite my lack of authority in the matter, lol. If I have significant updates after the second and third steeps I shall be sure to add them then.
I’m changing my rating on this tea because I discovered yesterday that I like it a lot better when steeped strongly (strong enough to be thick and almost black, lol). I’m also impressed that the leaves are able to brew so many strong cups of tea without weakening.
This is an excellent roasted oolong (from the Dark Matter group buy). When I first tried oolongs I thought they were meh, but recently roasted oolongs have started to taste like the most incredible beverage ever sooo . . . I think my tastes might be changing a bit? And of course I’m getting better quality tea now so there’s that. It’s a strictly no-milk, no-sugar type of tea, but it’s still quite nice. I like the earlier steepings the best so far, but maybe I used a bit less leaf than I ought so we’ll see what happens next time.
I had a ridiculously awful few days this week. I agreed to take care of a couple of infants my in-laws are fostering, so they could drive their college-age kids back from college a few states away since it’s the end of the school year. So laugh at me all you want, because I should have known better than to agree, even though they promised that I wouldn’t also have to take care of their hundred or so farm animals (yeah . . . you can imagine how that turned out). But when I got home yesterday there was a box of Whispering Pines tea waiting for me, so the week wasn’t a total loss and I’m reconsidering my professed hatred of the entire world (present company always excluded, because I’m not trying to be inflammatory when I say that I hate the entire world, lol).
Anyway, I prepared this tea as directed (Western style) and I think I can safely say that it’s the darkest tea liquor I’ve ever seen. So good job on the name, I guess. And I’m greatly enjoying the flavor as well. It’s not too heavy, but manages to blend actual cocoa with good shu pu-erh in a very effective way so that they complement each other and present a unified flavor profile; the chocolate notes don’t seem out of place alongside the woodsy pu-erh. I realized immediately that I’ll surely end up buying a lot more of this, and I’m now trying to decide whether I should steep the rest of the sample today so my husband can try it too or hoard it all for myself so I can put off my next tea order until next month . . . lol.
The first time I steeped this tea it had a bit of a fishy flavor so I threw out that steeping and tried again. Fortunately the second and third steepings tasted much better. So I recommend rinsing this before steeping it (I know some people do this as a matter of routine but it just seems wasteful to me to throw out perfectly good tea so I always try it without rinsing first to see whether it needs it).
If you make sure to rinse it first, I’d say it’s a good tea, although not my absolute favorite Dark Matter selection. I didn’t take notes for a full review yet but I have enough leaves left for a bit more tea (I brew Western style) so I guess I can do that later. I’m on the third steeping now but it’s not very representative because I accidentally steeped it for like ten minutes lol.