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Recent Tasting Notes
After seeing Evol Ving Ness’s tasting note I remembered I had this one unopened in the tea drawer and decided to brew it up. For some reason I was expecting something smoky. This is not smoky. It is black licorice (I love black licorice, but only a couple of pieces, because it quickly becomes too much) I saw some reviews that said it was bitter and astringent, but I am not finding it that way.
For someone without a sense of smell, this has a definitely anise flavor. The sip ends with a slightly sweet note. The flavor, for me, was enhanced as it cooled. I enjoyed it very much. It might become a little much if I have more than one cup at a time. As with black licorice, a little bit goes a long way. But this one will go into the regular rotation.
The aroma of the tea while steeping is divine fruit richness.
Mmm, stone fruit, berry, fig, cherry, smooth, maybe a bit of vanilla. Quite lovely.
I don’t know where the anise has disappeared to. Maybe age has turned it into malt and fruit. Or maybe there wasn’t any in my spoon.
It’s a damp gloomy day out there. Perfect for something like this.
Starting to feel that it’s time to begin to bundle up.
A tea I have finally recieved from derk but actually there is White Antlers written on the pouch, so… thank you both!
I took this one, as it is only tea I have received today (more to come…) which is not single or two serves only. Decided to go western, rather than gongfu, just because I was lazy with preparation as I am truly tired from work today. Two urgent consigments aren’t fun to manage well, especially when one is hazmat and second is safe, but liquid. And you don’t have proper cardboard box for the jerrican, so you use steel drum instead.
But I have digressed greatly, so sorry if you don’t care about my work troubles. It’s my problem and not yours.
Honestly, the aroma of the dry tea was quite strongly mushroomy for me, with some decaying wood notes. Kind of medicinal too.
I took only one tea spoon, and not even heaped, because, what if, I don’t like it. I let it steep for 2 minutes approximately, and I was moving up and down the bag, mostly because I wanted to steep it properly and all the tea I had in.
The taste was indeed savoury as derk noticed not that long ago. I can notice the leather too, and it was, as the smell prepared me for, kind of mushroomy, wet wood, and sometimes a bit medicinal. Sometimes a bit stone-like — read: mineral, and some sips this quality overpowered the others. I don’t know why, as the mug should be same all the time. It was easydrinker though and it gave me so much needed comfort.
Certainly a tea to dig more into. So, that said, no rating from me yet.
Flavors: Medicinal, Mineral, Mushrooms, Savory, Wet Rocks, Wet Wood
Mastress Alita’s sipdown challenge Saturday, November 13th: National Hug a Musician Day – Fleet Foxes
Ok, this is not actually a sipdown – I’ve too much of it for that as I tend to hoard my Whispering Pine Teas, but the theme of today felt like a good reason to pull some out!
Every time I see this tea’s name Fleet Foxes “Meadowlarks” gets stuck in my head. It’s like magic. Annoying magic. Whispering Pines whole vibe reminds me of Fleet Foxes, and indie/chamber folk acts in a big way for some reason (it’s 2012 again, folks). Fleet Foxes is from Seattle, Washington, which is around my neck of the woods, and their music tends to sound like quintessential Northwest Coast (their sound also has an uncanny tendancy to transport the unsuspecting listener to inside a Starbucks… circa 2012).
Like the subject music, this tea is deceivingly simplistic and “quiet”; it’s a soft green tea, with light notes of sweetgrass, snow peas, and soybeans. At first it feels like there’s a lot of space between the delicate flavours, but over time (and sips) the vanilla-floral note of orchid (not a little unlike a heliotrope) builds into a vivid and decadent hue. Its veggie and floral-sweetness creates a heady nectar on a pillow of soybean cream. I can see why others don’t have time for this kind of thing but it feels like home to me (and also being warm in a field, which is a comforting thought as it currently pisses outside like it’s inclined to do at this time of the year).
Steep Count: 3
PS – less is more with this one.
Flavors: Cream, Floral, Garden Peas, Nectar, Orchid, Soybean, Sweet, Warm Grass, Vanilla, Vegetal
A full leaf, very dark tea, very smooth. Bought based on the recommendations of their website, and it does not disappoint. Seems like the last 5 new teas I’ve tried have all been disappointing, this one restored my faith. I forgot while steeping, and instead of my normal <2 minutes, let this one go 20 minutes, and it’s still not bitter; strong but very flavorful and drinkable. Full leaf teas are always so much fun to try and get out of a container, or into a tea ball, but are often worth the effort in being a smoother tea, for some reason. Fewer broken leaves = less tannins?
Spring 2021 Harvest
Ok, I’m trying this one gongfu style, because why not? I’m only two cups in and already encountering some vivid oddball flavours. Its like an Apple-Cherry Cobbler with a potato base, dusted with cinnamon (sort of hot fruity baked granola bread, but also with potatoes).
No.3 smells and tastes like tart cherries. Like in my Western Steep note, I think this tea has major flavour blend potential. No.4 is still very cherry with powdered sugar, but also hints of cranberry. My good friend Roasted Oolong Ice Cream Cone is also back. No.5 is lightly cherry tart with mineral notes. No. 6 sees the return of apple (maybe pear?) and some of the cinnamon, along with the ever-present cherry. No.8 is like potato or coconut oil – thick but kind of flat except for some minor stonefruit notes; strangely, it reminds me of Potato Pancakes & Applesauce from good old Butiki.
Gongfu Style Steep Count: 9
Flavors: Apple, Baked Bread, Cherry, Cinnamon, Coconut, Cranberry, Grain, Lime, Malt, Mineral, Pastries, Potato, Powdered Sugar, Stonefruit, Tart
2021 Spring Harvest
I don’t normally go for oxidized/roasted oolong, and was actually kind of leery when I realized that’s what I got here. This feeling of unease was confirmed on the first sip, which tasted like soapy roasted waffle cone, and then was abandoned on the proceeding second sip where it the cup became a lightly sugared waffle cone – minus soap (acceptable). I’m still not in love but I think the GABA style gives this a sort of fun sweet potato/stone fruit flavour on first steep. It keeps me amused and is growing on me as I sip away.
In summary: this tastes like a waffle cone, with sweet potato incorporation, and light sour cherry drizzling (also a hint of lime and cranberry). It’s sort of creamy so feels like vegan ice cream. If this had rosemary it could make a super convincing imitation of one of my ice cream favourites from Victoria’s Cold Comfort – Rosemary and Sour Cherry. It’s killer and here are all of the ice cream flavours they’ve made (many of which I think should become tea): https://www.coldcomfort.ca/flavours .
Western Style Steep Count: 4
Third Steep @ 2min30s: Starting to pick up cacao mixing with the stonefruit. Waffle cone is plain malt now. It’s tart and creamy. Still believe it’s begging for the herbaceous rosemary and think it’s partway there already with the more bitter notes. As the cup continues to cool, a huge dose of sweetness comes through that’s pretty fancy – it’s almost like cantaloupe. The sweet syrup disappeared when it reached room temp.
Flavors: Cacao, Cantaloupe, Cherry, Cranberry, Creamy, Fruity, Grain, Lime, Malt, Pastries, Powdered Sugar, Sour, Stonefruit, Sweet Potatoes, Tart
Dry leaf smells like cooked walnut with lesser buffalo grass. Had grandpa in my shou stein, it was very clay-slate-mineral forward with a leather note that pushed against the minerality. Slight floral high note. There was hint of sweetness at first, but the savory, mineral character overtook my palate. I feel like there’s something missing, whether it’s a pronounced mouthful or something to connect the flavors that are complementary but also competing at the same time. This shou is actually a pretty easy drinker but not something I’d gravitate toward.
Thank you for sharing, White Antlers :)
Flavors: Buffalo Grass, Clay, Drying, Flowers, Leather, Mineral, Savory, Walnut
Small round balls of tea, easy to scoop and measure.
Pleasant, Malty smell before brewing.
But the malty taste doesn’t come thru in the brewed tea as well as some other Golden Snail I’ve had. A tad tannic for the plain teas I make (no milk or sugar); this may be better steeped a bit longer and then able to push thru the sugar and/or cream OK.
Thank you Whispering Pines for the sample!
So this one was interesting. Like many teas I’ve been drinking lately, I’ve done inapproximate steep times. I more or less did this one western with a quick early sip. First brew was light and fruity, but subdued. Honeydew and peony florals come out. The majority of the tea actually borders on herbaceous for my palette. There’s a coolness that reminds me of Dill or Marjoram. Ashmanra and Ashman got cedar, and I can see it. The second brew I left for about 4-5 minutes. It was a touch over steeped, but more melony than herby. Last brew I backed off on time to 3 minutes, and it’s cooling and refreshing white tea that’s easy going, soft and light.
Flavors: Cedar, Dill, Floral, Herbaceous, Honeydew, Melon, Sweet
This sample is a surprise gift that came in the mail from White Antlers last week!
I was really surprised that I had to add this one to the site as I could have sworn I had seen it reviewed before.
The sample package says this is spring harvest white tea buds. The buds were fat and absolutely covered in downy white trichomes. The cha he looks like it is holding miniature fat and fuzzy pea pods!
Ashman joined me for this gong fu session and I asked him to describe the smell of the leaves after they had warmed in a preheated gaiwan. He said cedar. Actually he said, “What is hamster bedding?” And I said “cedar” and he said “that’s it.” Ha ha!
The steeped tea is quite different from the aroma of the buds. The description on the package says floral and fruity but I definitely felt it the other way around. My first impression was intense fruitiness, and the floral came after and was more subtle. Ashman said he liked the aroma of the wet leaves and steeped tea much better than the dry warmed leaves.
The first two steeps were very much alike, but the third must have oversteeped or something because you could smell the astringency before you sipped. It did have a lot of briskness but it forgave my negligence by rewarding us with a nice rising sweetness after the swallow.
White tea is Ashman’s favorite, so many thanks to White Antlers for the sample!
Interesting Brenden didn’t do notes for this one.
Anyway, it’s a really straightforward vanilla tea. If you’ve had the Golden Snail and Alice, you know what to expect-just in vanilla dreams version. Smelling the bag is a fun experience, and hits you with a soft vanilla. The tea is much the same in this first steep western. I used 195 Fahrenheit because it’s hot today, and I wished I used boiling instead to open up the the vanilla with the tea. I could taste some of the vanilla beans themselves as being cooler than the actual tea.
My mug was still plenty tasty. Bready malt is prominent in the body with a little bit of dryness on the tongue, and the vanilla follows nicely after some caramel in the after taste. The profile reminds me heavily of those caramels with the milky cream in the middle. I can see some people getting marshmallow or cream notes to describe how the vanilla hits you in the aftertaste with the smooth texture. The vanilla can get grainy, but that’s not too much of a problem.
I’m liking this one a lot so far from brew one. I will admit that my petty preferences do make me lean towards Alice and Cocoa Amore, but I like it more than Golden Orchid because it’s a lot smoother.
And now, for impressions of brew 2 and 3..in which I did not time it. 2nd steep was basically vanilla malt like what you find in the aftertaste of a malted Vanilla Milk shake, and steep 3 tastes like vanilla extracted sugar. Usually, the vanilla fades out in a tea in lighter shades, but the tea faded before the vanilla. I think over leafed the tea, and powered it too much in the front. It reminds me of Liquid Proust’s Vanilla French Toast….sigh.
Overall, I’m pretty damn satisfied with the ounce I have. Out of all the vanilla dreams teas I’ve had, this is one of the smoothest. I’ve been tempted to try Elderwood, but always hold back because I read it’s heavier on the earth and malt. I’ve yet to try Ambrosia if it ever returns. This one is a marshmallow golden fleece out of this world for a straightforward vanilla black.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Caramel, Chocolate, Cream, Malt, Maple Syrup, Marshmallow, Milk, Sugar, Vanilla
I’ve been meaning to try this one because I was curious about the notes people got from it, especially the chocolate ones. I still have quite a bit of Echo-Cha Gaba teas that I need to finish, though I admit I have a hard time with them because they are resilient and durable teas.
I’m only going to write my impressions of this tea so far from the rinse and the first steep. It tastes a lot like the several more oxidized jin xuans I’ve had. The first rinse was a light brownish orange, and had impressions of honey, chex mix, and raisin. My current sipping continues with the raisin and honey flavor overall, with a bit of a grainy texture like a raisin oatmeal cookie, and sometimes, it’s making me think of those packs of sunflower seeds with raisins and M & Ms. No raw chocolate notes yet. The tea is a little bit drying or maybe salty, but not too much. I’m getting a little bit of a tea sauna sweat too.
I’m not wowed by this one so far. The honey notes are nice, and it’s not a boring or a bad tea-my big thing I’m not digging is the raisin quality. Later steeps might change my mind.
Flavors: Cookie, Drying, Honey, Raisins, Salt
I lightened up the leaf to 3 grams and 5 oz western this morning. The overall profile was brighter on the orange blossom end and less malty, but very viscous and malty overall. There’s still a lot of dryness, and personally something that reminds me of medium to darker beer ales, giving me some oats and barley malt. Maybe it’s something else lighter like wheat, but this tea gives me a dry beer vibe. Watching the leaves unfurl into a caramel gold color was pretty cool.
I was hoping for more sweetness on this one, but it’s on the drier end of golden bud teas. There’s decent layers and complexity to it even though I need some sweeter notes to balance the dryness for my palette. I think this tea would be great for people who like malty teas or need a higher end lunchtime kind of tea. It’s still delicate enough for later times while retaining heavier elements if you push the leaf. I enjoyed it, though I can see someone else enjoying the remaining grams more than I will.
Flavors: Floral, Malt, Oats, Orange Blossom, Wheat