I got this as a sample in my order from Whispering Pines. I brewed this GF style and will try the recommended Western Brewing at a later date. (I’ll update this review when I do)
[11/12/19 UPDATE: See Western style below the GF write-up]

Tea amount: 3grams / water amt ~90ml
Steep times: 20 seconds + 10 second increments per WP’s GF brewing guide.
Water temp: 202 -212 deg F (my kettle sometimes is variable on the temp.)

SUMMARY: This tea does okay in a gaiwan. The flavors are good and what I’d expect out of a Golden Needle, but I’m left wanting a tiny bit more from the tea than it can probably give. Also, the number of steeps was acceptable (topping out at 5 for me)

- The tea leaves in a warm gaiwan give off a scent of chocolate.
- The wet tea leaves have high-notes of a hot chocolate drink and have low-notes of spent cocoa powder that’s been toasted and slightly burnt.
- The tea broth gives off scents of chocolate & honey with hints of orange.

The tea really requires a higher temperature water (208-212) and longer brewing time. As my kettle doesn’t quite keep at the prescribed 208degF that it says on the display, so the temp varies a bit for each steep.

1) 20 seconds @ 208F — not bad. Color of the liquid is a medium orange. The tea is mild in flavor tasting of chocolate & honey. There’s very little astringency.

2) 30 seconds @ 202F — This steep is not as flavorful as the 1st. There’s still the flavors of chocolate & mild orange, but it feels a bit washed out

3) 60 seconds @ 208 — Here we go with the higher temp. The tea is now a much darker orange than the previous 2 steeps. The flavors are a bit stronger — bittersweet cocoa, a tad more orange. There’s a tiny bit astringency and a hint of bitterness but I don’t mind.

4) 60 @ 202F - Flavors are milder than #3..not quite washed out, but definitely not as flavorful.

5) 120 @ 208 — Reboiled the water for this and keeping for a longer brew. It’s not helping as much as I’d hoped. There’s less flavor and more astringency, but still no bitterness.

I’m throwing the rest of the tea into a cold brew to leech out of the rest of the flavors overnight. Who knows, this might be more excellent as a cold brew. It’ll probably be definitely be better as a Western Style

I followed the recommendations for Western: 1Tb (~3grams) @ 8oz @212F for 3/5 minutes

The chocolate notes are still predominately there, but I’ve lost the honey from the GF brew and there’s a slight bitterness, like burnt coffee grounds or really dark bittersweet chocolate. I barely taste any orange or citrus. The astringency is more present in this brew style than GF. I didn’t quite like the bitterness of #1 so increased the water amount to about 275ml.
This steep is a lot more mellow and less bitter than the 1st steep. I find myself preferring this one than the first. Similar flavor profiles to the first but much much milder.

I combined both of these steeps, and I have to say this combination is better than each individual part.

This tea is okay in either style, but I think there are better Golden Needles out there.

Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Honey, Orange

0 min, 15 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 90 ML

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General: A crafty geek girl who has a love for tea, cats, writing, books, as well as learning a multitude of post-apocalyptic skills…just in case.

Tea: I’ve been drinking tea all my life. My grandfather was half-Chinese, but I was always too lazy to brew anything other than Western style. In the past 5 years I’ve been changing that; trying to develop my tea-tasting chops and still a lot to learn! I prefer oolongs, blacks, and greens (in that order), and I’m trying to expand my knowledge of tea from all over the world (and not just China & Japan). I do tend to stay away from herbal tisanes or overly flavored teas as I find them much too sweet and overpowering.

My ratings explained.
90-100: Exceptional tea. The tea I want with me on that desert island. It is the tea I’ll take time to relish and enjoy.

80-89: Very Good Tea. It fits my flavor profile and I enjoy drinking it.

70-79: Good. I like it, but might not be one I reach for on a regular basis..

60-69: Solid. Better than average, and something I’ll grab when I need to “run-out-the-door” and can’t take time to really appreciate the tea I’m drinking.

50-59: Decent/Average. Not my preferred flavor profile or something I won’t purposefully go out to buy. It might lack that “Something” in its aroma/flavor/mouthfeel/finish.

40-49: Below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Gross. Didn’t finish it or refused to drink anymore.


San Francisco Bay Area



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