8 Tasting Notes


Dry leaf: Sweet, small leaf material, well compressed. A little grassy, but clean, like a forest after a cool rain.

Taste: Sweet, clean, white grape juice, nice floral aroma. Very slight bitterness with a nice sweet aftertaste.

Liquor: Clear, light buttery yellow.

Spent leaf: Small leaves and buds. Very good quality and I was surprised to see so many buds. The leaf texture was very soft with an even medium olive color.

Vessel: 125ml clay pot (actual water 100ml)

Happy 5th anniversary Whispering Pines Tea and happy first raw cake production! I was very excited to get this cake. The wrapper artwork was beautiful and the pressing and leaf material were very nice.

As recommended, I went with 190F/87C water temp. This helped work around most of the young bitterness and I also went with a little bit shorter steep times. This tea had a nice light, juicy body that thickened up a little bit in later steeps. It had a nice warming effect and very nice sweetness.

While this tea wasn’t super complex, I’m betting it will age wonderfully and I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops. (I’m planning on saving about half the cake to taste next fall.) Thanks Brenden for this beautiful tea!

Flavors: Floral, Grass, Sweet, White Grapes

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Dry leaf: A hint of mint, smoke, tart dried fruit, honey. Pretty loose cake material. Leaf in a warm clay pot had a slight vegetal and dankness to it.

Taste: Good sweetness, fruity with honey, a little tartness. Very full, smooth, slick mouthfeel 3rd steep on.

Liquor: Bright, beautiful, golden yellow.

Spent leaf: Olive to dark olive. No discolorations. Leaves were in decent condition.

Vessel: 125ml clay pot

The flavor and body were light on the 1st and 2nd steeps but had a nice honey aroma and a mouthwatering effect. Body and flavor really pick up at the 3rd steep and the liquor is a bright golden yellow. I got a tiny hint of mint at the beginning, but mostly a honey sweetness and tart dried fruit. I very much enjoyed the mouthfeel. Nice and creamy with a tiny touch of roughness on the tongue.

Overall, the mouthfeel was what really carried this tea for me. It was so nice you just wanted to keep on going with it.

Update 03/13/17 – The tea has rested a couple of weeks and I upped my leaf ratio. No more astringency and a nice honey sweetness is coming out. Upped my rating & updated notes! For me this was a lesson in letting the tea rest a bit.

Flavors: Dried Fruit, Honey, Mint, Smoke

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 125 ML

has your cake/sample rested? i find this to have plentiful menghai flavors, pineapple, bitter leafy greens and honey sweetness. Of course personal taste differs, and these flavor notes are not as good as they are as in the if you’re reading this and tuhao (all similar teas in my mind, just different pegs in quality) but they are there for me. by the way i do 7g/100ml and boiling water, flash steeps, adjust to taste.


I have enough sample left to try again with higher leaf ratio, boiling water, and flash steeps and I’ll still have some to put some aside to rest. Thanks for the feedback – it’s a learning process for me.


no one ever stops learning! cheers


Hitting this tea again right now. Using more leaf and I’m getting more flavor out of it this time. The honey sweetness has really come out and no astringency so far. A couple of weeks of rest and additional leaf has really ramped up the flavor! Very happy with it!

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Dry leaf: Very pleasant aroma! Dried fruit, cranberry, raisins. Very hard compacted dry cake material. Leaf in a warm clay pot smelled amazing – like plump, hot, sweet, stewed raisins.

Taste: Very light vegetal, sweet raisins, tart dried cranberry overtone. Pleasantly warming, nice solid medium mouthfeel. Light astringency started to show up after second steep.

Liquor: Light golden yellow.

Spent leaf: Olive to dark olive. No discolorations. Material was fairly broken but it was a tightly compressed sample and took some coaxing to break apart. Leaves that were still intact indicate this is made of quite small leaves along with a bud here and there.

Vessel: 125ml clay pot

I’m finding out as I taste more and more teas, my favorite part of the experience is opening up the bag and smelling a tea for the first time. This tea smells amazing in the bag – like plump little hot raisins, rich and sweet! This tea isn’t particularly complex, but it has a very solid medium body and a great balance of sweetness, astringency, and smoothness. It warmed me up immediately and my mouth was buzzing after about the 4th cup. The astringency is something someone new to shengs could handle, yet the balance overall should be plenty satisfying for someone more experienced.

I’m very happy with this tea taste wise, quality wise, and price wise. This tea is something I would imagine most sheng fans would keep as a permanent resident in their tea cupboard. Daily drinker? For me, that’s a solid “yes”.

Flavors: Cranberry, Raisins

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 125 ML

Wow, you got tastes as sweet as raisins in a very young sheng? I might have to pick this up on my next order from them.


I’m still a rookie when it comes to shengs, but I think it’s worth grabbing a sample to see what you think.


2 weeks later, I’m getting fresh cut grass and ocean spray. Very enjoyable!

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Dry leaf: Prune, raisin, tart dried cranberry, smokey tobacco. Loose cake, small material, dry, brittle. Almost black charcoal grey color with the occasional silver streak.

Taste: Vegetal, dried grass, a little hay, dried cranberries and a touch of peach. Light sweetness and light sourness. Light mouthfeel, no astringency.

Liquor: Yellow to dark yellow-grey.

Spent leaf: Dark brown with a little dark olive.

Vessel: Clay teapot (125ml)

I decided to add this tea (sample size) to my recent tea ware order from BItterleaf. I had never tried a purple so, why not? Gotta explore everything. I went ahead and used my dedicated sheng clay pot, which incidentally, was part of that tea ware order as well. (Shameless plug for Bitterleaf: they have such beautiful tea ware and the most elegant photography that shows it all off so well!) I’m super happy with this pot (Chaozhou Zhuni clay Lingyan teapot). It’s so beautiful, the lid fits perfectly, and I love the shape of the stubby little spout. Oh dang – were we talking about tea?

I loved the dry material. It was lightly compressed and fell apart with a little gentle wiggling and coaxing. The smell was very sheng-like but had a bit of a smokiness and dried grass/hay and was a nice black-charcoal grey color. The spent leaves reminded me of seaweed, very dark, but not quite black – more of a charcoal grey color with a tiny bit of dark green here and there.

A quick 5 second rinse and I was off. Vegetal, tart, dried fruits, smooth. The liquor darkened up on the second and third steeping and stayed that same dark yellow color throughout. Something interesting – this tea looked different in my white porcelain cup. It had a grey tint to it – sort of around the edges of the cup – something I couldn’t see in my glass pitcher as the light was just passing right though, with no background to view the color against. When I got near the bottom of the cup, there was a very very fine grey sediment sitting in the last few drops. This must explain the grey hue I was getting around the edges of my full cup. Is this the anthocyanin pigment I’m seeing? Not sure. Perhaps this is where the purple tea name comes in along with the dry leaf being a charcoal like color. (I’d be interested to know if anyone else has seen this sediment too so please leave me a comment if so).

For me, the mouthfeel was quite light. I would have preferred it to be a little heavier in my mouth. But, to be fair, I might be missing body and some of the other subtle flavors because I was a little shy on my leaf. No particular reason other than it’s early Sunday morning and I’m a little fuzzy. (I’ll adjust my leaf and my rating after my next session.) Overall, I quite enjoyed this tea which to me, was unique.

Flavors: Cranberry, Dried Fruit, Dry Grass, Raisins, Smoke, Tart, Vegetal

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 125 ML

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drank 2016 Hot Brandy by white2tea
8 tasting notes

Dry leaf: Raisin, prune, dried fruit. This tea is in cake form, medium compressed. Mixed green, brown, and dark brown leaves. The smell in the bag was very much like a white tea.

Taste: Sweet, honey, nice medium smooth mouthfeel. No bitterness.

Liquor: Rinse and first steep were distinctly dark yellow, to light orange, then after the 2nd or 3rd steep, a beautiful dark orange.

Spent leaf: Light brown to dark brown. Medium sized leaves, very little stem.

Vessel: 200ml glass teapot (actual water 100ml since I only fill it half full)

I had no idea what to expect from this tea. In the bag, it for sure smelled like a white. In a warm tea pot, it actually smelled like both a black and a white. After a quick 5 second rinse, is was all black. I started out at 212F thinking that’s what this tea needed. After a few steeps, I was disappointed. It was tasting like a black tea, but it was lacking any body and had a very flat mouthfeel, no white tea overtones.

So – I decided it was time to adjust the temp mid session to see if I was running too hot, which maybe was allowing the back tea to take over the cup. I dropped the kettle temp down to 190F and that did the trick. The body became fuller, and the white tea flavors were now showing up. Things were a little more balanced. I got 8 or so steepings before things dropped off.

Although I think the idea of mixing a white and a black tea is interesting, I wasn’t totally blow away by it. It was fun and a good learning experience, but for me, not the kind of tea I’d keep in my cupboard. If you feel like experimenting with an experimental tea, then toss a sample in your cart next time you shop at W2T and see what you think! (for science!) Who knows – maybe it will find a spot your cupboard.

Flavors: Dried Fruit, Honey, Raisins

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Dry leaf: Wheat, hay, honey, sweet tobacco, light dried apple. The dry leaves are so gorgeous! Mixed black leaves and silvery grey green buds. Light and feathery. Little to no broken material in the bag and almost all were 1 leaf and 1 bud as advertised. Not a lot of stem. This tea seems to have been handled very well!

Taste: Very light, sweet, dried hay, honey, citrus flowers. The body built up to medium after the first 4 steepings or so.

Liquor: Pale yellow on first and second steeps, then the leaves really opened up and brewed a nice deep yellow.

Spent leaf: The alternating colors disappear and leaves are a dark olive and medium brown color. Buds varied a little in size, as did the leaves, from small to medium.

Vessel: 110ml gaiwan (actual water 90-100ml)

Love the look of the dry leaf which is very similar to dried wood ear mushrooms! The quality of the leaf/buds is outstanding. The light body developed into a slick light-medium at about the 3rd steep and remained for 8+ steepings. I got some citrus flower and tobacco flavors which I thought were interesting. The aroma in the later steeps was strong and sweet – like clover honey, wildflowers, orchids. A very lovely, light body, sweet, fragrant tea that stays near the front of my cupboard!

Flavors: Fruit Tree Flowers, Hay, Honey, Tobacco

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Dry leaf: Prune, raisin, and figs with an overarching sharp, tart dried cranberry aroma. Very hard compacted dry cake material. Dried hay comes out when leaves are sitting in a warm vessel before brewing and vegetal notes appear after 5 sec. rinse.

Taste: Very light vegetal, seaweed, hay, nice sweetness. Dried cranberry flavor very apparent across all steepings.

Liquor: Bright yellow to gold color.

Spent leaf: Olive to dark olive. No discolorations. Material was fairly broken but it was a tightly compressed sample and took some coaxing to break apart.

Vessel: 125ml clay pot

(Warning folks: This is my very first taste of a sheng and I’m having a good time with it! I’ve waited a long time to get some shengs and am looking forward to drinking through them and reviewing them all. Thank you to Bitterleaf Teas for including this as a free sample in my first order!)

Wow. When I first smelled the dry leaf in the bag, I imagined my nose was inside a bag of moist dried cranberries. The dried cranberry tartness of the dry leaf actually carried over into the cup. I got a nice sweetness and a mouthwatering minerality with no astringency – very pleasant. Overall, I really enjoyed this tea and will adjust my rating/recommendation as my tasting experience expands. Very much looking forward to trying this one again on another day.

Stay tuned for more sheng madness!

03/10/17 Update: I’ve edited my tasting note after a second session with this tea using my dedicated sheng clay pot which I didn’t have when I first tried it. The clay pot plus a little more resting time seem to have made a HUGE difference in the brewing. My first tasting using my glazed gaiwan was ridiculously astringent and not very sweet. I believe time and the use of a clay pot really brought out the true flavors of this tea.

Flavors: Cranberry, Fig, Hay, Mineral, Raisins

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Dry leaf: An amazing and wonderful dried apricot/apple smell along with a dried shitake mushroom layer. Large, long, slender material.

Taste: Light vegetal, light woodsy, at about the 5th steep I detected a touch of honey and some spice. Light sweetness, smooth. Died off at about the 6th steep but I kept pushing it and got a couple more good cups out of it.

Liquor: Pleasing light to medium mouthfeel. Very light yellow gold color.

Spent leaf: Solid yellow olive green color. No discoloration. Large leaves. Bud and 2 leaves with fairly long stems.

Vessel: 110ml gaiwan. (actual water 90-100ml)

This tea is very light, as you would expect with a yellow tea, but was pleasant and enjoyable. The clover honey traits of a white tea parallel with a slight forest overtone. The next time around, I plan to push it with a higher leaf to water ratio to see what I get. As recommended, I did not use my strainer. The first smell of the dry leaf in the bag was a very memorable moment!

Flavors: Apple, Apricot, Dried Fruit, Mushrooms, Vegetal

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Former hard core coffee drinker/home roaster (15+ years) turned tea devotee. Began exploring tea in March 2016 and haven’t looked back. Thanks to Tommy for getting me started on my tea journey. You’re the best!

Working my way through lots of samples and will be trying to do a few reviews each month as I go through them. I’m new to this whole tasting and review thing so bear with me as I get some experience under my belt. I will revisit and adjust my reviews on second and third tastings if I feel it’s needed. I welcome any feedback and look forward to meeting some new tea people!


Austin, Texas USA

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