90

This was my first sipdown of the week. At some point over the course of the year, I acquired a pouch of this tea. I’m not certain whether it was from 2016 or 2017, though if I had to guess, I would say the former. I did not quite know what to expect when I cracked this one open. I had seen multiple reviews online, and despite the general reception being mostly positive, it got more mixed reviews overall than I would normally expect from a Whispering Pines offering. Personally, I found this to be an excellent hong cha.

Before I provide my usual rundown of my brewing method, allow me to state that I deviated a little from Whispering Pines’ brewing instructions. The brewing instructions on the pouch recommended a water temperature of 212 F, but that seemed a little high to me. I am used to using temperatures between 194-205 F for many tippy Yunnan black teas, and once I saw the profusion of golden tips, I knew I would not be using the recommended water temperature. I’ve had a lot of luck lately with using 194 F water for Yunnan black teas, so that is what I went with here. The rinse was only a couple seconds. I more or less did it water on, water off. I stuck with my usual 6 grams of loose tea in a 4 ounce gaiwan. Infusions ran as follows: 5 seconds, 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea emitted pronounced aromas of baked bread, sweet potato, and molasses. After the rinse, I found new aromas of vanilla, malt, and brown sugar. The first proper infusion brought out a touch of woodiness on the nose. On the palate, I found light notes of baked bread, malt, brown sugar, sweet potato, and molasses. Subsequent infusions brought out impressions of cream, cocoa, clove, anise, wood, caramel, fennel, orange, honey, minerals, and eucalyptus. The later infusions offered lingering impressions of minerals, brown sugar, sweet potato, malt, and wood chased by gentle, cooling herbal notes on the finish.

In my opinion, this was yet another really nice Yunnan black tea from Whispering Pines Tea Company. I particularly liked the little herbal notes it offered and was extremely impressed by both its smooth body and respectable staying power. Overall, I would have no issue recommending this tea to fans of traditional Yunnan black teas.

Flavors: Anise, Baked Bread, Caramel, Clove, Cocoa, Cream, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Honey, Mineral, Molasses, Orange, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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Bio

My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

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

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.

Location

KY

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