This week's tea review showcases another of the amazing teas from Whispering Pines Tea Company. Their offerings never cease to bring wonder to my tea-drinking session. The Ailaoshan Black that I will be drinking was harvested in the spring of 2016. As this tea is harvested twice per year, the vintages are likely to each have their own nuances of flavor that will delight tea connoisseurs.
I began by boiling water. Then, as suggested by the Whispering Pines website for western style brewing, I steeped a teaspoon and a half of tea in eight ounces of water for three minutes. As the leaves re-hydrated, the aromas of dark fruit rose from the cup. I breathed deeply and reveled in the awesomeness of tea. Let me be clear, this tea is not (artificially) flavored in any way, all the aromas are coming naturally from the leaves themselves. I noted a sweetness to the dark fruit, which is not quite plum but softer than black currant. The sweetness reminded me of caramelized fruit, akin to a cooking fruit compote, and the warmth of the sweetness made it seem rather natural. This release of smells was incredible, when contrasted with the more vegetal fruit aspect that the dry leaves maintained.
My first taste brings cocoa and earthy notes to my tongue. Those notes are not wood exactly, but more like soil, though without the mushroom-like qualities one finds in pu'erh. The tea does taste, in a sense, woodsy. Less intense than they were in the aroma, the dark fruit notes reveal themselves in the flavors, ringing the whole of the taste and lingering long after the swallow. They have in them an inherent warmth that leaves a soft, glowing feeling of flavor on my tongue, even after the sip is done.
I am impressed by the sheer presence that this tea has. Even after the cup is finished, the tea stays with me on the tongue, its very slight astringent hint adding another aspect of complexity. When I breath out through my nose and mouth at the same time, those lingering notes of flavor are experienced in a shadow of taste and smell.
Whispering Pines recommends infusing this tea a second time, so I follow their directions. After a five minute steep with the same leaves in just-boiled water, I have a cup that looks just as strong as the first one. The aromas are also similar, though I feel that the earth tones have strengthened with this second cup. The flavors seem rounder to me, softer with a sense of core dark fruit intensity that fades to smooth, cocoa note edges.
I highly recommend visiting Whispering Pines' website and reading the wealth of information about the Ailaoshan Black tea. I found it fascinating. Truly, drinking this tea was an experience. On my personal enjoyment scale, I would rate this tea a 5.
Photo credit to Built from Ink and Tea.
Whispering Pines Tea's Ailaoshan Black tea is available from their website, here.
This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.
You can read more about my Personal Enjoyment Scale, here.
Text is copyright 2016, Built from Ink and Tea.