Saturday, August 16, 2014

Whispering Pines Tea Co: Golden Orchid, A Tea Review

Getting mail is usually my favorite part of the day, I get packages of tea from all over the world, I get books from Goodread's First Read program which is usually awesome, and sometimes I get presents from my friends and family on the other side of the country. But there are some days when the mail betrays me and brings me an unexpected and gut wrenching medical bill that I have no idea how I will afford. So much for doing anything fun for the next couple months, so lame, I clearly need a tea that will cheer me up!

Today's tea fits that description perfectly, Golden Orchid by Whispering Pines Tea Co is one of the few teas that not only puts me in a good mood, it makes me feel better. A blend of their North Winds tea (which is a blend of Chinese Yunnan Dian Hong and Chinese Fujian Black Tea) and hand-chopped Grade A Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans. If that sounds incredibly decadent to you, well, I am certainly not going to say you are wrong. The aroma is so intensely rich and so incredibly sweet, it is a blend of sweet vanilla (real vanilla, not vanilla extract smell) with a warm cocoa, a touch of honey, a pinch of cream, and a finish of sweet dried cherries. I admit when I first sniffed this teas I just kinda sat there in awe, I do not say this very often, but the aroma blend was perfection.

Before I get too much farther into reviewing this tea, if you have not, you should read Whispering Pine's tea descriptions! They are inspired by the creator's experiences in Northern Michigan (and occasional Middle Earth) and they might be the most transportive descriptions I have had the pleasure of reading, even though they are about Michigan, they remind me of my time in the North Woods of Minnesota, so it touches a very special place in my heart. The now soggy leaves are a swirling sweet blend of creamy sweet vanilla and cocoa, it wafts out of my gaiwan and seems to coat the entire tea area in sweetness. Sniffing further into the leaves I can detect notes of cocoa, sweet potatoes, pepper, and of course vanilla. The liquid is intensely creamy with notes of vanilla, cocoa, a touch of cherries, and a tiny bit of pepper at the finish.

When I sip this tea, I feel the need to go Greek and lounge, or at the very least slouch in my chair, because this tea makes my head spin. When I brew it I use a pseudo-gongfu, I use my gaiwan set (because I want tiny sips) but I brew it similar to Western style using less leaf than I usually would and letting it steep longer. The taste starts out rich with notes of cocoa mixing cocoa butter creaminess and rich dark chocolate, this is accompanied by sweet caramelized sugar. At the beginning there is a hint of rich vanilla that builds around the mid-taste, this explodes into a sweet, creamy crescendo at the end which blends perfectly with the finishing notes of malt and pepper. The aftertaste is vanilla, and it lingers for quite a while. A fun thing about this tea that makes me giggle is the slightly tingly mouthfeel from the golden tea's fuzzies, teas with fuzzy trichomes make me immensely happy.

The second steep's aroma has even more of a vanilla presence than the first, it almost smells like creamy vanilla icecream...you know, the good stuff that has bits of vanilla bean in it, that was always my favorite vanilla. The taste takes a cue from the aroma and starts off with a strong vanilla presence, it is joined in the mid-taste by notes of roasted peanuts, sweet potatoes, caramel, and of course a strong cocoa finish. The cocoa and vanilla have a gentle finish together and both linger into the aftertaste. This tea very much so double features as a dessert tea and a feel good decadent tea, it has become my new morning wake up sip, and I jokingly told the proprietor that it cured my Fibromyalgia. It is wonderful to find teas that taste good, I have found hundreds that I enjoy and certainly dozens that I love, but I have only found a few that make me feel good physically, spiritually, and mentally...this tea joins that lofty few.

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