Saturday, January 23, 2016

Whispering Pines Tea Co: 2015 Moonlight Sonata, A Tea Review

Happy first full moon of the year! According to the various almanacs that divulge such info, January's full moon is the Wolf Moon, named so because of the hungry wolves that would prowl around settlements. It is a fun bit of American folklore, some of which originated with this country's indigenous people and some brought from Europe with settlers, and of course some is a blend of both! Since I grew up either near or in the Appalachian mountains, I was very fond of learning that region's folklore, and they called it the Snow Moon...and considering my mother, nestled in Cumberland Valley near the Susquehanna River between the Blue Mountain and South Mountains Ridges, sent me photos of a massive blizzard they are having, I think the Appalachian name might be more accurate!

So what's with this sudden obsession with the moon you might ask, well it is not really sudden, but it is certainly egged on by Whispering Pines Tea Co's newest tea Moonlight Sonata! This is a blend of  2015 Moonlight White Tea and 2015 Snow Chrysanthemums 'originally blended to steal the heart of faeries' and as the daughter of a changeling, this should be right up my alley!

After ogling the wrapper and flowers compressed with the 'Shadow elf tea' as I lovingly call the Moonlight due to it being shadowy dark on one side of the leaf and silvery on the other, I chipped some off with my pick and gave it a good long sniffing. The aroma is quite delectable, blending notes of aster, wild flowers, honey, hay, sugar cane, sweetgrass, and dill flowers with a touch of tomato leaf and dried tomato. I am not really sure why Moonlight smells like dried tomato and tomato leaf or why Snow Chrysanthemum smells like dill flowers to me, but they do and I admit I kinda love them because of those notes. At the very end of the sniff I pick up subtle notes of pollen and tangerine, which add an extra depth of sweetness.

Gaiwan time! I kinda agonized over which gaiwan would compliment the colors best, so I picked one of my celadon ones, and I was pleased I did! Holy wow is the wet leaf fruity smelling, strong notes of nectarine and dried apricot mix with warm honey and wildflowers with a finish of dill flowers. For anyone who has not sniffed a dill flower, it smells like a blend of dill (but faint compared with the leaves) and hay, it is very pleasant, and tasty too, though they taste stronger than the leaves. The liquid is a blend of nectarine and dried apricot with honey, hay, and clover flowers with a finish of faint dill flower and wildflowers. It smells very sweet!

First steep and already my notes are crooked! I consider it the mark of a good tea when the notes in my notebook start to go sideways. It starts with a creamy mouthfeel, coating the mouth while also being light and smooth. The first taste to pop up hay and clover blossoms with a slight mineral note, this moves to rich honey and nectarines, which in turn moves to apricots and wildflowers with a finish of lingering sweetness and pollen. The first steep is light and refreshing with a slightly cooling feel to it, similar to drinking a large glass of water on a hot day, it quenches the thirst.

Onward to the second steep and the liquid is getting dark, it looks like a moon low on the horizon on a summer's day. The aroma focuses on the hay and honey, with side notes of pollen, aster, and clover flowers, while the finish has a blend of nectarines and dill flowers. One thing I am really liking about this tea, other than the taste, is the refreshing thirst quenching quality it has, each steep even though the tea is hot, reminds me so much of drinking spring water on a hot day. The slight mineral notes at the start do not dissuade me of this either. This steep is richer, though not sweeter, with strong notes of nectarine and apricot, dill weed, hay, pollen, and honey. Towards the end of the steep the feel, while still refreshing starts to go to warming internally, making me feel extremely relaxed.

The third steeps's aroma stays strong with the honey and hay, with an accompaniment of strong clover flowers, pollen, and nectarine. The notes that are present are subtle but their presence is strong. This steep loses its mineral notes and picks up a subtle malt note, giving the tea an extra depth. There is a strong nectarine and honey taste to this steep, much like eating a nectarine drizzled in warm honey, this moves to wildflowers and a touch of dill with a nice finish of hay and pollen. I got many steeps from this one, it is one of those you can sit with for a while, perhaps while watching the moon or while being snowed in!
This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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