Tuesday, January 29, 2019
2016 white2tea (When They Go Low) We Go High & Spending More on Young Puerh
I remember returning to the puerh world in the winter of 2017 and being completely blown away by the political nature of white2tea’s 2016 puerh wrappers and names. It was an election year in the USA, one that will go down in history as probably one of the most interesting, and, as far as touching on the feeling of the people, these wrappers and names captured the collective conscious of Western puerh drinkers at this time. It was everywhere and everything that year. Puerh is really interesting because it is like a living reminder, a repository of memories from a certain time and place. In 2016, the US election is what history will remember. So why not intermix the two? Brilliant Paul.
Names and wrappers like Post Truth, We Go High, and Teadontlie are filled with political innuendo and novel quotes from that election. I think 2016 white2tea “We Go High” is not just a political statement but also is descriptive of the qualities of the puerh cake as well as a statement on the larger philosophy of white2tea (see here for a more historical interpretation of the name and wrapper).
The name seems to match the description of We Go High on white2tea’s website states, Sweet and soft, elegant soup. Weighty flavors appear in later steeps with a soft entry. This sounds to me like a highnoted tea possibly with lots of good Qi to make you feel high?
The name also speaks to the philosophy of white2tea offering tea at a higher standard to other more unscrupulous puerh vendors who openly lie about tree age or provenance of their products. This is often parroted as the reasoning white2tea doesn’t make origin or tree age claims. They can pat themselves on the back for taking the moral high road here.
For me personally, the name of this cake also has meaning because at $0.73/g this cake is the highest I’ve ever paid for a puerh cake, I think … I went high … as in I went to a higher price bracket of puerh buying (although I have sampled more heavily from higher price brackets over the last few years). It was easier with this one because of my preference for iron cakes (link) and some great reassuring reviews (see below). But I wonder if the price is worth it…
The dry leaves smell of deep fruits, a dense sweetness presents itself within a woody almost barley and distant floral odour. The smell of plumb and distant papya come to mind and wildflowers.
The first infusion starts slow with a very mellow sweetness of honeydew melon that has a faint woodiness to it. The aftertaste is very mild a mix of honeydew and almost watermelon tastes. There is a soft background returning cool sweetness.
The second infusion starts with an almost creamy soft rolling sweet onset, very mild, there is an almost peanut or cashew base to this tea. Then comes a nice wave of returning sweetness and long drawn out aftertaste. There is a really soft wood base underneath it all. Minutes later an intense watermelon and floral as well as almost grape taste emerges. Almost candy like and bubble gum tasting but not so upfront. These tastes stretch into the very long soft aftertaste. The tea is very smooth and transitions with a harmony not found in too many young puerh.
The third starts with an almost oolong taste, it is fragrant, soft, and sweet. It has a tapioca pudding taste along with woods. The aftertaste is very elegant, complex and long. This tea is very soft. The mouthfeel is a bit sticky, soft but feels nice and full and there is no signs of bitterness or astringency. The throatfeel is very deep pushing saliva into the throat and holding it there where a complex interplay of sweet and evolving tastes emerge.
The fourth infusion starts almost like a Risling with a white wine like initial taste that expands slowly in the mouth and throat. It throws off smooth, rolling candy like sweetness and wildflower florals. The sweet notes are not overly high but more like they reside in a lower level of the tea and don’t just dissipate quickly, they linger. The Qi is strong and heady, a levitating body Qi, Spacy, heavy, strong slowing the mind type of feeling.
The fifth starts off like a wine and fruit apple/grape juice blend kind of taste the base is of cashew and almost wood. The mouthfeel is very sticky and dense. The flavours just stick right in there. Lots of interesting but not overwhelming deep perfume floral almost like ylang ylang with and interchanging candy like taste.
The sixth starts with a very fruity almost like canned peaches type of taste with a chashew base. The mouthfeel is very full in a sticky way the throat feel is very deep. The aftertaste is very long, gentle and complex with and interplay of wild florals and candy. But nothing overly sweet and deep long taste. The Qi is pretty nice- it makes me very high. Floating away… almost giddy.
*I place another order of this cake in the middle of my first tea session. I have had the opportunity to taste some quality and pricy stuff from some tea vendors over the last few years but, for the price, this tea is more enjoyable for me than many of the others I have tired. I order more here…. And go back to my tea session…
The seventh infusion has a heavy perfume fruity onset there is lots of canned peaches with syrup tastes the aftertaste is long dense and interestingly sweet. The mouthfeel is deliciously sticky and the throatfeeling is deep. The returning sweet aftertaste goes on and on. The Qi is very very nice.
The eighth infusion has a syrupy canned peach taste with mild heavy perfume florals underneath. The mouthfeel, throatfeel, and Qi continue to impress. The returning sweetness is very smooth, rich like sweetness.
The ninth infusion delivers much the same with more base of woods noticed underneath and the initial taste much less sweet. The cloying sweetness aggregates in the returning aftertaste.
The tenth infusion is bursting with deep sweet syrupy tastes initially the wood is still more noticeably but creates a balance with the sweet flavours. The rich sweetness ebbs and flows slowly over the throat and mouth then evaporates in the throat. The body Qi is very harmonious with this tea, it feels neither warm nor cool in the body and could be consumed fresh without injury to the Spleen or Stomach Qi. Floating body sensation. The Qi of this tea sharpens the senses (notice my improved writing skill?).
The eleventh infusion has a nice almost woody soapy less sweet taste. The aftertaste has tastes of spinach and okra with a subtle sweetness to it. Light wildflower essence.
The twelfth infusion starts almost lightly pungent with woody notes and distant deeper fruit notes as well. The cooling sensation in the aftertaste is more prominent. The headiness of the qi is notable.
The thirteenth infusion is more woody even grainy and sweet potato taste initially the returning sweetness and a pungent coolness as well as glimpses of candy. The mouthfeeling is starting to get slightly astringent and pucker but mild and is still more sticky and astringent.
The fourteenth infusion starts with a woody and sweet potato taste. The true sweetness is elusive and deep in the aftertastes in this steeping.
The fifteenth is woody almost savory and dried leaf like taste initially. The mouthfeel is almost dry and sticky now. The aftertaste is long and almost woody barely sweet.
The 16th I add 15 seconds to the flash infusions and this seems to push out a bunch of deep fruit and wildflowery notes in this tea once again. The tea has that almost juicy/ syrup canned fruit taste which shares space with woody notes. The aftertaste is long and sweet almost candy and peach. The Qi is still just as strong in a very relaxing almost sedating way. I am drinking this at work and, well, I don’t feel like working much at all.
The seventeenth infusion I add 15 sec to flash and it has a nice fruity approach still and woody still the initial sweetness is deep enough still. The aftertaste is very perfume, floral, and long.
The 18th infusion is another 15 seconds one. More woody and sweet, long aftertaste. This tea has decent stamina. The long smooth aftertaste and throatfeeling are the key here in these later infusions.
19th is steeped for 30 seconds and pulls out a very grainy taste that continues into the aftertaste.
I put this one into an overnight infusion.
I think this is a pretty good tea and the fact that it is autumnal suggests to me that it is probably of very quality material. I would guess that this has some Banzhang-like but not really Banzhang material blended in. Sort of like an anutumal take on 2016 Tuo As Fuck maybe? Sometimes I think that this is autumnal from Gua Feng Zhai. There is some nice material in there, guaranteed.
There has been some criticism that this puerh is pressed too tight. First of all, I have had a lot tighter pressed tea and this is only machine pressed not over the top iron pressed. The second thing is that I feel that Paul did the right thing by pressing it tight. It is super light fragrant and autumnal material. All these things point to a good tight pressing for me- this is what I like and expect from this sort of tea for it to age well in a variety of storage situations.
I like this one for the price and I have purchased 2 cakes so far. I’m not sure if I’ll buy more and I keep psyching myself out about if I paid too much for this one. I’ve had a chance to drink this one a few more times since typing my first impression above in this post and really enjoy the qi in this one. It meets Mr. Kim’s standard (mine as well) as being excellent to consume immediately but likely to improve in various storage conditions. The ability to drink now is probably from the warm autumn energy in this cake and lack of bitterness.
The body Qi is interesting as it sometimes makes me hold water especially in the early infusions due to its lack of bitterness. You can feel the qi in the Kidneys. It kind of makes me feel similar to the way 2006 Yang Qing Hao Qixiang makes me feel but they are really different puerh all together. I had a few sessions of these back to back for a few days to compare the qi but Qi Xiang is much stronger in a relaxing sort of way and We Go High much more subtle.
I still haven’t made the decision if I will buy this one in greater volume, but for now I’m enjoying it for what it is. "Going High" is not as easy as it seems.