Friday, December 28, 2018

2018 white2tea Snoozefest & the Real Meaning of Snoozefest

Sometimes, probably because of my age or just how I see the world or because I’ve been at this tea thing before some of you readers were born, I don’t get it.  Portions of my position and criticism of the 2017 white2tea Snoozefest is one such instance found here on this blog…

In this post in 2017, I laid out the reason why I thought the marketing around the Snoozefest puerh was a joke.  The argument I initially laid out is as follows…

There is no way of determining if this is actually a $40 cake offered at $15, because it is in fact offered at $15.  Also, there is no way of sampling it before you buy to actually test this argument and determine for yourself if it is actually worth $40 (or at least $15) because it is offered as a limited run and intended to sell out very quickly.  Nor can you compare to other puerh of $40.00 ($0.20/g) or even $15.00 ($0.08/g) in this category because you only have one shot, a gamble really, to determine if this one is truly the bargain white2tea claims or just some marketing stunt.

Although my feelings about this criticism was honest at the time and some of it still holds true (some of it can just as easily be applied to the 50 cake limited 2018 Tunji which sold out in under 18 hours), my position on this has changed over the last year because of two realities that I have come to accept in regards to puerh in 2018…

I know this is nothing new but I realized this year that it is extraordinarily rare how many fresh young puerh cakes are offered at very low prices (below $0.10/g).  And out of these how many are actually good?  All products have a low point which the price must be above to turn a profit or at which the cost of production doesn’t exceed the price at which it is offered.  I wonder in 2018 how low that point is?  It will be different for each producer, for sure, based on their business model and mark up.

This year I realized that it is a common marketing strategy these days, for one reason or another, to offer a very limited amount of puerh that is basically meant to sell out before anyone has tried it.  This is opposite the traditional model of selling puerh where a very large volume of puerh is pressed as both an investment to age in their warehouse as well as to simply have enough in stock to sell as much as they can possibly can.

Besides coming to these conclusion the third thing that I have resolved within myself is that Autumn puerh can in fact be good puerh and worthwhile drinkers.  I have opened myself up to the possibility of purchasing of Autumn puerh partly in response to increasing prices.

So after coming to terms with these realities, I realize that “Snoozefest” has a different meaning all together.  Offering a puerh cake at $0.08/g of fresh puerh has to be pushing that lower profit limit for most of our western puerh vendors like white2tea.  For Yunnan Sourcing, a more traditional western puerh vendor, they still manage to offer a handful of these every year and probably do it within their pre-existing profit margins.  Scott of Yunnan Sourcing claims that he prices all puerh on a formula not on perceived value.  So, I now feel that offering fresh puerh at $0.08/g is probably a gift in and of itself.  Something, I failed to understand a year ago.

The name “Snoozefest” refers to the flash sale offering of this cake.  It sold out fast this year (an hour or so) and almost crashed the white2tea site.  If you snooze, you loose (out).  The rapper this year has added some additional features on to last year’s wrapper (my interpretation is here link).  It also has other pictures and features that give the cake a hyped and gangsa-esque feeling.  The thief motif of the free tote that came with the purchase kind of pairs with the feeling of this cake.  The thief motif holds special importance in urban art, specifically in graffiti art.  This Banksy inspired design speaks to both the reclamation of public space and discourse (pertaining to tea) that white2tea is branded towards as well as the rebel, going against the norm or establishment, positioning of the brand.  This is a very nice touch and esthetic that I appreciate with my purchase.  In another marketing stunt, there are apparently at least 2 completely different totes that were given away.

So… I knew I was going to purchase a white2tea cake this year that I’ve had my eye on.  Also I was planning on sampling 2018 white2tea Splendid in a new quest- a search for the best cheapest young puerh (much more on this in a coming post).  When I went to the white2tea site it had grinded down to a snail’s pace and I ended up getting out with a number of these Snoozefest cakes as well as the cake I initially went in for but pulled the plug before picking up a 2018 Splendid sample.  I was concerned about my cart crashing.  I also was a bit surprised as there was little forewarning that Paul was going to drop another Snoozefest cake, were you?

My rationale for picking up a decent number of 2018 Snoozefest cakes is the following…

Reviews of the 2017 cake seem to be positive from what I read- vegetal, savory, slight bitter, astringent, sweet, creamy, floral, pine with the negative being a bit dry in the mouth and lacking stamina (see here and here and here).  Some comments suggested that people wished they had ordered more.

My other rationale is that this is the absolute cheapest white2tea sheng puerh and, as stated above, I am on a mission to find the best of the cheapest stuff.  My reasoning above about the rising cost of maocha is enough reason to purchase.

Finally, I hope this purchase will test out the claims made by whtie2tea that this tea is actually a $40.00 tea not the $15.00 they sell it for.  I have only sampled a few mid-priced white2tea sheng offerings and I really want to see what the bottom of their brand is like.  Let’s get to it…

Dry leaves smell of distant sweet fruits and florals, it’s a faint but distinctly fruity and sweet smell.  I pack a bunch into the pot.

First infusion has a muted woody almost salty barely floral/sweet ghostly candy onset there is a soft suggestion of flat sugar sweetness and some vegetal taste.  The aftertaste slowly and softly pops florals and candy floss.  The mouthfeel is silky with a slight stickiness in the mouth.

The second infusion has a soft almost sweet pea and pungent muted candy floss initial taste over a slightly salty dry wood.  It has a nice fragrant entry and soft fluffy mouthfeeling.  The cooling throat feel is mild and there is a slight rubbery sensation in the aftertaste over mutted cotton candy and plums.  This blend shows lots of different elements in it.  The mouthfeeling is light and sticky, the lips feel dry.

The third infusion has a tangy almost grapefruit and wildflower/ candy floss initial taste with a salty/ savory approach.  There is a creamy sweet, candy like, and savory woody aftertaste.  The mouthfeel has a distinct astringent feeling and makes the teeth feel squeaky.  The mild cooling and muted candy aftertaste is long and returns minutes later.

The fourth infusion has a strong initial taste of fragrant florals, sour citrus, plum, muted candy sweetness, saltiness over as slightly astringent and bitter base.  The mouthfeel is astringent and slightly sticky.  It pushes the saliva into the mid- and upper-throat.  The aftertaste is long and is held by the strong mouthfeeling and throat feeling.

The fifth infusion starts with a sour and salty grapefruit like initial taste which turns into a floral nuanced thing.  It then turns creamy, chalky and woody with a candy-like in its aftertaste.  It has a certain level of astringency and is slightly bitter.

The sixth infusion has a more pronounced bitter and astringency to it but a more upfront very salty, sour and floral profile.  The aftertaste is long and sweet the astringency pushes saliva in the throat and hold the creamy sweet, dry wood, and candy aftertaste in place.  The mouthfeel is a balance of pucker and almost stickiness.

The seventh infusion starts with a creamy sweet candy like sweetness, almost soapiness, in a dry woody and astringent base with heavier floral suggestions.  The liquor isn’t overly thick in the mouth and the taste isn’t overly deep but the plethora of high and complex notes are held in tightly by the astringency with capture them all in the throat nicely.  It’s almost as if this tea lack a mid-profile, or dense grounding thickness but is compensated by complicated interplay of highnotes, and good mouthfeeling/ throatfeeling.  The qi of this tea is mild with a fuzzy/ muffled head feeling, mild relaxing and slight alertness.  In the body you can feel a subtle heaviness in the solar plexus between the heart and stomach area.  It also has a mildly relaxing effect on the shoulders.  Got some very mild itch with this tea also on the legs, allergy reaction to this one which I have never experienced before with white2tea.

The eighth has a fruity sweet burst initially with barely salty and creamy sweet overtures.  There is a sticky sweet long lingering candy aftertaste.  The taste here is much more sweet and simple and the bitter/ astringency in this infusion is much less.

The ninth infusion starts with a slightly sour juicy fruity initial sweetness ends in a long creamy sweetness.  There is a notable grapefruit/citrus flavor in the intial taste and a creamy sweet finish.  The mouthfeel is sticky, lips drying, even slightly sandy.

The tenth infusion has a bitter onset with a grapefruit and heavier perfume floral arrangement there is still that creamy sweetness and a touch more vegetal taste as well.  The aftertaste is long and the bitterness and astringency is notable.  The mouhtfeeling is pucker.

11th starts creamy sweet, slightly sour, astringent, slightly bitter orange peel.  The aftertaste is floral and long creamy sweetness that turns into slight sour, bitter almost dry wood. Citrus peeling, cotton candy, flowershop.  Qi is slow to build but I feel it in many different places. Mild itch.  Medium young puerh harshness in Stomach.  This tea is not meant to drink now, this is surprising to me.  Last year’s reviews suggested something milder with less stamina and more drink now, from what I read.  This year’s Snoozefest is not that.

12th is bitter, slight floral faint woodiness underneath.  The aftertaste is long and creamy sweet.

The 13th is a mild, creamy floral woodiness, with sticky mouthfeeling and sweet creamy aftertaste which starts to disappear into woody vegetal tastes.

14th is more bland wood with most of the sweetness, the creamy type, in the aftertaste.

15th I add 15 seconds to the flash infusions and push out much more sweet creamy tastes initially then mouthfeel is less astringent now and more dry sticky lips and slightly sandy in the mouth with a fruit like taste lingering in the aftertaste.

The 16th is steeped for 30 seconds again and has a sour fruity initial with creamy sweet tastes and present enough mouthfeel even this late in the session.

I throw in the towel with this tea but it is enjoyable enough to continue, I just don’t have the time today so it goes into an overnight steeping.

Decent Stamina here with enjoyable flavours late into the gong fu session with mouthfeel still holding on. Nice.

The positives with this tea is that it has a nice mouthfeeling that really hold the complex blend of interesting highnotes together nicely.  It has enough diversity from steep to steep to keep it interesting.  Its stamina- this tea actually can be steeped longer than the average sheng.  The Qi is nothing special but enjoyable.  Overall it lacks a thick/deep feeling in the mouth and the tastes feels more superficial a character more common of autumn puerh.  Another negative is that it is the first white2tea sheng to trigger very mild allergy response from me but it was the mildest I have felt to date so I can probably overlook it.

Overall, I have the impression that it is more of a $40.00 cake than a $15.00 one so I am quite happy with my purchase.  My assessment is that this year's 2018 seems better than the notes I've read on the 2017.  I taste mainly Yiwu and Jinggu, and maybe even Southern Menghai.  This is mostly, if not completely, autumnal picked puerh in this blend.


Edit Jan 9, 2019: I have had a chance to drink this again a few times with harder water and in my large 200ml Yixing.  It is still a bit hard on the system being so young but yet requires a full stuffing of the pot with leaves to bring out the full brilliant high notes of this tea.  However, the more leaves you use the harsher more astringent bitter it becomes.  If you use less leaf it just becomes insipid- what's the point of that?  I recommend soft water in a very small teapot stuffed full of leaves for the best effect. 

In my search for the best cheapest young sheng puerh I have to ask the question, "Would I order more for $15.00?  Maybe try for it next year?  I keep thinking that I likely would not mainly because the qi is just too weak in this cake.  The top notes and astringency work nice together though.

I am going to wrap up this tong and put it in pretty dry storage to preserve those nice notes.  In ten years the harshness will be diminished but the top will remain... see you in 10 years...

Double Peace


Peter Lista said...

I'm glad that you liked 2018 Snoozefest. There's another origin to its name, which you might not be aware of. In 2017, reddit user tinklefor critiqued Little Walk -- one of White2Tea's other budget offerings -- as "very cheap and it's at best a snoozefest." I am sure that Paul named (maybe even pressed) Snoozefest in response to that comment.

I'm excited to read your reviews of more budget teas!

Matt said...

Peter Lista,

Yes, I am aware of that origin as well. I intended to include it in the original post but after searching and failing to find the original link to the Reddit, I accidentally left it out. Thank you for meantioning it here. If you know the link drop it in a comment please.

How did you like the 2017/2018 Snoozefest?

Much peace

Peter Lista said...


Here's the link:

I own both, but haven't tried 2018 yet. The 2017 was young, very green, floral in the early infusions, and more bitter vegetal as it went along. At some point the bitterness lessened and it had a sweet grassy flavor. It's not my favorite puerh profile, but I found it enjoyable (enough that I bought 2018).


Matt said...


Thanks that’s my first time actually seeing that thread.... Oops... I didn’t realize that tinklefor also did a value comparison with Yunnan Sourcing... I just did that in my 2018 Smoove Coco post.... hahaha

It sounds like both 2017 & 2018 Snoozefest use the same recipe as the notes sound an awful lot alike. I would be interested in a comparison. I don’t think the intensity of the floral sweet high notes were stressed enough in the 2017.

Please feel free to leave your impression of the 2018 here if you wish.


Anonymous said...

YS and w2t pushing marketing to the limits, but in different ways. Tried lots of 2018 samples from w2t. Not one sample convinced me. I recommend, at least one time, to buy lots of samples of young raw puer from at least 5 vendors. Should be tea from the same year. Then do a blind test. Very educating and surprising.

Matt said...


Wait a minute... is this tinklefor... or Scott... hahaha...

Yunnan Sourcing has some super aggressive marketing too and I hope to write about it in an upcoming post- both white2tea and Yunnan Sourcing do great work with this I think.

That type of sampling will for sure tell you what vendor you favor. Genius. Someone should offer this?

I just tired the Smoove Cocoa free sample but just did my first reorder of another cake. Overall I see some value in white2tea.