Wednesday, January 30, 2019

white2tea’s “Sales”, Sweepstakes Marketing, and Pressing 3KG Puerh Cakes

White2tea is good at running promotions and I find them super interesting, fun, and pretty brilliant.  White2tea calls them a “Sale” but by definition a sale is a period during which a shop or dealer sells goods at reduced prices. The interesting thing is that during these so called white2tea “sales”, puerh is actually not sold at reduced prices- the price of tea doesn’t change during these “sales” at all.  When Paul sets a price on his puerh, it rarely moves.  It actually never is reduced.  Ever.  But on the positive, if he does raise prices on his puerh, it is usually only a very small yearly increase smaller than most other western vendors, I think. 

I can respect that he sets the price and sticks to it.  But for a puerh company that is so concerned about the language of describing puerh age and terroir, I find it interesting that they are not as concerned about the actual meaning of words like “sale” or “aged puerh”.  The double standard sure makes me chuckle and shake my head.  Can anyone else explain this to me?  Am I missing something here?

I suppose you could consider free shipping an overall savings but I don’t think free shipping, by definition, could be considered a sale.  Although, I think it is a reduction in the actual price of the tea.  Ok, enough of that… hahaha.

This article is supposed to be about those epic huge 3KG puerh tea cakes that white2tea has pressed…

So this is how the story unfolds…

Back a year or so ago I wrote an article called The Xiaobinging of the Puerh Industry.  In that article I criticized the pressing of small 200g or smaller cakes and the Western producers who perpetuate this trend.  White2tea has not pressed a cake larger than 200g since 2014, so they fall squarely into this category.

At the end of that article I stated the following:

I like the big, chunky, beefy, robust, old school feeling of these cakes and the industry that they represent.  The larger, the better!  1Kg, even 2Kg, cakes and bricks- "bring'em on" I say.  In fact, I challenge vendors to release one of these big guys in response to the xiao binging of the puerh industry.  People will buy- I’ll be the first one.

Then, on Black Friday, in dramatic fashion white2tea offers a sweepstakes giveaway of one 3Kg shu puerh cake, with a Neifi that offers a response to this criticism.  If the Snoozefest cake was in response to tinklefor then this giant puerh must be in response to this article, I think.  So, of course, naturally I want in on this giant cake.  I literally stated (above) that I’ll be the first one!

But it’s not so simple, I have to place an order to have a shot at it.  So, I do because I was planning on getting this cake from white2tea anyways (and its price isn’t being reduced anytime soon).   So why not wait until Black Friday?  At the very least I can save on the shipping, right?

So, I really felt it’s my destiny to win this Qing bing 3KG cake.  I bet you thought you would win too?  I mean we have no idea what the odds are at winning because that depends on how many people place an order over the promotional days.  So we are blind to that.  This type of marketing is new from white2tea and plays on our susceptibilities in thinking that we somehow have a greater chance of winning over others.

Darn, I didn’t win that 3KG shu cake…. Oh well wasn’t meant to be…

But that sample cake I ordered was pretty damn good… I think I would like a bit more of the puerh.  I need to re-order.  But when?

It just so happens that in my first sampling of the cake there is a white2tea New Year’s Sale and guess what?  They have many more giant cakes to give away.  The 3KG sheng puerh especially is calling for me, but I need to place an order to be entered.  Well, if I didn’t win the last Qing Bing cake sweepstakes then surely this sheng puerh version (which I primarily drink these days) is mine.  So the old gambler’s fallacy probably got the best of me.  I re-order and…

Darn, I didn’t win that 3KG sheng cake (no crazy large white tea cakes either)…. Oh well wasn’t meant to be…

In the end, I was empty handed so the jokes on me… hahaha

But man, did I ever order some nice puerh which I was planning on ordering anyways.  The whole promotional side show was just a bit of fun layered on top.  Thanks for the ride Paul (Twodog), it was glorious.

Interesting how sweepstakes marketing gets you…
It sure got me.


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.



Monday, January 21, 2019

The Best of the Cheapest: 2018 white2tea Splendid

I managed to get a sample of this on a recent re-order at white2tea.  I would usually get a full cake to sample from but the descriptions I read about this tea so far it sounds a lot like Mengku plantation- too similar to many other drinkers I have.  This 2018 white2tea Splendid goes for $28.00for a 200g bing or $0.14/g.  This one is CwynN from Death By Tea’s top pick for cheapest fresh sheng puerh.  She came out with this review early and this tea has been popular ever since.  In her post she said that you really have to compare budget teas to each other to know which is better.  This is, in fact, the exercise that I have been participating in here in the quest for the Best of the Cheapest fresh young sheng…

When the dry leaf odour hits you from opening the sample bag, you can be sure that this is a strong and vibrant puerh.  The smells have a certain intensity to them a strong citrus and apricot/ peach, sour type of high fruity note, with a zesty, almost piercing odour.  Impressive.

The first infusion has a muted wood with soft lingering vegetal note in a mainly watery body.  The mouthfeel is slightly sticky.  A few minutes after swallowing there is a long faint Asian pear taste on the breath.  This first infusion is surprisingly soft.

The second infusion starts with very soft fruits of pear in wood the dry wood taste is the more dominant of the two.  The mouthfeel is slightly drying.  There is faint fruits in the aftertaste.

The third infusion starts off a bit woody and slight pear sweetness.  There is a bit of vegetalness in there as well.  There is a slight rubbery/vegetal almost fruity orange finish with almost no cooling returning throat action.  The profile of this tea is quite simple and thin with not too much going on as far as flavor goes.  It has a nice faint but long muted peach flavor linger for 30 seconds or so.  The Qi is slightly alerting and has a mild forehead heaviness feeling almost dizzying feeling.  You can feel it in the stomach, it’s a touch young puerh feeling raw here- normal stuff for such fresh puerh.

The fourth infusion has a more peach and pear mellow almost diverging into a raison like taste.  Things pick up in this infusion (ie the binghole sample is finally decompressing).  The almost syrupy sweetness is thicker throughout.  A peach taste is present throughout the entire profile with longer, lingering aftertaste.  The qi has a more dizzying effect on me, like a lightheadedness and looseness in the neck.  The mouthfeel is slightly drying with sticky lips and slight squeaky teeth.

The fifth infusion infusion starts with weighty peach like notes over dry wood.  There is a syrupy nectar sweetness to this tea that sticks around long in the mouth.  The mouthfeel here is real nice balance of sticky, astringent, and slightly drying.  The profile here doesn’t have that much complexity or movement but is long and rich, held with a nice mouthfeeling.  I specifically like a mid-throat opening taste minutes later where deep peachy notes reside.  The long sweet flavor is quite enjoyable here.

The sixth infusion has a slightly punchier fruit almost floral taste of slight tropical and mainly apricot and peach flavours.  There is a vegetable note of celery and carrot in there underneath too in this infusion over a dry wood base and slight vegetal taste.  The mouth is nicely stimulated and is becoming more astringent here.  This pureh feels nice and clean in my body and its qi is significant- backlogging in my head and making it feel light and even dizzy.

The seventh infusion starts with a clean fruity taste of tropical fruits and syrupy sweetness which dominate the profile the dry woody suggestion shows up before the returning sweetness.  The astringency in the mouth builds and becomes almost dry in the mouth and throat pushing saliva into the cheeks.  The qi is building up and noticeably strong my head is floating for sure.  I am spacy.

The eighth infusion has more of a toasted grain taste initially with the sweetness mainly a grain taste.  The fruits are background here behind the dry wood even.  The mouthfeel is significantly astringent causing lips to pucker and get real sticky and almost dry.

The ninth infusion gives off a dry woody flavor with lots of the fruit notes gone and lingering in the aftertaste faintly now.

The tenth the peachy woody notes are in some kind of balance.  There is a suggestion of cool sweetness then a long faint sweet syrupy fruit suggestion.  Qi continues to be something nice and enjoyable here.

11th is more fruity and woody but much thinner.  It has a nice long fruity profile in a drier and astringent mouthfeeling.

12th I steep 10seconds more than flash and it delivers a creamy sweet broth with decent thickness still and long syrupy tastes.  13th is much the same with long drawn out sweet syrupy tastes.  The cool throat and returning sweetness is longer in these later infusions as this puerh is still managing to change.  14th is back to a flash but is a bit thin and woody but still long sweet cascading tastes and nice mouth stimulation.  Long cool throat now with long sweet deeper tastes.

15th I leave for 40 seconds and get a nice toasted grain and richer result more of toasted grain sweetness than fruit.  More strong mouth stimulation less coolness and sweetness returning.  Still, a pretty engaging tea at this point with its dual layered syrupy sweetness and brown sugar sweetness.  I love the throat and mouthfeeling on this cheap option.  But the young fresh qi and astringency is too harsh on the Stomach in these late infusions.  So I decide to stop but could keep going this tea also seems to have some decent stamina.

Overall, this tea’s flavor doesn’t change too much throughout the session but what is there is easy to enjoy.  I would say that flavor is not as interesting as the mouthfeeling and throatfeeling and resulting long sweet aftertaste and strong Qi.  I value more of the later, so I quite like this tea.

An interesting thing about this puerh is that it is not super green processed as per colour and feeling, this is the new processing trend for young puerh.  I would completely guess that Splendid underwent a longer processing which helps curb the astringent young puerh energy from overly afflicting the Stomach.  This type of processing tends to give it more warmth making it easier to drink while young which, according to the description, this is when this puerh is meant to be consumed.  However, I think it has enough in it, specifically the astringency, to be also aged with good results in dry storage.

So, how does 2018 white2tea Splendid ($0.14/g) do when compared to 2018 white2tea Snoozefest ($0.08/g)?

The strengths that both of these young sheng share is a solid mouthfeel.  After this these teas are pretty different.  The Snoozefest has a bit more variation throughout the session, more intense and varied highnotes, and a much more enjoyable taste at the end of the session, if not a bit monotone.  Splendid has more vitality and vibrant Spring energy which the Autumn Snoozefest lacks.  Splendid has way more Qi, and it does some different things in the body and mind, not just the same sensation on repeat- the Snoozefest lacked qi for sure.  Splendid had much more depth to its profile in taste, mouthfeeling, and qi as well as movement through the initial taste to the aftertaste- this movement was reasonably long and complex for a tea of this price.

The description of Snoozefest states that is a tea thatwould normally be priced over $40.00 ($0.20/g) but is priced for $15.00 ($0.09/g).  Splendid goes for $28.00 ($0.14/g) but to me is a far better tea than Snoozefest in many different areas.  Especially the areas that matter to me like Qi sensation and overall strength and vitality.  I don’t really know what this means but, it’s my own value assessment of them.  I would easily take someone up on an offer to trade tong for tong for my sold out Snoozefest.  That tells me that either the Snoozefest isn’t actually worth $40.00 or that Splendid is actually worth more than it sells for.  I suspect the later. Thanks Paul for offering both of these decent cheaper options.

Comparing Splendid ($0.14/g) to 2018 the Essence of Tea Bamboo Spring ($0.16/g), they are again both very different sheng puerh.  The Bamboo Spring is more elegant, green, ethereal, and pure with candy like taste.  Splendid has complexity and strength with a richer taste and feeling.  I feel that Splendid would be better for aging and has more layers and depth to it but maybe if I was just buying to drink now or was concerned about purity (Splendid felt just as clean as Bamboo Spring though), I would still go with Bamboo Spring.  Overall, Splendid is a much better puerh.

So far, I agree with Cwyn N’s assessment that 2018 white2tea Splendid is the Best of the Cheapest.  But I have some very nice options that are even cheaper ahead to post that could easily unseat the champ.


Friday, January 18, 2019

2018 white2tea Bamboo Shu & Thoughts on Bamboo Puerh

The concept of puerh pressed into a shoot of bamboo sounds gimmicky but, like white2tea’s take on minis, it actually has quite a long history.  Historically, it has been produced for a very long time by the people of Yunnan.  It is sometimes offered to guests in areas where puerh is produced.  I was even gifted some produced in 2001 by tea guests in the mid 2000s.  I busted up one of those bamboo stalks a few years ago to try it out… pretty satisfying and easy drinking sheng puerh.

The production of bamboo puerh is kind of interesting and different than other puerh and is nicely outlined on this blog post here.

It seems like our western puerh vendors have picked up on the novelty of bamboo puerh or maybe it is just starting to get trendy in China?  Either way, everyone seems to be producing and offering it these days.  Yunnan Sourcing has been offering bamboo puerh on their site forever.  Currently they have three kinds available.  I recently saw that the Essence of Tea is producing their own that is not yet released.  And there is of course this 2018 white2tea Bamboo Shu, a New Year release at white2tea which goes for $32.00 for 200g ($0.16/g) of puerh in bamboo.

Here is an interesting older Teachat link on Bamboo shu with Bears, Gingko, and Marshal’N chiming in with their thoughts.  Some of the first bamboo puerh that was offered for sale in the West was a bit low quality- the producers using the novelty of bamboo to hide the actual poor quality of the maocha.  This is probably the reason why it hasn’t gained greater popularity in the West.

Let’s try this free sample out that I received in a recent white2tea re-order…

The dry leaves smell of muted fresh bamboo more than a typical shu puerh odour.  It’s interesting and almost unnatural to smell shu puerh that smells refreshing.  After the rise the wet leaves have a stronger smell like toasted grains and fresh bamboo.  The taste is fresh and roasted tasting as well as deep and milky almost coco shu tasting.  There is a nice coolness on the breath.  The flavor of roasted grains (or bamboo, of course), slight freshness and rich milky mild coco pairs so nicely together and gives this shu puerh lots of depth.  The roast almost gives it a dark roast coffee vibe.  The qi is strong and alerting, I feel it on the skull.  The mouthfeel is decently rich and velvety in the mouth and throat. It feels really nice, mellow, in the body.  This shu puerh is tasty and I love the flavor combination- very satisfying on this -30 C morning.  This is some great shu to drink now while the roasted effects are still active and fresh within the puerh leaves. 

There has been some debate out there whether bamboo puerh ages well.  Some say that the positives of the bamboo roasting are lost in aging and that it can’t age optimally enclosed in bamboo.  I have personally tired some pretty good sheng that was aged from the 90s in bamboo and it tasted good but the roasty bamboo taste was pretty much gone, not fresh and vibrant like this shu. 

Another thing I really like about bamboo puerh is its very compact compression.  For this 2018 white2tea Bamboo Shu, I really like the way the tight compression slowly unravels the fermented shu puerh tastes.  Notice how shu often gives it all up early in the session?  The tight compression allows for a longer balanced gongfu session- I like that about bamboo shu.

Out of all the bamboo puerh I have consumed, none have been this fresh and bamboo tasting.  I think this speaks how quick it has been put to market after the roasting step of production.  Shu is made to drink now, that’s what I would suggest for this one.  This shu is the same price as the 2018 white2tea Smoove Cocoa minis, but the quality and profile of this bamboo shu is probably at least 3 times better than the 2018 Smoove Cocoa which I wasn’t a big fan of.  This one will sell out fast.


Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Best of the Cheapest: 2018 the Essence of Tea Bamboo Spring

The Essence of Tea usually releases their autumn puerh after Black Friday.  Last year they released a super cheap, and very popular 2017 the Essence of Tea Autumn Nancai which sold out quick and has great reviews.  Although the Essence of Tea is not always known for bargain puerh, it is a good place to look for people who want a pure and non-plantation option.  They released a few other cheaper options a month or so ago.

The 2018 Essence of Tea Yiwu ($0.20/g) is whole year’s production (Spring & Autumn).  This is a very interesting way of keeping the price down while still offering a single garden product.  They also released a 2018 Essence of Tea Spring Wuliang Wild that is a cheaper wild option ($0.20/g), I like their 2017 production as a soft intro for people interested in exploring wild tea.


This 2018 Bamboo Spring is also from the Wuliang producing area.  I like Wuliang puerh for its fresh vibrancy and easiness to drink.  Since Yunnan Sourcing offered its first Wuliang in 2009, I have always had at least some on hand to drink fresh or semi-aged instead of green tea.  I really think Wuliang tea is one of the better regions for drinking now.  I tend to think it peaks at about 10 years, but who am I to know, I have never tried really old Wuliang puerh… Have you?... hahaha.

I recently read an interesting post by Shah8 which broke down and compared all the Wuliang puerh the Essence of Tea has offered over the last few years.  Shah8 thought that this 2018 was a very nice “disposable” drinker with no flaws for its price.

Let’s see how it contends in my search for the best cheapest fresh sheng puerh…

Dry leaves smell of vegetal sweetness, with a distant lingering fruitiness far in the distance.

The first infusion is very light sweet vegetal with a slight grain sweetness base on mild dry wood.  The taste is very light and cheery.  Very green lots of light vegetal notes.  The returning sweetness has a sweet honey dew melon and light honey taste.  The mouthfeel is sticky and the mild fresh fruity taste lingers a minute or so later there is a mild taste like a pink watermelon Jolley Rancher candy that appears.

The second infusion has a grain fruity approach with a grain and dry wood fresh base flavor.  The profile is very light and fresh.  There is a nice cooling almost candy Jolly Rancher and melon returning sweetness and lingering sweet fruity aftertaste.  The mouthfeel is mildly sticky, barely astringent and the tongue a touch sandy.  Qi is mildly relaxing here.

The third infusion has a much more fruity vegetal and even floral initial taste the woody/grain base is very faint almost overwhelmed by the sweeter notes.  The sweet cooling returns nicely and a candy like taste emerges with a grainy base even in the aftertaste.  The aftertaste has some floral in there as well. The mouthfeel is sticky with a sandy tongue sensation.  The profile is overwhelmingly light and green and fresh.  It is vegetal, long minty pungent candy taste with a wood almost grainy base.  It has a very Wuliang profile to it.  I can feel some qi in the eyes and stomach lightly.  The aftertaste lingers in the mouth for a while and even has a subtle rubberiness.

The fourth infusion has an almost bitterness to it initially and has a more vegetal fresh green profile this infusion has more melon and fragrant fruit in a sticky mouthfeel and sandy tongue.  This infusion has a beautiful heavy floral nuance to it.  It’s more Wuliang fruit and has a fuller sweet green taste to it.  The floral perfume lingers long on the breathe.  In a mouthfeel that is slightly oily.

**** then something happened in my first gong fu session of this tea at work.  My work schedule got unexpectedly intense and I had to walk away from the dry leaves for 5 hours.  When I came back the tea leaves had lost all its high noted flavor and the base taste of woods and slight grain was all that remained.  I had a good look at the wet leaf and sure enough it is filled with very tippy, small, buds and leaves.  This tells me that this tea is heavily weighted with odours and more volatile highnotes.  It’s probably a better drink now puerh, very, very light type of puerh- very green but a heavy dosing of these highernotes, for sure.

I one cup the leaves and start from fresh dry leaves the next day…

At the fifth infusion I catch up on my notes… this infusion has a almost gummy candy like vegetal sweetness.  The mouthfeel is nice and sticky and the liquor is slightly viscous.  Long heavy perfumes over an unrecognizable base taste are found here.  The qi is more of a relaxing thing.  Fruity vegetal florals linger long on the breathe.

The sixth infusion delivers an initial taste of heavy perfume florals in a light vegetal base taste.  There is some very mild astringency, almost none.  The sticky mouth coating is nice and throat feel is slightly opening in the mid throat.  This taste extends long in the ftertaste with a low cooling sensation.  Relaxing scalp qi sensation, nice and relaxing vibe.

The seventh infusion has more lighter rolling florals, this tea is packed with these.  The base flavor is so light just fresh vegetal here.  Nice almost spacy qi as it builds like a mist in the mind.  This puerh is pretty gentle in the body so is good enough to drink now- you can feel it stagnate in the stomach a tinny bit only.

The eighth infusion is a bit more vegetal and almost bitter.  The mouthfeel tightens up a bit with the bitter-astringency going on.  There are some heavier florals in the front and longer vegetal florals in the finish.  A bitter green astringency stays in the mouth as well but it is not off putting at all- its just there.  There is also a subtle cinnamon hint which was apparent in my one cup session yesterday.  The qi is a nice relaxing, fluffy qi.

The ninth infusion is more vegetal and wood than floral which mainly trails out in the aftertaste.  The floral, fresh, vegetal aftertaste is still pretty strong in the aftertaste along with cooling notes.  There is a notable dry wood note in the base taste and the liquor is losing its oiliness and is a touch sandy on the tongue.  The astringency can mildly be felt in the upper throat.

The tenth is a woody almost astringent onset with a increasingly grainy tongue feeling.  The cooling aftertaste contains florals but not as brilliant and flanked with some vegetal and woods.

The eleventh is juicier initially like the white of a watermelon then it goes to a woody, slight astringent.  The cooling aftertaste is vegetal, almost dry wood, and slightly sweet.  More vegetal than sweet here.

The twelfth has a nice monotone sweet vegetal light, fresh taste again with the woody and vegetal disappearing here.

The thirteenth infusion is more woody, sticky, with much of the sweet notes just faint in the aftertaste.

I add a good 30+ seconds to the flash in the fourteenth infusion to see what becomes of this tea.  It is pretty much just dry woody vegetal water.  With a sticky lips, sandy tongue, and slight astringent throat with nothing to hold on to.

I put this one for an overnight steeping…

Essence of Tea mentions in the description that 2018 was a better harvest and most teas are tasting better this year.  They have been getting puerh from the same farmer from years now so this claim has some strength.  For sure this is a nice tea, very light, very green, very highnoted, very very clean and fresh in taste and feel.

I wonder how it would compare to 2018 Yunnan Sourcing Wuliang?  I hear this one is also pretty nice and really cheap this year.  I wonder if 2018 has produced a higher quality pick all across the Wuliang area this year?  I should sample it.

So how does it do in the search for the best cheapest fresh sheng?  Pretty good but it isn’t super cheap though and isn’t really something that will age ito something deep, I think.  If you are in to lighter tasting sheng puerh, green tea-esque puerh or drink now puerh this one is going to really satisfy you for this price, I think.

Comparing it to the only other puerh I sampled in a search for the cheapest, this 2018 white2tea Snoozefest- its hard because these are virtually opposite sheng puerh.  2018 Bamboo Spring is single estate, Spring harvest, Wuliang material, and very green and pure, very easy to drink.  2018 Snoozefest is blended (from multiple regions, I suspect), Autumn harvest, maybe not as pure, and needs aging to curb some of the harshness.  These really are totally different beasts and I like them both for their price, it depends if you like more intense profile (white2tea) or gentle profile (the Essence of Tea).

Important to note is that 2018 white2tea Snoozefest sold for $0.08/g and this 2018 the Essence of Tea Bamboo Spring for $0.16/g, double the price.  Overall, the Bamboo Spring wins even when considering the price discrepancy, it’s just a more beautiful puerh simply put…  But since I’m not looking for drink now, I’m looking for something to age in volume and drink later and because it is just so much cheaper (twice as cheap), I would consider the Snoozefest still the best of the cheapest so far for aging.  To be honest, I’m not really excited about either aging into something too amazing and I still don’t think I would re-order either.  But for drinking right now, the 2018 Essence of Tea Bamboo Spring is real nice for the price.  Its one of those thrown one into your cart at check out, kind of things.  That's what I did and my 100g sample is almost gone- the speed test doesn't lie…


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

2018 white2tea Smoove Cocoa and Thoughts on Shortstack and Mini Tong Shu Puerh

This is busy season for me.  I’m up very early in the morning and sometimes convenience trumps careful puerh steepings this time of year.  In the wee hours of the morning, tired and still half asleep, I appreciate the ease of popping a mini puerh into my teapot to get my puerh fix…

I received a free single 7g mini puerh cake of 2018 Smoove Cocoa with my Black Friday order.  Smoove Cocoa is a shu puerh that is pressed into a coin for convenient consumption.  I really like this idea for people who are new to puerh and may be intimidated by the larger cake sizes and the often messy removal of pressed leaves from a 200g or larger size bing.  This makes more sense for a tea that is ready to consume now, like shu puerh, instead of sheng which may require aging.  You have to pay a tinny premium on price for this convenience though.  These miniscost $0.16/g for a stack of seven 7g minis vs 200g bing at $0.13/g.

Even at least 20 years ago they were pressing puerh into smaller sizes for convenience.  Dehong Tea Factory was famous for producing puerh iron pressed into 10g coins rapped in bamboo leaf and other more unconventional shapes - they have been doing it for a long time now. ( I wonder how long it will take Paul to press a melon?) In the mid-2000s I was gifted a few bamboo leaf wrapped section of these coins from the 90s/ early 2000s from Dehong Tea Factory, and it’s tasty enough, for sure.  I still have a bunch.  The very tight compression is quite deliberate as well resulting in a slow unraveling of flavours and preserving the high notes in the leaves.  They would typically do this for shu puerh.  This is just a re-imagining of this same concept in a flapjack or mini tong format.

The dry leaf smells more faint wet pile than cocoa but I can still imagine it.  It has an easy feel to it- smooth almost grainy sweet taste before turning to a very mild cocoa and wheat taste.  Almost a raisin/ currents initial taste more than cocoa.  Mild cognac taste.  Slight tight mouthfeel with moderate cooling.  Slight throat dry pulling astringent sensation which I’m never a big fan of.  Overnight infusion gives off some nice wood taste and almost berry suggestions.

Interesting that this tea named Smoove Cocoa is neither obviously chocolate tasting nor is it overly smooth for a shu puerh.  It seems that many white2tea ripe puerh have names that precondition the drinker to find a certain tastes in them but that this naming convention is not used for white2tea’s raw productions.  Is it a certain flavor that they want to curate?

On the plus, this shu has no wet pile taste thoughout and feels nice and clean in the body.  There is most definitely better and cheaper shu puerh out there, but maybe none this convenient in minis form.  I think it’s not fair that my last shu session was the famous 2017 Yunnan Sourcing Rooster King which was a significantly better shu .  I look forward to sampling other white2tea shu puerh in the future to see how their ripe quality is overall.  On the whole there is probably better shu out there for this price, I think. 

On this early cold winter morning I enjoy its warming energy just the same and appreciate the complimentary gesture.  Thanks for keepin' my morning Smmmoooove...