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...



Jot said...

You might want to change "Coco" to "Cocoa" to avoid possible confusion.

As for preconditioning - I think that happens both with names, descriptions and with reviews. All prior information is a form of preconditioning, to varying extents.

I think the naming of Smoove Cocoa is partly marketing (I have not bought this tea, but it required me to engage my rational senses fully so as not to be tempted: while you can reasonably expect chocolate notes in some black tea, I know not to expect it in shou) and partly a genuine attempt to make shou tea that has at least some element of a smooth, soothing cup of hot cocoa.

I think marketing is commercially very important for shou because 1) it can give a "premium" feel to what is not usually expensive tea, hence justify a higher price tag and 2) shou, to my mind, does not have as much variety in flavour when compared with all the other classifications of tea. Marketing provides a way to differentiate things that in the end taste pretty similar (relatively).

Matt said...


If my readers had a nickel for every spelling error... they'd be rich! Hahaha

Thanks for pointing that out, I think I got them all.

You have some really good points about both marketing and preconditioning.

I had mentioned in a comment recently on anther tea blog about the benefits of being the first to review and the effect that has.

Your points about the effect of marketing on shu puerh is right on.