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.


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