Friday, June 7, 2019

2019 white2tea Is A Gift I Can Accept

There are two kinds of people in the world

One who has a more difficult time giving a gift

And one who has a more difficult time receiving one.


I think it’s safe to say that I am the later and Paul of white2tea is the former… And so here we are in this current predicament… There is a bit of history to the name of this puerh cake “Is A Gift”...

Its origin can be partly traced all the way back to a reddit thread and a review of 2015 white2tea Little Walk by commenter tinkle4 who called the cake a real snoozefest.  This meaning is one of the generally accepted origins of the famous limited 2017  & 2018 Black Friday sheng puerh offerings at white2tea, the Snoozefest.  By naming these cakes “Snoozefest” , Paul has essentially  responded to a critic with the response of a pink coloured cake along with finishing the cake description with “All Love ;-) “

On this blog I put this cake under the microscope over the past few years, in part as an analogy that represented the white2tea brand (and in part a critique of the puerh industry as a whole even consumerism as a whole).  The first article I published about the 2017 Snoozefest cake was a very critical article about the philosophical underpinnings of Paul and white2tea.  In fact, I have published a few fair but pretty critical articles about white2tea (here and here).  Conversely, I also try to show Paul and white2tea lots of, well deserved, love as well (here).  When the cake was released again in 2018, I published a second article about the 2018 Snoozefest which was apologetic about my overly critical position, it struck a tone of positivity.  The final conclusion that I reached about these Snoozefest is as follows:

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…  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 wider meaning of “Is A Gift” is sharing, giving, positivity, love, forgiveness, apology, all inspiring themes that are repeated over and over in the 2019 white2tea spring sheng puerh line up.  The wrapper then states “Be Nice” with a heart dotting the “I”. In the same way Snoozefest is a response to tinkle4 and his critique of 2015 Little Walk, the name, wrapper design, and description of 2019 white2tea Is A Gift is a response to my critique and later realization that Snoozefest is a gift.

In the email that launched the 2019 white2tea Spring sheng puerh line up there was quick list of recommendations with links that best describe you.  The link to 2019 white2tea Is A Gift was “I’m a millionaire who enjoys a good fight.”  This description was the most unusual of all the descriptions, I think.  However, it spoke to the fact that this cake was designed for the critics  “who enjoy a good fight.”  Conversely, it also criticizes the critics.  It points out that those who often seem to be the most critical (tinkle4 and MattCha) are also criticizing the absolute cheapest, or bottom of the white2tea brand.  In a way, calling us a millionaire is calling us out.

Alternatively, the name “Is A Gift” is kind of fitting for this cake because the description of the cake seems to make it an immediate target for its critics (i.e. the description is such that it makes this puerh a gift to those who criticize the white2tea philosophical brand). The description is as follows:

2019 is a gift is a small production of difficult to acquire material that rarely sees the light of day in the larger market.

Basically, this description seems like Paul is saying that this is gushu (ancient arbour puerh) without actually stating it outright.  What else is small production, difficult to acquire, that rarely gets offered???  I guess it could be Gouyoulin (protected state park material)? Or from a famous producing area? Or from a Secret Garden in a remote location?  This comment is playing with the marketing ploy of presenting rarity, scarcity, and limited access.  For someone who doesn’t like to use the word Gushu to describe sheng puerh, it sounds like he pretty much said everything he could without actually saying it.  In the end, the description has the same marketing effect of outright stating “gushu” without actually saying it… just say it… its OK…

A few other interpretations of the wrapper design…  The use of blurry imaging that represents a common critique of white2tea’s use of blurry messaging as a marketing strategy.  Many other cakes in the 2019 line up also have this feature.  Also, the use of red (Republicans) and Blue (Democrats) could also have a subtle political innuendo “Be Nice” which speaks to the current combatant political climate and can be interpreted in a similar way as “We Go High”.

The description of 2019 Is A Gift ends with this:

A strong and engaging tea for special occasions.

I wonder if it is a subtle dig at a comment I made recently here on the blog that stated “I don't buy puerh for special occasions”.  Either way, I definitely fell for it and picked up one of these 200g cakes at $249.00 ($1.25/g).  If someone names a puerh cake after you, you best buy it.

Anyways, the question about this puerh has to be framed like this…

Is 2019 white2tea Is A Gift truly a special and rare tea gift that is maybe priced well under Paul’s normal mark up like the Snoozefest cakes only more premium (many Western vendors end up reducing the mark up on the most expensive productions) ?  Or maybe it offers us an experience that no other puerh could offer?


Is 2019 white2tea Is A Gift essentially a gift to critics because you are basically paying large sums of money for apparent scarcity and limited access but that which the quality of the tea and the tea experience cannot justify or support?

There is only one way to find out…

The dry leaves smell of intensely piercingly fresh fruity candy cherry sweetness, intense pungent almost black pepper, rainforest, and underlying very faint woodiness.

The wet leaves look and smell ultra fresh green and melon fruit and I’m left immediately thinking this is a boarder tea.

The first infusion has a warm spicy pungent start which converts to soft sugar pungency and long evolving sweetness.  The aftertaste is slightly mellon.  The mouthfeel and tongue carry a nice stickiness to them which carry melon fruit tastes into the distance.  The Qi starts to feel relaxing in the head.

The second has a more yeasty, bready warm spices pungent onset which has a very mild bitterness underneath and pushes out tastes of honeydew melon and, to a lesser extent sweet bread in the aftertaste.  The taste is really smooth and pretty gentle.  The mouthfeeling and throatfeel are moderately sticky.  The tongue is the most obviously stimulated by the stickiness.  The Qi is already having a mild spacy feeling.

The third infusion has a spicy, almost bready and moderately bitter onset.  The mouthfeel is pretty thick and sticky almost sandy-sticky especially on the tongue.  The throatfeel is medium deep and is stimulating enough to push saliva into the mouth.  This infusion the bitterness strengthens and becomes moderate-strong but the initial flavours disappear under the bitter and are not powerful.  Mainly a faint honeydew melon trailing in the aftertaste.  The Qi is pretty strong though, very spacy almost stoner feeling in head.  My head feels like its floating away from neck.

The fourth infusion has a strong burst of initial flavor- of bitter and sweet mellon which splash up into the mouth.  The taste is really clean and pure with not much depth.  The pungent coolness and returning sweetness are very very mild and the taste is mainly just an extension of these intial simple polarities of moderate bitter and sweet honeydew melon and faint sweet bread.  There are soft glimpses of rainforest in there as well.  The Qi is building in the head and spacing me out nicely.

The fifth infusion start very bitter with mellon and now a floral note with honeydew and sweet bread.  The taste is very simple.  The bitterness is become quite intense.  The mouthfeeling starts to pucker up a bit and is really stimulating but it fails to push much interesting flavor out.  The aftertaste is bitter, and a melon sweetness.  Qi in head is very distinct and obvious.  This cake is about the Qi.

The sixth infusion starts off with an intense bitter and bread and honeydew mellon taste.  The mouthfeeling is very pucker and the throat is medium deep and quite stimulating from the barrage of bitter tastes.  The taste profile is very clear, pure, simple, unadulterated- this is single origin arbor material.  Qi is really big and strong.  It clouds the mind in stupor, head heavy and floating.  Feeling unproductive and can’t find words.  This tea is all about the Qi.  The wet leaves smell floral.  There is just a ghostly amount of this in the after taste.  This tea is very green processed.

The seventh infusion has a coco chocolate bitterness, licorice root sweetness, slight warm spiciness, bready sweetness initially with more of the melon and floral green taste coming out in the aftertaste.  The aftertaste is not deep or that long.  The bitterness is quicker moving here in this infusion.  The mouthfeel is sticky and sandy on tongue.  Head floats away and I am left in a stupor.

The eighth infusion starts almost floral sweet bread and melon with bitter.  There is almost non-existent cooling pungent which eases into melon sweetness in the aftertaste.

The ninth infusion starts with burnt rubber/coco bitterness which really dominates.  The mouthfeeling is pucker.  The throat is open and stimulated.  The bitter overwhelms the barely bread and melon tastes.  The head floats.  The bitterness is a bit rough on the digestion which signals to me that this tea should be aged not consumed fresh.  In the body I can feel my heart beating but not racing, like its slowing.  Qi is really pronounced.

The tenth infusion starts off with a bready sweetness which changes to bitter fast.  The coco and rubbery bitterness lingers into the aftertaste where melon fruit appears as well as soft floral.  The taste is real simple and pure and green and bitter.  Spacy Spacy stoner Qi.  Pretty intense mouth pucker bitterness.

The eleventh infusion starts off melon more than bread sweetness with distinct bitter this clear profile stumbles into the aftertaste with just a melon floral finish.  Big Qi continues its onslaught on my soul.

The 12th infusion starts off almost a mild buttery sweet bread with a strong coco/ rubber bitterness very shortly behind.  The bread tastes recede and bitter with melon and faint floral is left on the breath.  The bitter taste is dominant and obvious were the other tastes are pretty mild and simple.  This is the most simple tasting puerh I’ve had from white2tea which suggests it is probably single origin.

The 13th infusion has a more floral onset with melon and bitterness coming shortly behind then stretching into the aftertaste.  The floral stays in the infusion throughout.  Mild tastes, mainly bitter.  Mouthfeeling and tongue dry, pucker with throat moderately deep.

The 14th starts floral- melon sweetness the bread sweetness is gone the last few infusions.  Long coco bitter with melon and floral.  Not that sweet really, mainly just bitter.  Big Qi in the head, spacey, feel it in heart.

The 15th infusion has more of a buttery floral orchid initial onset with bitter that is still obvious but less intense.  The bitter and floral taste lingers but I wouldn’t say it’s a particularly long aftertaste.  Qi.

The sixteenth has an almost green tea approach with vegital bitterness and floral sensibility with honeydew melon nuance.  The bitterness is less here.  The flavor movement from initial to aftertaste is simple and uncomplicated, the tastes are pure and clean, shortish aftertaste.  A sweet mild melon nuance is most apparent in this infusion there is a floral trailing off.

The seventeenth infusion is juicy sweet melon which slides into a mild pop of sweetness then very mild bitter and melon nuance.  Very muted floral arrives 30 seconds later.

The eighteenth starts juicy melon again very mild bitter more melon.  Not to exciting. Mouthfeel is mainly sandy without the bitter nuance the mouthfeel is more sandy than sticky or pucker.  The mouthfeel throughout is pretty moderate/even week but is more stimulated by the burst of bitterness.

The ninteeth starts a dry woody bark bitter and barely melon.  It eases into a floral nuance.  The Qi changes here and is felt more in the should and arms feeling wobbly and light, more of a floating arms and head feeling.  Qi is more sedating now.

The 20th starts off almost rubbery bitter woody bark melon.  The mouthfeeling is a sandy almost dry stickiness.  The qi in the mind is restless and sedating at the same time.  Some times there is the faintest barely coolness on the inhale.

The 21st infusion is a mild sweet melon with dry woody bark bitter the melon sweet mildly crests then floral… this is getting pretty unexciting but the Qi eggs me on…

I add a ten seconds to the flash infusion to see what happens in the 22nd infusion its spent basically sweet melon water now.  It will rest in an overnight infusion.

So now, this much is clear…

2019 white2tea Is A Gift offers us the gift of an interesting and powerful Qi experience

The gift is the Qi! I have not yet tried a white2tea puerh that offers a more profound Qi sensation although I have not ever sampled the top of the brand before nor can I even compare it to the 2019 Lucky Puppy of relatively same price and producing season.  Readers know that I define the quality of a tea almost solely on the Qi sensation, therefore I feel that this is an appropriate gift for me… thank you kindly Paul.

Truly, the taste is not very exciting and offers a narrow range of mild tastes that change very little throughout the session.  If you are looking to purchase for the flavours alone, don’t bother with this one.  The basic tastes consist of sweet melon, faint floral orchid, in the later infusions dry wood bark.  It’s quite heavy on coco/rubber bitterness.  This bitterness is moderate-high and fades only late into the session.  The monotone and predicable nature of the taste suggest that this might be a rare single origin production from white2tea.  Strong bitter coco/rubber with a distinct melon sweetness and very little pungent cooling… that pretty much exactly describes the LaomanE character exactly in my experience. 

The “powerful” in the vendor description is both its bitterness and Qi Sensation.  The “engaging” is definitely not the taste, but rather the bitterness and Qi sensation as well, maybe even the stronger mouthfeeling.

Let’s look at the leaves for some clues… The leaves are very tippy and small picked almost uniformly 2 leaves and a bud (the astonishing uniformity again suggests single origin and also suggests very early spring flush).  Maybe the quality/ date of the picking is part of the rarity in the vendor description?  Maybe it is a small leaf variety in an uncommon location outside off the typical Yibang and Jingmai (of which this teas taste does not resemble).  Or conversely, maybe it is an unusually bitter, unconventional, and powerful single origin find from one of these regions.  Typically, a small leaf variety is not this intensely bitter and usually much more sweet.  What is common with the smaller leaf variety is the intense Qi sensation which this tea has a lot of.  It’s a reason I am found of Yibang despite me not always being in love with its taste.

The value…. That’s another thing.  Is this crazy expensive tea worth it?  At $1.25/g you can surely find better Qi for cheaper… probably but the summation of qualities that this tea has with the very intense bitter with small leaves varietal, all 2 leaves and a bud… not sure.  I think for those of you who drink for the Qi and not for the taste, this is your gift and at least a sample is in order here.

Thanks for pressing this one Paul… Yes, I graciously accept.


Edit June 14, 2019:  I tried this one a week later using 1/3 less leaf as I usually do and I got a really different session.  The bitterness stayed in the rage closer to moderate than high.  The flavors didn't really resemble LaomanE at all but were more buttery and floral and almost no honeydew Mellon or coco/rubbery bitterness.  It was more mineral, floral, and slight buttery.  The tastes were much less exciting than a fully stuffed pot and didn't change much throughout the session.  Upper throat has a tight sensation that I notice more today.  Qi was again nice and powerful.  This is a Qi puerh for sure.  How do these tinny little leaves have so much power?  Many thanks to Paul for pressing this.  I'm going to wrap this one up soon and try it in a few months.

Double Peace


  1. I don't understand how you can come to conclusions about the taste, this puer is still sooooo green... I mean you just wrote a post about that :P

    I have a sample and was impressed with a couple of it's attributes, including Qi and longevity of strong taste, but I'm still waiting to find out what it'll taste like..

  2. Anonymous,

    Haha haha.... yes you make this whole exercise sound silly because, as you know, the taste will reveal itself more in the next months and throughout for sure.

    I have come to the same basic conclusions as you. However, the strength of taste you and maybe the vendor description is referring to is actually bitter and stronger monthfeel. The actual taste is not overly complex and it’s actually quite pure and clear after you get hit over the head with bitter... hahaha

    This is in contrast to some very green puerh of 2019 which will have no bitterness at all but more intense and complex flavour that has much longevity.

    Thanks for reiterating that.


  3. Anonymous,

    I am just sipping on my overnight infusion of the spent leaves and am getting more flavors pushed out in this more aggressive steeping style of which I note the following:

    Distinct mineral rock and almost seaweed, slight vegetal sweetness, slight perfume floral, mild pungent then long sweet mild candy returning sweet finish. There is an overall sweetness, mineral, and vegetal taste.

    The mouthfeel is full, sticky and the throat feels slippery.

    Good stamina and hints at what's to come for flavors.