Saturday, June 29, 2019

2018 Zheng Si Long Ding Jia Zhai vs Fresh Maocha

I had generously received some 2018 Zheng Si Long maocha in the Summer of last year which I documented here on this blog.  Months later, the kind soul which is Tiago of Tea Encounter also sent some complimentary samples from the pressed cake of the same maocha.  I thought it would be interesting to take some detailed notes on these cake samples a year after they were first picked and compare them to my notes and memory of the very fresh maocha.  This is the first of 3 such comparisons…

This 2018 Zheng Si Long Ding Jia Zhai sells for $114.49 for 400g cake($0.29/g), which to me is a steal for Yiwu single origin material.  I liked this Ding Jia Zhai maocha as a value option runner up to my top 3 Zheng Si Long, there was something I liked about the way it made me feel.  The below is a detailed tasting of the cake sample.  This puerh had more changes than most over the last year, which is interesting to note, at times I even wondered if it came from the same pressed maocha…

The early maocha notes of the same material are as follows:

Distinct fruity odour of cherry, fruity, creamy sweet, slight pungent noted dry leaves.  Round fruity aroma, woody mid-profile then sweet strawberries.  Tongue coating.  Distinct fruity cherry/ strawberry/ wood taste.  So Yiwu.  Lots of complex movement of tastes in the profile.  Lingering fruitiness. No bitterness. Spacy Qi.  But centering feeling.  Comfort in Stomach.  Full feel in mouth and mid throat, fine sandy slight squeaky feeling.  Soft cooling fruit sweetness returns.

Dry leaves smell of a mineral wood very faint sweetness.

The first infusion starts off slightly mineral rock and with lots of green vegetal wood.  There is a very faint sweetness and finishes a touch spicy, vegetal, and bitter.

The second infusion has a strong fresh cut grass vegetables almost like a Japanese Sencha.  There is a bitterness to it as well as mineral.  The aftertaste has a vegetal floral nuance in the aftertaste.  Strong vegetal fresh grass, bitter, mineral, slight floral almost dry wood.  There is not much cooling in the throat or sweetness in this one.  It has a much more savory feeling.  The Qi is heady.  The mouthfeeling is a flat wet coating, like after licking a rock or stone.

The third infusion starts a creamy, vegetal fresh cut grass bitterness, the mid profile is wood and mineral, the aftertaste is vegetal almost floral.  No coolness, no sweet.

The fourth infusion starts with a nice thicker broth, the vegetal bitterness is less, there is a mild coolness then a creamy and slight pineapple sweetness, plumb and creamy faint long aftertaste.  There are still lots of mineral and fresh cut grass but the sweet aftertaste now stands out.

The fifth infusion starts with a savory vegetal onset in the thicker broth.  There is a very very mild coolness then a long creamy fruit aftertaste with mineral, slight wood, almost spiciness, barely floral and a distinct vegetal note.  The mouthfeel is slippery and the upper throat is simulated mildly tight and opening.  The qi has a nice body feeling of slow heaviness in the shoulders and lightness of the legs.  I can also feel a warm, chest knotting feeling.

The sixth infusion starts with a thicker soupy density with mineral, grassy vegetal, a nice floral note is coming out more distinctly here smooth vegetal, floral, faint creamy sweet aftertaste.

The seventh infusion starts thick and vegetal and mineral and ends with a ghostly pungent and long grass vegetal bitterness and distinct floral.  This profile reminds me of a high quality sencha in its grassy, floral and bitter-sweet profile. The body feeling is super interesting.  A warmth builds in the body.  The mouthfeeling becomes chalky now and the throat also opens to a mid-level.

The eighth infusion is very green tea like, very “green” as they say.  It has a moderate fresh grass, vegetal bitterness, suggestions of minerality, nice thickness not really sweet in aftertaste more like a green vegetal bitter floral thing.

The ninth infusion starts bitter sweet, vegetal then slides into a green tea like floral vegetal bitterness.  The qi of this tea is real nice, almost warming despite its bitter, vegetal taste. Body sensation is good, nimble, feel it in lower legs, shoulders, chest.  This qi makes me feel happy.

The 10th and 11th is thick feeling of vegetal faint florals and barely sweetness.  The mouthfeeling is a bit tight the throat opens at the mid upper level.   The 12th is much the same, the mouthfeel is a chalky tight feeling that comes off really thick and reveals fresh grass, florals.

The 13th infusion starts predictably thick very thick onset of vegetal grass, and ends in vegetal floral.  The mouthfeeling has a thick coat of paint on it.

The fourteenth has a nice sweetness to it.  A bitter almost creamy sweet alongside florals, mineral rock and fresh grass.  The mouthfeel is nice with a thickness of the liquor on top.

15th is starting to become a bit juicy thick but not in a sweet way, in a viscus and mild vegetal floral way.  The sweetness is starting to come out more in these later infusions.  It has a soft creamy sweet feel to it now in a thick broth.

16th is juicy thicker onset with a lingering creamy sweetness throughout.  Only a mild vegetal taste is present in these later infusions.  The profile now mainly consists of juicy thick body and mild smooth underlying creaminess.  17th is much the same, mild sweetness is a juicy thicker bodied liquor.

18th is still going with a nice thick feel and simple but distinct creamy sweetness with a barely detectable cool pungent on the inhale. 19th is still thick and strong feeling, not weak at all- this puerh has very nice stamina and really comes together nicely in these later infusions.  A distinct creamy sweetness in a rich thick liquor is nice.  The other flavor elements of vegetal, mineral, grass and floral are really faint and kind of pop up and disappear giving the puerh some depth this late.

I go on like this for a few more infusions and enjoy them like this…

Compared to the fresh maocha this 1 year cake sample has a way different dry leaf odour.  The fresh maocha is much more fruity and sweet where the cake was more savory and woody.  I said that the maocha had lots of movement of flavors and I think the cake is simpler but still enough change infusion to infusion.  The maocha was much more sweet and fruity and the cake sample was more bitter and vegetal tasting initially likely because I stuffed a lot more leaf into the pot.  The later infusions show more of the taste qualities that I found in the maocha.  The mouthfeeling was full for both but the broth felt thicker in a cake sample.  The centering and almost warming qi sensation doesn’t change.  Overall, there is lots of change in the 1 year aged cake.

Overall, I don’t really think the tastes of this Ding Jia Zhai is super interesting.  Whenever I think of Ding Jia Zhai I can't help but get the images of old corduroy recalling Hobbes say "Dingjiazhai is about as sexy as old corduroy".  None the less, this one is a puerh of nice stamina, slow to build and thick in the mouth.  I like these qualities of this puerh.  It has very nice savory and vegetal profile in a very thick broth that holds things together nicely.  Those who like a savory puerh will enjoy these tastes more.  It is most enjoyable at the 15-25 th infusions which speaks to its quality.  Mainly I really like the Qi in here and the way my mind and body feel.  This is why I consider it a runner up when considering the price.  Where can you get 2018 Yiwu puerh of this quality at this price?


Thursday, June 27, 2019

white2tea’s YES Nefi and Gawain & Aggressive Trigger Word Marketing

Haven’t you noticed a lot of YES showing up on white2tea’s social media???

Well, of course the answer is Yes!... hahahah…

I know, it’s all a part and parcel of Paul’s Taylor Swift style, shock everyone with positivity after a few years of sassy and nasty, positive energy all Unicorns and rainbows marketing direction.  I also understand that “Yes” is one of the most powerful marketing trigger words but I really wanted to look into how powerful the technique of continually barraging ones followers with this subliminal message can really be on the consumer.  What I found was actually quite shocking….

It turns out that the word “Yes” is one of the strongest marketing trigger words.  It’s also interesting, exactly how trigger words actually work.  They actually bypass our logical brains and speak right to our emotional brains urging us to act on a purchase.   They actually tell a customer exactly what to do next or describe something in a way that encourages the customer to buy it.  That’s so cool!

It’s interesting that Paul of white2tea has chosen to go with a hand written “Yes” on all of his Nefi’s this year (pictured above).  It’s actually brilliant because when people are photographing a puerh cake for review naturally they take a pic of the nefi as a way for others to authenticate a cake from a fake.  So basically, everyone who does this is continually transmitting the subliminal message of” buy this cake”.  The fact it’s a hand written “Yes” apparently makes it more emotionally salient because it personalizes the message in the same way using the trigger words like “You” or “U” does.  Double powerful!

On social media Paul has been flashing a gaiwan that has a bunch of “Yes” written on it.  He first comment that it was a special commission for himself only, very personal, rare, and very expensive.  Then more and more people began commenting that they want one… of course they do… it has one of the most powerful trigger words written on it… Even I started to want one…

Finally, under pressure from continuous requests, he tells everyone that he is going to commission some more… but only a limited amount… and he has already warned us all that it is going to be pretty expensive…. It’s basically from his personal collection.  These eager buyers are probably going to post their gaiwans steeping white2tea products on social media, sealing the deal (after taking photos of their Yes neifi, of course)  Oh, boy… I feel kind of silly for wanting one of these…

I also, quite accidentally, discovered something super interesting about the way Paul names his premium, highest priced puerh.  You know the ones we’ve shelled out hundreds of dollars for?  He always uses a trigger word in the title (with the only exception being Unicorn).… brilliant! 

Lucky Puppy – Of course everyone want so be special, to be chosen, to be lucky, right?  The title Puppy just wouldn’t cut it.

Is A Gift- That’s right, everyone wants a gift, it will make you feel special… I know I feel special... however, this trigger word is not as powerful as others below…

The Box & The Treachery of Storytelling – Apparently the most powerful of all trigger words is the word “The”.  It gives someone the impression of being better than others, or better than comparable products, … this is the one, the one and only… Box and Treachery of Storytelling just don’t seem powerful enough for a paying hundreds of dollars, I guess..

Fuck What U Heard- The word “You” is also arguably the most powerful trigger word (or is it The?)… in this case an extra emphasis is placed on the word because it is written “U” which makes the eyes while tracking focus on it more…. The word “you” or “U” gives the message a personalized touch…

Last Thoughts- the trigger word “Last” is also very powerful it plays on the fear of missing out.

This post just looks at the names of these cakes.  If you look at the actual webpage descriptions of the cakes or even the text on the wrappers you are bound to find many many more trigger words.  Of course, you want strong messaging in your products…

This year Paul has gone in a weird direction with the wrappers and even with a small selection of some cake names. I think he has done this partly as a response to the criticisms that he uses the wrapper and cake names as a marketing shtick and partly to address the criticism of his use of blurry messaging.  However, he has replaced one powerful marketing technique with an even more powerful technique- the use of continuous exposure to marketing trigger words.  Its as if he is saying look my wrappers are blurred and names are random so there is no aggressive marketing here, only to drop one of the most powerful trigger words, literally, into each and every cake pressed by white2tea this year.  It makes the gesture a bit shallow, albeit brilliant.

I also wonder this, if the consumer is given less actual information about the product, are they more susceptible to the use of trigger words?  Given the fact that white2tea gives us very little actual information about the tea itself, I wonder if the effects of trigger word marketing is all the more powerful?

I am hopeful and optimistic that Paul will one day reach, what I believe is his end goal of releasing a full season of whiteout cake wrappers with randomly generated names  …He has blurred some of them and even randomly generated some names, so he is part way there.  I think its a bit of a test to see if he can take it to the next step... I think he can do it sooner than later…. Yes he can… because in the end everyone knows that its the tea that counts... or to put it more positively, its what's inside that counts.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Rappers Release Diss Tracks, Puerh Vendors Release Diss Wrappers

I have been deeply meditating about white2tea’s use of wrappers to address critics such their “Snoozefest” and “Is a Gift” productions.  I have come to the conclusions that they are in many ways like a rapper’s diss track.  In the hip-hop community they use the highest from of their art to refute a commonly held criticism and direct it to the person who made that critique.  This is, in many ways, similar to the way in which white2tea releases diss- wrappers.

Unlike a rappers diss track, Paul of white2tea always responds full of gang-busting positivity.  I love this.  What is the point of being combative or defensive?  You end up looking worse for it.  But, of course, you don’t just want to lay down on the road and let people run over your brand, your rep, your art, your tea.  I think this method of addressing critics is especially powerful because it uses the summation of the art of producing tea, the totality of Paul of white2tea’s talents and skill set, to present a response to a critique.
Paul’s affinity towards hip-hop culture, that is apparent in the naming of his cakes (the 2015 line up is particularly filled with hip hop references), makes this a really authentic and creative method of refuting criticism.  I have great respect for Paul and the white2tea brand and the puerh that he produces because I feel that Paul is an artist who truly uses his full skill set of marketing background, lover of puerh, fine arts background, and love music and hip hop culture.  He directs his full energy into the tea he produces.  To drink a tea that someone takes great thought and energy into producing, is to know that person deeply.   The end result is a modern incarnation of what it means to say “The Art of Tea”.


Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Old Tradition of Including Free Tea Sample with Order

In the early days of internet puerh buying, the early and mid- 2000s, free samples were always included in the order.  Most all of the early vendors did this, I think.  The reason they did it was to remedy the problem of not being able to sample at a storefront tea table which was the way puerh tea was most commonly purchased in Asia at that time.

You walk into a store, they steep up whatever tea you’re interested in buying.  If it is persuasive enough for you to buy, maybe you walk out of the store with some.  Maybe you even walk away with a tea they were steeping at the tea table that you had no intention to buy in the first place.  With the advent of ordering puerh over the internet, you obviously couldn’t really do this… so the first online puerh vendors re-invented this tradition of free sampling before purchase by including a sample (or two) with purchase.

Nowadays vendors don’t always give a free sample with every purchase and some older vendors who used to do this has phased this out.  These days, vendors usually fall into 1 of 3 categories. Those who 1- never give a free sample with order, 2- occasionally give a free sample with order (randomly or part of a promo), and 3- always give a free sample with order.

It does have a cost and how that cost is rolled into the product you buy is anyone’s guess.  But in the end, I suppose, we are paying for that in the same way we are paying for free shipping.  Some vendors might actually choose not to give free samples in an attempt to offer the absolute lowest prices.  I am aware of this but I still like the old school gesture of receiving a free sample with my order.

It also is good marketing too.  It uses the marketing strategy of reciprocity.  That is, we are more likely to support and buy from someone who has given us a free gift, regardless of how small it is.  It also promotes the brand if someone posts about their sample on social media.  So it has that effect as well.

Personally, the gift of a free sample always makes me smile.  It’s like Christmas every time you order because you have no idea what it’s going to be.  Sometimes, while drinking these free samples, I even imagine walking into their shop and sampling it off their busy tea table.  Of course, there are those who give just because I’m a blogger, but I really like the ones who always give the free sample to all.  Even if, I suppose, we are all paying for it in a roundabout way.


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

2019 white2tea (Rodney) Dangerfield

So the description of this 2019 white2tea Dangerfield wrapped in a black and white photograph of a flower states, “The 2019 Dangerfield was blended with an intention of being a poor man’s Naka.” As I stated before, white2tea’s Spring 2019 line up has descriptions which are much better at defining an end goal.  This cake’s goal is clear- blend a cheap tea which has the character of a much more expensive Naka region cake.  To me it wasn’t 100% clear weather Paul is trying to replicate his famous 2004 Naka or just the Naka area character in general. But you get the idea with this one.

The Naka region wasn’t always that prestigious nor expensive and I think it’s really more famous in the West than it is in China.  This is mainly due to famous puerh blogger Cwyn’s personal affinity toward the region, I think.  In fact, I had this 2013 Chen Sheng Hao Naka (YS and KTM) on my list of cakes to buy about 2 years ago.  Unfortunately, it was a bit lower on my list and by the time I got to it the cake which sold for around $50.00 for 357g 2.5 years ago now sells for $165.00 at Yunnan Sourcing or $186.00 at King TeaMall.  With Chen Sheng Hao you know that most of this is speculation (see James’ Review here)… anyways…

For me, my experience with Naka area sheng puerh is limited.  I remember trying a Douji Naka, my first experience with the region back when it was released at least 10 years ago.  I also had sampled this pretty amazing 2013 Naka which unfortunately sold out before I could purchase.  So I ended up throwing in this inexpensive sample (cake goes for $49.00 for 200g cake or $0.25/g) along with my order of 2019 white2tea Is A Gift when the 2019 white2tea line up was released just out of sheer curiosity.  I think by dwelling on the value of this cake Paul is also trying to move the concept of value cake up to just under $0.25/g.  Either way… how could I resist, it was cheap enough…

Paul clearly positions this tea as a value option by stating in the vendor description that:

This is a blend that punches far above its weight.  An excellent value and a great candidate for both veteran Puer drinkers and people who want to take the plunge into the raw puerh ocean.

One of the many things that I really love about Paul and the white2tea brand is that he always offers a few great (dare I say)… budget offerings.  They are not always great but often they are.  But he does it in a way that makes you feel special even in drinking an inexpensive cake.  He also tries hard to make these inexpensive puerh interesting to drink for the price and most times I think he accomplishes that.  His wrappers and marketing, remove a lot of the intimidation that people in the West who are new to sheng puerh might have when staring at a list of regions, Chinese names, exotic Chinese wrappers, etc.  Paul has always did this from the start and it was one of the many reasons I think Hobbes of the Half-Dipper threw his support behind white2tea at the beginning.  This to me creates a real unpretentious and inclusive space for sheng puerh in a community that can too easily be about showing off an expensive puerh stash, about poo pooing a factory cake or puerh region, or by telling people that they should spend more money on their puerh.  The vendor description is filled with this concept of unity and community attempting to bring together both veteran puerh drinker and completely new puerh drinker and place them on the same plane.  To me this is the real awesome and powerful thing about the white2tea brand and marketing direction.

On the other hand, the one thing I don’t like is how Paulsets up a narrative in your head before you even tired the puerh.  I mean, I would like to sample the puerh and form my own option weather the puerh is actually value for money and weather it punches above its weight instead of him already having me convinced of it before sampling.  Thanks for the nudge in the right direction though… hahahah…

So the question is twofold: Is this cake really the excellent value the description is having us believe? and Does this puerh compare to a real Naka?... Let’s do this…

The fairly tight machine pressed dry leaves smell of intense floral high notes, a lingering sweetness, and a deep rainforest odour and a woody cardboard type note.

The first infusion has a buttery and creamy floral approach in a slippery mouthfeel it transitions to a mild slow to build pungent and nice returning sweetness that is both creamy, floral, and tropical fruity.  The movement through the profile is smooth and elegant.  There is a very mild vegetal and mild rubbery barely noticeable underneath.

The second infusion starts very every mildly bitter vegetal with big buttery florals there to greet you in a hurry.  There is a fait almost peppery pungent then juicy, papaya fruity sweetness, there is a vegetal woodiness underneath it all.  The mouthfeel is smooth and velvety and mildly sticky.  The taste ends vegetal like almost rubbery slightly brackish.

The third infusion start with a mild vegital bitterness as well as a distinct buttery floral sweetness.  There is a very faint coolness then a fruity returning sweetness. The mouthfeel is velvety and slightly drying on the lips the upper thoat is mildy stimulated a feel tingly.  The aftertaste is sweet, slightly brackish, rubbery, vegetal undernieth.  The Qi is felt on the back on the skull, it’s a body feeling of someone cradeling the back of my head.  I feel somewhat chill.

The fourth has an intense burst of fresh tropical fruits right of the sip and a vegetal bitterness there are some florals in there and a buttery sweetness a mild astringency builds in the aftertaste there is vegetal tastes, almost peppery tastes, and rubbery brackish tastes.  The sweetness is found throughout.  The mouthfeeling starts to build on itself and becomes slightly puckering.  Qi is a nice chilling sensation and a body sensation of something on the back of skull and scalp.

The fifth infusion starts a buttery, even mild warming spices, with a mild-moderate vegetal bitterness.  There is almost an onion or garlic taste in here but it isn’t an off taste that pops quickly.  The buttery sweetness predominates throughout.  The mouthfeel becomes puckering, slightly astringent, lips very dry.  Qi slowly building and mild feels mildly sedate.

The sixth infusion starts with a nice bitter sweetness.  The bitter is quick to drop to a lower level and leaves a longer buttery and floral lingering sweetness throughout.  There are mild tropical fruity papaya and melon in the aftertaste.  There is a vegetal brackiness that should go away in a few months in the aftertaste.  This tea is a really nicely balanced between, sweet (buttery sweetness, creamy sweetness, fruity sweetness), bitter (vegetal bitterness), sour/astringent (more in the mouthfeeling), pungent (peppery almost garlicy and mild pungent before the retuning sweetness), and even mildly savory (in a garlicy kind of way).  The sweet flavor is dominant thoughout and the other tastes are not off putting but give this tea something interesting.  It’s a nice blend, in this way.

The seventh infusion starts with an interesting savory, metallic almost sweet lobster taste, it’s really yummy actually there is a buttery sweetness with florals, mild vegetal bitterness and a solid fruity floral to finish.  There is lots going on her as far as taste goes.  The mouthfeel is dry on the lips and slightly astringent. 

Eighth infusion starts with that super interesting quick bombarding of flavor, it feels quite busy but the combination is interesting.  It has grass, hay, forest, meat, fish, vegetal, butter, fruit, salty, oh man its busy the creamy floral sweetness is what dominates though and that is the note that makes it out alive and stretches into the aftertaste where is shares room with fresh papaya and slight vegetal bitter sweetness.

The ninth infusion starts more bitter and juicy fruit although there are many forest, savory tastes underneath.  The aftertaste is a distinctly creamy sweetness and wildflowers.  This taste reminds me of a picnic outside.  The mouthfeel is slightly drying especially on the lips and is a little sticky.  It doesn’t deeply penetrate the throat but still has a mild stimulating effect on the upper throat.  The Qi is a chill and mellow feeling.  I can now feel my eyelids a bid heavy my breathe feels a bit deeper.  This is a nice happy blend we got here.

The tenth infusion starts off mainly sweet and buttery floral, with the savory mix in the far distance now, a very very faint pungent inhale turns into a sweet returning aftertastes of creamy and papaya sweetness.  This tea is mainly this nuanced buttery, wilderflowery sweetness.  There is a mild vegetal bitter now and a mouthfeel that is sticky and not that dry.  The Qi happy, I can feel a mild Heart Qi flutter, eyes slightly heavy, mild in occipital area.

The eleventh infusion starts buttery floral sweet, very bright and shiny onset, the savory notes are pushed way into the background now, barely notice that.  There is a mild bittersweet vegetal then moderate long creamy floral sweetness with slight fresh fruit edge.  Qi starts to build.

The twelfth infusion starts quite sweet and buttery and wildflower.  The flavor profile is quite nice and has a certain moderate depth to it.  The profile is mainly sweet floral and buttery.  The mouthfeel is more velvety now a bit dry, sticky, astringent.  The qi starts to accumulate into mild heart racing, and gritty talkativeness and the thoughts start to race and dart around in my head.  The mild sedating feeling is gone and the happiness approaches a very mild frenzied feeling.

The 13th infusion starts with a juicy buttery sweetness, moderately decent viscosity here, bitter tastes are distant and the savory notes are gone.  What’s left is a velvety buttery decently viscus taste with a distinctly sweet creamy buttery floral aftertaste.  This is the most delicious infusion so far.  We are still at flash infusions here.

The 14th is much the same as the 13th with a bland dry wood starting to appear and signal that this tea is wavering a touch.  Mainly just cresting buttery sweet floral deliciousness in here.  The Qi is building and you can feel a significant push and rush from this one that makes the heart race.  The Qi is big here very simulating and even edgy… I want to run and run… Let’s Go!

The 15th starts with a slightly juicy and a bit dry woody sweetness.  The profile is dropping off here but what’s left is an enjoyable floral and woody sweetness.  The Qi remains really big here- the heart races and pushes and tugs at the mind.  You can really feel it in the chest.  This is awesome.

The 16th I add 20 seconds to the flash and it pushes out a more viscus liquor of juicy fruit and buttery florals with an undercurrent of bitter vegetal.  There is a touch of dry wood but the sweetness really dominates the profile as well as the strong Qi.  My head floats away…

The 17th infusion I give it 30 seconds past flash and things come out more bitter vegetal woody and still lots of floral creamy but not really fruity sweetness.  Qi is big, it’s the kind of qi that melts your mind and renders you pretty useless… I wonder how I will edit this post….  I feel like a puddle… concentration is totally gone here…

Its powerful enough that I have to take a break…

So does this tea fulfill its goals of being close to a Naka and being of exceptional value?

I suppose, I am not in the greatest position to judge if this is close to a Naka only having had a few Naka puerh.  Cwyn should review this one, don’t you think?

Actually, I thought it does a pretty amazing job at roughly matching a Naka taste profile which in my experience is strong up front floral sweetness with a long creamy fruit finish and moderate-mild bitterness.  Discernable Qi.  My past experiences of Naka had a bit more bright vibrant sweetness to my memory and thicker throatfeeling which is the weakest point of this puerh.  After sampling this 2019 white2tea Dangerfield I went back and read these tasting notes on a fresh very exceptional Naka here- check it out.  Wow!  I couldn’t believe the similarity between these notes!  If someone told me this was Naka area, I would surely believe them. 

Something needs to be said about the Qi of this cake which really is punching above its weight as the vendor description says.  The Qi does quite a bit, lots of blended qi things happen here but the totality takes a while to come together but in the end results in a steady large Qi experience that I’ve had from some past Naka puerh and not from others.  To me this tea comes off more like a complex blend then a single mountain profile which does a great job of highlighting a Naka area profile.  I think in time it might coalesce into something less compartmentalized.

I agree with the statement that it can really be enjoyed by newcomer and veteran puerh drinker, alike.  I also think it’s, at least, worth a bit more than its price.  I think the value is in its durable and distinct sweet flavor profile and the complexity that sometimes surrounds it in both mouthfeeling and building and changing Qi sensation.  Another great, affordable blend from white2tea, that is for sure.

Lastly, a note on the wrapper and cake name… this seems to be the second wrapper of 2019 where a black and white photograph of a flower is used.  The first being the February 2019 white2tea tea club exclusive Charlie shu puerh.  When I first saw that cake and black and daisy I immediately thought the name “Charlie” was referring to and paying homage to famous silent film comedian Charlie Chaplin.  Often black and white is used to symbolize the past and a flower is often used as a symbol to pay tribute or in remembrance of.  It may be no coincidence that both Charlie Chapman and Rodney Dangerfield are both known for their self-deprecating humor and often played the character of Tramp or poor man.

Using self-deprecation is also a very significant marketing technique.  It is said that the use of self-deprecating humor builds trust and makes the consumer and follower relate to you better because no one is perfect and we all have faults.  I think that Paul of white2tea uses self-deprecation brilliantly in his marketing.  This is maybe a reason he has given a nod to both Charlie and Dangerfield.   

Rich or poor, veteran puerh drinker or rookie, I think you are going to enjoy this one... No Joke.


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