There was something simplistic and brilliant and meaningful about the way the Essence of Tea dropped their whole 2019 Springtime puerh line up…. First they almost completely removed themselves from the cycles of endless, shameless, and tireless social media marketing. It was to the point that there was lots of underground hype as to what exactly, if anything, would be released this year from the Essence of Tea.
Then, in the middle of August, when all other vendors had released their line ups in full, they drop just a single cake named “2019 Boundless Ancient tree puerh”. The description goes on to brilliantly describe an ancient tree production from an undisclosed location. What a name… Boundless what?... from what? From that which binds us?... Meditate a bit on that one…
Yunnan Sourcing’s 2019 line up is revealing a bold new direction, I’ll congratulate them in advance for this feat. Over the last few weeks Yunnan Sourcing has been trickling out their always super extensive puerh line ups but this year there is a different feeling to the puerh, for sure. More than in years past there is some tangible excitement brewing. After the Yiwus came the Bang Dongs with over the top cute wrappers of little pigs in each step of puerh production. Something super interesting that Yunnan Sourcing is doing this year is doing these area blends. They are the only Western puerh vendor big enough and transparent enough to do these things and they probably know it. The 2019 Yunnan Sourcing Bang Dong Impression blended cake offers puerh drinkers complete transparency as to which areas of Bang Dong were blended into which proportions. This is unprecedented in a Western puerh blend so far and a super interesting statement on transparency in the puerh industry, I believe.
After the Bang Dongs came the premium single village shu puerh productions Bu Lang, He Kai, Ba Da, Lao Man E and then a few preimium shu blends An Xiang, Ba Wang. Scott and Xiao Yao are really going in an interesting place with these shu puerh productions. This is going to be a really interesting year for shu thanks to this release. A Wild tea blend, huang pian blend, it just keeps coming. Scott and Xiao Yao really cover all the bases…
Then they dropped their line of Jinggu puerh which includes an old arbour blend called He Xie. There is a mix of areas they have been producing from for years, some new areas, and some favorites from 2018 that sold out quick like the Long Tang Gu and Ai Lao Secret Garden. Yunnan Sourcing is well known for its very tasty yet affordable Jinggu line up and this year won’t disappoint. They just recently dropped their Mengku/ Lincang line up which includes some new areas close to the famous Bing Dao which don’t include Nan Po Zhai. Personally, I’m really excited about these Mengku productions (I think the Mengku sunglasses pig wrappers are my favorite out of the bunch).
Quite possibly the most exciting part of Yunnan Sourcing’s spring line up, something that is generating a ton of hype, is their more premium sheng blends and their greater focus on Menghai area. I’m talking about their premium 2019 Yunnan Sourcing ”Spring Impression” blend, 2019 Yunnan Sourcing “XY Blend”, 2019 Yunnan Sourcing Pasha, and 2019 Yunnan Sourcing “Bu Lang Secret Garden”. This is, no doubt, a challenge to white2tea’s brand which is mainly known for these type of productions. So not only has Scott and Yunnan Sourcing verbally challenged white2tea, but they have introduced a Spring 2019 line up which also directly challenges white2tea with a competitive product…
white2tea responded to both Yunnan Sourcing’s verbal take down and product challenge by themselves stepping up their game big time….
Frist, in classic white2tea fashion, Paul releases his third diss wrapper to date, the 2019 white2tea Budget Bitter. The name and wrapper is a clear dis to Scott of Yunnan Sourcing and addresses his comment that white2tea markup their puerh higher than other vendors and the controversy surrounding his comments. I think the meaning of this one flew over a lot of people’s heads which made me chuckle even more. Brilliant. If anyone out there things they can pull a fast one on Paul, they should think again (trust me, I know)…. Hahahhah
The Budget Bitter was released in the second and final wave of Spring 2019 sheng puerh releases that dropped with a promotional email that, to me, seemed a bit unhinged. It was kind of all over the map and came off a bit crazy to me…. But here we are… the western puerh world is pretty crazy… Paul’s promotional emails alone have become a bit of an attraction in and of themselves. This latest one which was sent out July 5th uses a bit of self-deprecating humor by poking fun at the marketing format of these promotional emails. The last part makes fun of the fact that white2tea never offers a sale but often calls his promotion a "sale". The tone of this email is a response to criticism of white2tea’s aggressive marking style.
As for the releases themselves, white2tea released: 3 limited pressings 2019 white2tea Budget Bitter (100 cakes), 2019 white2tea Gold8 (100 cakes), and 2019 white2tea Road2Nowhere (30 cakes), some white tea and black tea cakes, and a limited edition “Yes” tea ware. The 2019 white2tea Road 2 Nowhere cake was reviewed here by Cywn N. A few people commented that they were quite surprised that it took so long to sell out. I think it speaks to buyers fatigue (there is only a certain amount of puerh someone can consume), marketing fatigue (if too many things are limited the effect wears off), and simply releasing it in the Summer when people tend to pay less attention (think it caught some off guard). I had a chance to purchase but took a pass on it for the above reasons, because the marketing rubbed me the wrong way, and because I just purchased up a cake that I determined is of better value with a similar description. I am actually most interested in the 2019 white2tea Undercover, a blend of sealed maocha from 2014. Great job TwoDog on keeping things interesting this 2019 Spring.
I think the second way white2tea is coming to the challenge of a more competitive Yunnan Sourcing is releasing some pretty amazing puerh this Spring. I sampled the 2019 white2tea Dangerfield soon as it came out and it was pretty much as described as a poor mans Naka. When I think about it I am still amazed how much the tasting notes resemble another famous Naka from years before. I also purchased the 2019 white2tea Is A Gift, another super great offering. I have had a chance to sample this a few more times and after comparison tasting my entire slate of Yibang cakes I came to a similar conclusion around the same time as Shah8. This is most likely a very good Yibang (which was one of the hypothesis I was going on after my first taste of it). Nothing screams “competitive spirit” like the release of high quality product that’s for sure.
I feel bad (because I did the same thing last year) by completely forgetting to mention the first Western puerh vendor to release in the spring, Farmerleaf. Farmerleaf specializes in Jingmai puerh but the last few years this 2019 Farmerleaf Ao Ne Me cake has been quick to sell out and very popular. The Weekend Sessions reviewed a sample and noted that they are doing a second pressing this year (very cleaver marketing here). He also reviewed their 2019 Farmerleaf Jingmai Miyun a local blended cake. I have never tried Farmerleaf but enjoy their branding and marketing from afar. One of these days…
Speaking of Western puerh vendors that I’ve never tried but are very very popular… I’d also like to send my love and good energy to Crimson Lotus and Bitterleaf Teas.
Bitterleaf Teas released their 2019 Spring line up around the time of my last report. Something I really like is there Try’Em All 2019 Puerh Set where you can sample their whole line up for $55.00… it begs the question, Why haven’t I? Cody of theoolongdrunk blog reviewed the 2019 Bitterleaf Teas Big Old Ass Tree Hekai, a new offering this year. They were brilliant in striking something that was lacking in the Westren puerh market last year with their focus on Lao Man E puerh. White2tea has released a bunch this year as competition. Sometimes I think Bitterleaf Tea and white2tea probably vie for a similar demographic with their Instagram and social media heavy marketing. This year they have released 2019 BitterleafTeas All of ‘Em single region Huang Pian set as well as individuals. They feature a removable postcard on the wrapper- very cool! This again is very white2tea, they totally beat them to the punch again. Very forward thinking from the folks at Bitterleaf Teas!
Crimson Lotus Tea was one of the last to release their 2019 Spring puerh line up. They dropped a 2019 Crimson Lotus Yiwu Guoyoulin, 2019 Crimson Lotus Lao Man E Blend, 2019 Crimson Lotus Danger Zone (Hekai), and some maocha area samples. The most exciting has to be their 2 Spacegirl blends (Cosima and Fiest) that follow up their very popular and quick to sell out 2016 Crimson Lotus Space Girls brick! Their line up competes with similar cakes from Bitterleaf Teas and blends from white2tea.
Another vendor that I sometimes forget to mention is Pu-erh.sk. I had a chance to try most of their 2013 line up and would have purchased the Naka cake had it not sold out. They don’t press much and their stuff sells out quick. They aim for higher end gushu type things and with the Essence of Tea only pressing a cake this year, I imagine their stock will sell out pretty quick. They also do a sample set which is probably the way most go when buying puerh of this caliber. Their 2019 line up consists of Huazhu, Naka, Bakanan, Mansa, Lao Mansa, Mannuo, Mannong (Rareness4), and YiwuGuoyuolin (Rareness5). Sounds like beautiful stuff as I have come to expect from pu-erh.sk. Cody from theoolongdrunk reviewed two Mansas!
I just wanted to also put a shout out to two Western vendors who don’t press their own puerh but feature famous Chinese vendors which also released some 2019 puerh. Teas We Like brought in 2019 Bi Yun Hao Lishan Gongcha, 2019 Bi Yun Hao Mansong, and 2019 Bi Yun Hao Yiwu. I believe Marco is a fan of these young puerh from Bi Yun Hao. Tea Encounter brought in 5 Zheng Si Long cakes last month. The lineup closely matches their 2018 line up with Ge Deng, Ma Hei, Mang Zhi, Yi Shan Mo, and back by popular demand a Wa Long. The 2019 Zheng Si Long Ge Deng has sold out their initial order- likely people jumping on the fact that the Zheng Si Long Ge Dengs have been getting progressively better, year after year and selling out quickly. The site claims that more are on their way. The 2019 Zheng Si Long Wa Long is following up their popular 2015 pressing from this area.
All this going on in the puerh world and I keep thinking about that single 2019 the Essence of Tea Boundless….
Bound to what?....
R2N sold out in 8 hours by my count. Is that really slow? Slower than snooze fest of course but the price is wildly different.
I thought it sold out a few hours before that... hahaha...
Thanks for mentioning the price as a barrier to purchase. Above 100$ is sometimes difficult to sell, especially blindly.
I agree that Bitterleaf Teas has really been ahead of the curb as far as marketing, energy, the product they are offering which often fills a gap in the Western puerh market. I would like to see more in depth reviews of their product or comparison sampling online.
I think offering multiple sample packages such as Yunnan Sourcing, or whole line sample sets such as Bitterleaf Teas and Pu-erh.sk is the best for interested buyers who want to compare. If the sets are at a discount or come with a discount code to order the product sampled, it’s a win-win! Vendors haven’t started doing this yet but I see it as a future direction.
You have a really good point about the Western vendors having increased responsibility to get things out and have customers engaged in purchase in the Summer so they can get things sorted out before Black Friday.
white2tea is pretty responsive to customer feedback and I see them benefiting from releasing a limited, discounted, full line sample set only the weekend they finish their Spring release next year with discount codes to reorder what was sampled. This would work well for both their marketing and brand. But I agree that their line is too expensive for most to sample in full and I feel just as silly basing my Radom purchases on description and marketing.
Great comment and points.
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