Monday, June 29, 2020

2020 white2tea Is A Gift: Can't Have It All

Sometimes the worst brings out the best in people.  It’s been a rough year for some people but a lot of good has come out of it as well.  This is especially true as people are deeply reflecting on what matters to them in life.  I think the turmoil of 2020 has most definitely brought out the best in white2tea which is very good if you like puerh.

First, Paul had the 2020 white2tea Umbrella 200g no strings attached free puerh cake.  That was pretty amazing!  I took a pass on that cake but was moved to support white2tea this year in a purchase that spoke more to me… so here we are…

Then on May 15th came white2tea’s first wave 2020 Spring release and I would say the art direction on the wrappers is visually and artistically stunning.  Quite fresh and vibrant looking wrappers.  The descriptions and wrappers continue to improve year to year.  Paul’s continued his promotional email launching the cakes with a very short description was proven to be a hit in years past and was just as enjoyable for me this year.  This year the wrapper art seems less “graphic design” and more “artistic” they are really visually stunning this year.  Paul’s photography seems to be featured more and more year to year and the wrappers are looking more like art pieces in a gallery than design.  Beautiful esthetic.  In this first wave was the release of this 2020 white2tea Is A Gift ($249.00 for 200g cake or $1.25/g). The email description was “isn’t this all a gift?”… I agree that it kind of is…

Wave 2 came on June 7th with another goody- a charity cake named 2020 white2tea Good Man in a Storm which Paul apparently discounted from $35 for 200g cake to $25 for 200g cake.  The best part was that 100% of that money would go to charities that fight against systemic racism in the USA.  Black Lives Matter!  With a brand name that could mistakenly conjure up “white pride”, it was probably a good idea to clarify.  Let’s be perfectly clear- Black Lives Matter.  Paul’s bold statement on racism states the obvious in a turn over the last few years to cakes and wrappers which have a theme of social justice.  Spring 2020 Wave 1 release had wrappers and design elements that suggested that this year Paul’s artistic vision would focus a bit more on Social Justice as I jokingly implied in this post. 

These wrappers started to show up last year with the art on 2019 white2tea Road2Nowhere and the predicable release of 2020 white2tea Road2nowhere.  This cake which was released as 50 limited cakes and was still available for purchase until today.  I think this speaks more to the current economic state, the demographic of white2tea’s consumers, as well as a so-so review by Cwyn N of last year’s cake.  So far I haven’t read a review yet that would convince me to drop the $128.00 for 200g cake.

The artistic statement which is 2019 white2tea InB4 also looks at worker equality which is evident in Paul’s rare detailed description of his wrapper and cake name.  I always felt that the 2019 white2tea Duh is meant to be a strong statement on gender equality/ woman’s rights.  In the same vain as the shot blurred in camera InB4 (Love Always Wins) and Is A Gift (Be Nice), the 2019 Duh has “This Girl Can” blurred.  All of these shots are likely blurred T shirt logos.   “This Girl Can” is a charity that aims to reduce the gap and inspire woman to be more active in sport.  Then the title “Duh” juxtaposed with the blurred image suggests that gender stereotypes are more ingrained systemically than a simple catchy phrase or hashtag can simply reverse.

OK… Lets get back to Is A Gift…

It’s this simple… Last year the 2019 white2tea Is a Gift spoketo me.  Although it was one of the best 2019 puerh I had tried- I hadn’t sampled so widely in 2019 so that doesn’t say much.  Despite it being a great gift it had some flaws to it mainly in it lacking a deep throat feeling or complex aftertaste.  However, I still really like this 2019 but just couldn’t overlook the flaws to buy more for this price.  So in come this 2020 white2tea Is A Gift… will it out preform the 2019????

Dry leaves don’t seem as compressed as last year’s cake.  Very tippy small leaves smell of Tuitti Fruity odours with a deep forest base.  Not as high noted or piercing green smelling as last year’s 2019 but deeper smelling forest.

First infusion has a mellow woody forest vibe.  Some soapy floral notes developing in the aftertaste.  A sweet sugar finish, creamy, soapy floral.  Mainly soapy fragrant floral tastes in a cottony fuzzy mouthfeeling.  The perfume stays on the breath for a while in the sticky mouthcoating.

The second infusion has a floral bitter soapy almost sweet onset.  There is a slight creamy butter and rainforest base.  The mouthfeeling is cottony, full, and sticky the throat opens to a deep soft pungency where mainly floral tastes linger and fade.  The finish and aftertaste and throatfeeling of this 2020 is immediately better than the 2019.  The Qi is alerting in the body.

The third infusion has a foresty onset a moderate bitterness that turns quick to perfume and dense soapy handsoap florals.  Cottony full a little sticky mouthcoating.  There are woody tastes underneath the bitter and a mid-throat opening with some mild cool pungency which throws the soapy across the aftertaste.  The Qi has a building headiness to it with a nice alerting feeling.

The fourth infusion has a pretty intense bitter buttery floral creamy sweet onset.  The bitter really splashes up into the roof of the mouth and there is a touch of peachy mango taste.  The bitter is definitely building in intensity. The mouthfeeling is slippery stone.  My mind and head start to wobble and float.  There is some hypnotic feeling in my mind.  A mid depth throaty light depth that a mild pungency touches.  The result is a long perfume soap aftertaste on the breath.  The peach fruit taste returns minutes later.  Saliva pools in the mid-throat as thick peach taste coagulates there among distinctly strong perfume.  The mouthfeeling has a thick slippery feel to it.

The fifth infusion has a bittery buttery almost forest taste which has a distinct thick perfume floral soapy finish.  The mouthfeeling is slippery and the bitter is pronounced.  The throat sees a mild pungency mid-depth which traps soapy floral tastes for a long perfume aftertaste.  There are suggestions of peach taste under the strong bitter and floral soapy onset.  The Qi has a moderately hypnotic feeling to it, less intense than the 2020.

The sixth has a distinct bitter floral taste.  The bitter splashes up into the mouth and a soapy floral taste expands.  The taste is really pretty strong.  The slippery mouthfeeling and mid-deep light throatfeeling push out a long floral aftertaste of perfume and even peachy tastes.  The throat depth is deep enough to push out a gob of saliva where an almost salty very floral and subtle peach fruit taste is long in the throat.  The qi is starting to race the Heart a bit.  My body feels energized and my mind clear.  The long floral taste here is distinct and strong throughout. The bitter is moderate-strong and quick to move.  Compared to the 2019 the bitter was much stronger and stayed throughout the profile.  The floral taste was much shorter with a very inactive throatfeeling and short aftertaste with the 2019 compared to this 2020.

The seventh infusion has a moderate bitter buttery creamier sweet onset.  There is a long floral taste that expands in the throat and is long on the breath.  There is a bit of woody tastes here now.  The Qi is invigorating now with slight stronger Heart beats.  The mouthfeeling is slippery and reasonably full.  The throat is mid-level depth.  The saliva pools in the throat mintues later holding a kind of forest floral taste in there.

The eighth infusion has a lively moderate bitter taste that splashes floral buttery sweet tastes into the mouth.  A lower level bitter goes the distance the deeper throatfeeling pushes out strong florals and forest woods now in the aftertaste.  The qi pushes me into a mild sweat on this very humid summer day.  The mouthfeeling is slippery with a bit drying lip edges.  The Qi is relaxing as well as alerting.  Definitely not as powerful as the 2019.

The ninth infusion has a moderate quick moving bitter which quickly returns a buttery creamy but mainly woody distinct floral taste then drops to a mild bitter which trails out in the mouth.  The mouthfeeling of this 2020 is really nice with a mid-depth faint almost pungent cooling with saliva gob action.  The aftertaste is mainly floral woods now with faint peachy suggestions underneath.  The Qi is moderate and has a nice euphoria and heating going on now in the body.  The aftertaste of wood florals is on the breath 5 minutes later.

The 10th has a fresh green moderate bitter splash with a longer buttery floral initial taste.  The aftertaste is woods and distinct florals.  There is some suggestions of peachy fruit in the aftertaste as well.  The mouthfeeling is slippery cotton lip-edge dryness a moderately full feeling with mid-depth in throat and saliva pooling.  There are more tropical fruit nuances that try hard to punch through in the throat.  The mind is alert and a bit euphoric.  The aftertaste of peach florals is long.  I feel re-energized.

11th has a sweet peachy woody and now only low bitter onset.  There are some buttery florals that emerge mid profile.  The mouthfeel is less intense with a slippery almost dry thin moderate coating.  The aftertaste in the throat is more melon now with some florals as well and less woody.  The body pushes out another mild sweat.  This infusion is sweeter but less bitter or full.

12th has a buttery creamy floral onset with mild bitter underneath now.  There is a mild pungent in the throat mid ways which pushes out melon, peach, creamy sweet, and floral tastes.  The breath aftertaste is long and tasty.  The mouthfeeling is sticky and throat feeling still holding strong despite the bitterness really falling off.  This is probably the tastiest infusion 12 flash steepings in.  The qi is mildly hypnotic.

13th has a moderate-low bitterness with woody floral and creamy butter tastes.  The floral taste is long in the throat and sticks to the slippery almost sticky tongue coating.  The aftertaste kicks up melon, peach, but mainly a buttery almost sweetness and distinct floral character.  This infusion is really tasty as well.  The throat feeling is holding strong and is a nice point of this 2020.  The Qi has a warming feeling in the body and moderate euphoria with mild Heart beats.  The face has a subtle numbness.

14th has a low moderate bitterness with a creamy woody less floral sweet onset.  The mouthfeeling can get a touch almost dry pucker when infusions are sampled back to back.  The throat feels slight cooling pungency with a floral and woody finish with a lot less sweetness in this infusion.  Head euphoria and warming body, mild face and chest sensations. 

15th infusion has become a bit watery, butter cup, some creamy sweetness and faint floral.  It’s starting to loose strength here.  There is still a nice long aftertaste of tropical creamy banana candy which is really tasty.  The aftertaste is losing strength as well.  The throat feel continues to hold and the mouthfeel has a nice slippery stickiness to it still.

16th has a peachy woody almost but not really floral initially which expands to more of a buttery floral in the mid profile and slight tropical fruity in the aftertaste with a slight soft bitterness throughout.  Still a nice floral tropical sweet aftertaste which is quite long even though it is weakening now.

17th is a watery floral cup with a bit of butter and woods mainly watery now.

18th I push into a few minutes long infusion… and it pushes out some buttercup florals over a mild bitter woody taste.  The Qi has dropped off as well over the last few infusions.  Still some fruity aftertaste.

I put the rest of the wet leaves in a mug and really long steep it…. Deep bitter and salty green florals remain…

Looking at the wet leaves of this 2020- the processing is not the ultra green, crazy perfect unbroken bud and leaf sets of the 2019 Is A Gift.  Also there are some leaves which have a bit of browning or scorched marks which were not in the perfect looking 2019 leaves.  The small leaf varietal is still apparent and the quality is there but not the crazy meticulousness of the 2019.  It could have been deliberately processed a bit longer in the wok as this 2020 is not as mean green processed as the 2019.  Its possible that Paul gave the farmers the directive to leave it in the wok a bit longer to bring out more taste and a deeper throat feeling which the 2019 lacked.

Overall, this is an above average Yibang.  It has some strength behind it and has a nice aftertaste.  The taste peaks slowly and has above average stamina for a Yibang.  The Qi is also nice and more warming and euphoric than the flat out more powerful 2020….

Vs 2019 white2tea Is A Gift.  The 2019 white2tea Is a Gift is a significantly better tea in almost all respects.  The 2019 has much stronger Qi, better stamina, better leaf processing, and is more extreme yibang in general.  This makes the 2019 better to age long term I believe.  But the flavors and aftertaste of the 2019 was weak.  Where the 2020 is better in its more balanced flavor while still being more powerful than average.  The 2020 has a nice throatfeeling and aftertaste as well.  It’s much better suited for drinking now but will aged decently enough.  It’s a more balanced Yibang than the extreme and power of the 2019.  The 2020 does imnprove significantly in the aftertaste and throatfeeling but its gains here don’t outweigh the power which is the 2020.

In the end I'm left wondering if some extra processing was done to this 2020 to make it less nuclear green as the 2019?  To perhaps give it a deeper taste and throat feeling?  I am also left wondering if it was all done deliberately or is it by accident or just the way nature and climate left its mark on harvests of different years?  Maybe if the 2020 was green processed it would still be the powerhouse green machine of 2019? And by processing it differently in 2020 it has added flavor and throat feeling but has weakened its stamina and Qi? 

I guess I'll never know but I will find these two cakes interesting to compare has they age.  It also makes me think that if I thought that the lack of complex aftertaste, and deep throat feeling was the flaw of the 2019 and it was corrected in 2020 by processing but yet I am even more dissatisfied with the 2020 then I must be really picky or impossible to satisfy with my Yibang puerh.... hahahhaha... the phrase "Can't Have it All" is an apt phrase when it comes to trying to find a flawless puerh.  However, with puerh and with life, you make the best what comes your way and find the positives to enjoy...

Somehow I ended up giving the 2019 white2tea Is A Gift anumerical grade of 7.1.  I will give this 2020 white2tea Is A Gift a 5.9 just for comparison.

Thanks again Paul for pressing another enjoyable gift!


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