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Recent Tasting Notes
Started my morning with a grounding session of fresh figs and Yiwu sheng. Definitely subtle sweetness was a huge element of this tea session both from the pu’erh itself and from the fruit. Usually I would opt to pair figs with something like a white tea, but the initially soft liquor that slowly crescendos into something more impactful with each steep worked really, really well!
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cn7xO7PuUkD/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXg1QK7M9Ak
Sipdown! (32 | 32)
Sorry, it’s been a few days since I’ve written a note. I had a couple of all-day work events this week which really just wore my introverted self out. But thankfully now it’s Friday and a half day, woo!
This tea was delicious. It’s been my first tea of the day for a couple of weeks now, and is such a lovely start to the morning. It’s gentle and smooth and just tastes like pure honey with a touch of bread. I’m not sure I’ve tried another tea with such a strong and distinct honey note to it. And not like generic honey flavor, but like actual clover or wildflower honey with those subtle pollen-y floral notes. It reminds me a bit of Taiwanese black teas, but without the other fruity and cinnamon flavors those tend to have.
Anyway, not a very complex tea but super delicious and I would absolutely buy it again. :)
Flavors: Bread, Creamy, Floral, Honey, Malty, Pollen, Smooth, Sweet, Thick
It was so, so cold last week and I’m sure that heavily influenced just how much I found myself craving shou – especially in the mid afternoons. I brewed this one long and strong for a super thick, rich cup with all that cozy earthy molasses goodness! It was a very, very good desk mate for the afternoon.
Tea Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CnSfyaHOjfm/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4-xYk7rado
Steeping up a pretty casual session with one of these minis! This is my first time trying this black tea and it’s pretty close to W2T’s site description; super sweet and syrupy, especially in the front half each steep in the earlier portion of the session. I find the deep garnet coloured liquor it produces so mesmerizing. Perhaps it’s subconsciously creating some suggestion bias, but it feels super apt for the coating, bright notes of sweet grenadine that I get in the fleeting top notes of most infusions before the profile settles into more of the spun sugar, chocolate, and malt flavours that better define the session. The aftertaste is particularly intriguing as it’s the least sweet part of the tea. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what the tasting note is, but it’s unlike anything else in the session.
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CnXnIGguhV6/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F39ts57OcRo
This first one to be tried from my recent white2tea order.
Sadly, I’m not a huge fan of this. That’s not to say it’s not good tea, obviously it is. But it has fairly strong floral overtones, which just isn’t my jam. There are plenty of other nice flavors, tart stonefruit and winey notes, malty and savory grains, deep cocoa, and a touch of smoke even.
But the floral is a bit too strong for me to enjoy the cup. So this bag will be going into my rehoming pile, so it can makes its way to someone who will love it. :)
Flavors: Bread, Cocoa, Floral, Fruity, Grain, Honey, Malty, Plum, Red Wine, Smooth, Stonefruit, Sweet, Tart, Thick, Toasted
This is my first official White2tea puerh! (that I’m trying on my own/not from a swap). I really love puerh and it’s not something I get to have often so for a little treat I got myself some a few weeks ago and I had to try this one as soon as I opened the box. It’s creamy, hazelnutty, and smooth with just a touch of vanilla. I’m thinking I may need to order more than 25 grams next time, perhaps 50? Even if I love a tea I don’t think I’ll get full cakes of any of them because I don’t get the time to relax with puerh as much as I’d like and I don’t want it to just sit around.
Flavors: Bread, Cream, Hazelnut, Honey, Nutty, Roasty, Vanilla
This was my first gongfu session to kick start this new year!! Not a super conscious decision; I just knew I wanted to begin the year with something new. It’s a pretty aromatic tea with super syrupy liquor. The first note that jumps out is a nice, pleasantly funky dark golden honey note – almost pungent in its sweetness! It’s complimented with lots of rich starchy goodness, a slight taste of floral musk, and a intriguing note of brandied plums that weaves like a ribbon across the top notes, mid sip, and undertones over the coarse of the session. Definitely excited to see how this ages, but right now I feel like this is really solid bang for my buck – shockingly nuanced and really flavourful!
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cm4wR7uOimX/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xfhi_nIk-bI
I think we’re due for another drop in temperature this week but I’m starting the new year with Spring Peach anyway. I think this is the last one I need to taste from last February’s yancha box. Between the first box getting lost in the mail and not drinking much tea over the summer, it’s taken me a while to get to it. As with the others, I’ve saved enough for a more structured session with the teeny gaiwan later.
Glass gongfu bottle thingie, didn’t weigh the tea leaves, filling the water side of the bottle about halfway (100-ish ml, I think?). Dry leaves just smell roasty to me. Wet leaves after the first steep have an unappealing burnt grassy smell when hot but start to smell more fruity as they cool…peach? Apricot? Pineapple? Brewed tea is more fruity when hot and the roast flavors come out more as it cools. This really makes me want some peach pie. Slightly too much water or too little time on the second steep, tastes a bit weak. Still getting the peachy flavors as a sort of aftertaste as I exhale after a sip, though. Curious if I would have picked out peach if it wasn’t in the name or if the suggestion really pushes me that direction. Can’t decide if I think it’s more fresh peach or baked/grilled/canned/something-ed peach…almost seems to alternate between but it’s been ages since I last had a peach or peach baked goods. The problem with drinking tea in the evening, especially on holidays, is that all my local bakeries are closed and I can’t make an “emergency” pie/donut/croissant run when the tea makes me crave something. I think I need some peach pie and a peach cobbler fritter to see which would go better with the tea. Third steep is stronger but seems rather astringent compared to the previous two. Perhaps not quite enough water this time? You wouldn’t think filling a bottle to the same level each time would be so difficult. Aftertaste is still sweet and syrupy, like I just took a drink of fruit juice. If the next steeps are dramatically different, I’ll come back and edit my note. Not sure it’s very productive for me to sit here daydreaming about pie and donuts while I try to think of more things to say about the tea.
Random pick from the goodies from Valhallow. A bit giddy and overwhelmed with tea. Makes me happy like Scrooge when he woke up ready to become a better version of himself. Ah, but they didn’t have fancy tea like this in his part of the town. It was around but not where he was. This seems like a typical dancong. Has the usual qualities but I wouldn’t say it’s a superior version. Good aroma with minerality and wet stone and a mix of different rocks which also translates into the flavor. The mouthfeel smooths out with each infusion.
OH boy oh boy oh boy. I opened this last week in the midst of my sinus infection and was wondering why this smoked lapsang was so delicate on the smoke. Wow, do I appreciate my sense of smell more than ever. This is a wonderful lapsang. This is an incredibly smooth mouthfeel. The smoke flavor is perfect too. Strong enough to compete with the earthy tones of the base tea but not so strong that it’s overpowering. Woodsy notes. Bark. Deep woods. Campfire. Fire in an old house (not old house on fire). Leaves quite an everlasting impression in your mouth.
I’m sticking with very bold tasting teas as I wait for my my palate to snap back. Though I’m always down for a smoked tea, this one is particularly interesting because it has a lot of greener and more chlorophyllic notes. Things like dandelions greens and crunchy autumn leaves, but mixed with peat and tobacco. Oddly, I got a bit of a sultana fruity sweetness today, as well. It’s bringing me some comfort today as I continue to rest, hoping to get back to a more normal routine!
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CmuWMaLuRjr/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-A-JoluUwfI
Advent Tea! Wow this is nicely smooth and floral. Not a whole lot of smoke here, but I’ll try to steep it a few more times. A nice change of pace from clove and ginger and chocolate. The second steep was still floral, but quite a bit weaker. Maybe I’m expecting too much from this delicate brew, but I wish it steeped longer. Thanks for sending it Lexie!
I’ve been so bad about writing tea notes! I’ve been drinking tea before bed and thinking I’ll do notes the next day and never getting around to it.
Citramalt Black was included in my Black Friday weekend order as a freebie. I couldn’t find it on White2Tea’s site to check their notes about it. I dumped several quick gongfu-ish steeps into a thermos and meant to sip it last night while working on projects but it was so cold that I just buried myself in my blanket nest and went to sleep instead. Luckily, the tea was still the perfect temperature when I came back to it today. From the name I guess I was expecting a lot of citrus type flavors. I mostly get dried cranberry or tart cherry, maybe a little bit of prune. I like it. Not as strong of a lemony acidic feeling in the mouth or stomach as I’d feared. I usually love citrus so I’m not sure why I was worried about this tea. It has a bit of a drying, astringent feeling in the mouth but nothing extreme, and I may have overbrewed it a little. The brewed tea is lighter colored than I was expecting (yeah, I know, color is a terrible indicator of “done-ness”) and like a lazy person I didn’t measure the amount of tea I used (three good pinches looked about right). I checked the first steep at about 20 seconds and it looked awfully pale (<3 glass teaware) so I let it go another 10 seconds or so to see if that helped (trying to count without getting distracted, because that’s soooooo much less effort than setting a timer). Even with haphazard brewing its tasty. It would probably be good with a snack of dried fruit or good homemade fruitcake (not that weird store bought stuff that looks a little too much like it’s made of Play-doh and plastic fruit and never seems to go moldy even after years of hiding in the back of your cupboard).
Teas that never got notes:
White2Tea Tiltshift 2021 mini (was supposed to be the new 2022 one, didn’t notice I was sent the wrong ones until I was unwrapping one…their customer service has been great about taking care of the mishap)
White2Tea Judy mini
White2Tea Ban Tian Yao oolong
White2Tea 2022 Green Hype
White2Tea 2016 Fortune Teller maocha (yum!)
White2Tea 2016 Mengku dragon ball
2019 Zu Xiang Wu Liang Moonlight White (drank LOTS of this)
Small glass pitcher/cha hai – got clunked in the sink while rinsing
Flavors: Dried Fruit
Working my way through some old samples I never got around to drinking. This one had some interesting aromas after the wash, I was getting warm brown bread, the kind you bake with raisins and molasses. Brewed up a nice dark brown just short of black. The flavors in the aroma don’t really bear out in the cup, most of what I’m getting steep after steep is just, well basic shou flavor is the only way I can describe it. Just a clean basic shou with moderate body. It’s perfectly fine, but there’s nothing really interesting going on here.
Brewing up some old samples that I had never gotten to. This one surprised me, in a good way. The “lumber” here is less pure wood or wood smoke flavor, and more like a forest on a rainy autumn day. Reminds me of a cabin in the woods. Earthy with plenty of petrichor, a bit of mushroom broth, a hint of camphor and just a trace of wood smoke like someone’s campfire smoldering out somewhere down the trail. Thick and hearty with no astringency when pushed. A comfy tea. Would buy again.
Drinking up some of my old samples I never got around to. On the nose there’s some camphor, wet rock, and a little wood. Despite brewing up a very dark reddish black, I wouldn’t call it thick or heavy bodied. There’s a bit of a bitterness/astringency there that becomes more pronounced than I’d like when I try to push the shou to get a richer brew out of it. Early steeps are camphor, wood and a little bit of that wet rock/basement, getting more medicinal until only the bitterness remains.
Overall, I found this slightly disappointing, I wanted something creamier than this offered. Probably wouldn’t buy again.
Now that this tea has had a chance to start to rest, I’ve been dying to crack into the cake and steep it up! The first thing I noticed was how unbelievably soft and smooth the texture if the liquor was – one of the mostly silky and velvety pu’erhs that I’ve tasted in quite some time. Several times while sipping the phrase “earth butter” popped into my head; it feels so fitting for this pleasantly earthy and highly creamy shou that has a real “melt in your mouth” quality. I fully understand W2T’s description of this tea as the ripe pu’erh version of steamed milk – it’s almost painfully spot on. What a beautiful way to start off the weekend!
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cl_iIjRuFeN/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7L4HRJs4lI
So, like past years, I haven’t only been drinking advent teas. Admittedly it’s been harder to sneak in other teas this year, but every now and then I just need to brew something up that’s not on the docket for the day – like this tea!
I think the biggest thing I’ve been craving this year is just more black tea. There have been a fair amount in my five different advents, but it’s honestly felt like there have been so many more green teas and oolong than normal. So, gotta supplement that! This black tea has got a rich and syrupy liquor with a pungently sweet floral aroma and heavy notes of fermenting red fruits, roses, and bitter baker’s cocoa. Really unique and punchy!
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/Clq9J1Euqf3/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3YZkWFFWyg
I received my first order from White2tea and I am really looking forward to trying all the teas. I tried 2018 Hot Brandy first. It is the first time I tried a pressed cake with a combination of Black and White teas. I really like it. It has a unique flavor. I can taste more of the flavors when it cools down. I am glad that I can taste the white tea and the black tea does not overpower it. Like floral flavor. It would be interesting to try this tea cold brewed.
The name is so repulsive and hilarious. Nothing like the tea tastes. It’s fantastic. I am giddy with excitement while it steeps. The aroma coming off the leaves in the water is strong in mineral and buttered popcorn notes. The flavor is packed with minerality. Wet rocks. Rocks wet with crushed summer flowers. If you steep it too long it becomes astringent. Not quite like an Assam but kind of puckering like an herbal steeped too long. The mouthfeel is soft. Mainly minerals but a bit of summer flower presence too.
It delivers what White2Tea promotes with this shou. After a wash (20 sec., 100° C) this tea was made in a mug (grandpa style). The sweetest shou I ever had with creamy tones like cookie batter, vanilla pudding, wood and little fermented notes. 5-6g and this had still a light body, so I would guess it’s not made for Gong Fu. Later on minerality shines through. The last sips (as it is more concentrated at the bottom of the mug) show more classical earthy notes with a bit cocoa and mushroom.
All in all a sweet and light shou, but a bit one-dimensional. A crowdpleaser or when you don’t want to ponder about your tea while drinking.
Flavors: Cocoa, Cookie, Mushrooms, Vanilla, Woody
This tea surprised me. This was my second Green Hype, and it came as a free sample like the previous one. I enjoyed the previous one, but it’s still a little full bore for frequent consumption even with a few years of age on it. Despite this one’s 2022 vintage, I’m guessing the provenance or the amount of 4 year aged material has it very drinkable by Dec 2022. Two flash rinses at 100C is perfect for me. It’s still got lovely light, fresh aroma with palatable astringency in the early steeps. More apricot jam shows up in subsequent steeps with good huigan. It’s not particularly stewey or soupy, nor is the stimulation aggressive if I moderate my consumption in a session. The tea has good legs to it and develops decently over a longer session.
I really like the balance of this tea right now, and feel like it would be easy to talk about what it doesn’t have. It’s not a tea of excess in any area, which I’m beginning to appreciate. I don’t have to be in the mood for what it’s offering, because what it’s offering is just nice. It’s not stewy or bitter or aggressive, it’s not heavy on tobacco or aloeswood or prunes or cotton candy. But unlike many teas that are middle of the road, this one doesn’t bore me. It rewards me, it develops, it holds my interest. It’s not easy to unpack what’s going on in the background, and I honestly don’t want to try. Sometimes Baroque music is nice playing in the background. This is one that I didn’t take as seriously as I should have when I first got it because it was young and it was a tea club cake, but I’ve grown to appreciate it. I’ve had “better” teas that I drink less of because they are have a strong and demanding identity. This tea strikes a great balance between demanding attention and not warranting it. It’s something that I can forget that I’m drinking until a fresh cup sparks new joy when it touches my lips, and it’s at a great price point for doing just that.
Flavors: Apricot, Jam, Pepper, Tangy