2016 “Orange Drop” – White2Tea

It’s starting to be the time of year when I want nothing but shou. Well… to be fair, that’s most of the year for me, but everyone else is going to jump on the shou-wagon soon enough.

I got my white2tea monthly club box in the mail just the other day. There happens to be some shou in the box, so I’m a little excited. Turns out that the box contains a polarizing style of tea – shou stuffed into mandarin oranges. Maybe it’s not as polarizing as cilantro, but I know a lot of puerh drinkers that can’t stand the oranges.

Why oranges?

Great question. Dried tangerine peel is a Chinese medicine called chenpi (陈皮), which has been used for hundreds of years. Chenpi has been shown to reduce digestive and gastrointestinal issues (not a book recommendation, but you could read up on it here, if you wanted). Of course, hollowed out oranges are the perfect place to stuff puerh, and since puerh has magical healing properties anyway (joke), why not add the medicinal power of chenpi?

I happen to love the taste of orange with shou. It’s a natural compliment, though some folks find it to be too much. You can choose to leave the peel in your brewing vessel or just take out the tea, which will have been infused with the orange scent. Obviously, leaving the peel in adds more orange flavor (and potentially more bitterness from the oils in the peel as well as the pith).

Onto the tea…

The tea that came with this month’s club is the 2016 “Orange Drop.” It’s not on white2tea’s site yet, but I imagine that it will be soon(?). Either way, I’ll update this post with a link to the product page when it comes out. These little drops are about 10g each, which is a perfect single serving size. The mandarin is stuffed with what looks to be gongting (宫廷) or at least imperial grade shou puerh (熟 – shou, 普洱 – puerh). This will steep rather quickly.

2 balls
2 balls

Another note is that these are mandarins from Xinhui (新会). Xinhui basically set the standard for chenpi production as well as the stuffing of puerh into the mandarin husks. These are called ganpu (柑普), which is not to be confused with other fruit and tea combinations of similar nature (such as pomelos or other citrus fruits).

Steeping

Before you steep, you might want to break up the peel so that the tea doesn’t remain stuck inside while steeping. Once you’ve poured the water on the peel, it’s much harder to rip apart, so do this step while the chenpi is still dry. Steep this tea like you would any other gongting or small leaf ripe puerh. I like my gongting strong, so I do a slightly longer steeping. There’s a great shou flavor met with the backing of the citrus. The citrus flavors coat the throat and leave a tingling sensation.

Nice 2 meet you
Nice 2 meet you

The tea doesn’t change a whole lot over the course of the steepings – most gongting is pretty straightforward with flavor. The orange flavor, however, rises and falls with the first few steepings. You get a lot more of the residual oils and bitterness present in the first few steeps, then the flavor blends much more nicely with the shou flavors.

Deliciously orange
Deliciously orange

I definitely recommend having a few shou-stuffed mandarins laying around for rainy days or if you’re not feeling well. I find this tea very, very soothing on the throat and it sits nicely in the stomach. I don’t know how much these little oranges are going to cost, but I can’t imagine they will be that much. As individual servings, you can store them very easily and don’t have to worry about storing extra tea after breaking into one.

The aftermath
The aftermath

Until the next cup.

 

2016 “Teadontlie” – White2Tea

The supply of 2016 teas is almost endless. I have so many to try and so many more to review, not to mention other purchases and trades. Being a puerh junkie can get pretty overwhelming!

Today, I’m trying another new tea from White2Tea – 2016 “Teadontlie.” Teadontlie is a sheng puerh (生 – sheng, 普洱 – puerh) pressed into a 200 gram disk shape (餅 – bing; literally “cake”). The only notes on White2Tea’s site regarding this tea are:

A blend of raw Puer material that has a sweet, thick body. A heavy interior fruity floral fragrance and a strong astringency that will calm down with age.

Sounds pretty good to me.

DO IT NOW
DO IT NOW

The cake has pretty loose compression and relatively large leaves.

All ready to go
All ready to go

Steeping

Just a quick rinse for this young tea. The rinse is lightly floral with a wood base. Automatically, I think this tea has a yiwu (易武) base, but is most likely blended with leaf from other mountains/regions. The first five-second steep brings out more of the woodiness and some creeping astringency. This astringency increases greatly at steep two (five seconds) and there is also an increase in the floral notes. Hiding in the background is a fruit taste which lingers on the top of the mouth.

Steep 1
Steep 1

Steeps Three through Five

Steep three, seven seconds long, delivers a high viscosity. The astringency also levels out at this point, but doesn’t decrease. The fourth steep, and the heart of the session, has the astringency starting to fade. There’s a decrease in bitterness, but the tea is still heavy on floral notes. The tea remains thick and sweet, also providing a sharp punch of tea energy (茶气 – cha qi).

The heart of the session
The heart of the session

Steep five, increasing to 15 seconds, is still quite thick and sweet. The floral nature is fading, but is being replaced by softer fruit notes, which I’m identifying as pear-like.

Steeps Six through Eight

Steep six, also at 15 seconds, is much sweeter and amplifies the wood base, which was relatively hidden under the other flavors since the start of the session. The fruit taste moves into an apricot-like state. A 20-second seventh steep is much thinner with the peak of the tea obviously behind it. There’s still a great sweetness and wood/apricot blend. Steep eight, for 30 seconds, is much thinner, but still provides a good taste and sweetness.

Eighth steep, dying fast
Eighth steep, dying fast

Finishing the Session

I’m sure I could push this tea to about 11 steeps or so, but since the tea is dying rapidly, I’m losing interest. Overall, I’m still confident in my yiwu base assessment, though I’m not always right about these sorts of things. The leaves are nice and large; however, there are a lot of stems. The leaf size definitely lends to the sweetness of the tea – typically, the larger the leaf, the more sweetness, but that’s not always the case.

Pretty large leaf size, lots of stems
Pretty large leaf size, lots of stems

This tea is pretty magnificent right now. The length of the session will grow with age and some of those harsher, more astringent notes will die down over time, as well. I would highly recommend this tea for a sample (a cake is a sample) for further hoarding. This is a great tea to drink now or let age for a few years.

Until the next cup.

Warrior Wednesday – 2016 “Fade” – White2Tea

Warrior Wednesday! We all know western style (little leaf, lots of water, long time), grandpa style (little leaf, cup of water, continuous steeping/re-steeping), and traditional gongfu style (lots of leaf, little water, little time).

But… what if there were another way?

Enter warrior style. This is a method that my good friend paxl13 and I had invented over a year ago. Warrior style takes an extremely high ratio of leaf to water, roughly 1 gram per every 10 ml of water for sheng and potentially even higher for shou. Warrior style started as a “challenge” featuring New Amerykah 2 from White2Tea, so, how fitting that I introduce it to the world with yet another White2Tea product.

Today, I’m revisiting an “older” 2016 tea: Fade from White2Tea. This tea was initially in the April 2016 White2Tea club box… and I hated it. A lot of people raved about the tea, but I just couldn’t find any good qualities. I buried the brick in the back of the pumidor and said I’d try it again in six months. Well, it’s been five and a half, so.. close enough.

Snagged from www.white2tea.com
Snagged from www.white2tea.com

Fade is a huangpian (黄片 – huangpian; literally “yellow leaf”), which I’ve already ranted about in detail in my “Alter Ego” review. It’s a sheng puerh (生 – sheng, 普洱 – puerh) pressed into a 200g brick shape (砖茶 – zhuancha; literally “tea brick”).

Why not try it.. warrior style?

My ridiculous parameters for the session? 13g/100ml

Leaf stacked up!
Leaf stacked up!

Steeping

Fade has relatively loose compression for a zhuancha, so I was able to do a five-second rinse. The wet leaf is heavy on the wet tobacco scent. The rinse has tastes of stone fruit and a citrus top note. The first, full, five-second steep was a rich orange/yellow color. The sour citrus notes are much stronger as the leaf opens and the tea also develops a decent amount of astringency (bearing in mind that I’m severely over-leafing a young sheng).

Already punchy
Already punchy

Steeps Two through Five – Steep two moves into a vegetal sweetness and is still very heavy on the citrus top notes. I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of this weird sour taste in my tea, but I’m also feeling it as an attribute of young tea that would fade (heh, fade) with time. The tea starts to smooth out through the next few steeps, but really punches with astringency. Keep in mind that I’m basically flash steeping this for the first eight steeps due to the amount of leaf in the gaiwan.

The tea energy (茶气 – cha qi) is striking me hard around steep four. The tea starts developing a sweeter fruit profile – stone fruit and green apple are the predominant flavors along with the citrus top notes.

Drunken warrior...
Drunken warrior…

Finishing the Session

Out of respect for everyone’s reading attention span, I’m not going to break this into every steep. The amount of leaf that I’m pushing gives me 20+ steeps, even on a young tea.

Look at all of that leaf!
Look at all of that leaf!

Most importantly, Fade delivers a sweet fruit taste throughout the session. There is some astringency and a strange sour note, but I imagine that these will improve over time. Being a huangpian, Fade is relatively cheap. Would I keep drinking it now? Maybe not, but I sure will enjoy it in 2020!

So, maybe next time you break out an old favorite, you might want to brew fast and hard… in the WAY OF THE WARRIOR!

Until the next cup.

2016 “Diving Duck” – White2Tea

The overwhelming amount of new tea from 2016 is enough to make you want to hide in a pumidor. Today, I’m having the 2016 “Diving Duck” from White2Tea.

...or "Dwing" Duck as I like to read it
…or “Dwing” Duck as I like to read it

Diving Duck is a sheng puerh (生 – sheng, 普洱 – puerh) pressed into a disk shape (餅 – bing; literally “cake”). The dry leaves look delicious and have a bright sheng scent.

About to dive in...
About to dive in…

Steeping

I swear – if you’ve had one young sheng, you probably understand the standard brightness, vibrancy, bitterness, and astringency that comes along with it. The rinse is a light peach with soft flavors, most likely needing a little more time to wake up. The first full five-second steep yields a bright taste with a full body, slightly fruity and with wood notes. Unsurprisingly, this tea is listed as a Yiwu blend.

Region note: Yiwu Shan (易武 – yiwu, 山 shan; literally “mountain”) is one of the largest and most famous tea mountains and one of the “six famous tea mountains.” Typically, Yiwu teas have a wood-like note.

Starting the dive
Starting the dive

Steeps Two through Five – Steep two was ten seconds long and yielded more young sheng characteristics – bitterness and astringency (苦 – ku; literally “bitter”, 涩 – se; literally “astringent”). Bitterness and astringency are typical components of young sheng; however, these should be followed by a lingering sweetness (回甜 – huigan; literally “sweet return”). Steep three (15 seconds) continues the trend of bitterness and astringency; however, moving into steep four and five, there are defined notes of apricot and grass.

Underwater now...
Underwater now…

Finishing the Session

Diving Duck continues with the typical young sheng profile of bitterness and astringency, but mixes it up with some woodiness, apricot, and grass flavors. This tea would be more enjoyable with age, so if you pick some up, try it every few months to see how it progresses.

Until the next cup.