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Two

2014 New Amerykah 2 Raw Pu-erh from White Two Tea

NewAmerykahTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  White Two Tea

Tea Description:

An old arbor Menghai blend. Thick body, lingering kuwei [pleasant bitterness], and plenty of oomph. This tea is a continuation of last year’s New Amerykah. The blend is slightly different, focusing more on sweetness and body than on bitterness.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I was a little worried when I read the description to this 2014 New Amerykah 2 Raw Pu-erh from White Two Tea.  I’m not a big fan of bitterness – although sometimes I find a savory bitterness to be quite pleasant especially when it contrasts with a stronger sweetness in a tea, so I hoped that might be what I experienced with this tea.

My first infusion wasn’t as sweet as I secretly hoped for but there is a really nice balance between the savory bitter note and the sweetness.  It’s not what I’d describe as a sweet tea, this is definitely more a savory tasting tea.  But it’s pleasant and actually kind of a nice change up from some of the sweeter teas that I’ve had.

It’s very mellow and not at all earthy as I would generally expect from a pu-erh tea.  No briny taste, no fishy taste, not even a slight ‘mushroom-y’ taste.  It’s light and slightly herbaceous.  It’s a very mild taste, very pleasant to sip – so pleasant in fact, that the tea disappeared rapidly.

NewAmerykah2My second infusion has a much stronger flavor.  There is nothing mild about this cup!  But it still isn’t what I’d call earthy.  Herbaceous, yes.  There is a distinct bitter note, like a bitter grass flavor, or like what I might experience if I were to eat collard greens.

This cup is not nearly as balanced as the first cup was.  I almost feel like this could use a couple of drops of balsamic vinegar in it to help balance it out and offer some tangy notes as well as a hint of sweetness.  It tastes like it needs ‘salad dressing’, if that makes sense.  It’s not unpleasant though.  I notice that toward the end of the sip, I get some sweetness and almost like a hint of citrus in the finish and these flavors do help balance out the bitter notes.

Interestingly enough, I found that the third infusion was much more like the first than it was the second.  The flavors were stronger in the third cup than the first, but, I found that the strong bitterness had subsided somewhat and become a little smoother and balanced with the sweet notes.

It’s still primarily a savory tea (again, not a tea I’d call sweet) but there is more sweetness now to soften the savory bitter taste.  There is a dryness to this cup too, like a mineral-y dry note just after mid-sip that transcends into a slightly dry astringency.  I notice some grape-y notes here, reminding me just a little bit of a dry white wine.

Later infusions continued to become smoother and more balanced.  I think that my favorite was the fourth infusion, which seemed to me to be the perfect balance between savory and sweet without tasting ‘sweet.’  It was still a distinctly savory tea with its bitter characteristics but there was enough sweetness to soften the bitter bite and keep the taste balanced for the palate.

As I drank the sixth infusion, I felt the flavors were starting to wane somewhat so I decided to stop with this tea.  I suspect I could have still gotten at least two more (possibly more) flavorful infusions, but, I was ready to move on anyway.

What I like best about this particular pu-erh is the lack of earthiness.  No strong earthy notes in the aroma.  Not a strong earthy flavor.  I also like that with each new infusion, I discovered something new about this tea.  It captured my interest with its smooth, mellow character in the first infusion and it seemed to reinvent itself with each new infusion to keep hold of my interest.

A very different pu-erh – but different in a very good way!

Duchess Black Tea from White Two Tea

Duchess_BlackTeaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  White Two Tea

Tea Description:

Just the tip of the leaf is used in the production of the Duchess black tea, which is made in a traditional Jinmaofeng [gold tip] style. This tea is suitable for both heavy brewing and gongfu style, depending on personal preference. The fragrances range from sweet and floral to mint.

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about White Two Tea’s Monthly Subscription here.

Taster’s Review:

Yum!  This Duchess Black Tea from White Two Tea is oh-so-delish!

It’s a golden Yunnan tea and it brews up coppery.  I brewed this tea in my Kati Tumbler.  I measured out a bamboo scoop of tea – I had to estimate this because the leaves are very long and wiry and didn’t really fill the scoop very well – and heated the kettle to 205°F.  I poured the water over the leaves and let the tea steep for three minutes.

The flavor is wonderful!  Very much what you’d expect from a Golden Yunnan tea.  The sip starts out sweet with a strong caramel-y note.  The texture is smooth and thick.  The caramel flavor develops, offering hints of molasses and hints of spice.  By mid-sip, I’m picking up on notes of Leather and baked bread and malt.  In the distance, I pick up on hints of cacao.  The finish is smooth (very little to no astringency whatsoever) and sweet.  In the aftertaste, I pick up on faint floral notes with whispers of spice.

An absolutely LOVELY cup of tea.  I prefer this tea served hot but as it cools, it is still quite good.  It would make a great mid-to-late morning tea when you want something rich and satisfying to keep you going.

Dark Feather Oolong – Dawuye Dancong Tea from White Two Tea

Dark_Feather_DancongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  White Two Tea

Tea Description:

Dark Feather Dancong oolong tea is a Dawuye variety oolong from the Guangdong province of China.  The tea has a light to medium roast and is sweet, fragrant, and has a lasting complex finish. Best brewed Gongfu style, the Dark Feather can be resteeped many times.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Oh how lovely!  This Dark Feather Oolong – Dawuye Dancong Tea from White Two Tea is a wonderful Oolong tea.

To brew, I went gongfu style and grabbed my gaiwan.  I eyeballed a bamboo scoop size measurement (these leaves are too long and wiry to actually fit in the scoop) and put them in the bowl of my gaiwan.  Then I heated water to 180° and poured enough water in the gaiwan to cover the leaves.  I let this steep for 15 seconds to rinse the leaves.  Then I strained the liquid and discarded it and started over with more hot water.  This time I let the tea steep for 1 minute.  Ordinarily, I will steep an Oolong 45 seconds for the first infusion, but after 45 seconds, the color was very pale so I went with another 15 seconds.  I added 15 seconds onto each subsequent infusion.  I combined the first and second infusions for my first cup; my second cup was infusions three and four … and so on!

My first cup:  It’s so sweet and has delightful fruit and honeyed notes.  The sip starts out with the honey flavors right away, filling the palate with delectable sweetness.  Then I start to pick up on some hints of flower.  Mere hints, this is not what I’d call a floral tea, but there are subtle whispers of flower in the distance.  Then I taste the fruit.  I taste notes of plum and peach.  They are intensely sweet fruit notes – like cooked fruit (pie filling, perhaps!)

Just after mid-sip, I start to pick up on subtle notes that are slightly earthy and woodsy.  Again, these flavors are very subtle, because this tea is mostly about the fruit and honey flavors!  It’s all about SWEET with this tea – I like that!  The texture is soft and thick, almost brothy.  Before I knew it, the cup was empty and it was time to steep those leaves again and discover what the next two infusions had in store for me.

My second cup:  This cup has a slightly lighter texture to it.  The flavors are different than the first cup too.  This is more focused on the fruit notes and I taste both sweet and savory elements from the fruit tones.  I get a slight tart note to the flavor; it’s a nice contrast to the sweeter flavors of the tea.  I taste a slight mineral-y note now.  There are notes of honey, but these have thinned a bit from the first cup are not as dominate.

I can taste more of the roasted flavors now.  They taste savory and slightly smoky, but, again, this smoked note is very slight.  It’s not really a ‘nutty’ flavor the way so many other roasted Oolong teas taste, instead, this tastes more like the fruit has been drizzled with honey and then roasted.  YUM!

My third (and final) cup:  Because I noticed that the texture was lightening up in my second cup, I decided that my third cup would be the last for me.  Oh, don’t get me wrong – the flavors are still there and still ABUNDANT!  This tea is delivering many wonderful infusions, just like a good Oolong should.

And this third cup is probably my favorite of the three!  Yes, the flavor and texture is lighter than the first and second cups, but I like the way the flavors have all melded together.  It’s sweet with just enough savory flavor to bring a nice contrast to the palate.  I’m picking up on light buttery notes and I find those to be so lovely!  There is a light creaminess to this cup that I didn’t taste in the previous two cups – the texture is lighter but it’s creamier.

A really lovely cuppa.  If you’re into Oolong teas (or even if you’re not!) this is a tea you should try.  Those early fruit and honey flavors as well as the creamy, buttery notes of the later infusions make this a tea journey definitely worth the trip!

Chocolate Mini Shu Pu-er (2000) from White Two Tea

Chocolate_MiniTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy: White Two Tea

Tea Description:

The 2000 Chocolate Mini Shu Puer bricks are so named for their small shape, rather than their flavor, which is more of a fruity sweetness. Each tin contains 100 grams of tea, which brews up dark and smooth. We recommend breaking the bricks apart and giving them a rinse, as some still have very tight compression and take awhile to open up.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

These little Mini tea cakes do look a little bit like a square of chocolate!  They don’t really smell like it though.  Dry, the aroma is earthy.  The brewed liquid has a softer scent, still earthy but the aroma is not quite as strong.

To brew this, I grabbed my gaiwan!  I broke the brick off into layers with a knife – this is a very tightly compressed brick!  Using 195°F water, I did a 15 second rinse and discarded the liquid, and then I filled the gaiwan with more hot water and let it steep for 30 seconds.  Ordinarily, I would steep it for 45 seconds but after 30 seconds, the liquid was quite dark so I decided to go ahead and strain off the tea at 30 seconds.

Chocolate_Mini1And I’m glad I did!  This first infusion was perfect!

The flavor is sweet!  Just as the description above suggests, the flavor has a fruity sweetness.  I taste notes of sweet plum and even a hint of peach.  The sweetness is profound, with notes of molasses along with the sweet fruit tones.

The flavor isn’t really chocolate-y.  There are notes of earth – but they are far more subtle than the aroma of the dry leaf and even than the brewed tea might lead you to think.  It’s a gentle earthiness that evokes thoughts of mushroom.  It’s a very smooth tasting tea with no astringency or bitterness.  It has a pleasant mouthfeel.

It’s a really enjoyable pu-erh.

And of course, with a pu-erh, I’m treated to many wonderful infusions!  The second infusion I steeped for just 30 seconds as well, and it was a very deep, full taste.  Very mellow!  In later infusions, the earthy flavors developed and I started to pick up on some woodsy flavors that evoked thoughts of the damp wooded areas up here in the Pacific Northwest.

The plum and peach notes seemed to subside a little bit, or maybe I should say that the fruit flavors developed into more of a date and fig flavor with notes of dark raisin.  I liked the way these sweeter fruit flavors tasted with the notes of molasses.  It was quite an enjoyable experience.

A really nice tea with which to spend an afternoon!

1997 Light Green 7582 Private Order Pu-erh Tea from White Two Tea

1997_7582 Raw PuerTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  White Two Tea

Tea Description:  

This cake is made from the Menghai factory recipe 7582, composed of many larger leaves. This production was made on private order at a smaller factory between  1995-1999, we decided to take the median of the age and list it as 1997, though we can not pinpoint an exact year. The tea is already smooth and easy to drink. There is some humidity that still shows up in early steeps.

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about White Two Tea’s Tea Club Subscription here.

Taster’s Review:

Nice!

The aroma of the dry leaf is delicate and earthy.  It’s not a strong fragrance which I sometimes find in an aged tea.  I’m glad the earthy notes are rather subtle here because it’s usually that really strong, earthy scent that I find off-putting.  This is not off-putting at all.

To brew it, I grabbed my gaiwan.  I eyeballed a measurement of leaf (the sampling I received from White Two Tea had been broken off the cake) and placed it in my gaiwan.  After having brewed cake pu-erh enough times, I’ve gotten to the point where I can recognize by sight how much tea is “the right amount.”

As I said, the sampling had already been broken off the cake, but a couple of the pieces were a little thicker, so I took a knife and I split the leaves apart so that I’d get a proper infusion.

I brought the water in my kettle to 185° and I poured enough water into my gaiwan to cover the leaves.  Then I let that steep for 15 seconds and strained off the liquid, discarding it.  This is a “rinse” or a reawakening of the leaves.  I find this step is crucial for the best tasting cup of tea.

Then I filled the gaiwan with more water (same temperature) and let it steep for 45 seconds and strained it into my little teacup.

Ah … this is lovely!  It’s sweet and mellow.  The earthiness is perhaps the most pleasant earthiness I’ve yet to taste from a pu-erh.  There have been times when the earthy qualities are just not pleasant at all.  They taste a bit more like earth than they do earthy, if you get what I’m saying.  But, this is more like the flavor of a mushroom.  That’s the kind of earthy I like.

It’s not brine-y.  It doesn’t taste fishy.  It’s remarkably smooth with no astringency and no bitterness.  It’s a really lovely cup of tea.  And since it’s a pu-erh, I can take this for several infusions (and by several infusions – when it comes to pu-erh – I mean more than 3 or 4!)

The second infusion presented a slightly deeper flavor than the first.  Earthy, and I’m starting to pick up on the development of a caramel-y like flavor.  Very pleasant.  Mild.  Smooth.  A hint of a vegetative flavor that complements the aforementioned mushroom note.

The flavor kept getting deeper with each subsequent infusion.  It remained very mellow, smooth and sweet.  The sweetness develops from a caramel-y note to more of a dark molasses-y type of flavor.

I picked up on notes of raw cacao in later infusions.  I’m also picking up on a mineral-y quality and a slight ‘tangy’ note to it.  Not astringent tangy, but as if someone had squeezed a lime on my tongue but without the distinct lime note.

I really enjoyed this tea – the first that I’ve tried from this new-to-me company!  I found this experience to be quite encouraging of what is to come!