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Recent Tasting Notes
One of the last samples I still had left from a swap with Roswell Strsange is this special black tea. As I expected when it came out, it is very much in line with my preferences. The thick, oily texture and the strong yet well-integrated bitterness are often attributes I look for in sheng, but they are rarely to be found in black tea as well. What is more, they are accompanied by a dizzying and clarifying cha qi, a kind of energy that’s not common at all. Tha main reservation I have about the tea is its price, which is unfortunately quite steep.
The aroma is sweet and mineral with notes of leather, dates and gingerbread. Taste is at once bitter, but the woody sweetness is present throughout the experience too. Apart from the strong woody notes such as tree bark, I also found the tea to showcase several medicinal, sour and honey-like notes with a touch of smoke. The aftertaste is once again bitter and woody. It induces a lon-lasting cooling and almost acidic sensation.
Flavors: Bark, Bitter, Cucumber, Dates, Honey, Leather, Medicinal, Mineral, Sour, Sweet, Thick, Vinegar, Wood
Digging through my loose leaf teas and came across this oolong from the white2tea club back in 2019. It definitely should have been drank then, but it was still nice. Less floral notes than I would assume it had fresh, and more vegetal with a good honey sweetness. Started with 15 second steeps and moved up to 30ish after a few.
Flavors: Floral, Honeysuckle, Vegetal
I got a free 8g sample of this tea in my last order and I decided to steep it up Western style on the same day as receiving it, since I was craving shou and I do already have a sample of it to brew gongfu at a later time. It was fine, but truthfully I didn’t particularly love this one. At least, with this method of brewing at the very least. The taste was very approachable & smooth though with a really consistent earthiness. The problem was more than it was kind of smooth to a fault!? Like, there was no character or depth to the tea and I wanted more peaks and valleys of flavour instead of this flat one note earthiness.
I suppose, however, that it does fit its namesake and if you were looking for cheap entry level shou with a predictable and consistent taste…
Well, this would hit the nail perfectly on the head.
Couldn’t resist trying some of my newly received shou samples, from my last order, right away. I’ll probably give the rest time to settle but I needed to try something and these dragonballs are just such a convenient choice. It’s such a reliably smooth and warming shou with deep notes of caramelized baked dates, molasses, black cherries, and sweet damp earth!!
Geek Steep S2E4 – Janelle Monae
This is the tea I chose for my listen through of the albums/songs that Marika chose for this week’s episode of Geek Steep – though I have to give a big shout out and thank you to my friend Cody from TheOolongDrunk for really taking the time to help me pick a tea. I knew that I wanted something to Gongfu since brewing gongfu while listening to albums/playlists is such an important part of my tea drinking routine, and he had some really awesome suggestions!
You can listen to this week’s episode now on all major podcast streaming sites for the more thourough breakdown of exactly why this sheng in particular got the final stamp of approval.
Free coin that came with a recent order. Not sure what year actually, since the sticker on the coin ripped when I was opening it so I couldn’t read the year on the label. initially tossed the coin into a mug and was intending to grandpa. It was bitter and astringent to the point of being undrinkable, which is sort of my fault given the high ratio (6.7g coin into mug when I usually add like 3g of leaves) and adding boiling water. I shifted it to a thermos and added water to dilute it, so it became drinkable. At any rate, wasn’t really a fan. Tastes more like a black tea (hong cha/红茶), with the malty, floral, honeyed notes in that style. Dry sugared finish. Still astringent, though not as bitter as before. Pretty sure I’ve tried Turtle Dove in the past, and it wasn’t memorable, but this time I actively disliked it.
Good morning teaheads. My mind listened to my body so this morning’s tea is a shou pu’er from mrmopar (thank you!) and an old one at that.
The aroma is harmonious with the taste and feeling. Smooth with some light astringency. The body may be a little thin for my likes but I’m not entirely attentive to brewing. It gives me a deep, mushroom-brothy feeling. No thick potting soil vibes here. Good balance of medicinal tones — mellow, bitter earthiness like burdock root with whole grain sourdough, a ‘dry’ petrichor, buffalo grass, darkened leather and even older hardwood furniture. A bit of a high-pitched raspberry tone. A cool camphor comes and goes without interrupting. Little aftertaste; on one steep I got the most fleeting impression of caramel-chocolate-coffee. Last few steeps, as the flavor becomes mostly depleted, present a licorice root sweetness and are drying-catching in the throat.
A nice step into this cold morning.
Flavors: Astringent, Baked Bread, Broth, Buffalo Grass, Camphor, Dark Wood, Earth, Grain, Leather, Licorice, Medicinal, Mushrooms, Petrichor, Raspberry, Smoke, Smooth, Tobacco
Another sample from Roswell Strange, I am very glad to have tried this high end shou blend. It’s got a lot of complexity and a thick buttery mouthfeel. I also found it to be very warming throughout the body and it’s effect on the mind to be quite attention-focusing.
The aromas are sweet with dominant notes of vanilla, cream, and black raspberry. Taste is sweet, mineral, herbaceous, and woody relative to the average shou. I wrote down that the flavour reminds me of sawdust, dry earth, walnuts, gin, caramel, and tree bark.
There is a strong huigan and the aftertaste is quite cooling and fragrant. I also noticed additional hints of bananas and soy sauce.
Flavors: Alcohol, banana, Bark, Caramel, Cream, Earth, Herbaceous, Mineral, Raspberry, Sawdust, Soy Sauce, Sweet, Thick, Vanilla, Walnut, Wood
Great session. Floral, sweet, smooth at first, later fruity, thick, bell peppery, brassy. Sharp tingly quality on the tongue as I’m drinking, then that same sharp tingly quality at the bottom of my throat as I swallow. Became unpleasant when I overbrewed an individual steeping and that effect became too strong. Felt like I had to tame those demons.
Got so many steepings out of this one that I lost count. After a 30-second rinse, steepings were 15 seconds then at most like 30 to 40 seconds by the end. Astringency and bitterness never really came up. Despite the consistently short brew times, flavors were never light.
Just such a fan of this one, thematically. The appropriateness of the name, the evil, murky feeling it conjured up, the care and/or luck needed to get each steeping right, and the music I was listening to at the time (Shinichi Atobe which is uhhh, experimental house maybe? It matched this session perfectly).
Oh, I’ll finally be drinking from something other than YS and w2t! Just got an order from CLT and also subscribed to OWT club. I know there’s so much more out there but it’s easier to just focus on a couple stores at a time, for me at least.
Friday tea session with some cannolis! I took a wellness day on Friday because I’ve been going through another insomnia batch, so this ended up being a bit of a self care kind of tea session. I didn’t pay any mind to tasting notes as I steep though I did notice subconsciously that this tea is a major malt bomb. However, I mostly just wanted to be in the moment and enjoying the tea for itself and I was able to achieve that!
I took advantage of the gorgeous weather yesterday to enjoy a tea session with a delicious vegan Korean Corn Dog!! Shou is such a perfect compliment with greasy foods like this; and the super syrupy liquor and aptly named flavour is delicious with the more savory flavours of the corn dog!! This was definitely a puerh that just kept giving though, and I enjoyed several additional delicious infusions with brown sugar, molasses, raisin, and sweet earth notes long after my food was gone. Such a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon!!
1st impressions: Smells of Mushrooms, Sugarcane, Camphor, Menthol. This cake reminds me of my first real puer experience of the budget Mengku cake that Beautiful Taiwan Tea Co used to sell. Not sure on where these leaves are from, but you can tell they had some age on them before pressing. Sweet up front, bitter on the back of the tongue, nice texture. Comfortable with just enough complexity without demanding a lot of attention.
Drink down: Cooling on the throat, some as yet unidentified fruit in the aftertaste. Maybe a citrus, but not with any sourness. Maybe a Neroli thing? Its name is apt, as it would make an excellent rainy day tea. It is also a really nice tea to intro raw puer on. Nothing outstanding in any direction, well rounded. Despite it reminding me of a supposed Mengku cake, this tea has a lot of Yiwu feel to it. But with a bit more bite than I’m used to in Yiwus.
This looks to be plantation material that is a bit chopped up. Not terribly so, but noticeable. A fair blend of material for tippy buds to stem.
I’ve about killed my stock of this. I bought two cakes when this came out as I thought it would be an excellent way to connect with people remotely. Sent samples to friends and drank it while talking via Zoom. It didn’t work out great. None of my friends are puer drinkers and had no frame of reference for a good brew. The result was that I stashed this away and sent people some oolongs. My plan was to pull the Umbrella out for in person gatherings, but I ended up hooked on it. It has been a few months since I had it and realized I never reviewed it.
Flavors: Camphor, Citrus, Floral, Menthol, Mushrooms, Sugarcane, Wood
Knew this was going to be an enjoyable session from the fragrance alone. Fruity reds just instantly bring a smile to my face.
First steeping was my favorite. No bitterness and the medicinal quality was strongest. I was lazy and used only the loose bits in the sample, usually I throw in three quarters larger pieces and one quarter loose bits, so I suspect that may have front-loaded the session. Later a fruity bitterness with a steady complexity. Still pretty good. Managed to get ten steepings out of it.
Euphoric, magical energy, though the weather change and setting are likelier to be the cause of that. Windowsill gong fu at predusk with a nice fall breeze wafting through my new sheer curtains just hits different.
I haven’t had much time to write tea notes recently, I hope to come back to some more focused drinking now. This unique tea is was among the samples I received from Ros, and it is the best chenpi shou mix I’ve had to date.
It has deep and complex aromatics. Already in dry form I get a strong herbaceous and leathery scent. Throughout the session, many other notes emerge, such as those of peanuts, wood smoke, peat, cranberry, and truffles.
The liquor very clear and has a beautiful dark mahogany colour. It is medium bodied, milky, and heavy but not overly thick.
Initial flavours are in the neighbourhood of plant roots and wet earth. Second infusion a little funky with mild bitterness and strong woody notes of tree bark. The aftertaste is a little bit like mildly sour milk. Later, the chenpi comes more to the forefront with medicinal and citrusy flavours. Some of the later steeps also reminded me of coffee.
Flavors: Bark, Bitter, Citrus, Coffee, Cranberry, Earth, Herbaceous, Leather, Medicinal, Milk, Peanut, Peat, Smoke, Sour, Wet Earth, Wood
Finally broke into my first cake of this. After getting the 3 previous years’ Snoozefests, I went in for 2 cakes in 2020. My experience with these has always been positive. Notes of Strawberry and Orchid being the two that have stood out the most to me. We’ll see how this one does after hiding in my storage for 11 months.
1st impression: Aroma of tropical fruit, apricot, and strawberry. A dark minerally sweet back drop. Some floral/herbal notes in there as well. A little drywall in there as well. Taste is notably middle of the tongue bitter. Some sweetness, some fruit and floral. Compared to 2019: This has a darker aroma and is overall more vegetal and a lot more bitter. That may also be the difference of an extra year in storage. Right now the fruit on this is leaning more stonefruit than strawberry. And the orchid profile from the 2019 is coming out a lot more creamy on this one. These are all slight differences; they are still very much the same teas except this have a hard acrid bitterness that hadn’t been in previous years versions.
Bitterness. This is the first snoozefest I’ve tried where I’ve thought this could use a few more years. Long lingering bitterness. Cooling sensation at the back of the throat. Floral, fruity, and dark. Drying.
After the first 2 steeps I’m really regretting starting this on an empty stomach. This is not the same gentle crowd-pleaser of the previous years. It is settling into a more vegetal and mineral taste with some cooling and lingering bitterness.
Head rush. Some pressure on my forehead and cheeks.
Drink down: The bitterness did begin to fade about half way through. The texture is decently thick veering toward creamy, but it is hard to tell with the way this tea makes my mouth feel dry. A good caffeine head rush. Decently complex. Pleasant. More powerful than I expected from the w2t $15 sheng special.
This’ll be the young sheng I’ll drink on occasionally over the next year. The 2nd cake and anything left over at the end of the year will go in the pumidor to age a while.
Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Floral, Fruity, Vegetal
Dipping into this cake to enjoy grandpa style because there’s honestly no such thing as too much chenpi during the fall!! Super thick and smooth but with the pleasantly sweet undertones of orange throughout this more earthy and petrichor heavy pu’erh! So rich and delightful!
What a fucking STUNNING cake, am I right!?