131 Tasting Notes

drank 2017 Bellwether by White2Tea
131 tasting notes

This was a surprise. I inadvertently did a blind tasting with this and I really like it. What I appreciate most about this tea is the combination of good depth, power, and interesting flavors that are not one particular note. The liquor is a clear, pale yellow and the leaves have a smoky and wet, old-growth forest scent. Immediately, it displays great depth and three-dimensionality. It’s quite smooth with medium viscosity. The mouthfeel sits very nicely and is accompanied by powerful qi after the 3rd steep. I agree with Paul’s description of “subtle strength”. It sneaks up on the drinker and then takes the driver’s seat.

Fantastic subtlety, yet with a boldness conveyed through the huigan, mouthfeel, and qi. This tea doesn’t exude very much of that Yiwu-sweetness that I am used to. The sweetness lies in its high floral notes which are coupled with strong bitterness and notes of tart/dry grape skin. I’m sure there’s a lot more going on in there I am not covering, but there you have it. There is that mossy, old-growth forest note (not simply earthy) that I found in the Colbert Holand and 2 Late. This is noticeable right away, here. The hay and tobacco are gentle, but are probably the key indicators of the tea’s eastern Xishuangbanna provenance. It’s an excellent blend that I wish I could afford.

JC

I should have sampled this one. lol

tanluwils

it’s really really yummy stuff. There is more depth and dimension than the FDT and Poundcake.

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I’ve had many sessions with this tea and it continues to impress. Dried leaves smell like roasted leaves without any remarkable scent, but once hot water hits them I am immediately hit with rich, almond (yes, really!) essence, sweet buttercream, orchids, and hazelnut. The rinse is thin-bodied, but already exudes a nice mouthfeel. This is a testament to the skill and expertise that went into the roasting, which has enhanced the inherent qualities in the leaf.

The next 4 steeps intensify in aroma, qi, texture, mouthfeel, and flavor. The almond here reminds me of fresh traditional Cantonese almond cookies. It’s very full in the mouth and feels nice in the throat. This one goes strong until the 7th or so steep where it gradually fades. It performs best in a chaozhou red clay teapot.

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I didn’t know what to expect from this tea. Honestly, I don’t think Paul’s descriptions on the W2T website are very helpful, so I emailed him describing the teas I enjoyed most from his selection and he recommended the FDT. So I added it to my cart, taking advantage of the free shipping weekend.

This one fits the profile I was looking for. I somehow manage to be that guy who receives the center of the bing, which took some time to pry apart. I’m not a fan of tightly compressed cakes, but I do see some benefits to this if those living in tropical Asia that want to maintain the youth of their sheng. This one felt as if it was still freshly pressed. It had a juiciness and stickiness to it. The initial infusions are light, sweet, floral, and a bit fruity (kiwi/white grapes?)…suspiciously Hekai. The tight compression warranted for longer steeping times.

After the 3rd infusion, I tried to pry apart the chucks while minimizing the ripping of leaves. The tea suddenly becomes thick, a bit cloudy, enzyme-y (almost carbonated!), multi-layered, and nicely textured. Notes of lilies, green apple, cedar wood, white pine, and grape skins join in a chorus of flavors and textures.

The brew is almost singing in my mouth and I feel wonderful. This one lingers nicely after the tea goes down and has a good body feel. The tea keeps this up for the next 6 to 7 steeps until I loose count. Later steeps have a bitter zing that rings for a bit—reminding me of Bulang bitterness. There is good depth in this one all the way to the end.

JC

This one surprised me, I just got the sample as I said ‘meh F*ck it, why not?’ it is pretty thick and satisfying. I share your opinion on Paul’s descriptions and the bing hole, I think I still have a sample from him from over a year and a half ago, its not worth getting that as a sample, sometimes I feel like they should have the hole as a cheaper sample. some are unbreakable.

tanluwils

Right? It was really difficult to pry apart, but I somehow managed to do so without making a bloody mess. I want to say this is one of my favorite teas I’ve sampled this year, but I know all these samples will taste much better after they’ve settled and acclimated.

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Refreshing, light, and persistent – this is a simple, yet unique tea. Layers of leaves come apart easily with a pu’er pick. There is a pungent, sweet, sharp verdant, and almost metallic, scent to the dry leaf. The steeped leaves are large, thick, and a dark olive tone. The liquor is like clear, clean, golden citrin. It’s a visually appealing tea.

The first two steeps yield sweet, gentle notes of florals, cotton candy, and muscato. 3rd steep onwards reveal a bitterness (dandelion greens and Kuding cha) that is sharp, clarifying, penetrating, and lingers along side a pleasurable huigan that lasts for a loooong time after drinking. Good qi on this one, too! It’s one of those teas that corrects my posture. I got at least 10 tasty steeps and still not done.

Perhaps my favorite aspect of this tea is the strong mouthfeel that is accentuated by the lingering bitterness. Kudos to Scott for finding another unique tea off the beaten path!

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drank 2016 Bosch by White 2 Tea
131 tasting notes

After having several sessions with this, I feel more confident about my impressions of this tea. It’s one of the most complex teas I’ve tried (just barely a notch below the Colbert Holland – my favorite W2T pressing). Certainly something to savor slowly and quietly. These brewed leaves are gorgeous. I must thank Paul or who ever thoughtfully took apart this cake so that the leaves in my sample could remain intact. They exude a green-ish floral and dried fruit fragrance after rinsed.

Very powerful, rich, deeply penetrating, soothing, calming, and highly energizing. I drank the rinse on this one. Good clarity here. Nice density combined with a penetrating and lasting mouthfeel and huigan from the rinse onwards. This tea quickly fills the mouth moving throughout and down into the throat. It then lingers in the cheeks for a long time.

I’m actually not a fan of the flavor in its early steeps. Too much sugary dried fruit and clove – reminding me of a Christmas fruitcake which I just love to hate. Fortunately, by steep 4, my tolerance is rewarded with more intense mouthfeel and enveloping qi that is felt in at first cerebral and then moves to the chest and spine. My eyes are wide open; posture corrected. I am all Here.

Early sweet medicinal flavors are replaced with the notes of honeysuckle, tamarind, cherries, peaches (farmers market-fresh), and aged rum. I get an interesting mingling of bitterness/tartness (green apple), spiciness (juniper berries), and hardwood/mineral base that reminds me of cherrywood.

Later steeps much fruitier, especially in the prolonged aftertaste – honeycrisp apples, red plums, and yellow peaches, to be exact. It’s less thick and dense, yet still strong in terms of mouthfeel and body-feel.

Afterthoughts: This be the good stuff, and I know it is because I questioned it for some time. I thought my first 3 sessions were only somewhat memorable, but not enough to demand >$100 for a 200g xiao bing. I’m now reconsidering that value per gram assessment.

pkts

Awesome review. I love Bosch too and you described it way better than I could have.

tanluwils

Thank you, Pkts. It’s very good tea and totally worth experiencing. I just wish I could have grabbed a cake of the Colbert before it sold out, though!

pkts

Haha, don’t we all have such regrets :) I regret never trying Last Thoughts 2014 and 2015

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This reminds me of the small batch of wild oolong (see testing note) Cindy had harvested and crafted from the same tea leaves used to process their popular wild lapsang souchong. The tea liquor is a crystal clear orange hue and is very smooth in texture. The tea can be felt in the corners of my cheeks and in the back of the throat. I would say the aroma is more of the show-stopper, while the tea flavor is extremely soothing, lively, and bright. Both in aroma and flavor, it has a definitive granite/karst mineral base, highly floral, and something juicy that is reminiscent of a very ripe vine tomato. I can get a good 7 steeps out of this one before it looses flavor.

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I haven’t familiarized myself with Yiwu teas due to limited budget and the availability of good teas from less pricy regions. Nonetheless, with the price of most teas skyrocketing, it made sense to sample some reasonably priced Yiwu material from Scott’s pressings while I still can. I also have a strong bias for spring teas, but here I am again forced to sample autumn teas from expensive regions.

I had a mixed experiences with Scott’s 2013 line, but this was a very nice surprise. I will echo his description that the tea “is not autumn in character”. Indeed, it’s quite concentrated with a strong mouthfeel and heavy qi.

Typical Yiwu sweet hay and grain-like base. It coats the entire mouth cavity with its expansive and intense presence. It’s sweet, spicy, woody, and moderately bitter, with prominent notes of raw honey, nutmeg, dried apricots, and hay. It’s consistent through many steeps and lingers for a long time. Love the qi on this!

I am reminded of W2T’s 2009 Yiwu Gushu, only this one has smaller leaves. Another bonus is the very pleasant raw honey and floral fragrances coming off the empty cup!

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I’ve been waiting to find some free time to try this one. As expected from this vendor, the tea’s quality has surpassed my expectations.

The brewed leaves are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen – expertly processed. They’re very green and plump. The aroma is fruity, floral, and subtly grassy in a white tea sort of way. Nice pale tea soup. It’s a very gentle, rich, full bodied, and well structured tea that is delicate yet robust. It’s extremely fresh, lively in the mouth and uplifting with a gentle qi. Initial steeps are typically sweet and floral in a way that is unique to white teas.

But, this one offers something else. There is depth, mellow qi, and structure with lingering sensations and aftertaste. I prefer the later steeps (passed steep 5), which are increasingly spiced (cinnamon, nutmeg, and pears), a bit tingly and cooling with interesting karst-mineral and complex woody notes. This is indicative of high quality tea leaves from well-established plants. This is a proper white tea.

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Rich, thick, and complex. Pay attention to this tea’s depth, mouthfeel, structure, and aftertaste rather than just flavors. It brews a clear orange liquor that is thick and velvety. The aroma is heavy — mineral-like, floral, and lightly roasted.

I do a flash rinse with this one, as initial steeps are immediately thick and complex. The tea coats my entire mouth but lingers in the cheeks, back of the mouth, and throat. Notes are savory-sweet zhengyan minerals, florals, red velvet cake(?), cannabis, roasted barley, and a hint of fruit.

Steep 3 onwards reveals the tea’s qi, depth, and structure. Sensations intensify from the back of the tongue into the throat and in the cheeks. The qi is relaxing and warms my core. I can feel the tea’s presence for long time after drinking. Prominent notes here are more floral, zhengyan minerals, cannabis, and hints of roasted barley.

After steep 7, the tea needs to be pushed, and that’s fine. Later steeps are moderately thick and have depth, structure, and a very pleasing zhengyan mineral and floral aftertaste. I recommend taking breaks in between steeps to extract the most flavor. Nice lingering tea buzz!

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 75 ML

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Bio

My ever expanding list of obsessions, passions, and hobbies:

Tea, cooking, hiking, plants, East Asian ceramics, fine art, Chinese and Central Asian history, environmental sustainability, traveling, foreign languages, meditation, health, animals, spirituality and philosophy.

I drink:
young sheng pu’er
green tea
roasted oolongs
aged sheng pu’er
heicha
shu pu’er
herbal teas (not sweetened)

==

Personal brewing methods:

Use good mineral water – Filter DC’s poor-quality water, then boil it using maifan stones to reintroduce minerals。 Leaf to water ratios (depends on the tea)
- pu’er: 5-7 g for 100 ml
(I usually a gaiwan for very young sheng.)
- green tea: 2-4 g for 100 ml
- oolong: 5-7 g for 100 ml
- white tea: 2-4 g for 100 ml
- heicha: 5-6 g for 100 ml
(I occasionally boil fu cha a over stovetop for a very rich and comforting brew.)

Location

Washington, DC

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