2016 Trap Bird Shou Puer from White2Tea

You know I squawked and spazzed and bought a cake of 2016 Trap Bird right at release, as you all well know I need to own anything Owl.

When Trap Bird arrived it smelled way too pungent. I let it sit for a few weeks in the open air as the paired association of too young of shou makes my bowels tremble. I then tossed Trap Bird into my shou-midor and promptly forgot I owned this cake until James at TeaDB asked me about it. Then I wrote the review and it got pushed back for 2017 sheng season… and whooops I sat on this tea for a year. How could I forget the owl trap?

I smelled the cake and it passed. LETS OWL!

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

I was thankful AF Trap Bird has an extra inner wrapper. I am stealing this wrapper away.

Gorgeous cake – a lovely mix of golds and blacks. The scent is sweet earthy.

I used 1 gram of leaf to 13ml of vessel size, steeped in boiling water. I did a single rinse and let the leaf sit in the pot for a few minutes to open up.

Wow, the Trap Bird hot leaf smells like whiskey.

Tasting of White2Tea’s 2016 Trap Bird Shou Puer

First, Second, and Third Infusion: The colour comes out a beautiful clear mahogany. The flavor is light to start, it is a touch of whiskey, wood, and butterscotch notes. Trap Bird is heavy on aftertaste – I can feel it rise like hot air in my mouth, wafting up more flavor through my sinuses. The body is thick, drinking like a wrecking ball going through the digestive tract, making it just sink down and stir in my gut. I find it has lost most of the funk but there is a hint of sour on some aftertaste sips.

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: Trap Bird is fairly consistent in notes tasting similar to the earlier infusions, so why I can see it is labeled as a daily drinker. It has reached peak strength, sitting more on the moderate side. It isn’t a thick death shou and I find it easy drinking. I lost all sour notes in this bracket, so these infusions were quite smooth.

Eighth and Ninth Infusion: Flavor is starting to slip, though the fragrance is going strong – I can actively taste the tea as the aftertaste rises more than the actual sip. The body is thinning out but still feels slick on the lips. The body feels still is gut slamming. The notes are fairly consistent – a little whiskey and butterscotch.

Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Infusion: I did a fairly long infusion of 10 minutes to start. The colour went back to like it was on the first infusion. The flavor is light but shifted away finally from the whiskey to crisp simple sweetness with an aftertaste of butter and sweetness. I thought 11th infusion was the last, but has more in it. Each steeping got sweeter and sweeter but the body got thinner.

Comments

Labelled as a daily drinker, White2Tea’s 2016 Trap Bird shou puer is easy drinking with a moderate level flavor and plenty of aroma. The texture is heavy in the early stages and decent body feel. I quite like the flavor notes in this one and it certainly put out a lot of infusions. It is ready to drink now, finally, though it still has a touch of young shou funk.

I quite like Trap Bird, though I am partial to the aroma and Owl art. It is certainly daily drinker like as it is consistent but has plenty of delicious notes and gongfu switch flavor at the end with never-ending sweetness. As a comparison to other White2Tea shous (though I am going off my own notes, I haven’t had both in awhile), Old Reliable is more earthy, whereas Cream is more bright, sweet, and smooth. Trap Bird seems to land in the middle and is focused on being aromatic. I would buy another cake if I wasn’t swarmed in similarly priced shous. I managed to talk myself out of buying it twice, especially since I got around to framing the wrapper.

Daintree Tea and Tim Tam Slams

Austrailian Tea Special! I’ve tried Daintree Tea before, but it was fairly old loose leaf not stored well. My husband’s coworker recently came back from Australia and I was given a Wallaby and a sample box of Daintree tea bags.

Around the same time, I got a package from Influenster (they send free products for review, I mostly signed up for makeup swag) to review some unexpected random crap like a tin of corn, tub of margarine, fried jalapenos, and a package of Tim Tams. I’ve heard about Tim Tams as being an Aussie fav treat. I recently saw Tim Tams at my local grocery store. If they aren’t at your local shop, you can snag Tim Tams on Amazon.

The Tea Owls have been sizing up the Wallaby for a week. He’s got riding mount potential.

With both Aussie tea and treats, this is the perfect opportunity to TIM TAM SLAM! YASSSSSSSSSS!

Daintree Tea tasting

Daintree is in a tea bag and looks like a generic black tea. The packaging promises rainforest tea.

I steeped a bag in a cup for about 3 minutes. I haven’t done a teabag in awhile and was amazed at the dark colour that seeps out and sat in the bottom of the cup.

Stirred, I got a lovely ruddy black tea.

Taste wise, Daintree tastes aromatic, fruity, earthy, and bitter cardboard. It likely needs to have at least milk to cut the bitterness. It does have a nice malty aroma and not tannic or brisk like your common British breakfast teas or US black teas. The cardboard note could have been from tea bag packaging or length of time on the shelf.

Tim Tam Slam Time!

I bet a Tim Tam would make this Daintree tea taste good for this hoot snoot.

What you do is peck off the diagonal corners of the Tim Tam. I screwed up and ate more than a corner as I was hungry. Then use the Tim Tam as a straw to suck in the tea.

I tried to take a picture but quickly learned the Tim Tam loses structural integrity, so you need to inhale in (hence the “Slam”) before it flops into the teacup. The Tim Tam is almost like a KitKat, but with stiff chocolate digestive biscuits. With tea sucked into it, the center chocolate melts and the biscuits turn soggy tea sponges, just being held by the exterior chocolate coating.

The sip during the Tim Tam slam was great – the tea was smooth and fruity with no bitterness.. but still slightly cardboardy. Later on, I Tim Tam slammed with Sun Moon Lake and OH MY that is good!


You know this is Oolong Owl. It has to be done so you readers will know. Someone likely has the question if it was purely brewing skill that made the Daintree Tea not good and only artful brewing will fix it.

Daintree Tea Tim Tam Slam. Will it Gongfu?

I gongfu style steeped 4 grams of Daintree in 75ml gaiwan using boiling water.

The colour came out a dark murk cloud.

The flavor of gongfu Daintree is atrocious. It is strongly bitter and dirt cardboard with an ultra tart lemon gone bad. It is also dry enough to chap lips. It had some pretty dry storage, I could likely troll someone that this is an aged oolong in bad storage that went off.

Will it Gongfu? No, the tea bag version was much better. Rest assured Aussies, Liptons was much worse.

But will it Tim Tam slam?

The tea I sucked up was still horrible. The Tim Tam did not fix that portion, I actually gagged on how bitter and sour the tea was. Eating the Tim Tam after made it all better as all I could taste was chocolate. I am not sure if gongfu’d Daintree Tea will Tim Tam. Is the winning metric having the tea taste good or successful slam, or combined good experience? The only good part was the chocolate!

(Tea given as a gift | Tim Tams provided for review & Influenster Referral Links | Amazon Affiliate Links)

2017 White2Tea Puer $100-120 feat Four AM, Magic Mountain DNA, and She’s Not Me

Continuing on with reviews of the 2017 Spring White2Tea puer line. I previously reviewed the $90-$100 cakes and 2017 Farmer Direct Tea. Today we are doing Four AM, Magic Mountain DNA, and She’s Not Me. I drank all three teas as separate sessions on different days and in a different order. All teas were from samples I purchased and tried within a couple months of release, so everything is quite young – if you are reading this in sometime 2018 likely the flavor profiles have changed.


2017 White2Tea Puer – Four AM Sheng Puer

Four AM is described as, “elegant and heavy at the same time, with a complete character.”

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method: Four AM smells like young sweet and floral puer with a bit of tangy nose wrinkle. No stale or musty notes.

I steeped Four AM in boiling water, 1 gram of leaf for 15ml of vessel size, gongfu style. The hot leaf smells like sticky rice and flowers.

First and Second Infusion: Four AM has a delicate soft flavor, but rounds out in the mouth to lemon curd tart, a bit buttery, with a finish of a bit of scorched rice. It isn’t too sweet or savory, and the tart looming over reminds me that this tea needs more time.

The body is very round, it fills the mouth like I jammed a donut in, and numbs the jaws. The tea feels thick like I’m eating a meal that I’ve chewed on for awhile, but sits in the throat. I feel right away some head fuzz.

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: I pushed these steepings slightly longer than usual and was awarded for it. The flavor is stronger, lemon curd complete with pan scrapings. I get a lingering aftertaste of tart, that oddly sticks to my molars, giving a good belch of curd if I so choose to. I also feel like a cow as the texture is slightly sticky, so I can chew on it.

Four AM also adds a heady feeling. My head feels warm and sanded like I am being rubbed with a scratchy wool chunky blanket. I also feel really full, like I went to town at a buffet and I need to unload some precious cargo before I do another round. This full feeling is really slowing down my tea drinking, forcing me to chill out and sip slowly.

Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: Four AM got squeaky clean and light, but with a peachy aftertaste. I also started getting astringency, so I got a gritty mouth.

Ninth and Tenth Infusion: I thought Four AM has nothing left, but the leaves still smell potent, so I did some long infusions. The long infusions made Four AM bitter that I can feel my teeth ache. Combined with the strong head feel, maybe I forgot that I went to the dentist? This tea had a few more left in it, but it was just so utterly bitter that I could not continue. My head also feels funny and I should lay down.

The spent leaf is tough feeling, big-leafed and stemmy.

Comments: I noticed some parallels between Four AM and White2Tea’s Bosch and Farmer Direct Tea. Four AM has a nice delicate and subtle complexity. Farmer Direct Tea pushes more of that sticky texture with a more abrasive taste. Four AM has a good amount of body feel too. I would call this a more upscale Farmer Direct Tea with some classy screw-you-up body feel and a sweeter profile. The taste of it will really change, as I’ve noticed tart notes generally clear up with time.

White2Tea’s Farmer Direct Tea I hold as a good value for what it is of the 2017 teas, especially if you are a texture drinker. You will like Four AM if you also liked Farmer Direct, Bosch, or Happy Birthday Baby. I overall thought Four AM is quite good, though I won’t spring on a cake as I do have a 2016 Bosch (which is out of stock, so if you missed out, well try Four AM).


2017 White2Tea Puer – Magic Mountain DNA

Magic Mountain DNA (MMDNA) is simply stated as a strong tea, with aggressive Menghai qualities. I know people have complained about the lack of descriptions, but they are all dead on without the fluff.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method: MMDNA has a strong soapy floral scent. Out of all the spring 2017 White2Tea puers, I ranked MMDNA as the second best smelling.

Like all the other teas, I did gongfu style, and used boiling water with 1 gram of leaf to 15 ml of vessel size. The hot leaf has a lingering smokey scent with a floral itchy nose astringent note.

First, Second, and Third Infusion: Magic Mountain DNA starts off with a moderate amount of flavor. It is strong sharp, leaning bitter, and peachy, with a piercing apricot finish. The body is creamy milky that feels slick in the mouth. Each sip feels astringent in the throat, wanting me to cough. As a result, and with each sip, I got more and more layers of lingering apricot flavor.

Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: MMDNA feels like my mouth has been overloaded and coated in flavor. Each sip I taste nothing, just my mouth well seasoned with bitter peach. The feel of drinking stops at the throat, this tea is clogging enough to choke up, nor doesn’t let you forget the body and aftertaste. I can stop drinking for 10 minutes and still taste this tea.

At this point, I could feel Magic Mountain DNA popping an invigorating feel. I got spring in my step and started creating some evil plans involving my eventual tea room remodel.

Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Infusion: I have suddenly cooked MMDNA’s goose. It is quite astringent and bitter but the aftertaste is like my teeth are made of sheng apricot. That aftertaste is delicious enough to chase after. I likely can start sanding boards with my mouth feels so abrasive and weird feeling.

Tenth and Eleventh Infusion: I did long 15 minute infusions here. MMDNA sips in horrendously bitter and sharp, enough to make you cough. However, the never-ending aftertaste of apricot is worth it. My teeth also feel crazy, like my gums got dried out.

The leaves look quite nice – big full ones or long multi-branched bud ones with some stem.

Magic Mountain DNA certainly has a delayed energy. I felt invigorated before, now I got a mix of angry gut rot cramps and blood boiling swinging energy. It isn’t head fuzzy like She’s Not Me, but more RAWR in feel. I ended up laughing while hauling boxes and making a mean lasagna.

Comments: Magic Mountain DNA is a more seasoned puer drinker tea, likely for long-haul aging. It does get bitter and astringent, so not for someone who cannot take handle it. However, the flavor pay off and awesome lingering fragrance makes this tea a powerhouse now. The astringency and bitterness don’t get bad until the later infusions, and likely you could drop to 200F and get something pretty magical to drink now. Or leaf it heavier, get punched in the face, have the dryness make your teeth fall out, but feel like you are roided out to throw atlas stones like baseballs.


2017 White2Tea Puer – She’s Not Me

She’s Not Me has a description that appealed to me – “mildly astringent… sweetness and pleasant fragrance…. emphasis on Menghai character.”

I decided to crack open all the White2Tea samples I bought and smell them. 2017 She’s Not Me Sheng Puer was the best smelling one by far and was the first sample I tried.

Dry leaf and Steeping Method: She’s Not Me smells strong, sweet, dripping sappy floral that makes my mouth water. I’d wear this tea as perfume and likely I would be acceptable smelling too. I have a tight compression piece and some threads in my 25 grams sample.

I steeped this tea, like the others, with boiling water, 1 gram to 15ml ratio, gongfu style.  The hot leaf smells pungently floral making my brain is buzz. I think I can smell astringency in that pungent hit. The tea comes out crystal clear and gold.

First and Second Infusion: The first infusion is quite light. It has a mineral bright and rice syrup like flavor, with a marshmallow glow as an aftertaste. The body is slippery but not heavy or thick. It feels like slipping on a dock and being sunk into the ocean with rocks.

Third and Fourth Infusion: Building up in flavor, but overall this tea is soft and light. All the flavor is at the end of the sip, which seems to flip between peaches, steamed rice, and minerals. The majority of is the astringency and body feel. The astringency pinches my cheeks together giving me dimples, yet isn’t that dry or unpleasant. The body feel I got right away in the front of my head just above the brow. The liquid catches at the end of the throat and can make you drool.

Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Infusion: I took a touch longer of an infusion here, maybe I’m not being aggressive enough with She’s Not Me. The only change is the astringency got more pinchy, trying to join my cheeks together from inside my mouth. The flavor is still slightly peachy, mineral, and bit creamy too.

I finally got a taste of aftertaste, but it is subtle. More peaches. The body feel got more intense – my face feels like it is being smothered by a pillow.

Eleventh and Twelfth Infusion: I pushed She’s Not Me hard, good 15 minute infusions. The flavor is peachy bitter, with that corpse sunken cheek astringency and falling in a well echoing aftertaste as I can feel it bloom and sink, then bloom and sink until I cannot taste it anymore. I actually preferred this hard infusion – likely you can do some shenanigans with leafing this crazy hard and making your head pop off from the body feel.

Comments: White2Tea’s She’s Not Me is a subtle soft tea with notes of peaches and minerals. There is a pleasant astringency and interesting heady body feel. I don’t know why, but with the feels of this tea made me think of pretty grim thoughts. This is a $119 200 gram cake and certainly for someone who likes a face smotherer of a tea.

Personally, She’s Not Me didn’t do it for me as the flavor and body wasn’t complex as I was hoping for the price. The body feel was interesting though. I’d like to try this tea again in a year or two, I wonder if it is just too young to get much love. Maybe I’ll wait for my next migraine, blast some Opeth, and see what happens.


Out of all the 2017 Spring WhiteTea sheng puers, I like Magic Mountain DNA the most by far. This includes the $90-$100 White2Tea spring puer bracket. I would rank Farmer Direct Tea high up there too, along with Four AM. Magic Mountain DNA I feel is the most worth it to own as it has such a killer aftertaste and flavor punch, plus aging potential out of the rest of the light sweet puer. Farmer Direct and Four AM are both being awesome texture drinkers, with Four AM, in particular, has a nice complexity. I am biased more towards complex flavors and heavy texture though.

2017 is pretty expensive for puer and there is a lot of choose from and I was nutty enough to purchase all the expensive puer samples. I hope these reviews, despite it taking me awhile to get out, are helpful for your purchases.

2013 Simply Classic Shou Puer from Bana Tea Company

With my last Bana Tea Company order, I got a free sample of 2013 Simply Classic Ripe Puer. It is listed as a traditionally made bulang shou puer great for the daily drinker. It isn’t reflected in my sample, but Simply Classic is pressed into a brick and wrapped in bamboo. The price of this shou brick is a deal too!

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

The sample of 2013 Simply Classic smells earthy with a bit funk. The leaf has some nice gold to it.

I used 1 gram of leaf per 13ml of vessel size, steeped in boiling water. I have been doing single rinses lately, but after the first rinse I smelled a bit of sourness, so I went in for a second rinse.

Tasting of Bana Tea Company’s 2013 Simply Classic Shou Puer

Simply Classic comes out a lovely clear dark ruby.

First and Second Infusion: The first infusion of Simply Classic was a bit sour, but the second infusion lost the sourness. The second infusion is smooth and chestnutty. The flavor is surprisingly bright but I do detect a bit of wet pile shou funk that is present in younger or recent pressed shous.

Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: Simply Classic has strengthened in flavor to a dark depth of roasted chestnuts and clean earth. The tea lost all traces of funk, leaving a crisp mineral note. The texture is oily slick giving a nice coating in the mouth. The body feel is heavy, feeling like a hot rock sinking and warming me up.

Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Infusion: The tea is lightening up. Simply Classic shou tastes brighter, sweeter, mineral, and of soft dirt earth. It lost the stronger depth from the overdrive chestnut. Each steeping got a touch of astringency, creating a weird feeling in the gums.

I am surprised how long this shou is going, rarely I see a cheaper shou resteep this well!

Twelfth and Thirteenth Infusion: I pushed these last infusions for 20 minutes and it came out well. I still got payoff and flavor similar to eleventh. This tea just doesn’t stop and just slowly lightens. It is strongly sweet and mineral, with an interesting carryover note of earth due to the slight astringency.  I can likely get an infusion or two if I boiled on the stove or used a clay teapot.

Observing the leaf, Simply Classic also has a bit of green on the leaf, so this shou puer can age a bit more.

Comments

Bana Tea Company’s Simply Classic is an earthy nutty shou puer that has plenty of resteep payoff. It does have a touch of funk early on, but after a couple rinses, it disappears. I drank this sample with about 2 weeks of rest. If off notes are present in the full cake, likely it’ll go with time.

2013 Simply Classic shou puer is certainly a good daily drinker especially since it is 200 gram brick for $24 at this time, which is pretty inexpensive for what you get. I personally like their 2015 Bulang shou cake more for a similar price from Bana Tea Company, but Classic has more age on it and more resteep power.

(tea received as a free sample with purchase)

2010 Black Gold Shou Puer from Crimson Lotus Tea

Sadly, I missed the tasting session of 2010 Black Gold shou puer at Crimson Lotus Tea‘s booth at the Northwest Tea Festival. I am not sure what I was doing, but a bunch of my tea friends was able to taste it. It wasn’t a big deal, as I bought a sample of Black Gold when it was released and it was sitting at home airing out. However, I heard multiple times that Black Gold was incredible so I was sad I missed a tasting without having to open my sample.

There is no way I was going to blind cake Black Gold as it is 200 grams for $89… for a shou. 2017 Stormbreaker is also $79 200 gram shou. At that price, I had to buy a sample just on principle to try it myself. For technical specs, 2010 Black Gold is Jingmai material, the same material as their Midas Touch, a tea I am a fan of and own a cake of.

I love Crimson Lotus Tea’s sample bags, they get the pumidor treatment rather than a tin. I had this sample air out for 2 weeks, then I stuffed it into my shou pumidor for a couple more weeks.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Instructions

I got the beenghole. The scent is faint but the colour has nice gold rippled leaf.

I went with 1 gram of leaf to 11ml of vessel size. I leafed a bit heavy, but I had a nice lump size I didn’t want to smash to dust. Boiling water. I did a single rinse and drank it. All systems go!

Tasting of Crimson Lotus Tea’s 2010 Black Gold Shou Puer

First and Second Infusion: Black Gold is amazingly sweet and smooth. First steeping should have been a rinse as it was just too light to have much flavor. The flavor is sharp, sugary woodsy, with an interesting savory mushroom aftertaste. The texture is creamy and dense. The tea is dense and I can feel it punch through my digestive tract.

It really doesn’t need silver to change the flavor, but in a silver cup, Black Gold is more creamy and smooth. The savory mushroom aftertaste is still there.

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: My heavy brewing is showing now as this tea is dark. It is a clear tea but you cannot see the bottom of my cup.

Black Gold is so dark that it doesn’t even glow in silver.

The flavor is strong, creamy and dense. I got wood, molasses, hazelnuts. What it needs is some butter notes and I got a Canadian butter tart. The aroma of this sucker is high – the smell of this tea rises with each sip that my sinuses can taste the woodsy darkness. I don’t think I need a tongue to taste, nor sinus medication every again as this tea is just purging a path through my nose.

Sixth and Seventh Infusion: The insanity that is my brewing has chilled out. Black Gold is sweet and mineral with woody notes. The mushroom notes are mostly gone. I can certainly feel a buzz from the shou. It is churning in my stomach from the amp turned to 11 on my sinuses. I’ve been known to get tea drunk of shou as I still swear there’s caffeine in it. I got maniac business ideas. I think Crimson Lotus could have gone mental and laced gold leaf into this so I can drink dark death shou and poop actual gold.

Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Infusion: There is still plenty to go on Black Gold. The notes continue to soften a develop a fuzzy honey note. The main flavor is woodsy dark, and the aroma is still sinus crazy. I can aftertaste the honey and I feel like I got gut-punched by a log.

I was thinking that Black Gold would be INSANE if there was some gold mold on it. That would turn this tea into crazy town honey crazy. However, you have to be insane to entice gold mold on an expensive shou cake.

Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Sixteenth Infusion: Black Gold went funny in appearance as it oddly shifted to a cloudy ruddy brown. The flavor is soft honey and a little green. With each steeping it got more sweet and mineral. I am enjoying how sweet Black Gold is. I am curious was green this shou was years back.

I keep waiting for Black Gold to die but it refuses to. The colour slips further and further, but I am still getting some flavor and the leaves still have plenty of smell to them. The final infusion I let go for 30 minutes. I likely could get more with a dedicated seasoned yixing that holds high temperature better than my gaiwan.

Comments

Crimson Lotus Tea’s 2010 Black Gold shou puer kills it for shou. It is complex in flavor, the aroma is off the charts, has a nice body feel, age on it, and great to drink. Black Gold is certainly a “need to try” for shou lovers to experience what a high-end shou can do. This is certainly too high roller for a new puer drinker.

I must address that Crimson Lotus tea created a disturbance in the force. This shou is $89 for 200grams. $0.45 a gram is bloody expensive for shou. Many puer drinkers I talked to also awkwardly twitched at that price. We are used to drinking pretty banging shou for no more than $40 a 200 gram cake. I think of my favorite shous of all time and they were around $0.25 a gram. You can get a solid shou for around $0.15-$0.20 a gram.

I thought about it awhile. I have no problems dropping the same or more cash on a quality sheng puer. Sheng has room to age and it seems more rewarding of a purchase. Expensive sheng is also a thing seen around often. Expensive shou doesn’t come up much in our North American tea audience. Shou doesn’t have much room to grow (barring less fermented ones), so we are paying for age and material quality. The price makes sense as Black Gold has some age on it and is cheaper than the same material but less age of the Midas Touch sheng. That said, why am I grumbling about the price? Black Gold is banging good tea and one of the best shous I’ve had so far. After more debating, likely my brain is also conflicted as shou is also seen as an aged-cheesed sheng puer of daily drinker value and dirty product that was fermented on the floor.  I am sure the same argument could be made by an everyday tea drinker who buys their box of 20 teabags for $5 at the grocery store and wonder how my snooty owl butt rolls “Worth it $$$” on any tea past $20.

Well dear tea readers, expensive shou… that is for you to decide if it is worth it or not. 2010 Black Gold is a good tea. Hey, I got 16 steepings from it, which is impressive for a shou so there’s bang for your buck there. Either way, Black Gold is $10 for a 20 gram sample so try it yourself if you are curious and love shou.

ReHoot Review – 2012 Qui Yun Wild Arbor Sheng Puer from Yunnan Sourcing

Welcome to the first Oolong Owl ReHoot. I’ve been interested in revisiting teas, particularly the puer I’ve been aging in my stash, on how it is doing or how my tastes have been changing.

Our first ReHoot is of Yunnan Sourcing’s Qui Yun Wild Arbor of Yiwu Mountain. I reviewed this tea back in August 2013, so this tea barely had a year of age on it. Keep in mind, I had been blogging for 7 months and this was I think my 4th or 5 puer cake I purchased, so I was a complete noob.

There is no product listing or link for this tea on Yunnan Sourcing anymore. All the information I could find was off Steepster, which likely is the copy and paste off Yunnan Sourcing’s site.

Qiu Yun (秋韵) means “Song of Autumn”

Late autumn harvest tea from wild arbor tea trees (between 60 and 80 year old) growing in the area of Yi Bi village of Yi Wu county. Entirely no spray tea from one family’s tea garden. Hand-processed from start to finish, but without any smokiness! Classic Yi Wu taste, thick and full in the mouth. Sweet after-taste with some grass and mushroom notes.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

My cake has had most of its storage life in Los Angeles which was in a dresser for awhile, then moved into a crock with tobacco buttons. Then it spent a year in my pumidor in Seattle. It certainly got pretty dry during Los Angeles during the summer, so this tea has had some crazy storage.

An interest observation I made was a contrast of puer breaking technique. I used to nibble away at the edges carefully as I saw it on some Verdant Tea video. Now I just gouge big pieces.

This also was back when I steeped young puer at 190F and my ratio was around 1gram to 20ml. I also steeped it longer at 30 seconds, whereas now I steep hotter, more leaf, and faster. That said, I have to refer back to my old notes with a grain of salt. For this session, I used boiling water and 1 gram of leaf to 15ml of vessel size.

Yunnan Sourcing’s 2012 Qui Yun Wild Arbor Sheng Puer Rehoot Tasting

First, Second, Third, and Fourth Infusion: 2012 Qui Yun Wild Arbor tastes nicely of clover honey and button mushrooms. It has an interesting creamy and slick feeling. On steep 2-3 I begin to shake my fist at the storage on this sucker as it does kinda taste like Campbell’s Mushroom Soup, complete with a bit of sour metallic tang at the end. At steep 4 the tart went away and was replaced with smooth honey mushroom drinking, also thick like cream of mushroom soup.

Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: Qui Yun is smooth. Very interesting honey and mushroom flavor, but now I am getting some dryness and some floral aftertaste peaking out. There is no grass or green vegetal notes, unlike the ones I tasted back in 2013.

Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Infusion: The mushroom note has gotten stronger, more like a portabello savoriness with a splash of honey on top. The dryness is setting in stronger and the floral aftertaste is building quite nicely. The tea is ultra creamy feeling in the mouth. I do like the mellow mushroom notes, floral and texture, however, there is not much else going on here.

With each infusion, the tea slowly faded, adding a bitterness and some cheeky dryness.

Comments

TLDR of my August 2013 review of Yunnan Sourcing’s 2012 Qui Yun Wild Arbor was it tasted like a white and green tea with notes of rock sugar, corn, mushroom, green beans, and copper. I like that there was no smokey (as most young puer I was exposed to at that point was smokey).

My whacky storage did at least slowly age it to remove the greener notes. Thankfully the puer still has fragrance, I did have this tea before the Seattle move and it has gotten better with more aroma in my current storage.

2012 Qui Yun Wild Arbor was 250g for $15.  The price seemed on par what I was buying at the time, now I buy $79-$149 200g cakes! For $15, it is a decent daily drinker that is smooth with some aroma. Still glad I bought it, and I am thankful it isn’t a flavorless pile of leaf compost.

 

Sunday Tea Hoots 35 – Tea with TeaDB

I have tea with James from TeaDB once in a while since we live in the Seattle area. I met up with him soon after I moved to Seattle and learned he is a super chill and seems to not mind my gossipy hooting. If you aren’t familiar with TeaDB, James and Denny mostly do video tea review content, and you need to check them out especially if you are a puer person. Teadb.org is a site I personally have been following regularly for years as the written content is knowledgeable and thorough as well as they drink stuff I don’t get my claws on.

I was a special guest for two videos – the first one is about tea blogging.

The final video is a tasting of my 800 gram Fu Brick wrecker I referenced in my last World Tea Expo trip.

Oh no there is video evidence of me not knowing how to look at a camera! If there is a next time, I need a dancing owl on the tripod so that I’ll look at it, haha!

2017 White2Tea Puer $90-$100 bracket feat. Pussy, Bellwether, and Happy Anniversary Baby

Last year I just reviewed my favorites and teas of interest after trying the entire 2016 White2Tea Spring puer line. This year I am just going to review a bunch of teas in brackets, as there have been many requests, but I don’t want to write about White2tea exclusively for 2 months. I figure everyone really wanted reviews this year as there is so much to choose from and the descriptions are brief but very accurate. To spoil myself, I did not purchase samples under $89 a cake, so unless I buy more samples, there won’t be a review of Manichee, Dangerous Messengers, or IPA.

All these teas were tasted individually on different days and in a random order not reflected in the review order. I also drank them pretty soon after release, so everything is pretty darn young. Likely flavor has changed if you are reading this in like 2018.


2017 White2Tea Puer – Pussy

White2Tea’s 2017 Pussy sheng is a popular one of their spring line up as I’ve heard many of my tea friends and peers talk about it. However, I need to clear the air – STOP WITH THE HOOTIN BOX JOKES! Time to sit down and objectively sample this raw puer.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method: 2017 Pussy has a strong floral fragrance from the leaf. I had a couple large chunks in my sample and I found the compression on them on the softer side, so it was easy to pry off some pieces with my fingers.

I used 1 gram to 15ml of vessel size. I was having kettle issues, so I was using close to boiling water at 208F/98C. The hot leaf smells like a flower shop on a hot day.

First, Second, and Third Infusion: Pussy is on the higher fragrance side. The flavor is light so far, but the end of the sip is a soft floral, sweet buttered baby’s breath blossoms. The texture is on the lip balmy side and does a light coating in the mouth.

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: Finally Pussy is getting flavor with notes of steamed green beans that squeak between the teeth, along with some slight tart plum skins. The flavor is quite clean, with a lightly lingering fragrance of baby’s breath floral and plum. I am finding each sip is quite heavy, forcing a slow down while drinking. The body feels sinks, and I can feel the tea travel and settle next to my heart.

Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Infusion: We finally have a significant change! I pushed this steep a little longer, so for 2 minutes. The flavor is light and astringent so I feel my gums dangling between my teeth. The end of sip and aftertaste is where it is at – it is soupy heavy, ball in the throat, sinking feeling, with the flavor finish of lingering sharp plum floral. Though I wonder at this point that sinking feeling is actually gut rot – I ate some snacks before this tea. I tried for infusion 11 and steeped it for 15 minutes, but got water and astringency.

Comments: 2017 Pussy is a fragrance focused tea that encourages slower paced sessions to enjoy it to the max. I would label this tea for someone who loves White2Tea’s Tuhao AF but wants a slightly cheaper option. It isn’t as fragrant as Tuhao, but it has a slightly similar vibe to it with being heavy on the floral soupy. What did not wow me on Pussy is the price. I said it in my review of Farmer Direct Tea, but 2017 sheng has been expensive this year. I kept thinking of last year’s tea being comparable for less.


2017 White2Tea – Bellwether

Bellwether is described as a yiwu-like blend.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method: Bellwether has a strong, yet flat and floral scent.

I went with 1 gram to 14ml of vessel size, steeped with 210F/99C water. I used a touch more leaf here because it was conveniently close to what I was going for. The hot leaf smells strongly floral.

First, Second, and Third Infusion: I can smell Bellwether as I drink it and it is lovely. It is floral up front with a bit of savory buttery notes in the finish. The savory notes remind me of those delicious bits that you de-glaze in the bottom of a pan. The flavor intensity is fairly high right off the bat.

As I drink on, the more the texture becomes buttery custard and taste brothy, like I added some nice vegetal broth to deglaze that pan. I like the contrast of the aroma of floral, that is rises to my sinuses, and the savory flavor. It isn’t dry or bitter. I suspect there is no floral flavor, that is all scent, with the flavor notes actually being savory pan scrapings and mineral broth.

Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: Bellwether has gotten more savory and smooth. It has a strong developed taste of rocky mineral and butter. No sharp vegetal notes or ultra dryness. This tea is so smooth, mellow, and chill. The texture is nice and heavy, I feel like I’ve eaten my fill at a high-end buffet of mostly butter.

Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Infusion: I am impressed how smooth Bellwether is. It is just smooth, potent mineral and buttery savory puer throughout. The flavor is so full and round and just gulps down thick as you drink. There is some dryness developing giving me a bit of astringency on the tip of my tongue.

Bellwether finally struck the lightning bolt. I caught myself tea drunk commenting on people’s Instagram random stuff. I called someone Tom Nook and told them I’ll pay them back. I got a bit of a swirly head and the expected sheng gut rot. Despite Bellwether feeling dense to drink, my stomach is clenching and getting angry at the thought of having more. I need to lay down and eat a biscuit.

Eleventh and Twelfth Infusion: Bellwether slips in flavor, continuing to be minerals and butter until dead. It does build up a bad astringency drying up my tongue. It surprisingly doesn’t get vegetal stewy. I can get a few more steeps but my body is protesting as it is telling me I need greasy noodles now.

Comments: 2017 Bellwether I drank second to last of all the 2017 teas and regret it. I had gotten tired of back to back sweet and light young puer whereas Bellwether is the potent savory tea I wished I had earlier to break it up. It does start with a nice floral aroma but settles down into a full flavor a meaty potent tea that’ll give you chest hair without the bitterness. Bellwether does get dry in the final infusions.

Bellwether is the wild card of all the White2Teas cakes I tried worth $89+. You will go for Bellwether if you want a savory, non-vegetal/sweet/over floral tea. It is a workhorse, drink with friends with some greasy westernized Chinese food for optimal performance as the sheng hangry is strong. Bellwether has some good energy to it as well.

My personal opinion, I really liked how Bellwether started with the floral, as I am big into the aroma, but after that was okay, but I respected how this wasn’t another sweet light sheng. I would drink the rest of the sample with friends and have a good time. It certainly goes down to personal taste whether you will love this tea.


2017 White2Tea – Happy Anniversary Baby

This tea has the least amount of information on it, just stating it isn’t half-assed as it was made to celebrate an anniversary.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method: Happy Anniversary Baby has a sweet and slight nose wrinkling pungent scent in the leaf I associate with young puer that could be bitter.

I used 1 gram of leaf to 15ml of vessel size, steeped at a boil. Steeped up hot leaf smells sweeter with a hint of savory, with a twitch of nose wrinkle from tart.

First, Second, and Third Infusion: The first impression is that Happy Anniversary is that it is sweet and creamy. The flavor is light to start, and the body is milk smooth that sticks past the throat. The aftertaste is really soft. Not many notes to taste other than texture and feel.

Fourth and Fifth Infusion: Happy Anniversary is very subtle or this needs more time to settle. The tea reminds me of a combination of Bosch and Pin. With each steeping it builds more layers of aftertaste in the mouth. I get glimpses of underripe hard mango and peaches with a smooth sip. A very soft, sweet gentle tea despite me boil it, and it has an interesting feel of sinking, yet spreading your wings.

Since this puer cake was made for an anniversary, one would hope it doesn’t start off tasting of bitter death. Though it does make me reflect if I were to make a tea that celebrates my anniversary with Mr. Owl Tea-Hater it would be notes of sawdust, rhubarb pie, roast pig with a pop quiz of toothbrush colours in remembrance of my immigration interview.

Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: We have built up to this – the flavor is in full swing here with an underripe stone fruit (back to crunchy mango or peach). I smelled the leaves again and it is so fruity and delicious. It is interestingly tropical tasting – with a fresh aftertaste finish of herbs and slight bitterness.  Each infusion gets more herbal and stewed kale in flavor. The texture is slick, but the body feel is heavy, like getting punch and gaspy.

Ninth Infusion: Nope, I overcooked it – the flavor is bitter with a cheeky dryness that makes me want to brush my teeth. To be fair, this entire session I was steeping a touch longer than normal, as I was hoping to milk more out of this tea more aggressively.

Comments: Likely Happy Anniversary Baby needs more time and a tea intended to be age + fandom + memory. The notes are on the soft, sweet, subtle side of fruity and herbs – that you can certainly get bitter with time. The texture and body is heavily accented and uplifting.

Happy Anniversary Baby would be a good tea to tuck away for later or if you were a fan of White2Tea’s Bosch or Pin, which are similar as both are subtle in flavor. 2017 Happy Anniversary Baby is only available this year. If you like the sound of it I would buy it soon!


I feel fairly indifferent to owning all three teas, other than Happy Anniversary Baby as it is a limited special cake. I quite liked Farmer Direct Tea, which is cheaper, and another tea from White2Tea 2017 that is in the $100+ range a lot more.

I hope this triple-threat review worked well. Stay tuned for part 2 – $100-$120 2017 White2Tea puer.

2017 Little BingDao Sheng Puer from Bana Tea Company

I was excited to see that Bana Tea Company recently released some new teas. One of the teas was 2017 Little BingDao. Every BingDao tea I’ve had I’ve enjoyed a lot, so I swooped in and did a quick order at Bana Tea Company.

2017 Little BingDao is a 200 gram cake. The fine print is this tea isn’t a BingDao, but in adjacent to but also in Lincang.

The cake came packaged in a box. Not sure if the boxes come standard as this is the first time I’ve ordered online from Bana Tea Company. I do miss going to the LA Tea Festival just to see Bana Tea Company and drop $200+ in a tea haze.

Tea Leaf and Steeping Method

2017 Little BingDao cake is moderately compressed, so I had no issues prying off a piece, but it wasn’t too loose that I could only use my fingers.

I used 1 gram of leaf to 15ml of vessel size, steeping aggressively in boiling water.

The hot leaf smells fruity with a side of itchy nose floral.

Tasting of Bana Tea Company’s 2017 Little BingDao Sheng Puer

First, Second, and Third Infusion: Little BingDao is floral heavy. It has an awesome aroma with each sip, with sharp notes of orchid and bit of a savory sandalwood finish. There is a slight bite of bitterness, but it only adds to the experience. The aftertaste lingers with orchid and stone fruits. When you breathe in there is a cooling sensation with the aftertaste, which is neat if you haven’t experienced it before.

Fourth and Fifth Infusion: Little BingDao likely does not like this boiling water as it is a bitter tea right now. It is still drinkable, it has what we call a “good bitter” as it carries aroma and aftertaste. The notes are bitter, stewy leafy green vegetables, then a powerful floral orchid and peach aftertaste finishing with a cool feeling in the throat. Now that I am paying attention to texture, it is slippery feeling like I slapped on a coat of lipstick. The aftertaste lingers for awhile, causing me to slow down for this session to enjoy the orchids and cool breeze.

Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: Best infusions right here. I’d like to thank brewing skill as I pushed these steepings a touch longer at the risk of bitter death, but dodged. It is strongly floral and has a touch of honey nectar to it. It has a bitter finish, but still in the good bitter range and hasn’t gotten more bitter than previous infusions. The aftertaste is very cooling and floral peach.

Ninth and Tenth Infusion: I thought Little BingDao should be a bitter nightmare right now, but it is pleasantly nectar sweet and still holding onto the floral aftertaste making my breath be like perfume. I think it is less bitter as it isn’t in the flavor as much. The bitterness was a concentration of stewy leaf and floral overload from earlier, but now that the tea’s flavor has slipped, it likely faded away. I am getting astringency with some dry cheeks.

The final infusion was sugary sweet, but my mouth filled with bitterness and gritty dry cheeks. No more floral left.

Around the eighth steeping, I got an angry stomach, similar to last time I had a young Bingdao. I was prepared and ate a snack after the session.

Comments

Bana Tea Company’s 2017 Little BingDao is a great little tea. It is aroma and floral heavy, nice slick texture, potent flavor, and an interesting cooling sensation I taste in general with BingDao. It is on the moderately potent side of flavor. Little BingDao is certainly not for someone who is new-ish to puer due to the bitterness level and it being a touch complex to brew. I think dropping to 200F would tame the bitterness some, but it did fine at boiling water temperature for my tastes as I rather pay the price of admission for texture.

I quite like this tea. It checks many boxes for me on high aroma, texture, and complexity. It is quite affordable for what it is and what you get, at this time $56 for a 200 gram cake. I am happy with my purchase of Bana Tea Company‘s 2017 Little BingDao and will drink it all.

2009 Menghai Dayi Yellow Box Tuocha Shou Puer

I purchased 2009 Menghai Dayi Yellow Box Tuocha Shou Puer way back in early 2013 from Mandala Tea. This tuocha and a cake of 2012 Wild Monk were my first puer cakes, believe it or not.

As I am crazy and hoarder-like, I never sampled my 2009 Menghai Dayi. There is nothing special about it other than was my first shou cake. It was only $12 for this 100gram tuocha. I did open the box and examined the tea. A part of me chickened out on how official this tea looks – it’s got paperwork and holo stickers. Examining the packaging, I see 2008 all over the place. My email receipt says 2009. Whatever.

This tea got shoved into the back of my dresser, back when I stored my puer in an empty dresser in my bedroom in California. Over time, I forgot about it. I’d see it time to time when I go through my pumidor and set it aside to drink, but then it gets shuffled to the back. I have been revisiting a number of my older teas, and this Menghai Dayi went to the top of the list as I’ve been waiting on it for over 4 years.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

The tuocha smells like chestnuts and earth.

It crumbled easily with a puer pick despite being a shape that is usually a pain to deal with.

I went heavy with the leaf, as usual for shou, using 1 gram of leaf to 13ml of vessel size. I used boiling water and a single rinse. The hot leaf still smells like chestnuts.

Tasting of 2009 Menghai Dayi Yellow Box Tuocha Shou Puer

First and Second Infusion: 2009 Menghai Dayi Yellow Box isn’t as dark as I was expecting – I thought I was going to get a pitch black shou that I couldn’t see through. I got a tea that has a clear ruddy brown glow to it. I checked and I was right, this was only partially fermented. Having this many unintentional year of age is great!

The flavor is sweet and smooth and bright. It sips in bright and sweet, like roasted chestnuts with a bit of bittersweet shell. It leaves a creamy feel in the mouth and a soft lingering bittersweet flavor. I felt I steeped this higher on the leaf, but the flavor isn’t overly strong but has a thinness to it. There is no funk or strange storage. I am thankful my first puer cakes aren’t horrible as my storage was certainly quite dry, then fluctuations between crock storage, moving, and pumidor storage.

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: 2009 Menghai Dayi Yellow Box has a bit stronger in flavor, with the end of sip having a bittersweet coffee-like bite to it. Overall the tea is still creamy feeling and has chestnut notes.

Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Infusion: The flavor is slipping, but it is the best infusions. The shou is high in sweet and creamy. It lost all that bittersweet bite so it is just chestnut dessert notes and smooth drinking. The energy here is very chill. This is a sleeper shou that I could just stop writing and go have a nap.

Eleventh Infusion: I did a 20-minute infusion here. This last infusion was delicate, mineral and sweet. No bitter or dryness. The body was thin, but the flavor was good and the feeling was chill.

Comments

Not sure where you can get 2009 Menghai Dayi Yellow Box Shou Puer as Mandala Tea has not carried it in a long time, but maybe you can get lucky on Ebay. It was a cheap $12 investment I forgot about, which turned into a smooth easy drinking tea. The notes weren’t too complicated, the texture was fine, and the energy was chill. I’ll likely drink this on another cold rainy day.

I had a giggle with the Steepster listing of 2009 Menghai Dayi Yellow Box Tuocha. It was added to the database 4 years ago and Mandala Tea’s description read “Can’t wait 2-3 years as it’ll age like a champ.” well I waited 4.5 years by accident. The other interesting contrast is one review from 4 years ago said it tasted like buttered greens – I certainly did not get that now. Too bad I didn’t try this shou 4 years ago to taste the difference, but same time I am drinking this likely at its best with the age on it.