2013 Fuding Bai Cha White Tea Brick – The Chinese Tea Shop

I purchased a couple of these 2013 Fuding Bai Cha White Tea Bricks from the The Chinese Tea Shop at my last visit to Vancouver. I actually was hoping for more of their 2000 Fuding, but they were sold out at the time, and had the 2013 brick instead.

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This white tea is 100 grams and pressed into 18 squares, chocolate bar/waffle style. It is inexpensive, so I purchased two bricks.

Dry Leaf

OMG SO CUTE! I wasn’t planning on writing about this tea until I unwrapped it. I was so impressed with how the 2013 Fuding Bai Cha looked, I dropped everything, starting writing, and taking photos. The leaves look big and rippled with autumn colours. 2013 fuding bai cha the chinese tea shop oolong owl (2)

The scent of the white tea brick is a musty honey maple.

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Steeping Instructions

The brick has 18 squares. Mine clocked about 5 grams each, but due to the lighter pressing and big leaf, breaking off squares was quite messy. They didn’t break that evenly and lots of big sheets of leaf fell off my square.

I used 1 gram of leaf to 15ml of vessel size, steeping with boiling water. I feel you could leaf down to 20ml, but not much stronger than 12ml due to expansion. Since I wasn’t intentionally going to review this, I ended up steeping my white tea in my usual clay pot.

Tasting of The Chinese Tea Shop’s 2013 Fuding Bai Cha White Tea Brick

The hot leaf smells like I put my jar of bear honey in the clothes dryer as the tea smells like linen and honey. This is assuming the honey didn’t start a fire in the dryer. The tea came out a clean, clear bright gold. Gorgeous tea!2013 fuding bai cha the chinese tea shop oolong owl (4)

First, Second, and Third Infusion: 2013 Fuding Bai Cha sips in very clean, the slowly develops a thick mouth feel of drinking cream. The flavor is sweet, slightly musty, with linen and honey. The finish is juicy and sweet, switching gears again.

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Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: 2013 Fuding got bright, bright like a black tea. It is bright, juicy, honey and sweet. The notes are light, yet the body and flavor intensity is strong and thick. For these steepings there is an addition to a slight dusty in texture, giving me a slight dryness like a dusting of baby powder.

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I started feeling really energetic, yet cool and methodical. Not my usual maniac flailing tea drunk – I am ready to do things and I have  plan. That plan is dinner. The Tea Owls want steak. This poor new owl, who just hatched last night, gets the crumbs from the pecking order.

Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Infusion: The flavor is starting to shift again in this white tea square. It is building to a slight date flavor, but still quite honey and bright. The dryness is building to a soft briskness, which is interesting as this white seems to of stolen elements of black tea. At this point the tea started needing longer and longer steeps.

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Twelfth Infusion: I could of likely milked this one another 2, but I had things to do. Namely, shopping for dinner ingredients. I did a power steep of 20 minutes to pull everything out. This turned out to be a bad plan as I got a bitter taste with sharp date notes and briskness, however with a balmy texture. This is a tea to just resteep fast for high numbers, than long heavy brews. I think turning down the temperature to 200f would have best results, or leafing down to 1 gram to 20ml… or give it a few more years.

Ahhhh aged white tea – looks gorgeous before but never after steeping it out.

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Comments

The Chinese Tea Shop’s 2013 Fuding Bai Cha White Tea Brick is a solid starting to age white. It has a good daily drinker appeal now, and you get quite a few steepings out of it. Very good if you like white teas with more power and flavor to them, but yet sweet and delicate. Yet, not aged at this point to be crazy date and medicinal.

The square brick pressing is fun for travel in theory, but the mess of this particular white I’d likely never use it for that. More of a stay at home, easy to break white. If I wanted to drink now, I would honestly break the whole brick apart so you can deal with the mess in one shot and have it contained. It is a compact tea, I will likely give a few squares to my friends and forget about it for a few years.

Price on 2013 Fuding Bai Cha White Tea Brick is pretty good at $15 Canadian. But really, Vancouver is a great tea city to visit and I highly recommend you take a trip, being sure to visit The Chinese Tea Shop.

2015 Channel Orange Shou Puer Brick from White2Tea

I purchased White2Tea’s 2015 Channel Orange during the Black Friday sale. The brick was a cart sneaker of “that sounds fun” rather than a serious purchase. Reading more into this tea, it is a puer blend of 3-8 year old Xinhui Chenpi orange materials, mixed with orange skins.

I have to say that Black Friday and holiday tea buying was hectic. I only had 1 order not screwed up – but I say this as positive as I can, as I am very happy my fav sellers are busy and I trust my tea dealers as they are all awesome. That said, my poor Channel Orange arrived snapped in pieces during shipping, so no photos of the brick in pristine condition.

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Dry Leaf

Channel Orange is a waffle or chocolate bar style brick, 100 grams total weight. It came pressed tight and flat into 12 little bricks that you can break apart. I am not surprised this brick broke – it’s thin and a bit more delicate than an equivalent fatty shou brick. Each brick piece seems to break off into 7-9 gram pieces with little issue.

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Not surprising, Channel Orange smells like orange. I had my brick rest a few weeks, which tamed the orange scent a bit.

Steeping Instructions

I ratio’d about 1 gram to 12ml vessel size, using boiling water for my infusions. I did 2 rinses with a couple minute rest after the final rinse to have the tight compression loosen, which usually works if you are patient or have someone to chat with. I was not so I still had a big hard lump.

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Tasting of White2Tea’s 2015 Channel Orange Shou Puer Brick

The scent of the hot leaf smells like sweet orange and is slightly alarming on how orange-like it smells for a tea.

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First and Second Infusion: These early steeping are light due to the compression. The flavor is soft, nicely crisp sweet orange with a background of clean earth. The texture is thick and creamy. Channel Orange is very pleasurable to drink – many tea drinkers would love this, including the ones that drink sugared trail mix. The orange is natural and the same vibe as pu stuffed oranges, but not bitter, pithy, or muddy.

Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: As the brick opens up, I’m getting some cloudy appearance. The flavor has exploded into more orange. It sips in orange flavor, with a bright clean puer earth and wood flavor. The puer isn’t very thick and had a great brightness to it, likely brought out with the orange flavor. The aftertaste is more orange. Overall, mostly orange in flavor. No bitterness, funk, or dryness – very super easy to chug. At around the fifth infusion, the brick finally fell apart.2015-channel-orange-white2tea-oolong-owl-4

Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Infusion: The colour darkened quite a bit to a light coffee watery coffee. Channel Orange’s flavor is still consistently orange, earth, wood. There is a hint of cooling sensation here, I breath in and it tastes refreshing.

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Eleventh and Twelfth Infusion: Long steeps here, 10-15 minutes. The flavor is lighter, with even more pronounced sweet orange. It got a little like chewing rind, but overall pleasant as the tea flavor slips.

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Comments

In my opinion White2Tea’s 2015 Channel Orange is an unexpected offering in the White2Tea line up as this tea is more of an universally enjoyed tea vibe than puer-addict appeal. I believe 2015 Channel Orange could be enjoyed by all the tea drinkers – it is super easy to drink and enjoy. I can serve Channel Orange to the most snoot and cranky of old ladies at afternoon tea and they’d think it’s a nice orange black tea. I can feed this tea to any flavored tea drinker and they would flip out on how good it is! It would be a good backup tea to have to convert your non-tea drinking friends

I would put Channel Orange as a must buy for a brand new tea drinker. If you love orange puer, you will likely tong this brick and have it stashed at your desk at work or in your purse for emergencies. I find Channel Orange easier to deal with than actual orange as it is not a weird shape to store, and you don’t run into inconsistent too orange/not enough orange flavor. Pricing is actually not bad, Channel Orange is cheaper than Black Star and Orange Drop, and it is worth a price jump over the cheap-o puer stuffed oranges out there.

Going back to why I think this tea is a weird offering is puer drinkers who are not flavored tea drinkers, which I feel many puer drinkers tend to get completely sucked into unflavored teas or just puer, would think Channel Orange is too strongly orange for their tastes. The con of the brick is the orange can’t be picked out as easy as the stuffed orange teas.

 

Sunday Tea Hoots 29 – Award and Sewing Havoc

Just a quick Sunday Tea Hoots this week. First off, I need to announce the awesomeness that is Oolong Owl being the 2016 Internet Community Winner from The Oolong Drunk!

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2016 was a good year for tea community – with most of us North Americans being solo drinkers, reaching out to meet other tea drinkers is a great opportunity to share and enable each other to buy new teas with. I met a lot of cool tea people, in person and online, and it is great to have a growing group of tea buddies. Get out there and meet people!

There are other cool peeps and tea sellers that made the Best The Oolong Drunk list, including teas that I need to get around to drinking.

In other news, I got a sewing machine for Christmas. My tea-hating husband immediately built a custom sewing table for the new machine and my serger. I’ve been wanting to get into quilting for years, but my excuse was too many hobbies and being too young. I guess I’ll just start small with stuff toys, coasters, tea cozies, and owl beds. I’ve already been shopping online for tea and owl fabrics!

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Matcha Fitness Set from The Tea Spot

This years New Years Resolution is to be injury free.  I want to finally compete in weightlifting, I just have to not get injured or be sick for a long enough stretch! Matcha is my go to for preworkout, along with other weightlifter concoctions. I spotted The Tea Spot’s Matcha Fitness Set and thought this would be a fun tea thing to try to get me pumped back to lifting again after being out after surgery.

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Matcha Fitness Set Specs

Steep & Go Brew Bottle

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I have reviewed the Steep & Go, which is just the filter cap that fits many water bottles. The Steep & Go is really handy for your emergency or pack light travel needs as all you need is to bring tea, the Steep & Go, and purchase a bottle of water. I found this device awesome while flying!

The Tea Spot got some feedback that people love the Steep & Go, but wanted a reusable bottle – enter the Steep & Go Brew Bottle!

I quite like the bottle, it is slim and clean looking, great to hold vs a bulky water bottle. The brew bottle is light too. There are a couple stickers on it that I could remove but I was lazy. The filter does a good job filtering out most bits. The bottle is leakproof during my tests.

For cons, and similar to the original Steep & Go and using conventional soft drink bottles, is the neck is quite narrow, which makes adding tea a challenge. You’ll want to tip tea in it from a corner of a tin or use a small spoon. The bottle worked well for adding big leafed teas, one at a time, however cold brewing time is much longer – that 10 minute cold brew claim is for more cut up teas.

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Adding ice to this bottle is a challenge, but maybe you can life-hack it like some people do to water bottles and put it in the freezer for a bit. However, if your method is 1. Add tea. 2. Go to gym/outside/wherever. 3. Fill up bottle with cold water – the Steep & Go Brew Bottle does the job.

The Tea Spot’s Matcha Fitness Set Teas

Both teas come packaged in a bag inside small tins.

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Matcha Mate – I admittedly was scared trying this Mate. Matcha + Mate sounds like it could be a little too crazy for my tastes. I used 5 grams of Matcha Mate and let it cold brew for around 10 minutes.

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Cold brewed, this preworkout concoction is pretty good. It’s got an interesting grassy sweetness from the mate, with delicious fresh and cream notes from matcha. Both teas come through as I can taste that holly-weedy aspect of the mate. I’m not a big mate fan, I find it too grassy and weedy, but the combination and done cold brewed it quite nice. The caffeine hit is nuts, this had my eyes bulging and I felt the urge to run to my gym and deadlift something. I tried it hot and it isn’t as sweet with a stronger mate flavor, that said I prefer Matcha Mate cold brewed.

Strap on your headband and bring your dumbells to the squat cage – Matcha Mate is your ultimate preworkout tea without the chemicals and strange sugary koolaid flavor.

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Organic Matcha – This matcha is a cute special micro tin of Tea Spot’s Organic Matcha of Kyushu Island, Japan origin. The 12 gram mini tin appears in the Matcha Fitness Set and Smitten by Matcha set, and can be purchased separately. I love this micro tin, it is adorable!

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I had to drink the matcha on another day – the caffeine combination of the two teas would be explosive. I used 2 grams of Matcha for my Steep & Go Bottle. Cold matcha is super easy and a method I recommend if you want to get into matcha as you don’t have to worry about temperatures and whisking. This matcha is a little darker and the powder not super vibrant, but flavor wise is good with a grassy and savory with a bit of a sweet finish, which works well for cold brewing purposes.

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You could also use this matcha to lace more caffeine into your other teas for cold brewing. Any green tea would pair well!

Comments

The Tea Spot’s Matcha Fitness Set is a great set for the cold brewer tea drinker on the go.  The set would make a great gift for your fitness friend or someone who wants to get into tea to kick the coffee out. The teas included in the set pack an energetic punch, sure to make you awake and working out.

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You can purchase all the items separately if you just want the teas or Brew bottle. The Steep & Go Brew bottle I liked the most as the lightweight, leak proof, design makes it good for travel.

Free Shipping on Orders over $60

(Set provided for review/ Affiliate links)

2016 Tuhao As Fuck Sheng Puer from White2Tea

I bought White2Tea’s 2015 Tuhao As Fuck early when it came out, took awhile for me to drink, and enjoyed it enough to not drink it again that I was considering to purchase a cake. I procrastinated, then the 2016 Tuhao AF came out so I purchased a sample of that. I am still procrastinating on a cake as I am quite happy with multiple cakes of the cheaper 2016 Teadontlie.

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Anyways, today’s the day to try the 2016 Tuhao AF. I felt I needed to drink this soon to compare with my recent review of 2016 We Go High, another White2Tea sheng at the same price point. My Tea Owl is blinged out for the occasion. Tuhao means gaudy.. I guess he should had some hootdazzling done, but I couldn’t find my rhinestones.

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Dry Leaf and Steeping

Oooh, I like a big nice sample piece! The puer is mostly dark green tones with the odd silver leaf. The leaf has a light scent to it that is a difficult for me to pick up.

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I started off safe with a 1 gram to 15ml tea to vessel ratio with 200F water temperature.

Tasting of White2Tea’s 2016 Tuhao As Fuck Sheng Puer

The hot steeped leaf smells sweet, a little floral and tall summer grass.

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First and Second Infusion: 2016 Tuhao AF steeps up a clear light citrine yellow with a light grassy scent.

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Tuhao AF sips in soft citrus grass with a bit of linen in the background. Not gaudy yet! The texture is heavy and slick throughout the sip. The aftertaste is bright citrus and sweet.  Very pleasant and personable tea at this stage.

Third and Fourth Infusion: Still on the light, personable, citrus, grassy, and sweet side but I am getting a whiff of amber incense and slight bitterness. The tea has a stickyness to it, like there’s a couple grains of cooked rice on my chin.

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Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: Boiling time! No nice Ms. Owl, we beat our teas here. Tuhao sips a moderate flavor level of of mineral, wet gem stones and pavement. Still sweet like and maybe a little floral. However the boiling water switch turned Tuhao into a fragrance bomb – my mouth explodes with a stale, lingering floral that does not quit.

I had a break here as my computer spazzed and needed to reboot for updates and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Then my bloody phone wanted to update too. I was stuck not writing and drinking for 15 minutes and I could still taste the fragrance bomb of tuhao. I’d also compare this tea as tasting like a permanent trail leading away from a fragrance counter at a department store – a lingering floral burned into the carpeting.

Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Infusion: There is an astringency  building here making my cheeks scratchy. The notes lost the bulk of the sweetness – more subtle sweet, tasting more mineral wet stones sweet, steamed rice, butter and starting to cook to mush grass. In addition, there is a hint of bitterness from the vegetal, but it is pretty light. Tuhao AF almost tastes like gai lan vegetal at first, but with each steeping it fades to more mineral and butter. The texture is still nice and slick. It is still a big floral fragrance bomb after each sip.

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I’m feeling pretty excitable right now. I’ve been distracting as I’ve been shrieky, jittery, and bouncing in my chair online shopping while I sipped these last steeps. Forget the blog, I need Sephora and Korean beauty products. I need all the egg, snail, fermented tea, pig fat, watery gel, hell pore products. And some highlighter – my feathers need to glow from space. Actually, last time I drank the 2015 Tuhao I got pretty wrecked and bought nail polish… a big giant holo haul.

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Fifteenth Infusion: Power steeping! 40 minute infusion… as I was distracted Tea Drunk shopping. It isn’t very bitter or dry, that level stayed pretty constant since earlier. The flavor is still buttery, mineral. The fragrance is still there but not as potent. The tea was also lukewarm.

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Comments

I find White2Tea’s 2016 Tuhao as Fuck a pretty approachable, drink now, higher end tea with its main feature of ultra lingering aftertaste fragrance. Let’s just get that out there first, this tea is $140 for 200 gram cake. I got quite a few steepings and Tuhao does pretty well boiled – this cake can take a good beating and while it does have some dryness and bitterness, it is on the light side.

I think if you are the type that has been buying the $50 or less range or wants to explore with a sample of an expensive puer, this is the tea for you. Tuhao AF is very approachable compared to the bitter, more crazy 2016 We Go High. 2016 Tuhao as Fuck is also perfect for types who favor oolongs and fragrance drinkers – you will greatly enjoy this sheng! More hardcore drinkers who can take bitter and want epic would prefer to pass and go directly for 2016 We Go High.

 

Oolong Owl’s 2016 Tea Consumption and Stash Data

Happy New Years! 2017! I have completed another year of tracking all my teas, how much I drank and received. I track my entire tea stash and consumption on Google Sheets, which I find handy as I can access it on my phone and computer.

If you want to learn more about my spreadsheets – Tea Stash Spreadsheet | Tea Consumption Spreadsheet.

Due to popular demand – here is a template of my Tea Stash Spreadsheet! Save a copy to make it yours.

2016 was a crazy year for me. I moved from Los Angeles to Seattle. I finally got a full pumidor set up as crock storage was getting out of control with my stash.

Oolong Owl’s 2016 Tea Stash Data

First off, here’s a link to last years, Jan 2016, tea stash data.

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I am starting 2017 with a terrible tea count. I started 2016 with 596 teas, so much for reducing my stash. April 2016 I had my stash to 517 (a purge happened before my move), then it jumped to 689 in August, crawling to 717 in November. I busted my butt drinking down samples every weekend in December, juggling teas I bought from Black Friday, getting my total to 709. Sigh. I even bought less tea this year too – a lot of this inflation was from too many samples from group buys and travelling tea boxes.

Here is the chart from the beginning of 2016 to compare:

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I got more white teas in 2016 as I discovered how I like to steep them – boiling! The white tea number doubled, but what isn’t reflected is most of my white tea purchases were at least 3oz each. I got more sheng puer and managed to trim down my green tea stash.

If you were curious what 709 teas looks like, here is my stash today, Jan 1 2017… in its cluttered glory:

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Yeah, I didn’t want to clean it for photos as I was going to go through everything soon. That space between bookshelves was where the pumidor was. I had to move it to another room as it was getting too cold.

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(photos does not include my Tea Blog queue basket. Those are spoilers!)

Oolong Owl’s 2016 Tea Consumption

I track how much tea, by weight, I drink every day. I also track how much tea comes in and leaves my stash. Besides tea weight being most optimal to figuring out serving vs a teaspoon, I find weight adds the best information on how much tea you really drink to compare to how much you buy.

  • Average tea drank per day = 17.6 grams
  • Average tea drank per month – 518.5 grams
  • Most drank tea in a month = January at 814 grams,  26.3 grams a day. December 2015 I also drank a lot of tea, this was likely the continuation of panic to drink more.
  • Least Tea Drinking Month = April at 306 grams total, 11.3 a day average. I moved to Seattle in April, and I have a number of days with no tea consumed. I recall I bought those big jugs of ItoEn tea to drink during the 3 days the movers were there and I was flying with a pissed off rabbit. April, May, and June were low tea drinking months in general with less than 400 grams each month, thus why my totals are a little less this year. Those 3 months I was stuck only using a 75ml gaiwan too. July, once I moved into permanent housing and had all my tea things unpacked I jumped to 538 grams.
  • Total Tea Consumed for 2016 – 6222 grams / 13.7 pounds! 

2017 Tea Goals and Predictions

Continue with tea data collection – Like previous years, I will continue with my data collection. I highly recommend a tea stash spreadsheet once you hit around 100 teas – if you wait too long it just gets worse to make.

Add a Teaware tab in Tea Spreadsheet – I already keep track of my clay pots so I remember their size and seasoning, which I find very handy. I would like to expand that to document all my teaware and cost, for reference and insurance purposes.

The Great Purge and Reorganize – I am planning a big sort and purge this month to make my stash trim. There is likely some fruity teas in there that are in bad shape from age that need to be pitched. From there, I will regroup similar and tin to hopefully free up space.

2017 tea stash predictions – Admittedly, I accepted much less vendor samples in 2016. I obviously have too much tea… as of 2 years ago. I bought 30% less tea this year too. I purchased better tea in 2016 and will continue in 2017.  I predict in 2017 my white and green tea numbers may reverse. I have been steadily not buying as much greens and rehoming them before they get too old. 2017 is also Year of the Rooster, which is my year. I’ve been looking forward to this year and plan to buy quite a bit of puer for future aging. Fingers crossed 2017 is a good year!

2013 Hummingbird Spring Jing Mai Sheng Puer from Bitterleaf Teas

I cannot say no to a jing mai material puer! Today’s review is Bitterleaf Teas’ 2013 Hummingbird Spring Jing Mai Sheng Puer. This puer is spring, gushu (old tree) material.

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Bitterleaf Teas sells their 2013 Hummingbird in a few different styles – sample, 357 gram cake, and mini coin 10 gram cakes. My sample is from a cake. Reports from my tea friends saw the coin form has smaller leaves so flavor could vary.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Instructions

The dry leaf smells sweet and floral. I love when puer samples give you a nice hunk of tea!

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Bitterleaf includes steeping instructions on the other side of the label.

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I decided 2013 was old enough for me to just boil. I used 1 gram of leaf for 15ml of vessel size. I might as well be a jerk and taste all the flaws! ALL OF THEM! I do like to tease hummingbirds. I get quite a few at my house and they got really mad at my orchids (now dead) I kept inside by the window. There would be a couple hovering at the window, then they would start fighting with chasing and face jousting.

Tasting of Bitterleaf Teas’ 2013 Humming Bird Spring Jing Mai

The hot leaf smells like steamed tulips and old perfume. The colour comes out clear and a touch peachy yellow.

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First, Second, Third, and Fourth Infusion: 2013 Hummingbird sips in light with a smooth, savory and buttery flavor, and with each steeping the flavor grows more vegetal. There is a hint of sweet vegetal, kind of like lightly steamed asparagus. The texture is very thick, coating my mouth as if I was drinking heavy cream. The later steepings here get a bit of a fleeting floral fragrance after each sip.

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Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: Oooh, Hummingbird is still smooth and thick! The flavor has reached a breaking point where I’m getting some bitterness – it’s a sweet bitterness with a twinge of toasty. I feel like I am on the cruise ship, I get all glutton crazy and cram my face with heavy, rich foods. I’ve chowed down on some asparagus dripping with cream, butter, and brulee’d cheese crust on top. I feel ready to order dessert just about now. The texture makes my mouth water, wanting more food!

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Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Infusion: Finally, the dessert course! Hummingbird moved sweeter – the flavor is a mix of wet stones mineral, bit of sweet tobacco, and golden raisin. It still is somewhat savory, but mostly sweet. Bah, it is like I got the dried fruit and cheese platter for dessert.. a good compromise, I feel utterly full from eating the mega entree of the first 8 infusions of thick cream. I likely could of milked more sweetness out of this sheng if I steeped it with a lower temperature instead of going hot and abusive.

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Comments

Bitterleaf Teas’ 2013 Hummingbird Spring Jing Mai Sheng Puer is a pretty approachable sheng that is ready to drink now – low bitterness with an exceptional texture. What I enjoyed most was how thick this tea was, it was like drinking cream – if you love heavy thick teas this is a match! The flavors are a good balance of savory and sweet, and this tea sports a good flexibility to it if you played with steep times and temperature. I would likely take the rest of my sample the next time I travel as it has bombproof potential to taste great with unknown water temperature conditions. I find jing mai maocha cold brews well, if you want to take the time to steam it loose you will be in for a treat.

I didn’t find 2013 Hummingbird Spring Jing Mai super sweet like other Jing mais I’ve had, however I pushed it with boiling water aggressively plus this tea has a few years on it. Either way, it did fine with boiling water bringing out all that texture! At this time, 2013 Hummingbird Spring Jing Mai is priced at $0.20 a gram, up to $72 for 357g cake, which is priced pretty well.

(tea provided for review)

December 2016 White2Tea Club feat. 2010 Liu Bao

December 2016 White2Tea Club! This month came with a 250 gram brick of 2010 LiuBao with a sample of Hot Brandy 15 grams and 10 grams of Qilan Trees. I reviewed Qilan Trees back in September 2015 and I bought a cake of Hot Brandy (review incoming). I also got the first round of other White2tea orders come in at the same time as my club. I decided I will just be drinking the club LiuBao today. I am unfortunately missing the information handout that usually comes with the club.

A photo posted by Char (@oolongowl) on

Dry Leaf

This is a big dense brick of tea. The top and bottom are even shiny and almost smooth from being pressed so hard. The Liubao smells wet storage, so kind of like a wet basement full of library books. This comes as a relief as the last Heicha we got from the White2tea club (December 2015) was a tire fire.

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Thankfully, the 2010 Liubao brick breaks off easy enough with a puer breaking tool. It did come off in large dense chunks and shattered little pieces.

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Steeping Instructions

I rolled with 1 gram 14/15ml vessel. I used boiling water and 2 rinses. I let the tea sit after the final rinse, without any water in it, for a couple minutes to steam open the piece I picked off. This trick worked awesomely perfect – I came back to a fluffed wad of liubao instead of the dense rock I started with.

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First and Second Infusion: The heicha steeps up a dark nutty brown. The hot leaves smells like extreme wet basement with a chestnut roaster being run.

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2010 LiuBao sips in mildly wet tasting. If you never had wet tasting tea, it’s like that smell of fall leaves that have gone mush, cross between a soggy basement funk, or wet library book. Some people love this taste, others have to be in the right mood for it… and I never heard of what a new drinker thought of this. There is a touch of tobacco notes in the mix too. The texture is lip balmy licky.

Third and Fourth Infusion: The flavor here is bright and slightly light. You can likely overclock this tea for maximum basement flavor. I think back to the last heicha we got (aka Bacon Log) this tea is not smokey, peaty, rich or thick, this is the opposite of being bright, wet and woodsy. We are drinking a late fall, decaying yet clean forest with a nice selection of old books – post-apocalyptic tire fire pile with a pork belly being rotisserie at the peak.

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Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Infusion: More flavor shifting – I am getting bright, clean fall leaves note with a bit of pumpkin and nutty chestnut skin vibe… with some mushy forest floor. This has been really easy to drink as there is no funky smoke, bitter or dryness (not counting the super wet tastes early on).

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Tenth and Eleventh Infusion: It is a battle to keep this tea going, it tastes lighter and lighter, and I’m steeping it for 10 and 15 minutes here, but the leaf still smells like it has more pay off. I can likely milk out another one or two with some exceptionally long infusions, or stop here. The flavor is wet floor, nutty and mysteriously sweet, an enjoyable sip.

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Comments

If you love that wet basement flavor of liubao, this is a good fit tea. I’m pretty happy with the value of the club this month as this is a pretty beefy cake, and the oolong is not a cheap one and Hot Brandy is solid too. I think this 2010 LiuBao is a good starting brick to getting your tastes ready for that wet storage taste as it is.

2017 White2Tea club – what adventures will we have?

 

The Wall Tea Infuser from Boreal Wildcraft

I first encountered The Wall Tea Infuser at the World Tea Expo. I walked by and saw it on display. I thought, “What crap, it is only for right-handed people.”

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The Boreal Wildcraft guys promptly told me, “We do carry a left handed one, and oddly it sells just as well as the right handed ones, despite left handers are only like 10% of the population.” Then they showed me the left handed model.

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To be honest, at that point I bought a left handed one without a second thought. I did not care how good the tea infuser was or that I preferred to remove my leaf. THEY MADE A LEFT HANDED THING AND THEY NEED TO HAVE MY LEFT HANDED MONEY.

I got home, tried out The Wall tea infuser. My life was changed. I took forever to review this mug as it just became a part of my tea life so seamlessly, I forgot I never owned it. I use mine almost every day – it is my go-to drink in front of computer tea mug. Since June 2016, almost every Oolong Owl article was typed with The Wall tea infuser to my left of the keyboard, with me drinking grandpa style tea.

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The Wall Tea Infuser Stats

  • 2 sizes! 310ml and 440ml (10.5 oz / 15 oz)
  • Built-in infuser
  • Right Handed or Left Handed models
  • 100% borosilicate glass
  • Dishwasher and Microwave safe

The Wall Tea Infuser is sold at:

Boreal Wildcrafts site (FYI, they are Canadian)

Amazon.com (Right-handed model only at this time)

I purchased the 310ml, left handed. I opted for the smaller size as it seemed more convenient for me.

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How it Works

The Wall Tea Infuser is all glass, with a holey glass wall mounted to the side. As you sip, it filters the tea. This tea infuser is so seamless and simple!

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The shape is interesting as the bottom isn’t flush, which I found it handy as the cup never tips over, let fairly stable.

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Pros

The ULTIMATE grandpa style mug – I don’t know if they were thinking about it, but The Wall Tea Infuser does grandpa style like a boss. I add around 3-10 grams of leaf (depending on my mood and tea), chug away and keep topping up with more hot water. The glass material loses heat, but leads to fast drinking with grandpa style.

Pleasure to drink out of – the mug is thin, light, the handle fits 3 fingers, and balances perfectly in my hand. The handle does not get hot. The height of the glass wall infuser is perfect, no leaf flops out on my face – completely seamless to drink out of!

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Cons

Does not filter fine leaf – Rooibos, CTC blacks, and herbals just do not work in The Wall. The glass filter holes are just not fine enough to stop tiny leaf. The most disaster I had was using loose leaf chamomile – the infuser was just utter fail and did nothing. That said, The Wall Tea Infuser works well with other teas, likely leaning moreso to unflavored teas.

Oversteeping – You cannot remove the leaf in this cup. If you are the type who waits 10 minutes before sipping your tea, or forgets their tea, this mug might drive you crazy with oversteeping.

You can work with this though, but it requires some tea steeping talents:

  1. Leaf less. 2-3 grams is a good starting point, then figure out your tastes from there.
  2. Lower the temperature. 200F is my go to temperature for this mug, even for shou and black teas.
  3. Buy the smaller size even though you are one of those 12-16oz big mug types.
  4. Use bombproof teas that don’t get bitter with oversteeping.

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Other considerations

Glass – I have a love hate, mostly hate, relationship with glass. I dislike glass as it breaks easy and cools too fast. Some people love glass because of appearance or lack of metals involved with their tea. The Wall has some perks being glass as mentioned above, but also I’m worried I’m gonna break this thing one day.

Cleaning – I tend to not clean it, just rinse after use. After a few days, it gets ugly and tea stained. The photo above with the big leafed white tea is it’s natural state of not been cleaned in awhile. The glass infuser wall magnifies all the tea stains in it, so you need to thoroughly clean it. The glass infuser wall also gives you an annoying obstacle, making cleaning under it a pain, and of course that is where all the tea stains are. The Wall is dishwasher safe, but I don’t trust my current dishwasher for delicates. A bottle cleaning brush or soaking in baking soda/denture tabs does the trick.

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Not Ambidextrous – This is completely silly, I mostly use my left hand to pick up my tea cups, but sometimes I use my right hand, say if I’m writing something. I had a couple brain farts when I used my right hand and ate leaf. At this point I realized Right handed or Left handed doesn’t matter – you need to consider which is your main tea drinking hand.

Sizing – I have the 310ml size and was curious what they meant by that. Filled to the brim, it is 370ml BUT you cannot fill it to the brim as all the leaves will just float over the infuser. Measured to the filter, it clocks in at 280ml, so off 30ml. Maybe their sizing is off or individual pieces vary. Volume variation seems to happen quite often, go measure all your tea cups!

Comments

The Wall Tea Infuser is an amazing tea mug – I love mine to bits, use it almost every day, and if I ever break it I would immediately repurchase. I love that they have a left handed model, though you should figure out which is your dominate tea drinking hand. The product handles well, easy to use, and a pleasure to drink out of. I want to buy all my friends one, however the price is quite steep at $25-$30 (at this time, also varies depending on Canadian dollar conversion) depending on size.

If you love Grandpa style, The Wall Tea Infuser will give you much joy to use. Left Handed people – someone remembered us!!!!!!!! However, the Wall Tea Infuser is not a great match for tea drinkers who prefer cooled drinking temperature, or types who often forget about their tea.

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November 2016 White2Tea Club feat. 2016 B__D_ Sheng Puer

November 2016 White2Tea club. This marks 2 years with the White2Tea club, which started in November 2014.

For the 2 year mark, we got a single 50 gram sheng puer cake. It is Lincang material, picked in September, pressed October, and arrived in November. “B_D_” is a mad lib, go fill in whatever gutter brained stuff that comes to mind, but I automatically thought “Big Dinosaur.” Mr T-Rex is usually at my husband’s work desk, but he came home for a visit. He’s been busy chewing on mini tuochas and rawr’ing at Tea Owls, it seemed B_D_ was right.

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B_D_ aired out by my tea table for about a month. I was a little conflicted here – the instructions say to wait, but yet I should drink this now just to see so I don’t leave you readers hanging. Well let’s drink this puer now, and set a google calendar update to retry it later.

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click to enhance!

Dry Leaf and Steeping Instructions

Maybe I aired it out too much, but I have very little smell on the cake compared when it first arrived. After this session, I’m putting into the pumidor and and the cake it can be a jerk and fall through the shelves due to the tiny size.

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I decided to play it safe and follow White2Tea’s guidance. I under-leafed a touch, 3.5g for a 6oml gaiwan (1 gram to 17ml). I stuck to 200F, I will stick to my guns. I will not wimp out at 185F. I am Hoot.

Tasting of White2Tea’s November 2016 B_D_ Sheng Puer

Steeps up a gentle light amber. The leaf smells fruity and light grassy. This should be fine and not death.

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First and Second Infusion: Oh That is nice! Soft and cuddly! The texture is thick like puddin with dancing sweetness and vegetal. What a friendly tea.

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: HURRRRRRRR FAKKKKKKKKKKCC! That’s kinda bitter quite quickly. Reminds me of science class in grade school where we tested our sense of taste, blindfolded, and your arse of a teacher feeds you a potato instead of the apple piece – mix of disappointment and being trolled. The bitterness hits the tip of my tongue, then flavor ripples through with a nice thickness, mineral, sharp vegetal with a potato grater feel of dryness. The end of sip is a wet stone mineral sweet, toying back to the first steeps of being pudding sweet. The fragrance is sharp and heavy, and I got the feels of being viced in the head.

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Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: I took a step back and went back to flash steeps to tame this beast of a tea. The texture is really flipping nice, it is coating my mouth in cream, then so much complexity of mineral, sweet, and leafy notes – which contrast with bitterness, dry cheeks and beefy aftertaste of mineral and light grass. The faster steeps here chilled out the bitterness, but I can still taste it looming over in my mouth, like a T-rex standing over you without you noticing… something feels off but you aren’t sure what.

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Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Infusion: B_D_ is losing its complexity and getting a bit more easier to drink. It got more vegetal, as it tastes like buttered broad beans to me, with a bit of an apricot finish. At this stage it is quite astringent though, my mouth is quite dry, my tongue is dried out and I can feel my beak gums. I must resist the urge to blow my mouth as if I was flapping my gums like a horse.

Thirteenth and Fourteenth Infusion: I did longer steeps here, about 2-5 minutes. The flavor jumped back to bitter and really dry – this time the bad bitter without any sweetness. The aftertaste is a lovely apricot though. There’s another couple steeps here, but the power bitter is enough to get me to jump ship now. I spotted the T-rex and figured I should cut my losses and run now.

Hmm, I think he is hungry. I better get some Costco Rotisserie chicken.

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Comments

In this state, 2016 B_D_ sheng is just really young and you need to play by ear to tame the strong bitterness. This tea likely would not at all be enjoyed if you dislike bitter or dry teas. However, resist the urge to swap it – toss it in your crock or pumidor and hold onto it. This tea tastes awesomely complex now with great feel – it could be wicked later!

Here is to another year of White2Tea club! /wallet sobbing

Bonus: Helpful DINO!

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