Woohoo, I finally got my claws on White2tea’s 2017 new teas! As much as you all want to hear about the new puer, or perhaps the new white cake, I will be starting off with the 2017 Natural Redhead Black tea cake. I did a big White2tea sample order and I decided to split half a sample of Natural Redhead with a friend. I haven’t been doing as much black tea over the summer, so I didn’t feel like buying a whole cake like I would have done in the past. Since I was doing a huge sample order that was expensive, I was in pruning mode and I almost left this tea out if I didn’t end up splitting it with a friend. By the way, Natural Redhead is one of the teas that has been EU 440 pesticide tested.
Dry Leaf and Steeping Method
The sample smells fruity, creamy, and a little cakey rum. I oddly think of a Christmas cake with the rum sauce poured on, but without the sugar tooth ache.
I went a little heavy handed on the leaf for gongfu style, so 1 gram of leaf to 13ml of vessel capacity. I used boiling water, a single rinse, and quick infusions to start.
Tasting of White2Tea’s 2017 Natural Redhead Black Tea Cake
First Infusion: The hot leaf smells fruity and sweet, I could almost mistake this for a ruby black. The first infusion is soft, sweet, and quite fruity. The notes lean slightly into berry territory, but I am not sure what berry. There are a few creamy notes and the body is already heavy – the feel in the mouth and throat is like drinking rice porridge and getting punched in the diaphragm. I could be fooled that this is a underleafed Taiwanese ruby black. The colour here is gold.
Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: The second infusion was stronger in flavor, still quite ruby like, but has an aftertaste that is malty and woodsy. Each infusion the malty woodsy and brisk notes are fighting the ruby fruity sweet ones to take over, but with each steeping, I still taste that ruby.
In a silver cup, Natural Redhead tastes brighter fruity and little of the woody malt notes. I am even more fooled here, this is a mellow assam varietal ruby black. In real life, Natural Redhead is that orange red, similar to an orange pekoe, but my camera kept making it look like kool-aid.
With each infusion, Natural Redhead got more and red.
Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: Natural Redhead’s colour hit overdrive of deep dark red.
The flavors switched up, so now it is brisk, willow branch woodsy, and slightly orange. Some sips almost taste orange pekoe like – the good stuff with the long ridiculous acronyms, not the floor sweeping junk. The aftertaste is exploding fruity ruby. The flavor intensity is strong – like I should be drinking this tea in the morning or my dead time of 3 pm. A warning that likely I should have leafed a little less as these infusions will make more chest feathers sprout. However, there is the odd sip and aftertaste of ruby fruity. My mouth is feeling moderately astringent, so my cheeks feel gritty. The body on Natural Redhead black tea tanked to be on the thinner side, but I can certainly feel it kicking my stomach.
The leaves reached max capacity here, I have to jiggle the tea pot to get the lid on.
Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Infusion: I steeped quite long here, 10-15 minutes, to get the flavor rolling strong. It is on the astringent side, but the flavor is bright and brisk. The 10th infusion Natural Redhead black tea totally died, but the aftertaste was a crazy orange, floral, clean, that produces a lot of salivation and travels in the different direction than the whole session. I would rate the 10th infusion as the best infusion as the aftertaste is completely nuts, that I tried for 11. After a 30 minute steeping, and keeping it hot with pouring hot water on the teapot, I got a final good infusion.
The leaves look pretty good with lots of buds and a little stem action.
I used 4.5 grams of leaf, steeped at 200F/93c. I dig Natural Redhead grandpa, though a lot of the complexity is gone. The flavor is rich, bittersweet, and malty, with a densely heavy body that has a nice sinking feel in the body. Natural Redhead didn’t get bitter or dry, nor too strong. It does do flavor packed, easy drinking grandpa style, but I keep thinking how awesome gongfu style was.
I quite enjoyed White2Tea’s 2017 Natural Redhead black tea. There was some interesting complexity with the shifts of flavors, and my brain was certainly stimulated by being confused that I was drinking a Taiwanese ruby at times. If you are a black tea lover, 2017 Natural Redhead is certainly unique and delicious, good to fill “I don’t know what black to drink… why not Natural Redhead as I get them all.” I think this is a great black tea for the moretypical tea drinker used to English blacks, but I honestly say it would be wasted on. People who are big hong’oholic black tea drinkers would get this tea and the best application is gongfu style.
I am not sure how 2017 Natural Redhead black tea will age. I keep meaning to revisit my Yunnan Sourcing 2013 Drunk on Red to see how that tea is doing. However, Natural Redhead is more than ready to drink now.
I told myself that I’d likely buy a cake of Natural Redhead with my next White2tea order, but I already failed and ordered expensive sheng instead. Maybe next time, once I’ve gone through all my samples.