A highly requested review! 2017 Turtle Dove is White2Tea’s newest compressed white tea. It is made from sun-dried, large leaf Yunnan white tea. It is described as being a forgiving white tea and I love white teas that I can beat up. This is also one of the teas of the 2017 Spring line up that has been tested and passed being free of 440 EU pesticides. Let’s steep!
Dry Leaf and Steeping Method
Breaking a brick of 2017 Turtle Dove White tea brick is scary – be cautious! I’ve had a couple sessions of 2017 Turtle Dove White tea and a rage quit trying to break enough to drink. The leaves are big and flakey and the compression is so tight that the leaf has almost melded into a solid form.
Using a tea pick just shattered the leaf into dust. A tea knife is the best way to go as I am able to pry off long wide sheets of leaf as long as I am careful and slow. If you rush using a tea knife, it will skirt off the brick. Optimally, if you intend to drink a whole brick now you should just use a saw to cut the tea into serving sized pieces.
During the 2017 Northwest Tea Festival I hosted an aged white tea tasting, using Turtle Dove as an example of a great tea to buy now and age later. The night before my presentation, I was breaking off pieces so I don’t have to wrestle with it during the tea tasting…and I AM NOT KIDDING THIS BRICK IS HARD TO BREAK. I bent and broke the puer pick!
With experimentation, I found compressed white tea doesn’t need as much leaf. Best session of Turtle Dove was 1 gram of leaf to about 18 or 19 ml of vessel size. Going higher on leaf got teapot exploding results along with a more bitter result. If you think about, gongfuing a fresh white you generally don’t do a high ratio as it physically cannot fit, yet it tastes fine. I used boiling water for all my sessions.
Tasting of White2Tea’s 2017 Turtle Dove White Tea Brick
First and Second Infusion: Turtle Dove steeps up a yellow-orange with the scent of floral bouquets and hot forest floor. With each infusion the colour gets darker – the second infusion is in the pitcher.
The flavor is gentle, with a background of honey and slightly like paperback books. What shines right away is the body – it is thick, Pepto Bismol thick and hits the gut. The finish makes me drool.
Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: Turtle Dove got darker in colour and flavor.
The flavor got more dark honey, malt, paperback books with a hint of library and light molasses. The sweetness level is nice and easy to drink. What I find interesting is how clean the tea is – it is crisp in flavor. There is a slight squeak to it, likely some astringency from my crazy steeping method.
Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: The flavor is heavy but hasn’t changed too much other than getting strangely bitter and molar drying. I interestingly got more infusions with a lighter ratio (1 gram 19ml vs 16ml) as the unpleasant elements took longer to show up.
Grandpa style – I tried 2017 Turtle Dove White tea using 3 grams in 280ml, steeped with 200F/93C water.
Turtle Dove is good grandpa style and I highly recommend you try it this way. I could be fooled that this tea is a black tea as it tastes super smooth, creamy, and slightly malty. The flavor is milk, little malty, slightly floral, but mostly smooth milk and malt. It tastes closer to a late infusion Dian Hong black tea than any white tea. I find white grandpa teas get more floral or green tasting.
What I find very interesting about White2Tea’s 2017 Turtle Dove White Tea brick is that it tastes much more aged than it should be. The tasting notes on this are rich and closer to black tea, rather than the delicate floral of young white tea. However, it does lack the date and medicinal elements of aged white. Hopefully, Turtle Dove will age well since the tea already has a head start. As a reminder, you want some good tools to break Turtle Dove – you need adult supervision!
I’d say drink Turtle Dove now Grandpa style or tuck away to age. Turtle Dove is fairly bombproof, but I found gongfu style to be on the daily drinker side right now as the flavor didn’t change too much. The malty notes did remind me a bit of White2Tea’s Hot Brandy, which is a blend of black and white tea, so if you like either tea you’ll enjoy the other.