Matcha Ninja Cold Brew Matcha

If you follow my matcha reviews, I can be pretty unforgiving about matcha. Honestly, the concept of “Cold Brew Matcha” was a laugh to me. There is nothing stopping anyone from just adding matcha powder to ice water and call it cold brewed. There is no brewing time with matcha, it is already ground up and an instant product. I drink cold matcha all the time when I’m lazy, it is hot, or I got crappy matcha, as cold brings out the sweetness.

I came across Matcha Ninja, who makes cold brew matcha, and had a question for them. I asked Matcha Ninja what made their matcha so special and cold brew-able vs regular matcha.

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Matcha Ninja said their use selected de-stemmed tencha leaves and do a longer, finer ground than other matchas. This extra grinding and lack of stem make for a more water soluble matcha. I had a sample and felt it tasted fine. Matcha Ninja is also organic matcha, but is a Zhejiang, China source. Their tea is also heavy metal and pesticide tested.

I got a 1.5 gram sample packet to do EVIL comparisons with. As far as I can tell, their website just sells a 70 gram bag.

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Matcha Powder Comparison and Preparation Method

The powder color is meh as it is unsaturated and a bit chalky.

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For our comparison, I pulled out a pretty good matcha from my stash. I won’t say which one, but is one I personally drink. You can see the colour difference. This is an unfair comparison as Matcha Ninja goes for about $0.50 a gram and is an organic Chinese matcha, whereas comparison matcha is $0.93 a gram and a Japanese matcha, not organic. Non Organic matchas tend to be much more green.

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The Matcha Ninja powder does feel pretty darn silky and smooth. I felt up my other matcha and it was clumpy.

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For the comparison, I used equal amounts (1.5 grams) and about 6-7oz of water. I did not sift the comparison matcha to be fair. I shook each one for 20 seconds. Matcha Ninja did not clump or nor have floaties.

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Tasting of Matcha Ninja Cold Brew Matcha

Matcha Ninja’s flavor is quite strong. It is a sweet grass and slight herb profile with a hint of bitterness. I can tell if I made this matcha hot it would be quite grassy and bitter. It was pretty easy drinking, and the bottom of the cup had no sludge, clumps, or thickness. Matcha Ninja was right – it is quite finely ground and no clumps.

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I then realized our comparison matcha is very unfair in regards to taste and quality.  The comparison matcha looked and tasted better, but was clumpy, lumpy, and I was spitting out floaters often. When I do iced matcha I often use a blender bottle, which the whisk does a good job breaking up stuff, or I sift. I cringed at the amount of waste of expensive matcha that was on the bottom of the cup.

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Let’s try this again, I repeated the same ratio and shaking, but I sifted the comparison matcha. This time there was no floaters, but when I got to the bottom I had small chunks and sludge. That said, Matcha Ninja has this more expensive matcha beat on water solubleness right out of the gate.

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Comments

Matcha Ninja is ideal for those who purely drink matcha iced or “cold brewed” as there is no sifting required and it mixes perfectly with cold water. Flavor wise it is okay and on the high side for the quality, but you are likely paying that extra for the additional processing to make the matcha more finely ground for your convenience, plus organic and testing.  If you really hate floaters in your iced matcha, Matcha Ninja is for you. In addition, if you have concerns about your tea’s origin – Matcha Ninja also is organic, tested for heavy metals, and they’ve gone out of their way to ensure a radiation free source. However, if you only care about flavor and cost, there are better matchas out there.

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One critical concern I have is Matcha Ninja is sold in 70 gram size right now. 70 grams is a lot of matcha to get through, and if you don’t go through it fast enough whether fridge storage will make it clumpy. I do think the 1.5 gram prepackaged packs are very convenient for Matcha Ninja, making it perfect for on-the-go cold matcha, but I don’t see those online.

 


(free tea I snagged at World Tea Expo that wasn’t specificed for reviewed but I reviewed it anyway | Amazon affiliate links)

2017 Big Green Hype Sheng Puer from White2Tea

The July White2tea club tea was a whole 200 gram cake of 2017 Big Green Hype, which is part of their new 2017 Spring teas. Yay, I like previews and samples of brand new teas as it gets me hyped for what is to come!

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2017 Big Green Hype features a clean logo on fancy textured paper.

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Leaf and Steeping Method

When Hype arrived, it was overly fragrant and fruity, but also warm and swampy from sweating in bubble wrap during the long ship time. I aired the cake out for a few weeks. Big Green Hype looks pretty good and has a moderate compression so you need a tea knife to pry off pieces.

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Up close, you can see the odd green leaf on the cake.

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My usual gaiwan is out of commission, so I went with fast pour tea pot. I used 1 gram of leaf to 15ml of vessel, flash steeped in boiling water. The hot leaf smells like hot summer orchards, mixed of grassy fields and hot fruit in the sun.

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Tasting of White2Tea’s 2017 Big Green Hype Sheng Puer

First and Second Infusion: Big Green Hype’s flavor is light, soft cute notes of straw. The texture is loose – it is trying to be heavy, but it’s more like unset jello. The aftertaste is a sweet peach. It is really light and on the watery side.

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Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: Slowly Big Green Hype is building flavor. I am getting notes of hay and sweet peaches, with the aftertaste being stronger and more fruity each round. The texture is still a sloppy jello feel in the mouth. There is a slight astringency making my teeth feel slick and clean.

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Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Infusion: Hype hit “got cooked” mode as my boiling steepings and re-infusions finally beat the leaf. I am getting some bitterness mixed with the fruity flavor makes it taste like I am eating peach pits. The aftertaste is also peach pitty. The texture picked up here, feeling nicely slick and heavy.

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The last infusion died in flavor and the bitterness took over.

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Comments

2017 Big Green Hype is a light, easy drinking, fruity sheng with a moderately heavy body, fine aftertaste, with later infusions of bitterness. If you are new to sheng, likely Hype would be a safe choice. However, at this time, this tea is a month old. I think the lightness will tighten up with time. If I wasn’t on a schedule and didn’t have a whole bunch of people asking for a review of Hype, I would have waited another month or two to drink this. So far it reminds me of the time when I drank the 2015 Pin when it came out, and it being very light. That said, I keep meaning to revisit a number of my once young teas and put my new observations to an Oolong Owl article.

Either way, White2Tea’s 2017 Big Green Hype Sheng Puer is an affordable $35 cake that is a solid drinker without any notes one would find offensive (not counting boiling it to a bitter death at the end).

Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler Review

The travel tea tumbler geek Owl strikes again. Today I will be reviewing the Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler. I have used this tumbler regularly for a few months, so it has been tested thoroughly by picky owls. I bring my tea with me almost every time I go out, so my tumblers get quite a bit of use.

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Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler Stats

  • 9.5oz / 280ml volume.
  • Double walled glass body.
  • BPA-free plastic parts.
  • Stainless Steel Filter in the cap and is removable for cleaning.
  • Hand Strap
  • Extra washer included
  • Arrives packaged securely in bubble wrap and a box

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Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler Pros

Sturdy Fit and Feel – The feel of the tumbler is nice – it feels solid. The lid is firm and the metal accents keep it from an impact. I can’t owl strength squeeze the lids like other plastic lid tumblers. The width of the tumbler is perfect, narrow enough to hold securely and feel comfortable to carry for awhile. This tumbler easily fits car cup holders.

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Nice to drink from – The inner lip is nice and narrow, making it easy to drink from. As much as people hate plastic, the plastic lid doesn’t burn your lips when you sip boiling tea. The threading on the cap doesn’t bother my lips either.

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No Leaks – Despite my experience of similar double capped tumblers, surprisingly the Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler doesn’t leak as long as both lids are on securely. The Teabook travel tea tumbler has been upside down in my purse many times have I have had zero leaks.

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Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler Cons

You need to remove the filter cap before filling with water – Leave it to someone lazy like me to complain about this. You cannot add water with the filter on as it overflows instead of draining into the body of the tumbler. I have experience with these styles of infusers, but all my tricks cannot get around the problem of the filter slowing the water flow to a crawl. I tried using a narrow and high stream of water, tilting the tumbler, and pouring slowly with no luck. My guess is the filter is just too narrow.

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The only way to fill the tumbler is removing both lids.  This annoying feature might play into why this tumbler doesn’t leak.

Ensure tightness of lower twist cap + hold lower cap while untwisting the top lid –  I had an incident and it is likely mostly my fault, with a slight part design fault of it having a single thread to close the lower filter cap. I was in the car holding the Teabook travel tea tumbler with my knees. I went to untwist the top lid one handed, which annoyingly is enough force to untwist both caps, which caused the tea to burn my feathers and give me a wet butt car ride. Take care with unscrewing the top by always using one hand to hold the bottom lid while you untwist the top.

Plastic scent – The plastic washers inside the lids have a strong chemical smell in the brand new bottle. Hand washing didn’t help however I found just overpowering with tea did the job in two weeks. A run through the dishwasher might kill the scent too. I didn’t notice any flavor effects as these washers don’t directly sit in tea, but if you are greatly attuned to scent you will notice.

Other Considerations

Cannot Remove Leaf – Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler is a grandpa brewing style, leaving the leaf in. Your tea will over steep if you do not adjust or don’t use “bomb proof” teas. If you hate over steeping, take awhile to drink tea, or drink sensitive teas, I would opt for a different tumbler that has a removable basket. You can also change how you brew by using a little less leaf or a touch cooler water to try and avoid bitterness. You can also use the tumbler as an impromptu tea pot and pour into a cup.

Filter Holes are a little big – The Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler steeps and filters tea so you don’t eat a leaf on most loose leaf teas. However, the filter holes are a little big for herbals, CTC, and rooibos. I steeped some rooibos here and poured it into a pitcher, this is the result.

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What you get in return is an easier to clean removable stainless steel filter instead of a janky metal mesh that will degrade, fall apart, and harder to clean. I think it is a good tradeoff, but this feature will depend on your personal tea drinking habits.

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Hand Strap – I think the hand strap is handy, but if you want to remove it you’ll have a big plastic wart sticking out the side. The strap is non-adjustable (as far as I can tell) made with that slippery woven nylon material that will fray and fuzz with time.

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I like the hand strap myself, it gives extra security plus fits small owls.

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Glass – I am a broken record with glass tumblers. Glass will not keep your tea hot for more than an hour or two. They cannot take a drop or big bumps as double wall glass is very fragile. Despite the Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler feeling very sturdy, I know at least 4 people who have broken or cracked theirs. If you want a tea tumbler that will stay hot for long and will survive a fall, get stainless steel.

Plastic – To cover the anti-plastic readers – assuming the tumbler does not invert, the tea is not steeping in plastic. Drinking and flipping will have contact with the BPA-free plastic. Another consideration is over time plastic fittings will start to stink and leach smells and tastes into your tea, especially if you are not vigilant in thorough cleaning. Some of us tea types are in the habit of just rinsing (maybe), but get into a routine of cleaning it with unscented soap and washing under the washers often to extend the life. Besides breakage, most tea tumblers retire because of stinky lids that weren’t cleaned regularly.

Comments

Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler is an excellent and sturdy double walled tea brewer that preforms well. I love that it does not leak, and the issues it has are minor and can be worked around. The only deal breaker I can see is the filter holes are a little big for those who drink rooibos, but the trade off is better quality metal. If you love double wall glass tumblers and drink grandpa style, the Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler is the best one out there right now.

The Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler is regularly priced at $24.99 USD, which is fair for the quality you get. I’ve checked Teabook‘s site and heard on social media a few times seeing the tumbler on sale to $12.99, which is an awesome price.

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Teabook also does a monthly tea subscription, loose leaf teas, and puer. Stay tuned for more reviews!

(teaware provided for review | affiliate links)

Hooty Tea Travels – Tea Fest PDX 2017 in Portland Oregon

Tea Fest PDX was the very first tea festival in Portland, Oregon held on July 22, 2017. I visited Portland for the weekend to experience Portland, go to the tea festival, and eat various foods.

I arrived in Portland the night before the festival, enjoying the evening of dinner and donuts. We went to the famous Portland sign…

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and Voodoo Doughnut. The Buttermilk Bar was my favorite despite me being a big Crueller fan. Sorry Americans, you cannot beat a Tim Hortons Honey Crueller.

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I arrived Saturday morning of the Tea Fest PDX right as they opened at 9:30 am. To my surprise, the line to pay to get into the tea festival was around 30 minutes. Right away, I spotted Mr. Lazy Literatus, so the wait to get into the festival was not boring.

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Tea Fest PDX had 29 vendors planned for attendance, which is an impressive showing for the first year, especially compared to Los Angeles International Tea Festival having the same amount of vendors but have multiple years under their belt. Tea Fest PDX had a diverse listing of classes, many sold out of what was reserved online.

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Before I show photos of the booths, I need to add a premise to this tea festival experience. With the impressive vendor listing, huge line to get in, and sold out classes, Portland desperately needed a tea festival is an understatement. It felt Portland needed a tea festival years ago. Once inside the festival, it was crazy mob busy. The main area, which was 3 columns of tables, was jammed with people. The main corridor of vendor booths we dubbed the tea gauntlet – it was a wall of bodies from start to finish, slowly moving. Vendors with samples (which were many of them) were even more jammed with people. The least gauntlet side, which was more open, a couple vendors had queues to get a sample or to get into the booth. I got to walk by most vendors, but I missed some on the other side of the gauntlet as entering that chaos was crazy. Vendors were swamped, it was difficult to ask questions as there were many other people there trying to sample, purchase, and also ask questions. They had 4 spots doing sit down gongfu and I wanted to join but there was never open spaces or I was told to come back in 45 minutes.

This Owl likes to complain, but the crowd was a positive thing – Tea Fest PDX did very well, simply amazing for their first ever tea festival. I wasn’t mad at all – the crowd was a good thing because dang.. lots of people love tea! This was the first of many tea festivals in Portland, and I will be back and will see anything I missed. I heard through the rumor mill they expected one number, but planned for double just in case – the crowd in attendance was greatly more than planned.

Hoot! Let’s walk through Tea Fest PDX 2017!

First booth I saw was Steven Smith Teamaker who had four teas for sale. The Ali Shan Oolong was quite good. I didn’t linger too long here as I was planning to visit their physical location later, where I know they had more stock and selection.

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Astoria Tea Company was interesting – they carried a diverse selection of tea including puer, chaga mushroom, and traditional Russian herbals. I tried the “Ivan Chai” willowherb tea, but it was just too medicinal and sweet for me. Their puer caught my eye but I couldn’t get info on the region(s) they carried. They had a Papua New Guinea white tea!

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Tea Dogu carries Japanese matcha tea ceremony gear. What caught my eye was the traditional sweets and gorgeous teaware.

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Mizuba Tea Company is one I have heard of before from the local bloggers. Mizuba Tea Company specializes in Matcha. They have various grades of matcha, teaware, and cool matcha things. The heat must of been getting to me as I didn’t purchase the Matcha nail polish or lip balm, but I did buy a cute pin.

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Jonathan Steele Ceramics had amazing, handmade pottery.

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WOW, this glaze!

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Gorgeous small gaiwans!

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Tiny gongfu tea pots! You can tell that the artist is a tea drinker.

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I resisted the tea cups, as I have my Silver cup which is just too good. The gaiwans were very tempting, but I managed to walk away with regret. The gaiwans were just perfect.

Young Mountain Tea had an impressive showing. I end up talking about them every time I see them at other festivals and World Tea Expo. The Nilgiri Green Sword was quite good.

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Chariteas I met years back at a World Tea Expo where I recall the owner sourced small farm Indonesian teas. Their line up looked bigger, but all I got was photos to the side as their booth was swamped. Chariteas also has a cafe in Sandy, Oregon.

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The Jasmine Pearl Tea Company had hilarious tea mugs! They also carried good looking silicone cups. They should do a gaiwan for types like me who keep breaking theirs.

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Plum Deluxe was in the house! I have reviewed them a couple times as they do tea subscription, fresh blends. I got to the corner of their booth, the other side was pouring samples and they were swamped. They were in maximum gauntlet area, I tried to visit twice to say hi but it was madness.

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The Northwest Wu-Wo Tea Association caught my eye on the online classes as they had a free class. They were also selling kits and had free information on the ceremony. WuWo is a style of tea ceremony. The best way to explain this tea ceremony is to watch the video. I found the Wu-Wu tea ceremony interesting, but I didn’t get it either. I’m not one for meditation tea things, and due to forced solo tea drinking, when I participate in social tea gatherings I rather take advantage of having other live humans to talk tea.

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Pearl Soda Company has tea sodas! This was one of the really busy booths with a queue just to sample. This is as close as I got and I cropped the hoot out of this photo. What I tried was pretty good, with distinct tea and fruity flavor.

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Teabook had a good set up. I tried an awesome white tea from young puer bushes. Teabook had pretty awesome tea deals too. The puer cakes were inexpensive and they had a fantastic 2 for $15 deal on loose leaf.

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Away from the gauntlets and at the back of the festival was a parked van and a trailer – both equipped inside with tea tables for intimate group gongfu sessions. I wanted to participate, but both had long wait times mostly due to gongfu sessions being naturally long.

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Rabbit’s Moon Tea Arts had an excellent section of puer cakes and tea ware.

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I loved their natural stone tea cups and hand made gaiwans – all in the perfect size.

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This beauty caught my eye – hand made kyusu with Oregon clay, made in Olympia, WA.

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I lasted till about 11:30. I had seen everything, nor wanted to wait in the heat for a chance to sit and have gongfu, plus I was ready for lunch. I bought a tea egg to snack on but otherwise, the food selection was small and in limited quantity. After Tea Fest PDX I left for lunch, then did more touristy things like Powell’s Books and my usual yarn tourism of buying local fibers. I later ate dinner with Lazy Literatus, who knew all the good local food (holy hoot $0.25 marionberry pie!).

My last day of Portland I visited Steven Smith Teamaker.

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Steven Smith Teamaker was a really cool space, if I had the time it would have been fun to hang out there for longer.

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The tea selection was good. They had a lot more than what was at the Tea Fest PDX, or the times I saw their teas in shops in Seattle.

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I was on a mission for an exclusive barrel scented oolong. Here it is!

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They also had a tea bar, with the majority of their teas available, but also gaiwan service. Interestingly, they had fun tea drinks like London Fog Nitro, or blends with smoked hibiscus and topped with fruit.

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Portland Tea Haul

Everyone (until they ran out) got a tote bag, a couple samples, a copy of Tea Time Magazine, a bottle of Kombucha, and a tasting cup. I have doubles of everything as Tea-Hating Husband went with me to carry my purchases and meet my tea friends. The tea cups were quite nice.

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The haul! Small but mighty!

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Tea sample freebies.

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I purchased Astoria Tea Co’s New Guinea white tea, purely on the uncommon factor.

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I got the Teabook White Cloud tea. I was given a Raw Puer to review for the blog. Be on the lookout for a review!

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I love this cute matcha whisk pin from Mizuba Tea Company! I had to have it!

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During my trip to Steven Smith Teamaker, I bought the Tennessee Oolong.

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And I purchased that Oregon clay kyusu from Rabbit’s Moon Tea Arts. Notice that this tea pot is LEFT HANDED! This was my favorite purchase of the whole trip, and I’ll write more about the tea pot in a future article.

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Portland was fun to visit. It felt the whole time that I needed to come back to visit all the Tea Fest PDX vendor’s physical locations in Oregon and have tea with the various pockets of the Portland Tea community.

Matcha Chocolate from Adagio Teas

Many of asked me my opinion on Adagio Teas’ matcha. Sadly in a moment of weakness, I opted for Adagio Teas’ Matcha Chocolate flavor instead of a traditional matcha. Likely I was hungry for chocolate and matcha with chocolate pairs great together.

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I have the 2oz tin here, so plenty of Matcha Chocolate lattes! Unlike some other flavored matchas, this Matcha Chocolate is just matcha and the flavoring. Some other sellers add sugar or coconut to add some thickness.

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Matcha Chocolate Powder

Adagio Tea’s Matcha Chocolate smells a little chocolatey. The powder color isn’t anything to write home about as it is fairly washed out.

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Tasting of Adagio Teas’ Matcha Chocolate

Traditional Preparation: I used 2 grams and about 4oz/ 120ml of 160F/ 71c water.

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With flavored matchas traditional style isn’t the intended application, but let’s try anyway. Matcha Chocolate whisked beautifully foamy. The scent is lightly chocolatey. Matcha Chocolate tastes light cocoa powder with a heavier flavor of mowed lawn. The chocolate doesn’t stand out here and the matcha quality is just so-so at this price point.

Latte: This took a few attempts, but go a little heavier on the matcha powder for best results. I used 3 grams for around a total of 5oz/150ml/ of liquids. I whisked the matcha in a bit of 160f / 71c water, then added milk and used an electric frother to finish.

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The flavor is sweet milk chocolate with a soft grassy background of matcha. There is a pretty good balance of chocolate to matcha, each isn’t over powering the other. Unfortunately, some sort of sweetener is needed, without it, the matcha latte wasn’t very chocolatey, similar to traditional style.

Iced: Today I learned that you shouldn’t free pour your matcha into a bottle. I wanted 3 grams of matcha and got 7, and there was no pouring back as the bottom of the bottle was wet. That said, this looks hella dark than it should be.

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Iced, the flavor is mostly grassy matcha with a slightly bittersweet chocolate flavor. I was hoping the cold temperature the chocolate would come out without the need for sweetener or milk. I added some agave to make the chocolate flavor pop, which helped. With agave and without milk, this matcha is okay but goes into a watery chocolate territory, making me think I am eating sad diet food.

Comments

Adagio Teas’ Matcha Chocolate would be perfect for people who want flavored matcha lattes. It has a great balance of matcha and chocolate, so optimal for someone who wants to taste both. I also had great results adding Matcha Chocolate to my protein smoothies. Some might tolerate Matcha Chocolate without milk, but the best application is with milk and a sweetener.

Adagio Teas sells their matcha in 2oz/ 57 gram sizes, which is pretty big. You likely should buy their sample size first or and know you can drink 2oz of matcha in a couple months, though with delicious matcha chocolate lattes that shouldn’t be too difficult. At price point, Adagio Tea’s Matcha Chocolate is a bit more money than other flavored matcha specialists like Matcha Outlet (previously named Red Leaf Tea) with fewer options, but if you order often from Adagio Teas, they are a fine option.


(tea provided for review | affiliate links)

June 2017 White2Tea club Gushu Sheng Puer

For a week all I’ve been drinking is instant tea, tea bags, and stash old oolong to get my tea stash down. I haven’t had amazing tea in a week, which feels like ages. This month’s White2Tea club is a 2017 Mengsong gushu raw puer 50 gram cake, a tea club exclusive. Last time we had a little cake it was hella good, so I am looking forward to drinking this tea.

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Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

The 2017 Tea Club Gushu cake weighs 50 grams on the button! Such a cute little cake! The scent is strongly floral and delicious.

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I went full out on this tea, steeping with boiling water and a ratio of 1 gram to 14 ml per vessel size. After a rinse, the hot leaf smells like fruity cigars. Darn it, the Tea Owl nabbed the silver cup before I could.

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Tasting of June 2017 White2Tea Club Gushu Cake

First and Second Infusion: White2Tea Club Gushu’s flavor starts off soft, with notes of tangy stone fruit and dull floral. The flavor hits strongly in the aftertaste, with an under ripe tangy apricot skin with a milky base. There is a hint of bitterness in the mouth, but not dry. The body is slippery and heavy, making this a great sip.

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I stopped drinking for 20 minutes, as I got caught up in looking for yarn and playing video games, and realized the aftertaste still held on that long! My mouth feels like I brushed with flowers.

Third and Fourth Infusion: Either I got used to the bitterness, or it settled. This tea is smooth! White2Tea Club Gushu is brightly fruity stone fruit, creamy base, nicely thick, and sappy. The aftertaste is cleaning up and building to a big bushy white floral flavor.

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Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: Full power! White2Tea Club Gushu is potently fruity, citrus, floral in flavor, with a heavy body and drooling effect. What makes this tea good is the aftertaste. I have been sipping and waiting as most of the pleasure is that flavor over the actual drinking. The texture is still amazing and thick.

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Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Infusion: June 2017 White2Tea Club Gushu is starting to overcook and get bitter. The sides of my mouth are dry like squeaky spinach boiled to death but taste delicious floral fruity. I am at the point to just slam the tea down to get the bitter out of the way, to then ride the aftertaste for 15 minutes. The longer I wait, the more the bitterness goes away in my mouth leaving that thick fruity perfume. I am feeling very wired, inspired, yet chill, so I got a balanced feel.

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I tried a final infusion and it was too much bad bitter to just abuse the aftertaste, so I ended it here. The final aftertaste was quite dry and vegetal, like I followed up my dental routine by flossing with the leaf.

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Comments

The absolute best part of the 2017 June White2Tea Club Gushu is the aftertaste and texture – it is a real treat to have such a good tea. You need to sip and ride it out, this is not a daily drinker chugger. Set an afternoon or share with friends, and have an infusion while you reflect on random things or work on something calming. I am up to my eyeballs in crocheting owl bear feet, so I had time to just sip a bit and enjoy the tea. This was a great opportunity to have some excellent quality tea.

 

Diversitea Sri Lanka Black teas – Taste the Rainbow

I got this fun Diversitea Sri Lanka black tea set from the recent World Tea Expo. I love the packaging – the rainbow is attractive, encouraging me to try the teas despite me not being big into tea bags and western style black teas. But also the opportunity to taste various regions of Sri Lanka seemed educationally fun. Each box has 25 tea bags, so 175 tea bag total.

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Sri Lanka tea descriptions and tea region map

Steeping Method: I used 1 tea bag, steeped in 250ml of boiling water for 3 minutes. Easy peasy. 200F/93C would likely be a better temperature to steep these black teas at due to astringency.

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Tasting of Diversitea Sri Lanka Black Tea Collection

Nuwara Eliya

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Nuwara Eliya sips in bright, fruity, and tangy, like pears and raspberries. Interestingly, this tea isn’t woody or earthy. The aftertaste is a dry fruity, and leaving a scratchy feeling in the mouth. The body is on the thin side. I agree on the packaging that Nuwara Eliya would make a great iced or cold brew tea due to the fruity profile. I found this tea pretty easy to drink, due to notes and refreshing quality.


Uda Pussellawa

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Uda Pussellawa has an pleasing flavor of oak wood, touch of rose and tangy raisins. The aftertaste is brisk wood and fresh raspberries. This tea has a good depth of flavor and plenty of interest, though also astringent feeling left in the mouth. Uda Pussellawa is a fun, complex tea. I think drinking on its own would be best, but it would also do well iced or cut with fruit.


Dimbula

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Dimbula is nicely bold, full flavored, smooth, malty, with a bit of blackcurrant notes. The aftertaste is fruity and sweet, continuing the blackcurrant flavor. Dimbula is also heavy on the astringency, leaving my cheeks itchy. I can see Darjeeling lovers enjoying Dimbula, as well as milk tea drinkers as the boldness would go well.


Uva

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Uva tastes drastically different than the rest. It is refreshing with various mint notes and heavy aroma. As you sip, you taste the mint notes as the scent wafts up the sinus. Some sips meld more with menthol with a tobacco note, without any smoke. The aftertaste is on the dry side, but not as bad as the previous teas. I quite like Uva as it tastes unique and the strong relaxing aroma is satisfying. I went out of my way to try Uva iced and it is fantastically refreshing, minty, and easy to drink.


Kandy

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Kandy is bold, smooth, and rich, with notes of oaks and honey. The astringency is mild to start, but builds up quickly leaving my tongue feeling like jerky. I found Kandy responded the best to silver as the notes became quite crisp. I think Kandy would make the best milk tea out of the lot.


Sabaragamuwa

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Sabaragamuwa is also very bold and rich in flavor, similar to Kandy. However, it is fruity with notes of fresh blackberries and oak. I find the flavor attractive as the combination of bold, oak, and blackberries is delicious. There is also dryness in this tea, sinking low into jaw. Sabaragamuwa would be great with milk. I also tried Sabaragamuwa iced and it is also came out well for a bold, fruity black.


Ruhuna

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Ruhuna is the fun tea of the set as it is from a region of Sri Lanka that isn’t known for tea, but sports high elevation. Ruhuna is also another bold tea, similar tasting like Sabaragamuwa, but more fruity blackberry and creamy. This tea is the sweetest of the bunch due to the fruity flavor, and has a good creamy body. No surprise, Ruhuna is also fairly astringent, making my mouth feel sand papery. Ruhuna would also be great milk or iced.

Comments

The Diversitea Sri Lanka Tea collection was fun to explore. I liked that all the teas were distinctly different, yet similar. What I noticed by the 7th tea was how working the rainbow got me from the lightest to the most boldest of teas.

I enjoyed Sabaragamuwa, Ruhuna, and Uva the most – those three stood out for bold flavor, complex fruity notes, or being completely unique. All the teas were not bad, I didn’t dislike any of them. What I didn’t like personally was the astringency and lack of thick texture in all of them. This style of western, brisk, dry tea isn’t something I reach for. I also don’t know if the dryness or lack of body was due to tea bags, it would of been cool to have this collection in loose leaf. Either way, drinking this tea collection gave me a base to launch from if I wanted to explore better quality Sri Lanka teas further. I wished this set was a smaller, say 10 instead of 25 tea bags each?

So, where to find this Diversitea Sri Lanka Tea collection? I google searched, and I have the source of the Sri Lanka Tea Board – Pure Ceylon. I only found a single hit of someone selling it on ebay. I figure over time this set will get picked up by other tea sellers if it was whole sale – the packaging is nice and exploration of Sri Lanka tea regions is fun.

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(tea snagged for free at the World Tea Expo press room, so tea provided for review?)

 

2017 Spring Silver Needle White Tea from Floating Leaves Tea

Last year’s Floating Leaves Tea Silver Needle didn’t catch my attention, however with just seeing the leaves of 2017’s batch got me excited. I was visiting Floating Leaves Tea and the owner, Shiuwen, showed me the bulk bag of the new 2017 Spring Silver Needle. The fuzz that was flying around was crazy. You probably need to wear a dust mask if you are going to deal with this Silver Needle for an extended amount of time. I had a sample in store, but forgot to buy some. On my next visit I bought an ounce to play with.

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Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

SO MUCH FUZZ! Scooping out tea makes fur flying like any furry friend in shedding season. The smell is very strongly like an alfalfa hay field that was just cut. I felt my sinuses instinctively recoil as that smell usually equals allergies, but I had no physical reaction.

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The fuzz is seriously scary, it looks like white tarantula legs. No I will not google to compare spider fur to tea.

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If you are not familiar with my white tea reviews, I steep white tea pretty aggressively. I used 1 gram to 18ml of vessel size. I used 200F/93c water temperature, with no rinse.

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Tasting of Floating Leaves Tea’s 2017 Spring Silver Needle White Tea

Silver Needle steeps up a tinted cream, yet crystal clear. Pouring hot water gives off strong smells of floral and crisp grass. The hot leaf smells like hot weeds in 95F/35c+ weather.

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First and Second Infusion: Floating Leaves Tea’s Silver Needle is sweet, gentle and soft tea to start. The flavor is syrupy sweet, leading to a fresh vegetal taste. The vegetal reminds me of those aloe chunk drinks, which have a mix of light sweetness, grass, and mystery watery fruit.

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Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: Silver Needle is flavor packed, without any dry or bitterness. The flavor is opening up to a creamy aloe, with a slight lychee sweetness. Some sips taste slightly medicinal, but overall incredibly fresh. The flavor gets strong at end of sip and lasts for a few minutes in the mouth. The body picked up here being melted buttery licky, with a mouth watery feeling left in the mouth.

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What I found interesting here is usually I can taste a stale linen quality in white teas, but this tea is so fresh that it is too new for linen notes.

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Sixth and Seventh Infusion: The final infusions’ flavor slipped fast. The vegetal flavor has gotten cooked, tasting like steamed but still sweet and crisp, asparagus. There is a bit of dryness, but nothing harsh.

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Comments

Floating Leaves Tea’s 2017 Spring Silver Needle is epic. This tea is excellent quality for Silver Needle white teas as it is truely fresh, crisp, and sweet in flavor. Fresh Silver Needle is packed with flavor too, this isn’t your boring, flavorless white tea. Don’t let this one fly under the radar with your next order. If you love fresh white teas, you need to check out Floating Leaves Tea’s new Silver Needle. The 2017 Spring Silver Needle is also priced well at $9.50 an ounce, which is pretty awesome considering the quality.

Ice Queen 2007 Spring Bing Dao from Bitterleaf

I took awhile to getting around to drinking Bitterleaf Tea’s Ice Queen 2007 Spring Bing Dao Sheng puer. Every Bing Dao I’ve tried I greatly enjoyed – the sweet flavor tends to ring with my sweet tooth. Liking Bing Dao does not make me happy as it is expensive! Bitterleaf sent me Ice Queen awhile back and since the tea smelled so good, has a $0.83 per gram price tag, so I went into horde mode. Something sparked in me today urging me to drink Ice Queen. That something is dying for a sweet puer as I keep craving Korean honey rice snacks.

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Dry Leaf and Steeping Instructions

Ice queen has an amazing syrupy honey scent.

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I went my typical gongfu cha style of 1 gram of tea per 15ml of vessel size. I used boiling water, and quick infusions of 5-10 seconds to start, adding time as I went.

Tasting of Bitterleaf’s Ice Queen 2007 Spring Bing Dao

First and Second Infusion: Ice Queen tastes like honey spun sugar – it is honey sweet and bright in flavor. The body coats the mouth well. The trip is like eating honey cotton candy and chasing it down with heavy cream. The aftertaste is light right now as I get a bit of sweetness that evaporates to a gentle incense flavor. Wait even longer and I get a bit of apricot aftertaste.

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Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: Ice Queen is starting to lose that honey sweetness, leaving other flavors to take over. What is going on is quite complex as I am getting a mix of amber incense, stone fruit, honey, brass, and slight astringency at the end that breaks the smoothness. The honey in this reminds me a bit of golden flower fu zhuan, but much more high class.

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Sixth and Seventh Infusion: Ice Queen is so smooth and at max flavor. It is quite interesting as the flavor is dancing into too strong territory, yet so smooth it tastes pleasant. The amber flavor is overtaking the other notes, with honey in the background.

Lately, I’ve been quite susceptible to tea inflicted gut rot. I can physically feel this tea is very strong – my stomach is reacting as if I am drinking potent young tea, yet my taste tongue says otherwise. This tea is like reverse pepto-bismal – the heavy creamy body and smooth taste makes it go down well, but my guts know I am drinking aggressive puer.

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Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Infusion: The tea drunk slipped in very gradually. I disappeared for a bit after someone telling me a matcha tasted like pond scum, in which I descended into googling “pond scum tea” which I learned pond scum is a food fad. I spent way too much time laughing and almost peeing my tail feathers. Ice Queen tea gives you a sensation of like being a kitten getting grabbed by the scruff of your neck and pulled into the air.  Or if you prefer a horror film reference, Ice Queen’s physical feel is like flipping your hair over your face, hanging your head low, and floating around in your stained white gown.

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Flavor wise Ice Queen isn’t doing well, at least for my tastes. It has gotten quite bitter to drink, yet the aftertaste is honey and brassy. There is a build up of dryness causing me to puff my cheeks and scratch my tongue.

Eleventh and Twelfth Infusion: The eleventh infusion was quite weak, so I went in for the power infusion for the final infusion, so around 20 minutes. It was way too bitter to drink and the smoothness did not save it here.

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Comments

Bitterleaf’s Ice Queen 2007 Spring Bing Dao is true to their description of a smooth and honey tea. It has interesting young qualities of being perfectly honey and the heavy smooth body masking harsh notes. The honey notes are excellent, as well as the body, which is what I enjoyed the most from Ice Queen. The energy in this tea is fairly high too – you will have a sugary party time. I think Ice Queen 2007 Spring Bing Dao is a good tea to try if you prefer sweeter puer, or lots of body. It has excellent early infusions, though the late infusions can get a bit harsh. If you prefer younger sheng, Ice Queen would be a fun to try to explore middle aged teas in your tastes.

If you drink enough of a boutique’s tea, you certainly start to get their tastes. Bitterleaf seems to quite like that brassy and sweet creamy profiles. At least that is what I noticed so far, maybe my observations might change with more tea.

(tea provided for review)

2016 Nightlife from White2Tea

White2tea‘s Nightlife is a Yue Guan Bai (aka Moonlight white) Yunnan white tea. Nightlife is apparently a high grade tea, made from a large leaf varietal reserved for sheng puer.

I purchased this tea on a whim. Hey, I like Yueguanbai/Moonlight whites, so I had no issues dropping blind on a 200 gram cake from my dealer White2Tea. I purchased it at release and it smelled really strong funky from the journey, so I let it air a bit before tucking it with my other moonlight cakes. Quickly, 2016 Nightlife sold out. At first, I am not sure why they sold out, as far as I know not many of my tea buddies bought a cake, and the amount of people poking me to review this thing to figure out why it sold out. I spoke with White2Tea he wasn’t expecting Nightlife to be that popular either. Thankfully there is a 2017 Nightlife.

I am being assisted today with two Tea Owls of the Sith.

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This cake is gorgeous!

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Steeping Method: I used boiling water and did a ratio of 1 gram to 17ml.

Tasting of White2tea’s Nightlife

First and Second Infusion: Nightlife steeps up a marigold orange with a strong floral scent. Nightlife’s flavor is floral, fruity, creamy and buttery – like buttercups with a creamsicle made of orange citrus floral of osmanthus. The body is super heavy thick, like drinking a stick of melted butter. I’m drinking this ripping hot, and it feels so thick that it cools the lips. The finish reminds me that this is a white tea as it has a stale, yet new paperback book flavor.

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Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: Overdrive! The flavor got strong! Nightlife has a concentrated creamy floral, and stale book notes, with a bright floral fruity finish. The aftertaste is a rock sugar sweetness, with my mouth feeling like I am still gnawing on that stick of butter. The later steeps in this bracket have a slight astringency to them, giving a feeling of the tea cleaning your teeth to be squeaky.

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Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Infusion: Just as you would think this tea should be dying, it is not. The flavor is even stronger! With each steeping, Nightlife got more bright, crisp, and floral. The flavor is a thick bouquet of floral. I am not sure what flower, it is not orange like anymore, more of a meld of floral. The aftertaste is more floral. The dryness has not gotten stronger, still at teeth cleaning level.

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Eleventh, Twelfth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Infusion: Finally, Nightlife is slipping, the night is coming to a close. The flavor is getting lighter and dryer, making my mouth feel all cottony weird with my squeaky teeth.

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Fifteenth and Sixteenth Infusion: I spoke too soon, as I am still getting tea out of this. The flavor is soft, but of linen and floral. It is still dry, but also very drinkable.

Moonlight whites… look pretty before steeping, but not so much after.

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Comments

White2Tea’s Nightlife has an excellent floral character to it. Nightlife also has an excellent body to it, making for an enjoyable session to drink slow while reading a book. What I enjoy the most about this tea is the body and that combination of fruity floral in the early infusions, it made for a complex Moonlight white. I am interested on how this tea will age, as I have a 2011 Moonlight white that is fantastic and bombproof. I will likely tuck White2tea’s Nightlife away to drink later.

I have heard from a number of people that despite being long time tea drinkers (of even puer) that they still haven’t given white tea a chance, under the assumption it is just flavorless floral slop. This moonlight white has a good strong flavor to it, lots of resteeps, and aging potential. Anyways, this is a tasting of the 2016 Nightlife. The 2017 Nightlife is available.