I have never come across a tea like Shang Tea’s White Tea Puer. Yes, I’ve seen puer cake and aged white tea pressed into cakes, but what makes this tea different is the processing. They took white tea cultivar (Da Bai/ Da Hao) but they treated it as a puer with withering, rolling, couple days of fermentation before drying. After a year of aging, they steamed the loose material and pressed it into cakes. Once I saw this tea on Shang Tea’s website, I had to try it as it sounded like an adventure! On their website, they only list the full cake. I was hooty enough to ask them if I could purchase a sample, as no way I’d be buying a $165 experimental cake blind, despite being fairly confident Shang Tea having excellent white tea.
The scent is like aged white tea to me – musty, floral, and book like smell. The appearance to me looks closer to a smashed up puer brick, as Shang Tea broke this cake up very well for my sample.
Interestingly, inside the bag showed a whole lot of the white tea fuzzies.
I wanted gongfu style. This tea is not cheap, so I will make it worth every infusion to milk everything out of it. I decided to treat this a meld of how I do sheng puer, along with the water temperature high to push this white puer to the limit. The method I used worked out to more leaf than what I would do for white tea. This tea is quite dense – the processing lost the big airy tea. I used 1 gram of leaf to 15ml of vessel, boiling water. In retrospect, I think I should leaf a bit less, dropping to 1 gram/17ml.
Tasting of Shang Tea’s White Tea Puer
First and Second Infusion: The hot leaf doesn’t smell like white tea or puer. If I was blindfolded, I would guess this is some strange oolong as it is oddly sweet and floral.
The flavor is soft yet dense, with notes of cotton dishtowel, cream, old honey dew rind, and new paperback books. The sip ends a bit sharp of a bit of a musty dried floral note. The texture is the strength here – it is like drinking silky pudding, as if I blended all those flavor notes, in physical form, into a thick slop… but actually is a thin tea. The body is just really heavy, leaving a thick coating in your mouth. Slight aftertaste of books after each sip, but goes away.
I am impressed right away with Shang Tea White Puer’s interesting flavor. It reminds me of aged white with the book flavor, but lacks the more honey notes. The “clothy” and melon notes I find in fresher whites as well.
Third and Fourth Infusion: I continued doing flash steeps here. The flavor I was getting felt like I over leafed on the 2nd infusion, so I decided to keep things fast. This tea has this weird effect of the body feeling really heavy, yet the flavor is soft and light. The notes are more melded but perk up with some sweetness finally, tasting more like a under ripe honey dew without any refreshing elements. The sip starts light, but at the end gets sharp and more packed with flavor. Too long of a steep gets some bitterness.
Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: This tea keeps changing. It is getting more like aged white tea now with a more honey taste, stronger paperback book taste, but more sharp and clean in flavor, with a hint of dry and bitterness. The intensity of flavor reminds me towards a sheng puer due to the sharpness of it, but the notes are more white tea like. The body is cleaning up that cottony, heavy fluff sensation, going more thin. I didn’t get much in tea energy, but did feel a bit of a jaw lift sensation to my body.
Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Infusion: Sadly, White Tea Puer crashed quickly. I did around a 1 minute infusion for infusion eight, 3 minute for nine, and 15 minute for ten. These infusions felt like someone swooped in and swapped the leaf for young sheng. The flavor is lightly like cotton and honey, but it is sharp, bitter and cooked vegetal like a young sheng that got over steeped at too high of temperature. The final infusion was very bitter and smelled like I fully killed the leaf.
At this point I finally took a closer look at the leaves. Does this look like white tea to you? This really looks like sheng to me! I checked and none of the Tea Owls did a sneaky swap. They were busy lounging and battling with Pocky sticks.
About 10 minutes later I felt something I never felt with a white tea but only in young sheng…. THE SHENGRIES! Oh man, I got so hungry after drinking this tea, and I shouldn’t be hungry as I had a decent sized protein heavy lunch and dinner isn’t for 2.5 hours.
Shang Tea’s White Tea Puer is an interesting experiment and flashes tea nerding warnings all over it. I do love white tea these days and drinking this was tasting the tea makers having fun. As it is right now, the flavor is nice and quite a bit of a trip or educational drink to compare white and sheng. I feel this is a tea for something who wants an adventure or a taste of experimental tea. You are not going to get this taste in a white, moonlight white, nor a sheng.
What this White Tea Puer has that is absolutely gold is aging potential. How will this age? No one knows, there is nothing like this out there. It certainly has elements of sheng, especially on flavor packing and the progression, but tastes like a white. I can see having a lot of fun with storage on this cake – I bet a more typical sheng storage would have some interesting effects vs white tea cake standard airtight storage. The tea nerd potential is huge! Too bad they didn’t press it into smaller cakes or sell the maocha/unpressed material – I’d love to have a small amount (more than my 1oz sample) to crock up and play with some accelerated aging, with less $$$ risk (as is, this tea is 312 gram cake for $165). Otherwise, pick this tea up to have something no one else has.