After reading countless stellar reviews of White2Tea’s curated selection of puerh teas and impeccable customer support, I had to place an order. The owner of White2Tea, known in the tea community as Two Dog, is arguably the most knowledge tea blogger on the Internet. You can read his work over at http://www.twodogteablog.com/ and http://www.white2tea.com/blog/. He is also very active in the r/tea and r/puer communities on reddit.
White2Tea is based in Beijing, China and offers a very minimalist, “no bullshit” approach to selling puerh teas. Although White2Tea’s selection is smaller than some of its competitors, sometimes it is nice to select from a smaller amount of curated puerhs, rather than sift through hundreds and hundreds of random cakes. I also love all of White2Tea’s creative and adorable logos on their wrappers.
This 2008 Often came as a sample with my order (White Whale!). Two Dog was very generous, giving me four different ten gram samples. The 2008 Often Tuo is White2Tea’s main budget offering, which is why I wanted to jump in and try it right away.
I used almost the whole sample for my review, so this is a little bit more leaf than I would normally use. With that in mind, I brewed the tea with very quick infusions.
This tuo (nest shaped puerh) has quite an interesting composition. My 10g sample contained one large chunk and several smaller leaves. The tuo is pretty tightly compressed, just like most tuos. The leaves are on the larger side, and are a fantastic array of color. Some of the leaves are light straw colored, while others are dark gray. They gray colored leaves had beautiful gold and silver hairs on them. I was transfixed by the way that the light was bouncing off of the hairs. If you zoom in on this photo, you can see the hairs!
The dry leaf is not overly fragrant. There is a slight hay or grassy smell to the leaves, but it’s nothing too strong. I detected a slight smoky note to the aroma of the dry leaf. Perhaps the most noticeable aroma coming off of these leaves is a sweet and earthy smell, which I really enjoyed.
I used a standard gaiwan, nothing too exciting. I picked up this neat tea strainer and hand from Tea Drunk in New York City. I used a tea strainer like this in Taiwan once, and I have been looking for one in the US ever since. I finally found one! I showed off this tea strainer and hand to my friends, but they were a bit concerned about how happy it makes me.
The aroma of this puerh really took off once I placed the leaves into the warm gaiwan. The fruity and smoky smells were intensified tenfold. Incredible! If I had to describe it, I would say it is very peachy and smoky…perhaps grilled peaches? Nah, that makes me sound like one of those wine snobs.
I opened up this tuo with two five second rinses.
The first steep came out an interesting orange-yellow color. The color was definitely darker than I expected. This puerh has a very interesting flavor, with many of the characteristic sheng puerh flavor notes, but it is a bit more vegetal than most puerhs I’ve tasted. The first steep was quite astringent, even though I essentially poured the hot water in the gaiwan and then immediately poured it into my cha hai. I actually found this astringent character quite pleasant. This steep was also notably vegetal. Although the dry leaf smelled a bit smoky, there was no smoky flavor in the brewed tea.
The mouthfeel was very slick and smooth, giving this tea a very pleasant juicy and thirst quenching quality.
The astringent and vegetal qualities of this tea combined quite well, combining to create an interesting flavor that I identified as green bell pepper, or perhaps celery. The aftertaste was notably sweet and very pleasant.
The second steep was a similar color but tasted a bit less astringent. The next several steeps were very strong and powerful. This tea is definitely strong in the early steeps, as noted on the White2Tea website. Steeps five through eight calmed down quite a bit, although the strong vegetal qualities still came through.
I steeped this tea in my gaiwan about ten times, and then threw the leaves into my tea mug and brewed the leaves “grandpa style” a few more times. The tuo definitely packs some power!
This tea gave an excellent cha qi. I felt super calm and relaxed after this gongfu session.
These leaves were definitely on the larger side. The leaves were mostly light green or gray-green, but there were a few darker brown leaves thrown into the mix.
At $22.50 per 250 grams, the 2008 Often tuo is a solid daily drinker with a few years of aging. I would definitely consider buying this tuo again, and perhaps keep a few for aging and see how they taste in a few years. This tea is just beginning to calm down, and I would love to see how this reasonably priced tuo will develop in the future.
I would definitely recommend buying some teas from White2Tea. Two Dog is one of the most knowledgeable and helpful people in the specialty tea business. White2Tea offers a carefully selected and well-balanced selection of puerhs and oolongs at various price points. While some of the offerings are definitely a bit out of my price range, I am sure the quality is impeccable. Luckily, Two Dog also has plenty of teas that are quite reasonably priced.
This tuo was a solid introduction to White2Tea’s offerings, and I look forward to reviewing more of Two Dog’s teas in the coming weeks.
“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.”- Fyodor Dostoyevsky