; Cwyn's Death By Tea: 2016 Head and Teadontlie white2tea ;

Sunday, July 24, 2016

2016 Head and Teadontlie white2tea

This week didn’t quite go as planned for me. My scheme to check on Mr. B vanished in thin air after I took a fall last weekend, resulting in leg and foot injuries that kept me in bed for several days and then hobbling around on a cane. On top of that I was subjected to various lectures all week from Dear Son about my fragile elderly state, which left a clear impression of his annoyances. Sigh. What else to do except drink tea? Son helped me around the house, but alas his assistance did not extend to getting Mother a cuppa. And, I couldn’t get myself out to the porch to my stash. Luckily I still had Treachery in a Teapot as my puerh novel of choice, my session from the previous Friday. If you are elderly and plan to fall down and injure yourself, make sure you have a mega steeper in the teapot to go. In fact, the best mega steeper in your collection, because Treachery brewed out 23 steeps over five days. You can get through a rough patch from your bed with a fine puerh in the pot, as it were.

I managed to collaborate with the post office to get my shipment of tea from Wilson the Blogger, and brewed up a pot of his 2008 Haiwan LBZ, an excellent tea steeping in the “so bitter it’s painful” and “hurts so good” spectrum. Anyone who got one of those cakes is a lucky tea head. I reviewed that cake on Steepster in case you're curious.

Finally by the end of the week I got back on my feet, more or less, and had the ability to try the more savory mid-priced teas from white2tea. Many of white2tea’s offerings this year tend toward the sweet side. As I get older I’m more into savory, at least in food and drink, a salt-n-grease person as opposed to sweet. 2016 Head is listed as a more bitter tea, so I ordered that cake and in the box was a sample of 2016 teadontlie (Tea Don’t Lie). Head got to rest for the week in baking hot conditions on the porch, and teadontlie got a few days of that treatment too before I brewed it up.

This tea is advertised as astringent in early steeps and sweetish later on. The leaves are nice and long, and I notice some are a bit brown already, suggesting perhaps a blend with some older leaf. I brewed up 7g of tea in water ranging from 80 ml to about 120 ml, increasing the water as the tea opened up more.

Yes, the early steeps are incredibly astringent. Things you don’t want to do while drinking this tea.

1.      Sing.
2.      Read your child a story.
3.      Talk to your boss on the phone.
4.      Lick frozen metal.
5.      Make out with your partner.
6.      Give head.
7.      Receive head from anyone else drinking this.

Mainly I wanted to nurse my cotton mouth which I did for about 4 hours. The astringency disappears after about five steeps, falling off completely past six or seven steeps.

Second steep, one rinse only.
This tea is a blend of leaves that distinguish themselves rather markedly in the early days of wetness and newness. The cake contains some young, sweetish buds and leaves that contribute to thickness in early brews. These are very floral and honey-like in early steeps, and steep out rather quickly in the first six steeps or so. I began to think that I like this tea more in the $49 range rather than the $69 range, but then the rest of blend opened up after about steep six. I noted some brown, drier and more wrinkled up leaves in the blend in early steeps, and these leaves take longer to open. The flavor here is more Menghai-ish, apricot, warm brandy, oak. In fact the liquor which started out a light yellow turned more orange, which suggests to me that the blend is not only a different region but some leaves are perhaps not this year’s tea, maybe last year’s. I don’t know for certain, of course, since we don’t have much information on origins this year. But I’m guessing the intent here is a blend of floral top notes with more bassy brandy, designed to come together as the cake ages. Right now the drinking experience is definitely more interesting with the bassy leaf coming into play in later steeps, gives me something to stay interested in brewing out the tea.

Vastly different coloring in later steeps.
I also noted a balance in the mouth, with the florals up front and the bassy more peppery notes in the back of the throat. This tea is definitely one to age and explore more as it settles. I got twelve steeps with increasing steep time to two minutes at the end, and might have squeezed out a bit more with even longer steeping time. Not bad for a wet tea. The leaves show some thick stems and 1 bud/1 leaf combos. I decided with these later steeps that I like the tea enough to buy a cake, I’m interested to discover how the blend comes together. If the tea had merely contained the sweeter top notes, I would have lost interest otherwise. So I went ahead and ordered a cake.

Gotta love the leaf.
2016 Head

This tea arrived in wet rage after shipping and delivery in super hot weather. The cake continued to smell up my trays of cakes with tomato vine and ripe veggies after over 100 degrees F and high humidity days. The cake is rather tightly compressed and I note how much smaller the leaves are than in the teadontlie cake. I think Head might be the trailer trash plantation cousin, ringing in at the same $69 price of the prettier teadontlie. I decided to punish myself going 8g heavy on the leaf for around 100 ml of water.

The leaf is consistent here in the small size, and early steeps are bitter to me only as the tea cools. This tea is definitely on the more savory side, no heavy sweetness here, but not exactly what I consider really bitter at all. A savory drinker, like celery juice with just a touch of honey. The tea hits a nice medium for those who don’t like heavy sweet teas, but don’t want painful bitterness either. First steeps have a bit of green in the color of the tea, suggesting this is still in the green tea stage and hasn’t begun any fermentation. Bitterness primarily on the tongue and warm on the throat which cools quickly, the tongue action returns fairly long lasting sweetness, but not the flavor bomb of course that Treachery is, not by a long shot.

Camo cousin.
Right now at this very early stage, Head is a decent savory drinker with medium huigan that I can see myself drinking up rather than hoarding. I’m liking the teadontlie a bit more for hoarding and storing, but I need to spend more time with both teas over the next year.

Smaller leaf than teadontlie
If a person wants to maximize the puerh experience for the same dollars, pony up for the Tuhao as Fk if you don’t have a cake of that from last year. I don’t know how this year compares, but the price of Head plus teadontlie equals one Tuhao. If you don’t have a Tuhao, really you should get one of those.

Tea is still a bit green.
If your budget doesn’t stretch that far, Head is savory and teadontlie a bit more sweet, with some complexity. Both have about the same number of steeps at this stage, and are a bit better than average with clean processing and no char.

Savory drinker
I might pick up another cake or two from white2tea later this year, depending upon my budget. Overall the Treachery is the cake to own for me, and these cakes I will probably drink up as well. Regardless of where you stand on the marketing this year, white2tea delivers very cleanly processed cakes with unique profiles at a variety of budget points. 


  1. Dear Cwyn,
    thanks for your new text. They do seem enticing, the new w2t cakes. (Un?)fortunately, I already went over my budget with some watercolor-painted cakes from another vendor who is somewhat more talkative. It'll take a while to come up with a reason of why I need some of 2Dogs, as well.
    Until then - get well soon!

  2. Thank you for that very interesting post, especially i want to buy a sample of the Tuhao now... but budget :) ... we will see.