; Cwyn's Death By Tea: Five Years On: white2tea's 72 Hours ;

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Five Years On: white2tea's 72 Hours

Back in 2015 I made some excellent decisions about puerh tea. Mainly in buying as much as possible. Today the prices of puerh tea have risen dramatically beyond what I was able to afford just a few years ago. One of my purchases included 72 Hours by white2tea, a tea which has long sold out. I managed to find the original listing for it, however.

In this listing, the blend recipe is supposed to age rather early, and peak at around five years. Now that I have stored the tea for five years, I am taking the time to give it a try.

Originally I tried this tea in a session with TwoDog in the summer of 2015, he had pressed the tea in June and in July visited our home state of Wisconsin when I got to meet up with him. He didn't tell me the name of the tea, nor share much except that he mentioned he got the blend recipe from a tea friend. TwoDog had watched over a few beengs of this blend and noted they became sweeter and more complex within a short time.

The only tea I know of that ages this quickly is Xigui area tea, but I don't know much about blends and I'm sure there are other teas that mature more quickly as well. Xigui tea is supposedly in white2tea's 2015 Pin and 2014 Apple Scruffs, a tea I regret not buying at the time. But again, I can't be fully certain of this. What TwoDog has said is that he cannot make any of these teas nowadays at a price point that people will pay, great tea has simply risen in price well beyond what most of us can afford.

In my original session, we also drank a 1960s aged raw puerh which quickly eclipsed any first impressions I had of 72 Hours. I was given a small bit to take home, and enjoyed it for a couple more sessions. I still have maybe one more session of that sample. But I want to try a bit off the actual untouched beeng which I stored together with a few other white2teas in a canister, adding a bit of moisture here and there over the years.

I can see from the beeng that some oxidation has occurred as the leaf has darkened. My question is whether five years in dry storage is enough to move the tea along. I break off a hefty 12g since this is supposed to be a sweet tea. Brewing vessel is porcelain gaiwan.

First steeping after the rinse is bitter with notes of root beer, chicory or chocolate as well as a bit of hay. I also notice a note of traditional Chinese medicine, just in the first steep. This note may have been picked up from the other beengs in the canister. I notice a strong cooling sensation in the mouth and throat. The choco continues through to steep 5, along with the bitterness. I really leafed this strong. The cup smells much sweeter than the actual brew tastes, a strong floral and cotton candy scent I find in many pricey teas like my CYH samples.

Steep 2

Steeps five and six are the money steeps. Here I found a deeper base note of black pepper along with the bitterness and root beer and fruit. These steepings feel completely "round" to me, is the word I thought of, round like the nose on a fine perfume where you have top, middle and bottom notes. This tea has all three in steeps five and six. The bitterness changes to sweet in the mouth, though with less cooling than earlier. The full profile of flavors is remarkable compared to other teas I own.

Now I feel glad for buying tea that I aged myself. In these money steeps I don't need to brew or taste around anything unpleasant. No off storage notes, no processing issues like smoke or dirt. This is pure, as clean a tea as I can get. While I find tremendous benefit in buying semi-aged teas, particularly more traditional factory teas with some years of aging elsewhere, I have to taste around the problems in those teas like with processing and storage. The biggest reason to buy house teas from white2tea, the young and higher end stuff, is to get access to the leaf as close as possible to straight from the trees. What I can't find in the market nowadays is compensations in pricing for processing problems like burnt leaf tips or overly humid storage. Tea is just expensive based on how old it is more than any other factor.

Steep 7

I lose the pepper note in subsequent steeps but not the bitterness. I can attribute the bitterness in part to my heavy leafing. But no doubt this tea is not at a place I expected in year five which points to my storage. I believe that the original idea of this tea maturing in five years is based on storage in a more hot and humid climate. The tea was expected to mature, sweeten up and lose the top notes after that. My tea has not lost the bitterness and I still have the full profile of the tea. On the one hand, I am glad the tea is preserved and I haven't ruined the tea in any way. I felt a bit worried I might need to drink this up in one year, and I had hoped to keep it longer. Now I can see that the tea needs more time and honestly I would rather hang on to it. This is one of my better white2tea beengs.

We also discuss the problems of dry storage, and I don't have any acrid or sour notes which tells me I'm on the right track. We don't mention enough the benefits of dry storage, done right, which mainly is keeping the full profile of the tea intact. We talk about tea retaining its value, and value in older teas is mainly in preservation. It's fine to push teas for one's own benefit, but if you want your tea to hold value, the storage focus needs to be on preservation as well as aging. We need a balance between moving the tea along toward an aged profile while keeping the character of the leaf intact. I think it's fine to push a heavy factory tea but I don't intend to do that with teas that have such fine top notes. I know I wouldn't want to buy a heavily stored delicate tea, I will save that for more pungent examples.

Going forward, my 72 Hours beeng needs to continue to mature but I need to watch it carefully for that peak. I may or may not reach it, my tea could lose the top notes before the bitterness changes. I plan to re-sample a few of my blog teas this year and will share any changes I find. If you want a similar example to 72 Hours, consider picking up 2015 Pin, yet another tea that cannot be made at a low price point today.

1 comment:

  1. Nice write-up. I don't feed regrets but I'm tempted by the impulse in the case of this tea, which I sampled but didn't buy.

    Do you have the contemporaneous Tuhao?