; Cwyn's Death By Tea: May 2022 ;

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

w2t 2019 If You are Reading This, 2021 Bringer

This month I am finally getting around to a few more of the sample teas sent by white2tea back in January. The weather here was bizarre this month, alternating 30-40 deg C in temperature. I literally turned off the heating and installed the summer AC on the same day. We got some 30+ C degree days followed by 0 degree days and I refused to turn the gas heat back on. This made selecting teas more challenging, on a few hot and muggy mornings I started on a tin of green tea, followed by a frantic digging for scraps of Fu brick the next day when the house was freezing cold. The two teas I drank for this post really reflect the crazy up/down of the temps. Green teas have a cooling effect on the body, whereas a shou or Fu brick are better for cold days when I want my body to feel warm.

*Just a bit of housekeeping first. I will no longer be posting notices of a new blog entry on Instagram and Twitter. I plan to keep these apps and use them from time to time, but the reality is I no longer use them daily. I am very frustrated by the number of ads and algorithmic posts designed to grab my attention that it's now at the point where I cannot even get to the posts from people I want to see, because the feeds are so clogged with garbage. I know several dozen people visit the blog directly from these apps, and I am sorry/not sorry but I don't want to add more ads to barely functional sites that need less of them. And I don't know about you, but the new Instagram app freezes when I use it twice in a row, it's too annoying in more ways than one. 

Okay on to the teas. I have always wanted to try the 2015 If You are Reading This, after seeing that tea featured on the American talk show The Tonight Show with Stephen Colbert, a known tea aficionado who used to feature a tea drinking segment on his Tuesday night show. I don't think he knew anything about puerh tea, and you gotta hand it to TwoDog having the cajones to send it in to Colbert. The 2015 then sold out, and TwoDog brought it back in 2019, so I assume that the 7g mini he sent me is from the newer batch. 

My session with 2019 If You are Reading This, It's Too Late was definitely inspired by the publication of tea blogger Nicole Wilson's new book this month, The Tea Recipe Book. All of the different beverages she made for the book got me thirsty, especially for the idea of iced tea. So I used my 7g mini to do a hot session for the first few brews, and then a pitcher of iced tea. 

I have never made a pitcher of iced tea from green puerh before. But I have to admit at the outset that my first three hot brews were mighty fine. The tea has a bitter/sweet start, and a very peppery warming finish with a lingering presence in the stomach and throat. I feel like this $67 a 200g beeng tea is a bit "old school" nowadays getting three layers of complexity at this price. 

I brewed the tea hot first using a brand-new insulated French Press style stainless coffee pot by Stanley, a company known for making hard-working coffee thermoses. After pouring off my hot cups, I filled the 48 oz pot (1420 ml) with boiling water and let it sit. I expected the tea to be so strong I would need to add water to dilute it, but that didn't happen. In fact, the strength of the 7g of tea was just perfect poured over ice. I drank the tea over the course of a full day.

One interesting thing about drinking the green puerh tea cold is I noticed it developed some oxidation which turned the brew darker orange and gave it a red tea (black tea) note. As a result, the iced tea tasted like regular iced tea! Since I have never done this before, I don't know how common it is for green puerh to taste more like red tea the longer it sits. But it made a very refreshing beverage on our first hot day of the summer. I have to admit though, the complexity of the hot brews got lost in the iced tea version and I prefer the tea hot if I am honoring the tea. However, it is good to know a budget tea like this has the flexibility to make a layered hot tea and then turn around into a good iced tea. This is the kind of tea that budget-conscious folks might want to consider tonging, it's good all summer long any way you like it. 

The next tea is 2021 Bringer, another sample in my January box. I thought this was a raw puerh, and of course it's a hot day and lo and behold the tea is actually a shou. I looked it up and just about fainted over the price, $179 for 200g. White2tea claims the shou is comprised of "qualities nobody would dare ferment," claiming it's one of their more complex shou teas. 

I brewed 12g of the tea in my Kamjove gravity steeper so I got a lot of tea. The tea is certainly good, it has a bit of fermentation which is not offensive considering it's less than a year old. I really like shou better after this is gone in 10 years, but it didn't bother me much. I did not find any chocolate notes myself but a bit of a Nannuo-ish vanilla. The qi is quite good with buzzing around the ears and visual clarity. I like this shou a lot and it reminds me of Crimson Lotus Tea's long-sold-out Black Gold, which was half the price of this. The shou is closer to a 7572 style clear red rather than a thick brown Bulang. It's a mix of fermentation styles, I see some greener leaves mixed in with darker, more fermented leaves and some sticks. 

This is a very enjoyable shou, but oh man the price! I just can't see springing for this myself, but maybe the way to go is get the 25g sample for $26 and see what you think.  

But I have to talk about prices here. I haven't looked at the tea sites much lately, because well I have a tea shopping problem and looking at teas is a slippery slope I fall down easily. I read white2tea's spring tea blog post and clicked on the link for "give me the best" and landed on a $700+ 200g  beeng. Looking at the site the prices on the top end are really insane. I'm astounded that the 2016 Last Thoughts now sells for $200 more a beeng than I paid for it. Head is $20 more, and We Go High is $40 more. I know this reflects the market and prices will only get worse. The reality too is shipping costs a ton more than it did over 2 years ago. 

As a result, finding budget offerings for puerh is getting harder and harder. The only bubble here is gonna be on the cheap end, because fine puerh is exiting the range of affordable. I never thought I would be glad to get the teas I have at the prices I paid, but I am sure glad now I got what I did, when I did.