; Cwyn's Death By Tea: August 2022 ;

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

2022 10th Anniversary and Liu Bao white2tea

No, I have not forgotten my blog. Still here with at least four blog posts in my head and a couple in actual draft. Here I have a few notes on teas held up because I just cannot find time lately to sit down for a decent tea session without any interruption. Mostly I am caffeine-on-the-go over the past month, grabbing a mug of something and trying to remember to drink it before it goes cold. Then I sit down and already the sun is gone for the day, and I am overtired, overheated and ready for bed. These are the usual excuses of a life that needs to slow down and get easier because I'm so ready for the shit to stop. 

This month I wanted to write about these two teas from white2tea's 2022 lineup. As usual for me these past few years, I try and buy a couple things from their new teas to support the shop and see what TwoDog is up to. I planned to buy the 10th Anniversary tea because I own the 5 year Anniversary beeng. TwoDog suggested the 2022 Liu Bao when I said I wanted something fresh to try. 

Mostly when you see Liu Bao for sale, the tea is aged already or has a head start either with pile fermentation or oxidized as pressed bricks. I really wanted the opportunity to try Liu Bao fresh, and un-pressed, so I can gauge its transformation over time. The leaf quality here is pristine. Most aged Liu Bao teas are broken leaves and dusty bits, so for me buying a fresh tea like this is worth the money. Liu Bao ages fairly quickly compared to puerh tea, and with proper humidity maintains itself for many years. But unlike factory Liu Bao, this tea has not undergone any pile aging or oxidation.

I drank this tea for over a week straight as my a.m. caffeine shot. It's not harsh like puerh, so I was fine with it on an empty stomach. The leaves are long which limits the amount I can pile into a brewing vessel. I used a gravity steeper and did 3 steepings per day, which means I got two mornings of tea out of each dose. The tea is reliable for a good six money steeps, which is fairly typical for Liu Bao.

This tea does not resemble puerh so much as a very fine green tea. It is lightly floral with a mild honey note, and very grassy which most green teas are. I find the sample well worth it for the experience of drinking Liu Bao fresh as I have wanted to for some time. I spent many years trying various incarnations of green tea processing and can finally add this to my experiences. If I were looking to age Liu Bao for myself, this is definitely the choice by far, although one advantage of factory Liu Bao is the handy storage basket which you can get from white2tea only if you buy a full 250g order. I'd much rather have this than broken dusty bits that most factory Liu Bao teas are. 

2022 10th Anniversary Beeng

I planned to buy this tea as my purchase for 2022, because I own the older anniversary beeng. I bought a full beeng plus a 25g sample too. Lately I have been doing this with teas I want to keep intact in the wrapper. I probably won't open the beeng any time soon, the point is to store it in Wisconsin and someday see how the tea does, he can have it back to compare with his storage in China. Hence the sample size to keep track of the tea without opening the beeng. I did the same with 72 Hours, tried the sample I had instead of opening the tea. As you all know, a loose beeng sheds tea in storage every time you shift things around.

This tea will only remain on offer for 2022, and then it will return to white2tea's storage. The older 5th Anniversary tea is now back on the catalog, but it is much more expensive, almost twice the price it once was. I have not opened the older tea, so I cannot compare it currently, but the two teas are not comparable. The 10th Anniversary tea contains a number of teas from 2017-2020, so not the same tea at all in the 5th Anniversary. I can imagine these anniversary teas are a memory lane trip for TwoDog of the teas he acquired during the intervening years. 

I brewed 6 grams of this tea in a porcelain gaiwan which started out as 7 grams and then I accidentally got a bit of wet cat food flung onto my tea. So I picked out about a gram to get rid of the cat food bit. 

The tea has the house floral-northern aroma many teas from white2tea have, and then a more pungent tomato vine note underneath. I did a very quick rinse of mostly clear liquid. The first steeping after that came out orange-yellow and then lightened up to a deep yellow on subsequent steepings. 

Hit with boiling water, the tea starts out very floral on the top note with a pungent, warm spicy core. I can definitely taste the different batches of tea in here. This tea is newly steamed and pressed after stored in bags for a few years. The orange color shows the oxidation on some of the older leaves in the mix. 

Subsequent steeps continue this dual note of floral fruity with a spicy base that is cooling on the throat and warm in the tummy. The blend is a good way to try a tea that has such a clear distinction between the notes. It's a strong tea, not a subtle creeper. Let the tea cool down to about 90-95C and it gets very bitter. So I feel the tea has something at the core that is maybe more 'banna-ish that will give substance after aging if the floral top notes fade. 

I noticed after steep 5 I needed to brew the tea longer than flash steeps. The tea leaves opened up quickly due to their recent steaming. I did three more brews going about a minute or so in the gaiwan. The tea still had a bit more, but the main notes now are the deeper spicy pepper ones and less of the floral/fruit. I feel like a good 10 steepings are reasonable to expect from the tea once a few years go by and the pressing sticks together more. Right now the pressing is just so recent the tea is giving more early on than it will down the road. 

The leaf examination yields some very firm leaves, a few buds but many larger leaves. I don't see any processing issues like reddened edges or char. The tea does not have off-odors at all. 

It's a good example of what white2tea offers all in one beeng with the contrast of teas. I'm not sure how this will gel together, but it will be interesting to see if it all melds in a different way over time, because right now the teas used in this blend are quite distinct. That makes it useful if you are hoping to learn more about detecting different notes in puerh teas, because the contrast is so obvious. At $98 for the 200g beeng I think it's a great choice if you are looking for a decent white2tea that is still coming in under $100.