White2Tea "White Whale" Raw Puerh
First, make sure you have the appropriate music going while you read this review. As they say, "White Whale - Holy Grail." This is my second review of White2Tea's selection, and my first using my new Yixing tea pot - see the Blog for information on that lustful item. With 4 infusions, this is a very brief tea sampling, however it was with my family and gave me a whole review panel. Make sure to read to the bottom!
After years of searching....the "White Whale!" This puerh has been hyped up a LOT in the tea community recently(HERE or HERE), mainly attributed to White2Tea's reputation and active work on social media. Their company has a stellar reputation, and besides their own offering they produce, they also curate a selection of raw and ripe puerh teas by other companies. I previously reviewed their 2007 Repave, and found that tea very complex. They maintain a great blog as well at Two Dog Puer Tea Blog.
This 100g brick was created from a discovered pile of raw puerh leaves in a warehouse, picked in 2002. Just looking at the brick itself (and smelling it), you can tell that this is a quality tea. For only $15 at the time of purchase (now $23, still a bargain), I don't think I could do any better.
I tasted this tea at my parents' house in Houston, using an unseasoned Yixing tea pot they brought back for me from their often cited trip to China in April. I chiseled off several large pieces, gave it a rinse, and began steeping to open up the tea. There were four of us trying the tea, each having contrasting impressions.
This is after the wash and first steeping (the last photo shows how this tea grows through several steepings). The first pour was still getting smaller particles out of the tea, and was originally bitter and expressed a more astringent taste. The smell of the tea overtook the room and definitely produced a calming effect.
Not the best photo to demonstrate color, but the tea was bright and in other tastings back at home proved to be a beautiful amber color.
This is where it got real. By the 4th steeping, everything I have said so far can no longer be applied. The taste has morphed, the leaves have expanded and become green, and the smell has exploded. This is where I finally board the hype train. It is really a strikingly bold tea that offers a great raw puerh experience. Another reviewer hit it squarely on the head: "sharp, woody, clean, and sweet."
Is it the greatest thing of all time? No. Is it one of the best values you can find for puerh in the modern marketplace? Hell yes. White2Tea gets my respect, my recurring business, and will be the high-water mark for trying new raw puerhs at this price range.