čtvrtek 10. července 2014

2002 White2Tea White Whale

This little brick (for which I thank Hobbes) seems to have aroused some interest lately. It can be attributed to its reasonable age (12 years) and low price of $15. The price is actually so low that it nearly did not pass TwoDog's own scam alerting system

England, contrary to popular belief, is not constantly lashed by rain... only almost constantly. However, there are certain moments when there is no rain for a whole day or so - which calls for enjoying a tea outside.

John Henry Bonham... Moby Dick dick ick ick ck... and you know the rest. Or is it different whale that has been the inspiration to the label of this brick? It might be also that TwoDog is obsessed with finding good tea for good prices and this brick epitomises that painful pursuit - putting TwoDog into the position of captain Ahab (in this case, I'm sorry to break this to you, dear Ahab, but you've got a couple of white whales already).

The little (100g) brick is perhaps not composed of the fanciest materials, but it has got a decent color and aroma - not all teas from 2002 can say the same. 

The leaves, dry and wet, smell of wood, camphor and perhaps a little woody smoke. There is not yet the aged earthiness, but the depth of aroma suggests a proper aging process.

The color of the liquor is pleasantly amber, heading for darker and redder hues after a couple of steepings.

Now, how does the tea do in mouth? I must admit that I was not really that thrilled about it as some others seem to be, however not bad the tea is, but that may be just that I do not care for this family of tastes so much. It seems to be mainly woody and camphory, with a varying amount of smokiness (I do not yet understand the latent smoke function except perhaps that yixing clay ameliorates it considerably) and longan. Despite the undoubted strength and relatively good balance of tastes, there sometimes is s a taste of something rancid which slightly irritated me - fortunately, when it appears, it is more in the aroma of wet leaves rather than in taste. Despite not high thickness and not that much sweetness, the liquor does coat mouth nicely and pumps taste for a good amount time - it might be also due to the bitterness that is still present and that sometimes acts as a carrier of tastes.

The general characters heads towards north on puerh map, in my opinion - Mengku, I'd say. It's not unlike some Xiaguan cakes from 2003 which, despite looking a lot prettier, were actually not that much better if at all (they did cost about the same too). There is a clear link between the taste of this White Whale and 2001 Mengku Yuanyexiang (which bolstered my belief that the WW comes from Mengku), which is good. The grandeur, sweetness and all that is missing in WW, but that was not really expected of it, was it?

The tea did not do anything to me physiologically - I think it to be a good workhorse tea rather than something fancy... which is not that surprising given the nature and price of the tea.

Right... I think this is one of the non-prettiest teas I've seen in some time. But then again, a lot of the prettier teas sucked, while this little brick does not.

In general, this tea shows how important a decent aging process is. The brick seems to come, in my opinion, from relatively low quality of leaves, but due to good storage conditions, it has actually beaten many nicer teas that either changed into dried out mummies, or moldy manure in the process of 10 or so years. And due to its baseline character, it retained a reasonable price tag, which is important. 

$60 per 400g for 2002? Why not? However, before clicking BUY 100 times (it's too late for that anyway), I have to say that there is still some competition even at that price tag. Some time ago, there were several shops selling 2003 Xiaguan Jia Ji which, in my opinion, is from far better leaves and while aging more slowly, it is likely to get better. Finepuer has 2003 Xiaguan Blue Label for $45 that is somewhat similar to the White whale, better in something, worse in something else. Sampletea has Purple Dayi 7542 from 2004 (also rather quickly aging) for $80 or  so, which sounds like a good deal and that cake is more to my taste, like the 2004 Shi Kun Mu Menghai (which is, imho, a really nice tea). If you dare to go to 2005-6, one starts encountering teas made from a nice-ish material that are likely to get pretty good. All that said, the teas above that I consider better than the WW (i.e., everything but the 03 Xiaguan Blue Label) are slightly more expensive.

By mentioning some competition, I do not wish to imply that the 2002 White Whale is not worth buying or anything - it is a really good tea for the price if you don't expect too much and I'm afraid that such finds, while not impossible, are less likely to happen in the future. Thank you, TwoDog and Hobbes!

P.S. I've just read the description on White2Tea website - it is pleasant to see vendors accurately stratifying their offerings. Some others would go how the brick is super-awesome and how the last Chinese emperor actually died of happiness when he had been gifted a similar brick and all that, which is not the case here... 

5 komentářů:

  1. I have a brick of this waiting for me at home. Hobbe's made me laugh but also made me really want to dive into it. I'm waiting until I have a moment to really take my time. It does seem to have aged nicely.

    1. Hi, yep the aging has been fine here. Tell us what you think then!

  2. cool of you to list alternatives, since a lot of people will miss out on this brick because of bulk buyers. I'm fearing missing out on it myself as I'm waiting a bit to place an order with white2tea.


    1. Hi Jake,
      many thanks for your comment! I must admit that I myself would not put a huge effort into pursuing such tea, but it is definitely nice to have a couple of them I imagine - good luck with your order!

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