I was lucky enough to pick up one of the very cheap ($15 USD) White2Tea 2017 Snoozefest 200g raw pu’er cakes from a limited run of only one hundred, which sold out in about half a day. It arrived the other day so I decided to jump straight in and try it out.
I’m still quite inexperienced at reviewing tea like this, so any feedback is welcome! I also must apologise for reviewing a tea that is not generally available, but I feel there’s a fair bit of curiosity around a very cheap cake from such a well-regarded vendor.
Even before the wrapper is off, the cake smelt like sweet stone fruits. The leaves in the blend are overall very large and there’s quite a lot of stalks in there.
I loaded 7g of leaf into my 140ml yixing, discarded the first rinse and started flash-steeping with near-boiling water. (The pour of my pot is about 12 seconds.)
First few steeps
The texture was not thick at all. It had strong bitterness and a strong drying feeling in the sides of the mouth but not much astringency down the throat. The taste surprised me in actually being somewhat savoury. Perhaps related to the extreme youth of the leaves (pressed just last month in November), the taste reminded me of unripe sweet potato.
I started increasing the steep length to around 10 seconds + pour time and found the previous savoury taste was replaced with sweetness, although the bitterness and the ‘unripe sweet potato’ taste remained. I felt a little energy from the chaqi but not nearly as much as I was expecting.
Switching to long (30s to several minute) steeps saw a marked increase in sweetness, which took me by surprise. By this stage it was probably the sweetest tea I’ve ever tasted. The bitterness moved away from a drying of the sides of the mouth to a milder aspirin-like taste in the back of the throat, followed by a menthol sensation that persisted well after the session had finished. The texture thickened only slightly.
The ‘unripe sweet potato’ taste that persisted through the session was interesting but not especially enjoyable, however the sudden and extreme sweetness levels towards the end of the session were fun and rewarding. I feel like the parts I didn’t enjoy are due mostly to the youth of this cake and will change quite a bit over time. This probably means it’s a good candidate for ageing, as the bitterness and ‘unripe’ taste should change for the better.
$15 USD for a 200g cake comes to 7.5c/gram (10c/gram in AUD), which is very good value for young raw pu’er and makes it easy to overlook the less pleasant aspects (especially if they may change for the better over time). I think those who managed to snag a cake will be quite happy with it.
If the tea changes over the next few months, I’ll update this post with the details 🙂