One of the most anticipated events in the tea industry this year was the release of White2Tea’s 2016 productions. Other tea companies announcing their pressed early in the year, such as Bitter Leaf Teas with Crimson Lotus trailing right behind them with their shou puers. However, White2Tea waited for the perfect moment once all of the other tea companies momentum died down and made a statement too big to ignore: They shut down their website. Yes, White2Tea closed down the site and replaced it with an image of a caterpillar. When the site was half way done with it’s make over, the caterpillar turned into a cocoon waiting to evolve. On the third day the butterfly emerged on the site, which meant that there was only one thing left to come from this caterpillars artistic transformation… the tea.
With great marketing comes great patience as I stayed awake all night after the butterfly’s transformation was complete - and anxiously awaited for the tea with debit card in hand. Refresh after refresh, the webpage only displayed a butterfly as the clock roamed past the night. My mind filled with excitement as I awaited the upcoming teas that I was so eager to drink, much less get a glimpse at. Eventually, I rested my head on my pillow as my eyes grew weak, a result of staying up so late that the morning sun broke through the window. Suddenly, my eyes opened and the clock only ticked by two hours in my short and restless slumber. I drug my lazy self over to my computer and refreshed the webpage one last time—and viola! The online shop was now ready and open!
I browsed through the beautiful selection as I read through other’s excitement on various websites on a separate window, only to learn that the tea released five more minutes after my eyes sealed shut for its short recharge. Nonetheless, I was too exited to be irritated that I barely missed the live reveal of the teas their self. The teas were (and still are) so beautiful that it took my brain a few minutes to comprehend what I was looking at. I gawked at the new selections, breathless at what I was witnessing for the very first time. After admiring the beautiful brand on their webpage I made a few selections to review for you, the reader. Out of the ones that I selected, I’m starting this new 2016 production obsession with the extravagant, 2016 Tyler.
The wrapper depicts a collage of various photos that give off the vibe of 60’s nostalgia; a photo that were found while the paper’s artist was in Prague. According to White2Tea this is the only beeng wrapper this year that they didn't design, instead they collaborated with New York native artist Joe Librandi-Cowan. When speaking to Joe, I asked him who Tyler is. Tyler isn’t a person, Tyler is loosely based on music that him and Paul from W2T are fans of. It’s more of a feeling - the feeling of something that sparks inspiration and something that makes you feel good. In my opinion, this is one of White2Tea’s most elegant wrappers to date. Anyhow, this beeng had a second inner wrapper that was more cloth-like than the outer wrapper. The leaf’s compression was absolutely stunning and possessed a steamy green aroma.
Steeps 1 - 4
Before I began my session with 2016 Tyler, I gave it a quick rinse and let the tea sit in the vessel to let the leaf open up. After ten minutes I proceeded with my first infusion. My first initial findings were that this tea had a very soft sweet bee pollen body with a floral infused creamy finish.You could almost say that this tea was trying to reach a honey-like tasting note, but something was holding it back. Until the fourth infusion, the taste was growing stronger and stronger with the taste of bee pollen drowning the inner walls of my cheeks.
Steeps 5 - 10
On the fifth infusion this tea took a pleasant turn. The floral notes quickly became prominent and became as noticeable as the bee pollen notes. Unexpectedly though the creamy notes vanished to make room for a sweet undertone of sugary sage. This undertone was very unexpected because of how quickly it stepped into the tea’s overall flavor. As the infusions kept getting longer, this tea left a room-filling aftertaste of sweet floral sage that coated the whole mouth like an oil, and stayed there for a considerable amount of time. However, bitterness hid in the shadows of the unique aftertaste, which slowly creeped up on this teas overall palate as the steeping times got longer and longer.
Eventually, 2016 Tyler started to pack it’s bags and was ready to move on. Around the eleventh infusion, this beeng’s sweetness had completely ran away and the taste of green took its place. The floral notes were barely noticeable at this point, and left a note of bee pollen along with a sweet undertone of sage. As this tea was playing out its final steeps, the bitterness kept growing stronger and stronger - something that White2Tea claims will go down over time as this tea is freshly pressed. I pushed this tea to its 14th final steep, and eventually parted ways with the first taste of White2Tea’s new 2016 productions…
Now that the session has ended, I’m looking into this tea’s wet leaf to find out why it was so flavorful. First, I want to point out that some of the flavor that contributed to this tea is due to the fact that some of this tea’s leafs were already starting to turn red. This half-beat up red tea leaf was blended with a two-to-one ratio of young tea leafs with the occasional tea bud. Overall, just by dissecting the wet leaf itself you can see the amount of thought and experimentation that went into blending this tea.
2016 Tyler is an amazing place to start off with White2Tea’s 2016 productions. I ended up liking this tea because it’s accessible for tea drinkers that are new to puer, but complex enough that it can help a tea drinker appreciate a tea that’s complex and high in quality. The same could be said for experienced tea drinkers in the way that it’s a complex tea at an affordable price. I think this tea has great balance and a great tasting profile. I also like that this tea has a unique taste thats not only has a great flavor, but a leaf quality to back it up. However, I still believe that this tea needs time to rest from pressing (as does any new tea) and is something that I’m looking forward to drinking again in the future.
If you find yourself browsing White2Tea’s new 2016 releases and you’re questioning whether you should place an order or not, I recommend a sample of 2016 Tyler to your cart. When you get your tea, try playing a good record to drink your tea to and when you drink it see if you can feel Tyler inside of you. Play music that engulfs your soul in a fiery blaze of emotions and let those emotions consume you for the time being. Once you feel Tyler’s warm liquid making its way through your system, I hope that you come to the conclusion that this tea is just as exciting as you could have hoped for. If this is the first tea I tried on the 2016 line up, then I can tell you that we’re in for a real treat for the rest of the releases…
This is something I don't usually do, but I wanted to give a shout out to Matt. Safe travels buddy!