White2tea 2016 Heart of the City – Weekend Review

It’s time to start getting reviews going – for now my plan is to stick to doing at least one in-depth review per week. The ideal review for me combines a high level of detail along with broader discussion. This week, I drank White2tea’s 2016 Heart of the City sheng puer. Their website describes this tea as high-fragrance with above average astringency and I found those characteristics held true.

I brewed 6g in a 90ml porcelain gaiwan, one of the Rainbow gaiwans for sale at teaware.house, and a white porcelain cup. I followed my general procedure for younger sheng which is one rinse and short steeps of about 5-10 seconds and slowly increasing in duration. I used boiling water.

The setup.

I warmed the gaiwan and the leaf aroma had a savory sweetness, some fruitiness and bright notes. The gaiwan lid aroma after rinse carried a rich savory sweetness and some sharpness like tart fruits. This aroma expanded into citrus territory with the first steep. The liquor on first steep is a dull yellow.

Color on the 1st steep.

Steeping notes

  1. Sweet citrus, some green and grassy notes, gentle astringency with drying effect on the tongue and gums, smooth texture and no bitterness. There is a green, young sheng aftertaste.
  2. More fruity sweetness balanced with a saline note, dryness increasing, lasting green and lightly sweet taste, no bitterness. Medium thick, very smooth texture.
  3. Continuing flavors as before, dryness effect increasing. Lasting green and sweet taste in the mouth. This develops into a sugary sweetness, especially on the tongue.
  4. At this point a new kettle of water was freshly boiled. Retaining yellow color with a hint of orange hue.
  5. Citrus and grassy flavors remain but white sugar sweetness increasing. Lasting dryness in the mouth.
  6. Sugar sweetness and astringency fighting for the forefront.
  7. Similar to previous
  8. Sweetness and flavor beginning to subside, dryness remains on the back and sides of tongue especially. Feeling a nice gentle energy, slightly tea drunk, losing track of time and feeling warm. Not an overwhelming feeling.
  9. Freshly boiled water. Mostly sweet water taste, astringency has backed down.
  10. Longer steep, about a minute. Tea mostly spent, giving sweet water with hints of the flavor and astringency from earlier brews.
Spent leaves.

This tea offers an interesting profile of strong astringency without bitter taste. Astringency refers to the dry physical sensation in the mouth, while bitterness is usually associated with a flavor. The two are often connected but this tea is an example of how that isn’t necessarily always the case. Even when pushed, no bitterness emerges from this blend. I’m a fan of both bitterness and astringency but I really enjoyed the balance of sweet and dry in this tea. I expect the green flavors and fruity fragrances present here will subside with aging while the sweetness and smoothness will develop – I would be interested to hear about others’ experiences with the development of astringency over the aging process.

I acquired this tea as a purchase from Macha Tea Company in Madison, WI. I got 1 oz (28.35~ grams) for $15, putting the purchase price at 52 cents per gram. Granted, I bought the convenience of shipping from Wisconsin rather than China since the latter can take anywhere from 8-16 weeks right now due to the pandemic. This tea is still available for sale at white2tea.com for $95 per 200 gram cake (47.5 cents per gram). I really enjoyed this tea and may add a cake onto my next white2tea order.

Update: I contacted Macha Tea Company and learned that they use a ‘crock storage’ method similar to that described by Cwyn on her blog. So while teas they carry are not going through White2tea’s humid Guangzhou storage, they are being cared for and kept in good condition.

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