Those of you who have been following me for a while now will remember that I have featured White 2 Teas – Turtle Dove Mini White Tea Cake in a review on my blog before. When I first tried this in 2018 I loved it for what it was and was glad I was able to experience white tea in this way as I was learning more about tea and gongfu. When I first featured this tea, the amazing team over at White 2 Tea actually sent me over two of the mini cakes so I decided to do an experiment and pack the second one away in an air tight bag with an oxygen absorbed just in case and left it on it’s own to age (it was picked away in 2018). I was planning on maybe leaving it for a year/a year and half and then in 2018 I moved house and everything got packed away.
This tea was packed in it’s little air tight bag in my tea suitcase (yes a had a whole suitcase + boxes of tea when I moved) and i’ll be honest I forgot about it, until my fiance and I were getting read to move out into our first home together and I stumbled upon this cake. Once we started unpacking at the new house, I was instantly reminded that I had it and shocked that at that point it had been aging for around 4 years. So I decided to break it out of it’s bag and do a session with it to celebrate us moving and I’m so glad I did because the ageing had done wonderful things to this tea which I’ll get further into as this post goes on.
For this particular session I prepared this gongfu style using my biggest gaiwan and the whole mini cake, though I did break the cake up because these mini cakes are quite compressed and do take a good while to start to break apart on their own. I managed to do a good amount of steeps because I used the whole cake and even after finishing this session I took the leaves and cold brewed them which was fantastic as well.
In terms of taste, throughout all of my steeps with this it had notes of light wood. Rather than a standard light wood note to it, it gives of warmth like a light wood that’s been in direct sunlight for a while. There’s a subtle spice like a very light cinnamon, hints of both hay and straw, and an phenomenal essence of a library full of old books. An underpinning of dried apricot paired beautifully with that.
A unique sweetness got stronger as the steeps went on, and a tobacco note slowly emerged but again it had warmth to it like tobacco that been sat on a table in the sun. Earthy / wet / crunchy autumn forest floor full of colour came to my mind from my first sips. It’s got subtle bottom notes of a slightly smokiness and virtually no astringency at all until the tea starts to cool. But it’s not a bad astringency at all and it actually balanced everything out pretty well and appeared mostly on the sides of my tongue and cheeks. Sweetness definitely built as steeps went on and a subtle floral note, very light vanilla.
The liquor throughout the session was quite transformative in colour, it went from light yellow and slightly cloudy with a hint of green. However as the steeps went on it became a little less cloudy, got a little darker and had a hints of and brown, orange and yellow, and had a medium thickness to it. It’s in finish, the sweetness that came through in the taste lingered for a while and was amplified with every breath I took in only through my mouth.
Surprisingly that subtle cinnamon spiciness stuck around and sat in the back of my throat amplifying the coziness this tea gained through ageing. As the steeps went on, the overall dryness did cover more of my mouth but it was still quite minimal and that lingering spiciness in the throat present in the aftertaste dissipated and wasn’t present for the last two-three steeps.
Once the session was over, the wet leaves and the empty cups had a delirious aroma quite similar to the aroma of the dry leaves. The overall flavour was sweet, slightly malty, with notes straw and hay, dried apricots and autumn leaves, a library full of old books, the smell of a light wood that’s been under direct sunlight and saw dust. Overall it was quite a mellow aroma and the additional slight herbaceous notes and slight sourness in the aroma reminded me of a lychee but very much in the background. It really added to this fragrance what the dry leaves were missing.
After this session l was left feeling a little bit woozy and definitely made me feel a bit tea drunk. But unlike other white teas I’ve had, it didn’t give me heartburn. Maybe I should try having more aged white tea. I enjoyed this tea the first time I tried it but I have to say that the aged version is definitely my favorite version between the both of them. It became more cozy, calming and rustic and much more my cup of tea than it was prior to aging in 2017.
This session inspired me to do more experiments with aging teas and also to keep my eye out for more aged whites to try. It also taught me that sometimes mistakes like forgetting about a tea you only wanted to age for a year and half are just happy little accidents and result in experiences I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Have you ever done and experiment like this with teas you have had in the past? If you have I want to know all about them and how they turned out, you’ll probably end up giving me some ideas for experiments in the future so I’m open to any suggestions, that might push me out of my comfort zone.
If you have any questions at all be sure to leave them in the comments or send them to me over on Instagram @kimberleyskyusu and I’ll do my best to answer them all as soon as I can.
Until next time, Happy Steeping – Kimberley