Review: White2Tea’s 2011 Fuding Aged White

I feel like celebrating. I got a new pot for my birthday. Milche’s latest blood tests came back much improved. It’s been way too long since I’ve done a tea review, so let’s throw one up here!

Silver Pot

I love my new pot. The turtle at the top is what really sold me on it. I’ve named him, and the entire pot by extension, Ralph, after the pet Florida softshell turtle I had in high school. Ralph is made of silver, which is supposed to affect the flavor of the brew. I haven’t noticed anything overtly different, but I’ll have to do a side by side review sometime. In case you were wondering, he comes from Yunnan Sourcing.

Ralph, king of the oolongs
All hail Ralph, king of the oolongs!

And the teapet? His name is Terrence, and he’s actually pretty cool. Terrence is the first (and probably last–there are only so many teapets a person can own) of my color changing teapets. Here’s a video of Terrence in action. He came from a random seller on eBay.

I have a sample of White2Tea’s 2011 Fuding Aged White Tea that I want to try before I place my order for 200 of their A&P cakes (okay, not literally 200 cakes, but A&P is so very good). I don’t have much experience with white tea. I’ve tried my grocery store’s okay brand, What-Cha’s incredible Kenya “Rhino” White, and some unidentified white squares that Liquid Proust is selling offsite that are pure honey. So far, I’ve been very satisfied with my white journey. But aged white? I’m not so sure.

2011 Fuding
Milche wants to celebrate her good blood test results too.

This isn’t the prettiest sample, but then again we don’t drink tea for the looks. If I raked up a bunch of leaves in my front yard, pressed them tightly together, and left them to rot for a year outside, this sample is how I would imagine those leaves to look. The picture of the whole cake on the website looks better, so maybe I just got a bad section.

Wet 2011 Fuding

There was some question as to what temperature I should brew at, so I brewed about 9g in my 160ml pot, going back and forth between 200º and 212ºF. Brew times started at a couple of seconds and increased as the tea died. I think the last steep, which is the one pictured, ended up being about 5 minutes. I’ll give you a little spoiler at this point: I enjoyed this tea at both temperatures, so it didn’t matter. The leaves brewed into a stunning red, a color I wasn’t expecting from the leaves.

2011 Fuding Brew

The tea starts out medicinal. I didn’t really understand that description when people used it for white tea, but I certainly do now. It proves that even when a description is relatable, it sometimes won’t make sense until you actually experience it for yourself. I also got a lot of autumnal leaf pile flavor. To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy the first three steeps of this tea at all.

Like the clouds parting after a storm, the flavor began to open up and become pleasant and warm at the fourth steep. The transformation began with some cinnamon and a touch of honey, though autumnal leaf pile was still the predominating flavor.

It was a freezing cold day, so the brew cooled quickly. At that point, I got a hint of green apple skin, which is a first for me in any kind of tea—pretty impressive! As much as I would like to think that it is my palate adjusting to detect the finer points of a brew, in preparation for my become some sort of tea tasting superhero,  it’s probably just the tea being awesome.

As the leaf mellows out and begins to die, it keeps surprising me with other flavors: vanilla, honey, and dried flowers.

I think my White2Tea doomcart just got a little more expensive.

Happy teaing!

2011 Fuding

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Meet my tea cabinet!

Milche on the tea cabinet.
Milche enjoying the view of the kitchen from the tea cabinet.

There’s something a little delicious about looking at other people’s tea stash. You get a rare opportunity to compare your crazy to the craziness of others, and at the same time, you may get to find out that you’re not as crazy as some other people.

Tea cabinetCraigslist is my friend. If you look long enough, you can find pretty much anything there. For $50, I found my tea cabinet, which fits perfectly in my kitchen! The seller told me that she got it 20 years ago from “an importer of Asian goods,” which I took to mean World Market.

Open cabinetAnd here is the insanity: 150 kinds of tea, but fortunately, most of them are less than an ounce. Hopefully, my collection won’t outgrow it!

I want to see some stashes! Show me pictures of your collections and where you keep them. Teaware stashes count too!

Happy teaing!

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Welcome to Cat Lait Tea!

So here begins the obligatory first post, introducing the dazzling, sparkling, VERY interesting personality behind the blog. The truth is, I’m not as dazzling and witty as almost everyone on the planet, but I had so much fun reading about the lives of the tea titans out there that I wanted to share my more neophytic outlook.

About Me

I started drinking tea in 2000 on a trip to Europe. This is where I first discovered brown sugar cubes, milk, and Twinings English Breakfast bags. I was satisfied with this setup for about 16 years until I got a bad batch of bags with no flavor.

A trip to Cincinnati and a loose leaf tea store introduced me to loose leaf brewing and all the different flavors available out there. As a Florida girl, there was a major dearth of loose leaf tea available to me in local stores, so it was nothing I ever thought to even seek out.

Then I met an insane tea person who introduced me to the tea community, where my bar for normalcy was raised dramatically. I actually thought that my modest collection of 30 teas was excessive!! Between recommendations and swaps, I’ve learned so much in the last 4 months or so (has it really only been that long??).

About this Blog

There are so many posts on reddit regarding new people getting lost as they begin to wade into the deceptively deep pool that is the world of tea. While the community is extremely helpful and so, so generous, I think it would be interesting to document my own journey into this vortex. Here are some of the tea-related topics I want to cover on this blog; make sure to leave a comment if there are other topics you want to see:

  • Vendors—the best place to get what
  • Reviews—teas and teaware
  • Education—different teas, different regions, brewing, tasting teas
  • Collecting—differing collections and how to start your own
  • Issues—issues with going on this journey
  • Whatever other tea-related topics I come across
My cat Milche.
     Milche and her blue eyes in the window.

Of course, my entire life isn’t just about tea. I can’t guarantee that the occasional cat, food, or nature post won’t slip in there somewhere. Milche and Pond, my two cats, will probably be mentioned and pictured more than once. I’m also really interested in espresso, so that might make an appearance or two.

Some blogs only review certain types of teas. While my tastes have definitely narrowed since I’ve been introduced to “higher quality” teas, I have to say that I am still relatively adventurous. I have everything from Twinings English Breakfast bags to 30 year old oolong to aged puerh to the most absurd flavors in my collection.

I love to experiment. I don’t follow “the rules.” What I like is what I end up doing, and if it turns out well, I’ll share it here. I enjoy pitting tea blends against each other, cooking food with tea, and playing with brewing parameters. I hope to share these experiences so that others can put their own spin on my sacrilegious treatment of this fantastic beverage.

Happy teaing!