Wednesday, March 30, 2016

White 2 Tea Unboxing

I never liked the phrase "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Of all the things you could do with lemons, that's what you choose? Lemons are so much more utilitarian than that. How about "When life gives you lemons, make limoncello. Also maybe some whiskey sours. And some lemon marmalade." Much like life, don't limit yourself to just one option.

However, when life gives you a White 2 Tea Odds and Ends Weekend sale, the ONLY option you have is "order lots of tea." I'd never actually ordered from White 2 Tea before because a) I'm poor and b) shipping is astronomical. But after yelling at Paul on Twitter for awhile (several months, really), he relented and sweetened the pot for me. He told me to "go for broke" and he'd take care of the shipping because he's a fantastic person. Or he's just tired of me haranguing him on Twitter so maybe jamming some puer in my mouth will stop me from pounding away at my keyboard like a gorilla with rabies. Either way, it worked and I decided to throw enough cheddar at him to keep him in grilled cheese sandwiches for a few weeks. And since unboxing posts are all the rage right now (I actually think I missed the popularity mark by about 3 years), I decided I'd document peeling away the swaddling from my tea baby.

I put in the order on February 29th (lucky) and it arrived March 16th. I expected this, honestly. I think Paul had to back-pack to the shipping office near his tea cave in China so I figured it'd take a bit to get here. Also, ordering a plant product packed into brick form from China means a healthy perusal by U.S. Customs. But after patiently waiting (something I am not particularly good at), my cardboard crucible of joy arrived.

Kinda beaten up:

To be fair, it's actually not bad considering it traveled 11,722 km / 7283.7131 miles (as the crow flies) to land at my doorstep. I was worried that the cakes might have been cracked so I hurried to pop it open. Luckily, my fears were unfounded because it was packed VERY well:

Look at it. It's not the Ark of the Covenant so your face is safe. Cracking open the box released a smell that I have trouble describing. It was, in part, the funk of pu er. But it was also something else. It was the smell of...well...China. A smell that lingers faintly in the background at the Asian grocery store I go to. The smell of a different world, one that I can't place. Earthy, slightly spicy, a bit pungent. So, naturally, I huffed the box for awhile because I am deranged.

After a few good snorts, I pulled out payload:

Next came the scissors and began to disassemble the pile.

I ordered two cakes and four samples. Since I ordered over $50 worth of stuff, I qualified for a free piece of tea-ware. Paul also threw in a few bits and bobs as well, which were much appreciated. We'll start with the samples. Each were 25g and individually sealed.

This is probably my favorite one and I haven't even tried it yet. 2015 Milk, Cream, And Alcohol (Raw). Milk And Alcohol is TECHNICALLY a song by Dr. Feelgood. This is true. However, "milk, cream, and alcohol" is actually a reference to the lyrics of John Lee Hooker's "Serves Me Right To Suffer". And I love John Lee Hooker. A lot.

2015 Little Walk (Raw). This will be the only time I actually go for a walk.

2015 Pretty Girls (Ripe). Every time I see this one all I can do is hum Pretty Women from Sweeney Todd.

2015 Brown Sugar (Ripe). "So smooth you'll say 'Shit, Damn, Motherfucker.' " Now, on to the cakes!

2006 Old Bear Fangcha (Raw). Recommended to me by a few people (one of which I have a feeling it's named after). A supposed smoky bruiser of a tea that will hold up to tobacco pairings and cocktail usage. Probably should have bought another.

2015 Old Reliable (Ripe). Pu er is expensive. Really expensive if you decide to delve into buying whole cakes or even, heaven forbid, full tongs. So finding a cheap, quality cake is like nuclear fusion: possible in theory but borderline non-existent in practice. So I went for a cake of the Old Reliable because it was cheap and I wanted a full cake. We'll see how it drinks and, after that, if I can resist buying a tong.

Now, the miscellany!

2015 Smooch (Raw). An adorable little "travel size" cake that Paul threw in for me. I love smooches. Also, I love Hugs. Those white chocolate Hershey Kisses? I love those things. Sorry, I had white chocolate while writing this and I'm still thinking about it.

A White2Tea branded pu er cake pick. Perfect for prying apart cakes, chipping ice, and murdering Morrie in a Cadillac Eldorado.

An absolutely delightful teacup. Which makes me think he's psychic because I have a gaiwan and a pitcher but no teacup to drink from. So this was pretty handy.

All in all, pretty good haul. I'd like to thank Paul at White2Tea for putting up with me for this long and for (potentially) putting up with me even further. I encourage you to order from him because he's cool. I don't know how his tea is but if it's anything like him, it's gonna be good.


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