white2tea’s 2016 Brown Sugar | Tea Review

by Tea in Spoons

With a name like “brown sugar,” I had to try this tea! I always like exploring teas that have a sweeter note.

Description: “The soup is sweet and smooth, with a light and approachable character.”

Instructions: Gongfu style – 1 gram for 15 milliliters of water the vessel can hold | Add extra gram for stronger brew | Boiling water |  Fast pour on and off (rinse) and increasing steep time 5 seconds or so for each steep (For example: first steep is 5 seconds, the 2nd steep should be around 10 seconds, and the 3rd steep around 15 seconds) | Adjust the time using your own preferences of tea strength

Review: Right from the get-go, I liked how the pressed cake arrived in a neat rectangle chuck which reminded me of a chocolate bar! The cake was easy to break apart despite being aged and smelled faintly of earthy and damp undergrowth.

I used a gaiwan that could hold 60 ml of water, so I tried brewing using 4 to 5 grams of tea. I found I enjoyed the slightly more intense 5 gram infusions, as it gave a stronger variety in taste.

When the dry leaves were in the warm gaiwan, it had a malty, “brown sugar,” caramel, cocoa, and damp undergrowth smell. I can see why the name! After a quick wash, the wet leaves were a dark brown, almost black colour with a roasted and earthy smell. The leaves were fragmented with the occasional branch.

Infusion 1 (5 seconds): The liquor was reddish brown colour and had an earthy fermented smell. The sip started sweet, and transformed into a faint damp earth taste which ended on a sweet note. There was some bitterness when the liquor cooled. The cake broke apart after the quick rinse and first infusion.

Infusion 2 (10 seconds): The liquor quickly became a dark brown colour and had the classic fermented mushroom smell associated with some pu’erhs. The flavours were stronger and had a deep earthy note with some maple syrup sweetness. There was some dryness on the back of the tongue and throat.

Infusion 3 (15 seconds): The liquor remained a dark brown colour and developed a charcoal flavour alongside the existing earthy and woodsy notes.

Infusion 4 (20 seconds): There was a burst of mushroom medicinal taste with some damp earthy peat and woodsy notes. It ended off sweet like a faint maple water. The liquor was very mellow by this infusion and had a fair bit of astringency.

Overall, I can see why this was called “brown sugar” and it lived up to its name. I’m used to pu’erhs that lean more toward the medicinal, earthy, damp earthy or fermented flavours, so this was a nice change of pace. I would like to find more pu’erhs with a sweeter note as pu’erh is a vast topic that I am still learning about (3/5 rating)!

  • Type: Pu’erh tea (ripe)
  • Origin: China
  • Caffeine: Unknown
  • Ingredients: Large percentage of 2016 huangpian (the largest leaf used in puer production)
  • Company: White2Tea

The question of the post: What shapes has your pu’erh come in?

I found the posts below from white2tea helpful when brewing the tea!:

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northernteaist August 21, 2020 - 2:05 am

I bought a 200 gram brick of this the year after it came out, and really should have set some aside for later, but it was just too good, and I was just too weak to resist…I raced through it in a few weeks…

teainspoons August 27, 2020 - 9:03 pm

How did you find it? Did you have different notes than I did?

northernteaist August 28, 2020 - 12:50 am

Kind of – mine was standard shou plus a heap of sweet vanilla. Makes me wonder if yours acquired the medicinal notes in storage.

A few extra years seems to have worked out well for this tea. Really regretting not buying an extra brick, now…! 😀

northernteaist August 29, 2020 - 4:12 am

I found a heap of sweet vanilla on top of the standard shou stuff.

I never got any of the medicinal notes you found – maybe that was down to yours having a few more years under its belt and different storage…?

teainspoons August 29, 2020 - 4:46 pm

I also found the sweetness. However, pu-erh tastes a bit medicinal to me! Maybe why I don’t always reach for it!


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Tea in Spoons is where I share my love of teas through tea reviews, tea travel, tea tips, information, and more. New tea adventure every Thursday!