2019 White2Tea Astro Kittens
Unusually for me, I agree with every word of W2T’s description for the Astro Kittens cake. Not only is this the most bitter tea i’ve ever tasted, it is the most bitter drink I have ever had.
The dry leaf is very pungent, sweet, resinous, and this character carries over to the aroma of the liquor and of the empty cup. Very good in this respect. The leaves are much lighter in colour, as you can see above, there are many silver and beige leaves. Much lighter in colour than, for example, “Road to Nowhere” or any cake from W2T that I can remember except perhaps the Tuhao cake from 2017.
Wet leaf is very green, with a strong tomato vine aroma.
Attractive aroma of sweet resin, very strong resin. Medium-high thickness. Very bitter first sip, strikingly bitter. Slight astringency. After the bitter hit, there is some sweetness.
Extreme mineral bitterness. Heat and mental clarity, growing heat. Extreme bitterness and strong sweet resin. Slightly astringent again. Fine tannins.
Again there is some sweetness after the bitter hit. Very stoning, lots of staring into space. Strongly heating, sweat on the face.
Super bitter still. Extreme stoning. Mouthh covered with fine tannins. Long-lasting persistent bitterness over 5-10 minutes.
By the 7th steep, no sweetness appears at any point, only powerful overwhelming bitterness, lingering for a very long bitter aftertaste.
I have tried “ku cha” or bitter puerh cultivars before, but nothing like this. This is strikingly bitter in the same way that a very hoppy IPA can be, just far more bitter than those ever are. The 2017 Dayi 7542 was of course bitter, green and astringent, but in terms of bitterness, the astro kittens is of a different order of magnitude. Note, it does not taste like an aspirin, it is not an astringent bitterness. It has something in common with, for example, Campari, but with none of the sweetness. I can’t say that this level of bitterness is at all pleasant. But the stoning effect is extremely strong (though not so long-lasting) and I can see people being a fan of it. I recall having a strong stoning effect from the Untitled 02 but that was a much more interesting, complex, and sweet tea. Besides the stoning effect there is what feels like a sharp drop in blood sugar and a feeling of low energy, as well as a sensation that the stomach is pulling down and away — not comfortable, to be sure.
Because of the overwhelmingly bitter nature of this cultivar (no way is this due to the processing, it is the cultivar), I can’t imagine that this would be in high demand. I may be wrong, but even if a traditional puerh maker wanted to include this in a blend, they would only want a tiny amount, and so even in this unlikely case the demand would be low. For this reason, I find the .70/g price particularly surprising. I can imagine that this might be very high quality ku cha, maybe indicated by the low astringency and unusually potent bitterness, but even so, I have trouble with the price.
I don’t know how to rate this tea, it is intensely unpleasant but interesting. I am defaulting to a very low grade but I think it is worthwhile to experience something like this. I am tempted to use this cake for blending experiments, adding small amounts to teas which I find a little too anodyne. I’d love to hear about others’ experiences with ku cha!
I tried a 2g/250ml/4m steep of this tea and while the bitterness is still super strong, it is reduced and the sweetness in the immediate aftertaste is accentuated, but the late aftertaste is stomach-churningly bitter and the stone is hard.