I had this post about 90-something percent written, but then **cue sound of brakes being applied, squeal of tyres** discovered that the tea in question, White2Tea’s house blend shou Pu-erh, known as “Old Reliable“, is now unavailable. Its thumbnail photo on the website now sports the dreaded “Out of stock” overlay.
I’d like to think that they have a stash of the material used in the manufacture of this cake squirrelled away somewhere, so that they can just start a new pressing run, but have a gut feeling that with this being a “budget/everyday” tea, that is not exactly likely.
I can, for a while at least, still talk about this tea in the present tense. I was lucky enough to get an order in fairly recently, so I have a whole cake minus 5 grams’ worth sat in my stash.
It has to be said, Old Reliable was/is a nice tea. I love the way the dried leaves remind me of the inside of a tent, all clean, green earth.
Old Reliable had quickly established itself as one of my go-to shous, along with the 7663 recipe from Xiaguan. It is/was supersmooth, full bodied, rich and creamy, with a good balance of earthiness and vanilla tones.
I like to think of this tea as the Yin to W2T’s Daily Drinker‘s Yang, complimentary yet opposite. On a day when I go full on Pu-erh, Daily Drinker and Old Reliable will often bookend the day, with Daily Drinker my boot-up early morning brew, and Old Reliable the post evening meal wind-down, close-of-play beverage.
This is/was a tea with good legs – I can easily coax 15 steepings out of the leaves during a lunchtime session, or slurp down 6 or 7 intense rounds after supper.
I plan on using what I have left sparingly, but not to the extent that I’ll sit on the last session’s worth well into the next decade. I’ll have a session with it once in a while, enjoy it while I have it, but when it’s gone, it’s gone.
If anything, this gives me a valid reason to start working my way through the rest of White2Tea’s shou collection. “Brown Sugar“, for one, looks and sounds as though it’ll be right up my street. I’ve also got my beady, thirsty eye on “Pretty Girls” and “Cream“, and I’ve been hearing nice things about “Channel Orange“, too.
So many shous, so little time…
Update: April 2nd, 2017
“Old Reliable” has returned! A 2017 pressing is now available at the White2Tea web site – click here for details.