Saturday, March 10, 2012

2007 Haiwan 7588 Ripe Brick

One of the main features of this ripe brick that stood out was its size.  This 250g brick, when I compared its size to my other pu erh 250g bricks, was much larger.  It was at least broader by 20%, which meant that the compression of the tea leaves of this brick was not too tight.  I had the brick broken up by hand and had the tea stored away within a couple of minutes.

This 2007 Haiwan brick has the recipe code 7588 printed on the wrapper and inner label (neifei). This code 7588 simply refers to a recipe of the pu erh.  Basically the 1st 2 digits refers to the year, in this case 1975 where this recipe was formulated. The 3rd digit refers to the grade of the leaves in this case grade 8 (this is pretty subjective, according to my serious tea drinking friends) and the last digit refers to the factory code, in this case the digit '8' refers to Haiwan Tea Factory.  I am speculating that pu erh cakes and bricks that has a recipe number are blends of pu erh leaves from various pu erh regions within Yunnan.  I made this conclusion as I believe pu erh tea processed from only one region are usually marketed as from that region, like Bulang or may be a specific area like Ai Lao Shan.  Blends and single estate pu erh tea give pu erh drinkers like me, more choices and make my adventures of pu erh drinking more interesting and enjoyable.

Do not fret over this code.   Many tea drinkers, if they liked a particular recipe, will ask teashop for this tea by the recipe number when they make a purchase.  When you visit teashops, you may get to see these shops displaying for sale such cakes with different production years on them.  This meant that you may have a choice to buy a current year cake or even a same recipe cake that is a few years old. Popular pu erh recipes are produced yearly and sometimes a few batches within the same year.  Examples of such recipes are Dayi (Taetea) 7572 and 7542.

When I opened a pu erh brick or cake, I would try different brewing parameters to determine the best (based on my personal preference) tea session for this tea.  I would use different amount of leaves (between 6-10g) and different infusion times (from 1-5 seconds for the first 5 infusions) in the initial brewing of the pu erh tea. I would usually find a combination, usually by 5-8 tea brewing sessions, that I like and I would continue using this combination till I finished the tea cake or brick.  Perhaps this is a reason why I do not buy and discourage my readers to purchase tiny tea samples.  A pu erh sample of 10-20g is really difficult to be assessed.  There is no standard pu erh brewing technique......everyone has their own tea drinking preference and every pu erh tea has its own characteristics.......some teas brew strong and fast while some pu erh tea may require a few more infusion seconds for a better taste.....and you are unable to assess the tea properly as you had finished the samples.  In my opinion, pu erh tea samples should be at least 30g or more.

I enjoyed drinking this Haiwan brick very much.  I like this tea to be brewed very strong as the flavors of chinese herbs and sweet dried fruit (chinese dried longans) are pronounced when I add more leaves than usual for the brewing session.  I use about 10-11g of tea in a 200ml teapot.  Sigh........opened it last month and less than 50g left.

One more thing......I realized that if you break up a ripe cake or brick and let the tea sit out in your tea caddy for at least a week.......the flavors of your ripe pu seems much better.  I cannot yet fully explain my findings.  I only started drinking ripe  pu erh tea 5 years ago on a daily basis - I tend to finish a cake or brick within a month.  I hope you, the reader can share your findings on this issue.

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