Sunday, April 24, 2016
2004 Xiaguan Mushroom Pu erh
I was taking pictures of this mushroom tea when my daughter walked by my 'photo taking' area. "What's that?". I answered pu erh tea. I went on to explain that Chinese merchants that do trade with markets outside China, usually carry their goods by horseback in those days before the age of cars and planes. There were ancient travel routes and these merchants had used horses and travelled on these routes to countries like Tibet and beyond. These merchants had also figured out compressing their tea products would help transport tea easily. Tea producers in Yunnan compressed their pu erh tea into tuo, brick and even mushroom shapes. I suppose the tea producers found these shapes best in reducing moisture within the tea after compression.
Readers would know I had purchased some 2003 Xiaguan iron cakes last year (link) and I had commented that even though the iron cake had an aged pu erh taste, I could detect a newness in the tea. It could be the very high compression had 'slowed' the aging of the tea.
I located these 2004 mushrooms during another Malaysian trip last February. These mushroom tuos had been stored in Malaysia for more than 10 years. Each mushroom weighs 250g and comes in a bag of 3.
Compression of this tea was not high. I could dismantle the mushroom, with a pu erh pick, within 10 minutes. This tea can make 10 good infusions easily. There were spicy notes with a mild sweet herbal aftertaste in the tea. I liked this tea and my brewing sessions with this tea finished quite quickly on many occasions. How does this mushroom compare to the iron cake? I felt the iron cake used a higher grade of tea leaves as evidenced by the more complex taste profile but this Xiaguan mushroom is extremely addictive due to its more aged character in the tea.
I had read that Tibetans add milk and spices to their pu erh and this tea, which was regularly drunk, was an important mild laxative for these people as the diet there did not have much fiber in the meals. I would like to highlight to my readers that drinking lots of pu erh tea especially newer raw pu erh can be quite punishing to your tummy and I would advise that you should have some food every time before a tea session.