Monday, August 29, 2016

2005 Haiwan Fang Zhuan Brick

I opened a 2005 Haiwan raw pu erh brick last weekend.  This fang zhuan (aka square brick) is a very well compressed 200g brick.  I managed, with a pu erh pick, to split the cake sideways into 2 slices before breaking the cake further into smaller pieces and storing the tea in a tea caddy.

I had purchased 2 cakes 6 years ago and had always wanted to try brewing this tea but procrastinated till last weekend.  I had previously thought that if the cake showed promise, I would buy more of this tea (inexpensive back then).  But….opening this cake 6 years later meant that any repeat purchases (if the cake was good) would mean a more expensive refill and maybe some serious hunting for this tea as it is already an 11 year old tea.  

But I digress…talking about highly compressed pu erh….. opening compressed tea cakes especially iron cakes can be hazardous (you may accidentally poke yourself with a tea pick) and there would be lots of tea wasted as a fair amount of tea dust may be generated after breaking open such tea cakes  A Xiaguan manager In Hong Kong 2 weeks back, showed me a method when he opened an iron cake.  He used a plier (yes you read right).  He gripped the side of a cake with a plier, and then lift up the plier, like opening the cap of a soda or beer bottle, and the result is a nice chunk of tea.  This, to me is a useful tip.  I believe, a larger plier can be used for opening tuos as well. Time to include a plier in your tea tool bag!

Back to this tea.  This tea reminded me of pinewood furniture and nice notes of fresh hay and herbs.  The sweetness is extremely faint in the aftertaste and I do feel a bit sweaty after the 4th infusion. This tea brews well making 10 good strong infusions.   My Haiwan distributor friend just messaged me telling me he does not have this tea.  This is a simple raw but old pu erh tea. Nice.  I got to drink this tea sparingly.


miig said...

Looks good!
Have you experimented with steam yet? That became my favorite method for opening up superhard cakes. Your fingertips should not be too heat sensitive, but if you gently steam the cake for some minutes and then start loosening it up with your fingers, you can extract almost everything without losses.
Its important to dry the leaves very well before putting them into a container though, for obvious reasons.

Hector Konomi said...

That's a good business idea: a tea cake steaming device!

wilson said...

Hold your horses guys. I had discussed this topic about using steam to dismantle a high compressed tea cake or tuo. This is a very dangerous exercise as the moisture from the steam may cause a change of taste to the tea. There is a possibility that it may be difficult to fully dry the tea leaves after steaming which may mean you may accidentally accelerate the fermentation of that pu erh cake. Use a tea pick and slowly pry open your tea. Or use a plier which can get you nice small chunks of tea. I personally believe that there would be difference in the taste of the tea when you steamed open a tea cake.
I have been to a tea cake pressing plant in Yunnan, and these people have proper devices and more importantly the knowhow…quick few second steaming to press the tea leaves into the desired shapes and proper drying facilities of the tea cake before the cakes are wrapped. My 2 cents worth.