This is a 2006 Haiwan raw pu erh cake. The label on the wrapper describes the tea leaves were harvested from old pu erh trees in the remote mountains of Yunnan. This cake is quite popular as Haiwan has produced these cakes since 2005. I have seen these cakes for sale in Hong Kong and are quite popular with the drinkers there. The 2009 version of this cake is also now available when I checked on the internet.
I had purchased the 2006 version and I found the compression of the cake tight. I had accidentally knocked the cake on its side which explains a small dent in the cake (1st/ 4th pix). I had to pry the cake open with my swiss army knife. The scent from the cake is nice with a hint of lemon.
I had opened the cake up in late June 2009 and I have drank through 3/4 of this cake. These are my findings:
I had broken up the cake and store the pu erh in a cylindrical cardboard tea box (those you find in commercial tea shops selling loose teas). My first brews of this tea, especially in the starting infusions,make me felt that the tea was very smoky. My daughter who walked past asked for a cup as the smoky scent reminded her of a bbq (campfire) in an open field. I concurred with her on the scent and I tried to find out the origin of the smoky scent (where the tea leaves absorbed the smoke). It is possible that burning wood was used for fueling the woks used to dry the tea leaves in an enclosed environment. As a result, when batches of tea are being "fried dry", the tea leaves inadvertently absorbed this wood smoke during the drying process. A reader suggested "The smoky smell will stick to the surface because it probably comes from people smoking tobacco around the teas when they are in warehouses". I have tea / smoking friends and they concluded that the smoke from this cake is not likely to be tobacco smoke. WHEW!.....what a relief. I believe that smoking tobacco near the tea or tea production may impact the tea leaves with the tobacco smoke....... likewise storing your tea in a smoke and odour free room will ensure your tea to be free from any unpleasant smells.
The taste of the tea is very pleasant. It is smooth and very drinkable. A brew will make more than 12 good drinkable infusions. Tea leaves seem larger. Slightly bitter with a sweet finish. The tea has mild citrus flavor and leaves a slight tingly sensation to the tongue. I felt a nice warm mild buzz after going through few infusions and it passes after a few minutes . This is the cha qi of tea, something like the effect you get from the caffine from drinking coffee. The cha qi from this tea is really pleasant.
This interesting fact from reviewing this tea is that the tea changes over 2 months as it is stored in the tea container. The smokiness of the tea dissipates and the tea feels mellower and sweeter in the aftertaste. I am lucky that I stay in a hot and humid climate in Singapore. A tea shop owner in Singapore told me that the tea "oxidize" when we open up a tea cake and store it for a couple of months. My new tea friend (a tea master actually), Eric from Penang, Malaysia explains "airing your Pu for a month or two before you consume it is a very good practice. It allows your pu to absorb more moisture and you will find that your tea broth is smoother and less abusive to your tongue".
Overall impressions of the tea is very good. A value for money pu erh in terms of weight, quality and price. I got mine for around $25 (inclusive of air freight). A "must buy again" tea.
I ran a search for this and found some on PuerhShop.com but the wrapper doesn't look as pretty as the one you have. Wonder if it's the same tea though.
I'm all for airing out your Puerh for a little while before drinking it, even though I like the raw, young stuff and don't really want to age it. And if it gets rid of that smokiness, I'd have to say I'd be relieved. --Teaternity
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