Saturday, October 18, 2014

2004 'Duoteli Brand' Liu Bao Tea

This is a 2004 Liu Bao tea from Duoteli.  This tea is made in Wuzhou, China.  Liu Bao tea is a black tea with the tea undergoing 'fermentation' as part of processing this tea.  Think ripe pu erh as pu erh do undergo fermentation for about 2 months before the tea is dried and packed away in cakes, tuos or bricks.  Liu Bao tea on the other hand, are also compressed into cakes or bricks but they are more commonly packed in loose form into large bags or baskets that may weigh from 1 kg to 30 kg.  They are also sold in smaller boxes like this 250g box I had opened.  

Liu Bao tea was a favorite with migrant Chinese workers that had came to work in tin mines in Malaysia (from late 19th century)  and it is no surprise that Malaysia is a popular place to find old aged Liu Bao (though most of these old tea are in the hands of collectors now).   I was told Liu Bao during that time was simply brewed Grandpa style, meaning a few spoonfuls of the tea is brewed in a large porcelain kettle and refilled a few times  daily with hot water when the kettle is empty.  

Today, Liu Bao tea is brewed in smaller tea gaiwans and teapots and  older Liu Bao tea (more than 30 years old) if available for sale, are expensive.  

I enjoy drinking liu bao tea.  Its aroma and taste has similarities to very old ripe tea.  I can detect strong fragrant wood and nice combinations of chinese herbs in the aroma liu bao tea.  I like to brew liu bao on the stronger side to enjoy that 'oomph'.  Let me forewarn my readers that this is an acquired taste and may not be liked by some of you.   

It is no surprise that there are some unscrupulous tea dealers that try to make a fast buck to newbie ripe tea drinkers, passing off the liu bao tea as very old ripes.  Do be careful if you are not familiar with your teas.  

Back to this 2004 liu bao tea.  This tea is very easy to drink with a nice aromatic character.  Good for 8-10 infusions.  I can only determine the date of this tea from an unopened carton that has the date printed on the carton.  The actual 250g box is undated.  I was also told that pre 2005 versions of this tea is hand-wrapped with cellophane plastic while later versions use shrink wrapped plastic.  

A nice tea but if you are living in Singapore or Malaysia, I recommend that you spend a bit more (take out your credit card) and buy the older liu bao tea, where the taste and aroma are amplified and more pronounced.  I will be visiting the tea expo in Malaysia in December and I will learn more about liu bao and share my findings with you.

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