Sunday, September 16, 2018

An Old Taetea Dayi Raw Tuo

This is a 2005 Taetea Dayi raw pu erh tuo.  Yes, many Chinese pu erh tea drinkers would normally associate the compressed 'tuo' (or bird nest) shape with Xiaguan tea factory.  You are absolutely right that Xiaguan produces a very wide assortment of pu erh tuos every year while other pu erh tea factories often mainly produces and compressed their pu erh tea into cake or disc shapes than tuos.  

Taetea (aka Dayi) do compressed their pu erh tea into tuos on a smaller scale.  This 100g 2005 raw tuo had been stored in Malaysia for about 13 years.  Composed of mainly Menghai material, this tea when brewed coat the mouth easily; an almost oily mouthfeel.  This tea is floral in aroma and has a pleasant mild sweet finish and aftertaste. Good for 10 infusions.

But I digress.  Tuos compared to cakes are more difficult to dismantle.  I find that I get more tea dust after I break open a tuo.  The compression of a tuo tend to be 'looser' after about more than 12 years of storage in this part of the world and the tuo becomes easier to pry open.  Pu erh pressed into tuos are less popular with collectors than pu erh cakes.  My guess cakes are visually more appealing, bigger and feels more value for money due to its size and weight.  However, the tuo shape pu erh is a hallmark of the pu erh tea industry.  There is no discernible difference in the taste and aroma of the pu erh tea.  I have yet to meet a drinker, that can tell from drinking a cup of puerh, that the tea was compressed as a tuo or not. 

Let me know and share your 'tuo' experiences with me.  

Sunday, September 9, 2018

LIu An Tea - Novelty Brewing

I was looking to refill my Liu An stash and had started to sample this tea whenever I see them in the tea shops.  I looked for the traditional packed ones that are wrapped with bamboo leaves ( it actually looked more like lotus leaves like those used to wrap rice dumplings) and packed in a bamboo basket.  These baskets are normally packed with 500g of Liu An tea.  Many tea drinkers and collectors store them away in its actual unopened packaging and would normally start drinking them after 10 years.  Older ones are even expensive now.

Liu An tea is a very pleasant tea to drink.  At about 10 years old, the tea takes on a herbal and medicinal finish. Many Chinese medical halls used Liu An tea as a herbal soup base adding the herbs used to treat various ailments of their customers.  Many of my tea drinker friends brew up a few sessions of this tea when they are coming down with a cold or flu.  I have tried this tea when I was sick with some success.....but it could be seen as 'drinking lots of liquid' that had help eased my discomfort.

A few tea shops where I had recently sampled Liu An tea cut off a few strips of the bamboo leaves and adding these pieces to the tea brewing process (see pix 3).  The result - there is a additional aroma, slightly sweet smelling.  This could be directly from the bamboo leaves  or it could be from interacting with the Liu An tea.  It is to me, quite pleasant.

However, this style of brewing, in my opinion is a novelty brew.  Adding rose or chrysanthemum flower petals to ripe pu erh tea are also novelty brews.  They are interesting and enjoyable.  However,  a good tea can and should be appreciated on its own.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

2011 Haiwan Lao Tong Zhi Ziyun Raw Pu erh Brick

This Is a 2011 Haiwan Lao Tong Zhi Ziyun Brick. This a special production made for a Guangzhou tea dealer. Composed of Yiwu and purple pu erh tea lea leaves, this tea is moderately compressed into a 250g brick and packed in a pretty gift box.

This tea is one of my favourites. Break open the brick and place it in a tea caddy for at least 3 weeks before you start brewing this tea. There is a nice bouquet of complicated aroma and flavours in this tea. For a 7 year old tea, this tea is very smooth and mellow. Initial infusions open with a strong bitter and woody taste and aroma.  Middle infusions open into a floral, dried and fresh fruit aroma. Faint imaginary hint of salt. Later infusions becoming sweet, fruity and herbal. The taste is complicated varying with every infusion. I get woody notes, fresh and dried fruit, berries and even a hint of saltiness. There is no salt in the tea but the aroma seems to carry a 'remembrance of salt'. It is a nice play of flavours in the mouth. Good for 10 infusions.

But I digress. A reader emailed me asking me about buying older pu erh tea in Guangzhou wholesale tea markets. Basically, these tea wholesalers (those I know and are my friends) would try to sell off their yearly new tea to their own customers like tea shop retailers, collectors and tea drinkers all over China. Say 2018 tea - most tea are sold and those unsold are kept in the warehouse which are eventually sold within 2-3 years. Most of these wholesalers I know do not hoard the tea for a higher price. This meant that any older tea are actually unsold tea and to a certain extent..... that no one wants that tea. Many do not have the spare cash or capital to risk such a venture. There may be that odd carton that remain unsold but such tea are usually quickly sold if such boxes are discovered in the warehouses. Buying of older tea is possible as these dealers might know which of their customers are holding the tea and may help the buyer obtain the older tea for the right price. I do not recommend that you buy old tea in the wholesale markets......unless you know the tea dealers and you are very familiar with the tea and prices of that tea.