Friday, January 8, 2021

Art of the Xin Cha - awaking the tea


I had blogged about 'xin cha' a few times in my blog and my readers would now know that breaking up a compressed pu erh tea (cake, too or brick) into smaller pieces, placing these pieces in a tea caddy for a week or two..........and you will discover that your tea is much better in both taste and aroma after this short time in storage.

Many tea drinker buddies from Europe and North America, upon receiving an overseas tea order,  have held back their enthusiasm over their purchase.  They do not peel off a piece of their pu erh purchase to make a brew, upon receiving their box of tea.  They felt the tea tasted 'flat' if they brewed the tea immediately upon getting the tea.  Now, they leave the tea alone for 1-2 weeks before they start a brew.  My tea buddies will happily testify the tea tasted much better after the tea had rested for a couple of weeks,

Why? I don't know.  Maybe the tea went to sleep while In transit in the cold temperature of the cargo hold of the airplane and now needed a bit of time to come out of its hibernation 

I had also proposed that for highly compressed pu erh tea, breaking them and storing the tea in tea caddies for 1-2 weeks will also help improve the aroma and taste of the tea.  Many tea drinkers I know, do not break up their pu erh cake, tuo or brick. Instead, when they want to drink a particular tea, they will pry off a small chunk to brew.  

This 'peeling off a small chunk to brew' is also practised by many tea shops when sampling a tea.  It is good optics to have this practice.  Buyers can still see the pu erh cake or brick and the entire wrapper.  It is also practical for a tea shop if it has more than 30-50 varieties of pu erh for sale. Putting the sample tea in tea caddies may not be practical and helpful in this aspect.  

If you have a collection of 20 of more pu erh tea, having 20 plus tea caddies is not a practical idea when there is 'no space' in the house for so many tea caddies.  

I may have a solution. Use 4-5 small tea caddies.  Small means capacity size for 50-100g of pu erh tea.  Choose your 4-5 pu erh tea you want to drink and break up 50-100g into the tea caddies and keep the unopened part of your tea back to your collection. You would have 4 -5 awakened teas that would last you 1-2 months before you can choose to refill them with either the same or another pu erh selection. 

One more thing.  A Korean tea buddy emailed me last month.  He breaks his tea into tea caddies  He however argues that for highly compressed tea. the tea would take a longer time to awaken.  He felt the tea tasted better after 3-4 weeks after storing in a tea caddy,  I share similar findings and I suggest you do likewise. 

Time for tea.  


J-P said...

Wilson, this is something I've been doing for a long while. In Canada, compressed pu'ehr is going to take forever to change in any detectable way. So I've started 'awakening' my tuocha and you can detect a difference after a few weeks to a month of 'airing out'.

I've been curious to try out (lightly) 'steaming' some of the harder tuo, to see if I can get some flexibility in the leaves (and avoid breaking it while prising it apart).

However, I'm of two minds. Part of me worries about the steam and moisture ruining the tea... but another part of me is aware that this tea was already steamed once during pressing. I know other people do it; but I'd be curious for your thoughts.

Unknown said...

do not steam your tea cakes or tuo as you will likely damage your tea