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Authentic & Pure Quality Tea

Category: Dark Tea (Hei Cha) (Page 1 of 2)

Aged Pu’erh reached a record high price in Hong Kong Autumn auction

How crazy rich Chinese Pu’erh collectors can be?  Well, this latest news perhaps can give you an idea.
Auction in Hong Kong just finished, after five hours, Lot No. 387 Pu’erh tea cake (Sheng Pu’erh #8582) from the late 80’s has received the highest bid, five million seven hundred fifty thousand HKG dollars, the price is higher than the price in the Spring auction.
There are 42 pcs in this lot according to this photo, the unit price per tea cake is 3,750,000HKG Dollars (+/- abt. EUR500K per cake).
Another Lot No. 229 Pu’erh from Yang Pin Hao (楊聘號) ended with 2 million eighty eight thousand HKG dollars.
As you could imagine such rocky sky high priced Pu’erh are only for few rich Chinese; even though these look very attractive, but such luxury is not affordable by most people.
We support pure and authentic quality of tea, but not willing or able to support such high price bidding, because we aim to serve vase tea lovers but not just few tea collectors. Money can buy such priceless aged Pu’erh, but money can not buy time. No matter what, one thing is clear that such aged Pu’erh are limited in the world, every cup they drink, then a piece of it is gone.

Is Pu’erh Black Tea or Dark Tea?

In the Doucha (鬥茶) of a tea sample that girl friend from Ivo’s colleague brought who hoped I can give his girl friend a feed back about the quality, therefore the Doucha last night  did not mean to compete but simply tried to understand the unique characters of each tea.

The word of “Vintage Pu’erh” caught my attention, but quickly noticed an error on the package, because the British tea company put the tea type as “Black Tea ” (Hong Cha 紅茶in Chinese), as matter of fact, Pu’erh, particular Shou Pu (Ripped Pu’erh) should be in the “Dark Tea” (Hei Cha 黑茶 in Chinese) tea type.

Pu'erh is Dark Tea but not Black Tea in English

Pu’erh is Dark Tea but not Black Tea in English

The Heap Fermentation process has long history, it meant to produce water and temperature through the respiration of the added strain, to destroy the chlorophll in tea

Shou Pu 熟普 was not exist before 1973.  Before that they called the aged Pu’erh as Chen Cha 陳茶.  The production process for Pu’erh was very simple before the 70’s, Withering-> Solar Drying -> Steaming -> Compressing -> Drying.  The heap fermentation with cold water process actually was invented in 1958 by Liu Bao Cha 六堡茶 from Wuzhou, Guangxi.  But the heap fermentation of these two dark tea are different starting from the beginning:

  • The heap fermentation for Liubao tea is piling tea up during the production process
  • The heap fermentation for Shou Pu’erh is also using the piling up method after the production of Sheng Pu’erh

There are two types of Pu’erh, Sheng Pu 生普 and Shou Pu 熟普, because only Shou Pu uses the heap fermentation process, therefore, perhaps only Shou Pu really meets with Dark Tea.

According to the sticker, the original packed weight was 2,5gm, but actual weight I received is 1,5gm, therefore it means Ivo’s colleague only used 1,0gm to make tea in +/- 320ml tea pot.  That explains the infusion time of 3-5 minutes.

last night performed #doucha 鬥茶 – small-leaf ripped pu’erh vintage grade。

Vintage Pu’erh tea sample of Nxxxy
Flavor: obvious wet warehousing stinky aroma
Shape: tips are small, many broken leaves
Color: redish brown, problem with clarity
Taste: soft sweet but flat
After taste: not sufficient, weak Qi
Nxxxy mistaken the tea type as “Black Tea”, actually tea type for ripped Pu’erh is Dark Tea in English

2006 #puerhchahuang #普洱茶皇
Flavors: dried aging, woody with ripped fluity flavors
Shape: fatty tips, broken leaves are much less
Color: Rich Amber, good clarity
Taste: gentle sweet, full mouth of taste notes
After taste: rather faste, sufficient after tastes, feel warm quickly with Qi

Each person has his or her unique preference in flavours and tastes, it is a matter of definning the meaning for what define vintage quality and how individual choice differ from each others. So what is your choice?

 

Pu’erh – My cup of tea

Tasting you

What a joyful reunion of two old friends

even though it wasn’t long ago

but each time it’s like two old friends who met after a long time

Each reunion is such wonderful moment with joyful tear and heart full emotion

Such passion that can neither be described with words nor be melted even with ice from the North Pole.

Tasting you

It is like listening to the charm that hangs on the horse neck

It guides me to the ancient tea route with the sound of clink, clink, clink

Every step we move forwards, a new path is opened before us that has no end.

Old friend

even though you are far from the South, at the edge of cloud,

and yet you are so close to my heart

Silently you emerge with the beautiful harmony in Nature

Silently you enrich the healthy living, bring us joy

and guard us through the wisdom of Confucian, Taoism and Buddhism

It doesn’t matter which comes first, tea or people, just because you are already here.

Old friend,

With you, there are so many amazing stories and secrets of ancient tribes to tell

With you, we taste the harmony melody of heaven, earth and human, we realize the virtue of keeping head down

Time passed by without a trace

you have turned, turned, turned around for  thousands of year

and yet are still turning

You have been through many storms and changes

You have witnessed many turmoil and chaos

You stand straight quietly, do your best to survive and hope we can listen

You shed so many tear for human errors, your voice has not been heard and yet we fail to listen

Puerh Tea

One ancient Chinese name

It brings the gentle breeze and the whisper from the Nature

One big leaf that has many legends and surprises

One big leaf that has varied flavor and taste that transformed in time

My heart is touched by the natural wisdom

Every cup opens a door for a new journey

A true friend that enlightens my day in the darkness, warms up my heart in the coldness

Its warmth frees my mind and its wisdom whispers to my soul

It’s my cup of tea

It’s Pu’erh

2008 Bu Lang Sheng Pu’erh

Under the greyish sky, it’s time to enjoy the calm and ease energy.  After a bowl of noddle, I said to myself that I need to have a cup of tea to stimulate the digestion. The fine image of Bada mountain and ZhangLang cottages that mentioned in the earlier blog still hanging in my memory.  So my mind was set for Pu’erh.

Instead of young Sheng Pu’erh, it’s time for old tea; instead of opening another dialogue page in mind, I chose the Sheng Pu’erh from ZhangLang made by Bu Lang tribe of 2008.

2008 Bu Lang Sheng Pu’erh

After so many years,can easily divide leaves from the cake.

It’s hard to describe that joyful feeling when smelling that mixture of refreshing fruity, betel nuts, mos and grassy notes; the only thought was “Yes, Yes, Yes”.

What I love about Sheng Pu’erh from Zhanglang made by Bu Lang tribe is when you first drink it, the taste was soft and smooth, but the mouth is quickly full with the astringent after taste and the after taste last long.

When brewing this 8 years old Sheng Pu’erh made from >100 years old tea tree with wood-fired ceramic tea ware, it’s like enjoying a dialogue that combine wisdom of five elements between two zen monks. The dialogue without speaking, simply enjoy peace and tranquillity in a moment of silence.

 

 

2017 Pu’erh (Sheng)

2017 Pu’erh tea is available. The market for Pu’erh this spring again is tricky, because the quantity is less due to the insufficient rain and frost. Luckily the weather showed her mercy before, during and after leaves were picked.
 
Expecting the price marks high this year, but I believe the quality is  interesting that worth for collection.
 
A no-so-good quality Pu’erh won’t become good-to-better quality pu’erh by the aging process through years of storage. It’s better to invest on good-to-better quality to have a reasonable stone to make a snow ball in the future.
 
Growing old together Pu’erh is fun and inspiring.

BaDa/ZhangLang Sheng Pu’erh

Region:

Tea cake is made from tea leaves from Zhanglang cottage and BaDa mountain region.  The average age of tea tree: >100 years old.  

BaDa Mountain is one of the most
concentrated areas of ancient tea tree resources in Xishuangbanna, and there are more than 6,000 mu of original ancient tea tree.  Zhanglang is the largest family stockade of BuLang tribe.  The altitude is about 1750meters where have not only very rich resource for Puerh tea production, but also the cultural heritage is also obsessed by many people who appreciate tea and nature. 

Flavour & Taste

BuLang Pu’er tea is known for its steady atmosphere, delicated flavor from the tea liquid. The taste is somewhat watery soft and smooth with slight bitter astringent taste; the after taste comes slowly in mouth but full of stamina that chants in your mind with its memorable flavor and taste.

Picking date: around 29/3/2017

Net weight: 200grams

In general, this year the region has ess rain after the Chinese New Year and the frost afterwards caused drops of fresh young leaves.  The quantity has drops about 40% but the demands are increased therefore the whole sales price increases more than double than last year. Even though the price is slightly higher this year, but the quality is worth for collection.

Please contact me for more information.

Email: info@teasommelier.be

Tel: +32-494506899

 

Sheng Puerh only get Old and Aged

Why it is important to learn history and the basic tea theory when learning tea? It’s simple, so you can justify the information is true or false. For example,
 
A riped Puerh claimed older than 50 years, is it true or false?
False! 
Facts: 
  1. The  manually piling fermentation process to accelerate the post-fermentation flavour and taste of Riped Puerh (Shou Puerh) was successfully developed in 1975.  The technique was only mature for massive production in 1984.
  2. the post fermentation process can indeed transformed the color:
    1. Raw puerh (Sheng Puerh) becomes to dark color and the flavour becomes more intense,
    2. the color, flavour and taste of Riped Puerh are not same as aged Raw Puerh
  3. The color of leaves:
    1. Aged raw puerh (sheng puerh) will become dark grey olive green color;
    2. Riped puerh (shou puerh) is in dark brown or dark brownish copper color.
  4. The color of tea liquid:
    1. Raw puerh : in yellow series, i.e. yellowish amber, orange amber
    2. Riped puerh: Brownish red, wine red, dark red or even in liver brown

With years of storage and post fermentation, raw puerh (sheng puerh) remains as aged puerh but won’t become a riped puerh (Shou Puerh).

Liu Bao Dark Tea

Liu Bao is one unique tea in the Dark Tea (Hei Cha黑茶) type with long history that reveals the unique minority tribe culture from the Bouxcuengh.  Liu Bao is made from the Guanxi large-to-medium sized tea tree cultivar, the reason why it’s named to Liu Bao because it’s from Liu Bao country, Wuzhou, Guanxi province, China.  The average altitude of the region is between 1000-1500 meters.  The unique high mountain ecological balanced environment provides Liu Bao an excellent growing conditions, i.e. the yearly average temperature is abt. 21℃; the yearly average rainfall is abt. 1500mm, direct sunshine time is short and the tea region is almost the whole year round surrounded by cloud.

Liu Bao is made from the 1 bud with 2-3, sometimes 3-4 leaves.  Once leaves were plucked, tea farmers must finish the production in the same day.  Liu Bao is processed according to the sequence of Tea fixing -> Rolling ->  Piling (fermentation) -> repeat rolling -> drying (roasting).  How roasting method in the drying process is managed and the selection of woods are playing critical roles to the flavor and taste.

Liu Bao contains very rich Vitamin C, Polyphonel and Nicotinic Acid compounds. According to various researches, Liu Bao can aid to reduce fat, lower blood pressure, stimulate blood circulation and enhance the immunity system: 1) help digestion 2) reduce blood sugar 3) anti-aging 4) anti-bacteria.  The taste of Liu Bao is very gentle to stomach.

But it is like for all tea, consume too much and too strong tea might cause headache syndrome as tea drunk.  Therefore we highly suggest to limit the daily consumption to 3g-5g.  It’s not tea causes the health problems, it is because people don’t know how to consume correctly. Those who have sleeping problem should certainly pay extra attention on how to brew and how much to drink a day.

Tea Tasting Report 

The following taboo should also be avoided when drinking Liu Bao:

  • Carefully select the matching tea ware. Ceramic and Porcelain tea ware are good match for Liu Bao
  • Cast iron tea pot is not to be used to boil or brew tea.
  • Selecting and maintaining appropriate storage environment, avoid place where has bad odor
  • The best storage jar for dark tea should allow air permeability
  • Avoid direct sun light and pay attention to the humidity

Brewing suggestions:

  • Water temperature: 95-99°C
  • 3g-5g subject to the personal preference to taste
  • Rinse leaves with hot water
  • The soaking time: short and sexy (7-10 seconds)
  • When the taste is getting weak, then can consider to increase the soaking time.

Shape  Long twitted shape

Color 

  • Dried leaves: dark
  • Tea Liquid: rich amber red

Flavor

  • There is a very mild and distance woody note as from Camphor with the blend of Areca Catechu or kind of mint.
  • After the rinsing, besides the woody note and the coolness from the Areca Catechu, also have notes of sea wood and peat moss.

Taste

The unique character of Liu Bao is it does not have very impulsive and strong taste. It’s very easy and pleasant to drink  because of its dried sweetness. The soft and calm taste allow us to sense the depth of wisdom of acceptance and tolerance in the “Wood Element” from the Five Elements.

©copyright of Mei Lan Hsiao, Belgium Chinese Tea Arts Centre / Belgium Chinese Tea Culture Association info@teasommelier.be +32-494506899

Gu Shu Puerh

Gu Shu 古樹 is a general term for ancient aging tea trees that are older than hundreds to thousand of year old, that normally grow in nature forest and are found on the high altitude areas. It is hard to say precisely how old these tea trees are because these trees are under protection; so people can only give an estimation based on its height and size.  In Yunnan, it has already discovered more than 1,000 acres of ancient tea trees; there are 14 estates are connected together, the cover area is about 21.21 acres.  Till now the countable discovered thousands year old ancient tea trees in Yunnan are 32 trees, it is about 43% from what have been discovered in China.

Gu Shu Pu-erh tea comprises in two different categories:

  1. Transitional cultivated type : Tea trees have been cultivated long long time ago, from few hundreds to thousands of year; basically the size of tea tree is tall and strong.
  2. Ye Sheng 野生, it short means wild tea trees that were found in between nature forest and cultivated tea plantation and its DNA is related to the cultivated tea trees. Not all wild tea trees can be processed to make tea drink because many raw tea leaves are pretty bitter.  Good quality is limited.

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But Ye Shen Cha (野生茶 Pu-erh tea made from wild tea trees ) is not equivalent to Gu Shu Cha (古樹茶 Pu-erh tea made from Ancient aging tea trees), Da Shu Cha (大樹茶 Pu-erh tea made from transitional aging tea trees) or Shen Tai Ye Fang Cha (生態野放茶 Pu-erh tea made from widely cultivated aging tea trees) . Ye Shen Cha is not necessary equivalent to good quality tea.

  • Arbor type of tea trees that are divided by the age :
    • if the age of the arbor type of tea tree is younger than 100 years old, it’s called Old Tea Tree (老樹),
    • the age is between 100-300 as Big Tea Tree (大樹),
    • if it’s older than 300 years, then it is called Gu Shu (古樹)
    • The ancient cultivated arbor type of Gu Shu (栽培型古樹) , the age is more than 300 years ago and grow in a natural protected environment can produce good quality Pu-erh tea.
    • Shen Tai Ye Fang (生態野放) means these tea trees that were manually cultivated but have been abandoned for decades or few hundreds of year, the plantation is now under well organic management.
    • Ye Shen Cha (野生茶 Wild tea tree cultivar) means those tea trees that have been grown widely without being cultivated or management. Tea trees were grown from seeds, there are lots of variety.  No hair or very little hair on the young buds/leaves, the edge has less cog or none; the color of fresh raw tea leaves is in dark olive green color. There are lots of cultivars in wild tea trees, no much can be processed to make tea because of its bitter taste, the local aboriginals call it as Ku Cha (苦茶).  The wild tea contents more soap base and have mild toxic micro, can cause diarrhea. It is advised to be cautious with the consumption of this kind of Ku Cha.

When we enjoy and try to promote Pu-erh tea, it is important to establish some basic understanding before creating more confusions:

  • “Aged Pu-erh” 陳年普洱 means Pu-erh tea made from either Lao Shu (老樹) or Da Shu (大樹) or even from Ping Di (平地) that’ve been stored for long time, it can be either loose leaves, tea brick or tea cake. Can you distinguish the change of aroma and taste during the transformation? It is a surprising life-time learning.
  • Gu Shu Pu-erh” 古樹普洱 means Pu-erh tea that madefrom ancient tea trees, either from transitional cultivated tea tree or Ye Shen (Wild) tea tree cultivars. Since the growing areas of Gu Shu are spreading in pretty wide region in Yunnan, therefore, it is necessary to find out more behind the name.

3_408_244Basic check list for Pu-erh:

  1. Basic thing you need to check is:Is it a raw or ripped Pu-erh? The color, aroma and taste will reveal the truth once you have a chance to physically check on it and brew it; the change of transformation is a amazing surprisePrecise information about the growing region
  2. Is it from Ping Di (平地 lower altitude) or Gao Shan (高山 high altitude above 1000m)
  3. The quality of leaves, i.e. the single source of tea leaves or blended leaves; is it tou cha, tea cake, tea brick or loose leaves
  4. In which year it was being truly made, the condition of the wrapping paper and in-fly can reveal a lot of information already.

Like for all kind of tea, there is no better method to evaluate the tea besides checking the quality by its look (shape & color), aroma, flavor and taste.

Tea is a wonderful gift from Nature; it is a simple agricultural product but its complexity is much deeper and wider that no one can really draw the end line for exploration and learning.  The journey of tea begins from liking and appreciating tea.  Tea is a great teacher when we are willing to explore further with a opened mind and maintain a curious learning attitude.  The name or the brand is not necessary mean good quality tea, because each person might have her/his unique preferences to flavor and taste, basically what that person likes and can afford are ‘good’ tea to that person.

What is your favorite tea today?  Enjoy a peaceful tea moment.

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2001 Phoenix raw Puerh toucha

Phoenix raw Puerh toucha after 12 years of aging process, it has fine woody with mint and plum flavour.

P_20160520_114620

P_20160520_114652P_20160520_114713P_20160520_114726

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2001 Liu Bao Dark tea

Why Chinese call black4_102G0101259C tea as Red Tea (Hong Cha)? The answer is quick simple:

  1. Because the color of tea is more rich redish Amber to Brownish red instead of nearly black dark brown color.
  2. Because there is a separate tea category as Black tea (Hei Cha) in Chinese. Since the name of black tea has already been used for Red Tea (Hong Cha) in English, so the Chinese Hei Cha can also be named and known as Dark Tea.

P_20160520_120851Many people know Puerh tea from Yunnan as Dark Tea, but actually there are also other well known post-fermented Dark teas from other provinces, for example

  • Liu Bao from from Wuzhou, Guanxi
  • Fu Cha from Anhua, Hunan
  • Ya An Hei Cha from Sichuan

Why dark tea is known as black tea in Chinese? It’s simple, as you can see that the color of dried leaves is almost like black. It does not nice look shape or fine aroma like what we can notice from green tea, oolong or black tea (red tea); but you will be amazed by its flavour and taste.

All Black Tea (Dark tea) share a same unique process, that’s post-fermentation, tea can be stored for almost forever (the taste and value increased by its natural aging process) and the flavour and taste can be transformed amazingly, fine and gentle. The biggest difference of these traditional Dark Tea (Hei P_20160521_111709Cha) from Puerh is, in Puerh it is further divided in Raw and Ripped, but in other Hei Cha, there is only one, the full and post-fermented quality; some are compressed into cake or brick, and some not.  For example Liu Bao is in loose package.

  • Vision : very dried dark almost black color.  The tea color is kind of mixture of organe with copper brown; clarity and rich.
  • Flavour: no much aroma from dried leaves, but once it’s being warmed up in pot, then there is a notion of fungus with the mixture of woody and dried plum flavour
  • Taste: Mild, smooth with a notion of sweetness, easy to drink.  Due to the post fermentation, so there is no very strong after taste punch up in the mouth except the taste of sweetness and smoothness.

Brewing Suggestion:

  • 1g vs. 50ml water
  • water temperature: 95-99 Celsius
  • matching teaware: nakked ceramic teapot or porcelain gaiwan
  • Steeping: 1min. (subject to the preference of your taste)
  • Drinking : Don’t hurry up to drink the tea from your cup especially with the dark tea (black tea), the flavour is getting even more finer when the temperature drops to about 80-85 Celsius.

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