These Liubao mini beeng cha (100 grams each) were pressed in 2015 and released in 2017. The raw material was plucked in 2013 and the blended mao cha is comprised of Grade 1 & Grade 3 leaf (Leaf Grade in Liubao manufacture refers to the size of the mao cha, not any quality designation). They were manufactured for sale under the TF Three Cranes Brand by the Wuzhou Tea Factory, one of the most highly-regarded Liubao producers in Guangxi Province.
The tea is light and sweet – with a moderate amount of the ‘wo dui’ taste and aroma. We noted a little woodsy, smoky flavor in the liquor, which, coupled with the smooth body, gives this tea a flavor that is slightly reminiscent of a tippy Zheng Shan (Tong Mu). The second steeping brought out a lovely, clean flavor of forest floor and sweet mushroom. Subsequent steepings bring out more of a rich umami quality that shows the tea’s chewy mouth-feel.
This tea is clear and bright throughout – no muddy qualities or funky tastes. As the leaf opened during subsequent steepings, the flavor gave us hints of rich pipe tobacco, cacao, and there is moss and damp sweet grass in the aromatic volatiles.
The cake has been given tight compression which makes it firm and dense (and slow to change over time). The leaf can be broken off in bits & pieces and it crumbles into useable segments with a tea pick or tea knife. It is essential to give Liubao a quick rinse with hot water before the initial steeping to rinse away the crumbled bits. We steeped this tea 3 times and it could have yielded many more rounds of good tea drinking. Similar to a shou Pu-erh ‘iron cake’ (tight compression) these Liubao cakes have very little aroma until the leaf is steeped.
This is an excellent Liubao for those who like a little age on their tea or for those who want to explore the benefits of mellowing this tea further at home. We would highly recommend purchasing several of these mini cakes, in order to observe the changes that occur in the aging.