Aged & Rested

Liubao Golden Flower Brick

$38.50

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Liubao

leaf compressed into bricks
minimal Golden Flowers

 

Appearance: russet brown medium-to-large, very clean compressed-leaf Liubao with fewer-than-average twigs
Flavor: smooth, sweet, and soft, with a slight biscuit background taste
Aroma: Straightforward tea aroma with a simple stone-fruit character
Liquor: amber / ruby, with dark edging

 

Liubao Town, Cangwu County,
Guangxi Province, China

2015 Late Spring Pluck
(6-years aged)

 

This Liubao was made in 2015 and packed in large 45-kilo baskets.
The tea was stored for several years for aging and developing flavor and compressed into ‘bricks’ in 2018.
We purchased what we have today in 2019, and have been curing it since that time.

It is now ready to be drunk and/or stored well for further aging.

Being compressed, any future improvement from its curing will be slow and steady. It will continue to develop for a decade, and be delicious for probably 20 more years.

Note on Steeping Hei Cha:

 

Liubao is traditionally ‘rinsed’ before being steeped. This is done with a quick application of hot water that is poured over the tea in the gaiwan or teapot and then immediately discarded. The rinse water is not drunk – its purpose is to help the leaves begin to open during steeping.  Use  additional appropriately-heated water for the 1st steeping and subsequent re-steepings.

 

Western-style steeping in a medium-large sized teapot 25-32 ounces:

 

Use 2 teaspoons (3 grams) of tea per 6 oz water
Use water that is 200°F- 210°F
Rinse the tea in your teapot with a quick application of hot water
Immediately discard this liquid
Add additional hot water to start the 1st steeping
Steep for 3-4 minutes
Re-steep this leaf 1-2 additional times

 

Asian-style steeping in a small teapot under 10 oz or in a gaiwan:

 

Use 4 teaspoons (6 grams) of tea per 6 oz water
Use water that is 200°F-210°F
Rinse the tea in your teapot with a quick application of hot water
Immediately discard this liquid
Add additional hot water to start the 1st steeping
Steep for 25 seconds
Increase the steeping time an additional 5-10 seconds with each re-steep
Re-steep this leaf 4-6 times or more

Coming soon!

Liubao is from Liubao Town in Cangwu County, Guangxi province, where this tea has been in production since the Qing Dynasty Jiaqing period ( 1796-1820).

 

Traditionally, Liubao was (and still is) packed into bamboo baskets, stuffed into lengths of fresh bamboo or pressed into small flat discs of tea called beeng cha.

 

The leaf used for Liubao canbe small. medium or large and is usually thick and rough looking. Some tea bush twigs are present, too.

 

One of the unique features of Liubao is that the leaf is given a shorter fermentation period in the tea factory than shou Pu-erh – 7 to 10 days compared to 30 to 40+ days. Because of this short fermentation time, Liubao is sweeter, milder and pleasantly aromatic.

 

Tea drinkers who find shou Pu-erh too strong for their liking may find Liubao to be just right. In the cup the tea is rich, sweet, flavorsome and mellow, and can be described as combining the best qualities of a rich mellow China black tea with just a touch of shou Pu-erh earthiness and sass.

This Liubao from 2015 shows a slight sprinkling of elusive golden flowers; however, as you undoubtedly are aware, not all Liubao shows its golden ‘flower’ particles. Due to its having been compressed, a brick often shows more golden particles than its loose leaf ‘brother’, but not always. This tea is from several large (45kg!) baskets of loose leaf Liubao that was aged nicely for three years in a warehouse in eastern China. The original baskets were opened, compressed into ‘bricks’ in 2018, and the tea was made available for curing. Fortunately, we knew of it, so some came our way in 2019.

Everything about this Liubao is delightful – the color and the aroma of the leaf promises good flavor in the cup, and the tea liquor does not disappoint. To be honest, we have never been able to really tell what effect any visible golden flowers have had on any Liubao that we have ever tasted over the years. When they form in the tea during the post-fermentation time in storage it is fun and interesting, but it is far more usual that they do not, or, as with this tea, that you really need to look to find them! Regardless, this is a happy, well-stored tea.

Perhaps in a similar manner to the the un-seen but vital work that bacterial fermentation brings to Pu-erh, the fungal fermentation that entices the formation of golden flowers in Luibao adds richness and depth of flavor and a character that is similar to, but different than, Pu-erh. Without having a direct taste comparison of a batch of tea with the golden flowers to some of the same batch that did not form them, it is impossible to know how they affect the taste.

Nevertheless, the liquor is juicy and full-in-the-mouth without being heavy; and this tea is very smooth. The taste has the delicate suggestion of sweet dark plums, sugar-cane, cacao nibs and caramelized flavors that appear and disappear with each sip.

This tea has some well-balanced fermented taste, that did, in fact, remind us of a nice shou Pu-erh; but without any hint of the often off-putting ‘wo dui’ flavor. Full and intense but clear and clean – each sip lingered nicely on the palate. This aged tea has more aroma and aftertaste than our younger Liubao cakes or our other loose-leaf Liubao, and is quite a treat.

The color of the liquor is a lovely deep amber/ruby -brown, which fades a bit with the flavor after about the 4th infusion. The wet leaf glistens in the teapot and the condition of the leaf is very nice.

A delicious tea for drinking now with our tea friends or for sipping slowly on a lazy afternoon. This tea will continue to age at home under proper storage and will gain even more mature depth of flavor with that further aging.

NOTE: Eurotium cristatum or ‘golden flowers’ are often found in Fu Zhuan and Liu Bao tea, but rarely in Pu-erh. Such is the unique nature of different Hei Cha – the raw tea bush materials, the climate and the unique steps of the production and post-fermentation of each tea. When the conditions all line up in harmony, golden flowers can develop within the tea. They are also known to appear, disappear, and re-appear, etc…so ‘here today / gone tomorrow / repeat’ should be your reasonable expectation!
Taxonomy = (Fungi> >Ascomycota>Eurotiomycetes>Eurotiales>Trichocomaceae>Eurotium> Eurotium cristatum)

 

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