Aged & Rested

Supreme Aged Shou (fermented) Pu-erh Nuggets

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Shou (fermented) Pu-erh

 

Nuggets Shou Pu-erh

 

Appearance: classic manufacture – cordovan-colored, evenly-sized, large leaf Pu-erh ‘nuggets’
Flavor: 12-year aging yields smooth, soft, & focused ‘forest-floor’ characteristics
Aroma: earthy & complex aromatics
Liquor: richly dark & opaque liquor tinged with burnt orange

 

Xishuangbanna Prefecture
Yunnan Province, China

2009 Spring Pluck
(12-years aged)

Note on Steeping Pu-erh:

 

Rather than deciding to make a pot of tea or 12oz or ‘a single cup of tea, ‘Pu-erh Nuggets’ require a type of ‘reverse measure’. It is important to measure the leaf (nuggets) first and then determine how much water will be needed to steep whatever measure of leaf that you therefore have. This may be more or less than you intended but the good news is that Pu-erh leaf, like oolong leaf, can be re-dried and used again at a later date, or much liquid can be steeped and then drunk over time from the fridge. It is also excellent used in gravy or broth for stews and when wet-roasting or steaming.

Pu-erh is traditionally ‘rinsed’ before being steeped. This is done with a quick application of hot water that is poured over the tea and then immediately discarded. The rinse water is not drunk – its purpose is to help the leaves begin to open during steeping especially when the leaf has been compressed as this leaf has been.

Use additional, appropriately-heated water for the first ‘true’ steeping and all subsequent re-steepings.

 

Western-style steeping in a medium-large sized teapot 20-32 ounces:

 

Use 2.25 teaspoons (3 grams) of tea per 6 oz water (see note above)
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 to 4 minutes
Re-steep this leaf 1 to 2 additional times

 

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

 

Use 4.5 to 5 teaspoons (6 grams) of tea per 6 oz water (see note above)
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 to 10 seconds with each re-steep
Re-steep this leaf 4 to 6 times (or more!)

 

Unlike most other tea, Pu-erh is made from mao cha and not directly from fresh leaf.

 

So what is mao cha? Mao cha is a simple ‘rough’ manufacture of leaf materials that consists of:

 

plucking
withering (indoors and or outdoors)
firing
rolling & shaping
sun-drying

 

Mao cha is considered both finished tea and half-made tea. It is essentially young sheng Pu-erh and is drunk by villagers in Yunnan as well as being the leaf that all Pu-erh is made from. Mao cha is simple to manufacture but is complex in its diversity. It can be made from the fresh leaf of one tea garden or be a blend of leaf from an entire tea village or from several tea producing villages within one county.

 

Mao cha can be stored and aged after it is made, or it can be a blend that is comprised of aged mao cha from different years. It is found in a variety of leaf sizes, too, depending on the location of the tea trees and on the type of local cultivars (size of the leaf)  the mao cha was made from. Mao cha is a great example of the effects of terroir.

 

As you can see, the possibilities and resulting flavors of mao cha are almost endless. All of these variables result in a staggering choice of mao cha for Pu-erh producers to work with.

 

 

These randomly-sized ‘chunks’ are village-made, irregularly-shaped nuggets of shou Pu-erh tea from several high mountain village production pavilions in Yunnan Province. These nuggets form as a result of the fermenting process used to make shou Pu-erh. As the leaf in the fermenting piles is turned regularly to insure a consistent taste result, bits of leaf clump together and form these ‘nuggets.’ The nuggets are pulled out, shaped and processed as their own entity.

These larger-than-usual nuggets are from a batch of large-sized, spring leaf from tea trees classified as being over 100 years old . The tea liquor is wonderfully rich and smooth and possesses the familiar earthiness of a good shou Pu-erh. Ancient tree Pu-erh leaf has a characteristically deep and focused flavor, due to the maturity of the leaves on these aged old trees.

This Pu-erh is ready to drink and enjoy, or it can be kept for several years in a good environment. Keep a few in your pocket and hand them out to new friends you meet everyday. They are perfect for travel or camping.

Note:
Shou Pu-erh is also known as ‘cooked’ or ‘ripe’ Pu-erh, a reference to the wo dui fermentation process that the leaf undergoes in the tea factory

 

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