Leaf Type: Shu (ripe) Pu Erh
Where to Buy: Dragon Tea House
Lao Cha Tou is formed during the fermentation process. The leaves under heat and pressure will clump together at the bottom of the pile and form nuggets. Cha Tou are little tea nuggets that are a wonderful byproduct of the fermentation process of Pu-Erh tea. This tea can be infused over 15 times easily.
Learn more about this tea here.
This was a random purchase from a recent order that arrived today. The pictures show a Pu Erh in little nuggets and the difference in fermentation sounded interesting enough to persuade me into a purchase. Aged tea always interests me; as I think of years gone by and what has happened in that space of time and what the tea must have seen. Though this states aged it does not say a year per say but on the back of the packaging label it say’s that it’s from the 90’s.
Opening the packet I am now face to face with small Pu Erh nuggets, they are highly reflective with a lot of golden tips present. A cluster of earthy brown tones in one little nugget. They are compressed quite tightly, similar to a cake. Each nugget is unique in size and shape but they all contain the same level of golden tips.
On sniff-spection I can detect damp wood, earth, smoke and musk tones. Truthfully it’s also perhaps a little fishy but I think that is down to the age of the tea.
I will be using 3 tea pieces (roughly 4-5g) in a 200ml glass gongfu teapot vessel with boiling water. Usually I like to dedicate a lot of time for Pu Erh but I only have a couple of hours before I have to help my parents with something, so for that reason this will be across six steeps.
Rinse time of 10 seconds due to the size of the nuggets.
First Steep – 1 minute
The nuggets have not broken apart but after the rinse they are soft and giving off more colour. The tea liquid is cloudy red brown with a sweet and earthy scent. Similar to it’s raw scent but much sweeter and thankfully not fishy.
The first few sips reveal a soft and creamy base with delicate wood and earth notes. There is some dryness but not much. As subtle as it is the creamy effect is a wonderful surprise and very easy to drink. The after taste was earthy and dry clay like.
Second Steep – 2 minutes
The nuggets are still rather firm but they are softening up, I could easily pull them apart if I desired to. The scent is smokier but still rather soft.
Flavour is still soft but stronger than the first steep. The sweetness has toned down but the cream persists through the light wood, earth and smoke elements. The after taste is dry with a wood flavour. Also an element of malt that reminds me of golden tips.
Third Steep – 3 minutes
The nuggets are now breaking apart slowly but surely.
This steep is still creamy but the musky earth tone is peaking through a little more than the previous steeps. It’s now a more traditional style Pu Erh but it’s aged very nicely.
Towards the end of this steep it had some sourness coming through toward the after taste which lingered with the musk.
Fourth Steep – 4 minutes
The sweetness has come forward again among the cream, it’s almost honeyed. But the musky earth is still dry and slightly sour in contrast. It still reminds me of golden tip black tea but much more subtle.
Fifth Steep – 5 minutes
The sourness has softened and again the tea is losing the slight thickness that it began to get around the third steep. The cream is still the main flavour at this point.
Sixth Steep – 6 minutes
This final steep resembles the first, expect there is an edge of bitterness in the after taste at this point. The cream is the only notable flavour that is left.
Conclusion: It’s subtle in strength but the cream and sweet wood notes carry this into an easy to drink Shu. I prefer Sheng usually for the creamy taste but this equals a very creamy Sheng but without the grass and floral notes on the side. Also the smoothness of this worked in it’s favour for me.
Given that this tea boasts it can be steeped over 15 times I think they must mean via gaiwan as it started to lose colour and flavour around the fifth steep.
Next time I may try and add another nugget and see if it changes once it’s slightly stronger, but the colour of the tea was dark enough and I believe it’s just one that needs to be experimented with. Perhaps a gaiwan steep would bring out more flavour, but it could be even softer. I will try and experiment another time.
For now it was a nice aged Shu and I’m glad I tried it. Also I think the steeping method was probably the best thing for my first try given that it’s so mild. If you are new to aged Pu Erh then I recommend this one as a starting point.
Leaf Type: Pu-erh Tea
Where to Buy: ES Green
This cooked(ripe) loose-leaf pu-erh tea has been produced in 2005. Slim tea buds are covered with gold fuzz. Neat and clean.
Learn more about this tea here.
2005 Shu Tuo-Phoenix Old Tea Tree Tea from ESGreen is a ripe, cooked loose-leaf pu-erh tea from 2005. For these tea leaves you will see slim tea buds that are covered with gold fuzz. The leaves from the 2005 Shu Tuo-Phoenix Old Tea Tree Tea from ESGreen are neat and clean as is the flavor of the offering.
Even though this 2005 Shu Tuo-Phoenix Old Tea Tree Tea from ESGreen smells a bit like wet wood and old cigars once infused it was quite pleasant to the palate! This infused very dark but also held up to multiple infusions, too. After a few moments at room temperature the flavor seems to peak at it’s flavor rush to the taste buds.
Pu-erh teas – it seems – I either love them – or hate them. This one is the first one I put in the middle category because I do like it quite a bit but also can’t say I LOVE it and have it have it every day. It is an offering to linger on – to take your time with – to appreciate and enjoy the time and artisan-ship that went into it. It may not be for everyone but if it is for you then by all means…celebrate it! I, for one, will have another cup!
Leaf Type: Pu-Erh
Where to Buy: Canton Tea Co.
Our own brand mini tuo cha (nests) are made from authentic chopped puerh leaves from Yunnan, not from the fannings or tea dust as most tuo cha are. We chose a maocha (unprocessed leaf) that has been aged for 4 years, giving the tea a smooth, mellow quality. The leaves are pure Te Ji (aka Tippy Grade), which give a sweeter taste. Brew quickly with hot water in a small pot for up to eight infusions.
Learn more about this tea here.
There aren’t many days in the year when I wake up and crave shu, but today is definitely one. My choice of tea this morning was completely obvious, but I decided to go for a new-to-me Pu-erh rather than an old familiar favourite. I’m still on a sharp learning curve when it comes to Pu-erh, so trying a new one is always exciting! This Pu-erh is presented as a Tuo Cha, compressed into a tiny cake shape and individually wrapped. I’m brewing western style this morning, so I placed the Tuo Cha into my infuser basket, and gave it a 30 second rinse in boiling water. Now we’re ready to go!
My first steep was for 1 minute in fresh boiling water. The Tuo Cha has more or less held its shape, although it’s fluffed up a little. The liquor is a bright red-brown, the scent strongly earthy with just a hint of fishiness. I expected the flavour to be quite pungent, but it’s actually fairly mild. The main flavour is compost – a delicious, soft, warm earthiness. It’s incredibly smooth and almost a little creamy tasting. I’m picking up a hint of forest floor in the aftertaste, with the emphasis on wet leaves.
My second steep was for 40 seconds in boiling water. The Tuo Cha has now disintegrated, and the resulting liquor is a much stronger, darker affair – a deep black-brown. The scent is again strongly earthy, but the fishiness has now vanished. To taste, this one remains smooth and mellow. I was half expecting an increase in the strength of flavour, but that’s not happened. The earthy, compost-like notes are more clearly defined, and the creaminess has gone, but there’s still an aftertaste of dampness and leaf mulch that’s a lot more pleasant to taste in practice than it sounds.
My third steep was for 40 seconds in boiling water. The liquor this time has regained a little of the reddish tint it had initially, being a deep red-brown verging on black. The scent is still earthy, but this time with more of a “damp” scent upfront. To taste, this is again smooth and mellow. I’m noticing only very slight variations in the overall flavour, which is still earthy and a little damp-tasting. The mulchy, leafy notes are slightly less present this time around, but I’d still describe the main flavour as “compost”. One thing I did notice is that this steep released a significant quantity of sediment, which has settled at the bottom of my mug.
My fourth steep was back to 1 minute in boiling water. The liquor this time shows little change from the last steep, still a deep red-brown verging on black. The “damp” scent is a touch stronger, with a little of the earthiness starting to recede. Smooth and mellow are words I’d use again to sum up this infusion. The flavour is slightly lighter than previous steeps, but still earthy and reminiscent of compost and wet leaves. The creaminess from the first steep has started to edge back in.
Another minute for the fifth steep, again in boiling water. The liquor colour is noticeably lighter this time, more of a red-brown again. The scent is lighter, too – still damp and earthy, but less so than previously. The flavour is slowly deteriorating, too. It’s still compost, but it’s gradually becoming less intense. It’s smooth and creamy, and a pleasure to drink.
My sixth, and final, steep was for 1.5 minutes in boiling water. The liquor is noticeably lighter this time – more of a red-orange. The scent has lost most of its earthiness, and is now primarily “damp” and wet leaf. The flavour is noticeably lighter and much more gentle this time. I can taste wet leaf still, and a hint of something that’s almost menthol – a fresh and cooling edge.
I stopped here largely because I ran out of time. I’m sure there’d be life left in this one for at least a few more steeps, though. The flavour is noticeably less than it was, but it’s be nice to see a little more of the creaminess and menthol notes that were present during the last couple of steeps. I would have liked to have seen a little more flavour variation in earlier steeps, because by the end of the day it had become a little samey and one note. I enjoyed my time with this tea, though, and it’s a shu I’d certainly consider purchasing in the future. I liked that it wasn’t too pungent to begin with – sometimes that’s the hardest hurdle for me to overcome when I’m drinking Pu-erh. It’s usually always worth it for the later steeps, though. This would make a good introductory Pu-erh, or a soild choice if you’re looking for strong compost or earthy flavours. It’s a thorough “well done” to Canton Tea Co.!
Leaf Type: Pu-erh
Where to Buy: Teavivre
This Ripe Pu-erh Cake Teavivre choose is from the representative Pu-erh production area Fengqing. Fengqing is the original place of the world-wide famous Dian Hong Tea. And it is also a classic place of Yunnan Pu-erh. It is a place in Lingcang which is one of the four famous Pu-erh production areas. The taste of Fengqing Pu-erh is mellow and sweet, deeper than Pu-erh in other production area. And it usually has the flowery flavor of Dian Hong Tea. The tea leaves used to make this Ripened Tribute Pu-erh Cake Tea are all pure leaves hand-picked from 50 to 100 years old Large-leaf Arbor Tea Trees.
Learn more about this tea here.
This Fengqing Ripened Tribute Pu-erh Cake Tea from Teavivre is a really lovely pu-erh. It’s a delightfully mild tea – very smooth and sweet!
To brew this tea, I grabbed my gaiwan. I broke pieces of the cake off into my gaiwan with a knife and eyeballed the measurement until it looked like about a bamboo scoop of tea. Then I poured enough hot water (180°F) to cover the leaves and let it steep for 15 seconds and then I strained off the liquid and discarded it. (The rinse!) Then I filled the gaiwan with more water and let it steep for 45 seconds.
The aroma is a little loam-y but I’m not getting a strong earthy flavor, which I’m very happy about. What little earthiness I taste is more like a mushroom than it is like ‘earth.’ Yay! The flavor is sweet, like dates and honey. I’m also getting an interesting contrast to the sweetness, it almost tastes ‘salty’ but without tasting briny or fish-like, it’s almost as if someone might have sprinkled a couple of grains of salt into my cup.
It’s a remarkably smooth tea with no indication of astringency or bitterness. As I continue to sip, I pick up on notes of leather.
Before I knew it, that first cup was gone!
The second cup was a bit more earthy in flavor than the first, tasting a bit more like the loam notes that I smell. Still pleasantly sweet, I notice the notes of leather starting to develop, and I’m also picking up on notes of raw bittersweet cacao. I’m not getting any of that contrasting salt note that I noticed in the first cup. The flavor has deepened and intensified from the first – it’s as if they’re two totally different teas!
Later infusions were less earthy, it seemed like that second cup was the earthiest of the bunch and then after that cup, the earthy notes began to wane. I think the third and fourth cups were my favorite, the flavors were deep yet mellow with notes of dark chocolate, dates, and honey. I picked up on a mid-note of leather with an undertone of mushroom.
A very pleasant cup … oh-so-smooth!
Leaf Type: Pu-erh
Where to Buy: White Two Tea
The 2000 Chocolate Mini Shu Puer bricks are so named for their small shape, rather than their flavor, which is more of a fruity sweetness. Each tin contains 100 grams of tea, which brews up dark and smooth. We recommend breaking the bricks apart and giving them a rinse, as some still have very tight compression and take awhile to open up.
Learn more about this tea here.
These little Mini tea cakes do look a little bit like a square of chocolate! They don’t really smell like it though. Dry, the aroma is earthy. The brewed liquid has a softer scent, still earthy but the aroma is not quite as strong.
To brew this, I grabbed my gaiwan! I broke the brick off into layers with a knife – this is a very tightly compressed brick! Using 195°F water, I did a 15 second rinse and discarded the liquid, and then I filled the gaiwan with more hot water and let it steep for 30 seconds. Ordinarily, I would steep it for 45 seconds but after 30 seconds, the liquid was quite dark so I decided to go ahead and strain off the tea at 30 seconds.
The flavor is sweet! Just as the description above suggests, the flavor has a fruity sweetness. I taste notes of sweet plum and even a hint of peach. The sweetness is profound, with notes of molasses along with the sweet fruit tones.
The flavor isn’t really chocolate-y. There are notes of earth – but they are far more subtle than the aroma of the dry leaf and even than the brewed tea might lead you to think. It’s a gentle earthiness that evokes thoughts of mushroom. It’s a very smooth tasting tea with no astringency or bitterness. It has a pleasant mouthfeel.
It’s a really enjoyable pu-erh.
And of course, with a pu-erh, I’m treated to many wonderful infusions! The second infusion I steeped for just 30 seconds as well, and it was a very deep, full taste. Very mellow! In later infusions, the earthy flavors developed and I started to pick up on some woodsy flavors that evoked thoughts of the damp wooded areas up here in the Pacific Northwest.
The plum and peach notes seemed to subside a little bit, or maybe I should say that the fruit flavors developed into more of a date and fig flavor with notes of dark raisin. I liked the way these sweeter fruit flavors tasted with the notes of molasses. It was quite an enjoyable experience.
A really nice tea with which to spend an afternoon!