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Liubao 2005 Beeng Cha

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Hei Cha (fermented)

 

Liubao Beeng Cha

 

Appearance: uniformly dark, finely chopped leaf
Flavor: light wood, smoke and mushroom flavor
Aroma: delicate wo-dui process aroma and flavor
Liquor: coppery-brown colored liquor

 

Guangxi Wuzhou Tea Factory
Liubao Town, Cangwu County
Guangxi Province, China

Pressed in 2005 from Spring tea materials
Stored until 2007

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 10oz 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

 

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 packed into bamboo baskets, stuffed into lengths of fresh bamboo or pressed into small flat cakes known as beeng cha. Cakes of Liubao are small in diameter and thick. They are smooth on the sides, have a flat bottom with a very small indent, and a slightly raised top.

 

The leaf used for Liubao is thick and rough looking, and some tea bush twigs are present, too. The cake is uniformly dark in color without much variation in leaf size or tone. The appearance of a new or old Liubao cake can be quite similar; in fact, the paper wrapper on an old Liubao is apt to show its age more than the disc of tea.

 

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

 

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 is a compressed disc version of this tea made by the Wuzhou Tea Factory under their TF Three Cranes Brand. Liubao is an old style tea – it is an example of the historic border tea that was sent from China to nomadic people living in the border lands located north and west of China. We love it’s straightforward, earnest style and appearance.

Liubao is a simple, easy-to-like, tasty tea with light oxidation and light fermentation. Once the tea is made, loose-leaf Liubao is packed into 45-kilo bamboo baskets for storage and aging, but is then packed into smaller baskets of about 1.5 kilos of tea for retail sale.  The baskets allow the tea to continue developing and aging as air-exchange is essential for the tea to breath. If the tea is to be compressed into discs this occurs after the storage and aging.

This Liubao was manufactured in 2005 and released in 2007. The tea is light and sweet – with just a moderate amount of 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.  The second steeping brought out a lovely, clean flavor of forest floor and mushroom. Subsequent steepings bring out more of a rich umami quality which 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 tobacco, cocoa, and moss.

The cake has been given tight compression which makes it firm and dense. The leaf can be broken off in bits and pieces and crumbles with a tea pick or tea knife. It is essential to give Liubao a quick rinse with hot water before the initial 1st 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 in water.

This is an excellent Liubao for those who like a little age on their tea or for those who want to explore the flavor of this interesting type of tea.