Zhenyuan Sheng (un-fermented) Pu-erh

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Sheng (un-fermented) Pu-erh

 

Zhenyuan County Sheng Pu-erh

 

7-years aged

 

Appearance: sun-withered, beautiful ruddy-brown needle-shaped leaf
Flavor: complex but accessible flavor of light wood and camphor
Aroma: heady but light and clean aroma w/ hints of menthol
Liquor: dark amber colored liquor with copper-colored highlights

 

Zhenyuan Yi, Hani and Lahu Autonomous County
Zhenyuan High Mountain Tea Harvesting Area
Pu-erh (Simao) Prefecture
Yunnan Province, China

2009 Late Spring

Note on Steeping Pu-erh:

 

Mao cha 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 25-32 oz teapot:

 

Not recommended

 

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

 

Use 1.5 Tablespoons (3 grams) of tea per 6 oz water
Use water that is 185°-195°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 30 seconds
Add additional hot water and steep 2nd infusion for 40 seconds
Increase the steeping time an additional 5-10 seconds with each infusion
Expect to re-steep this leaf  3-4 times

 

For best enjoyment, this tea should be steeped short or Asian-style. We recommend the following:

one 30 second 1st infusion
one 30 second 2nd infusion
add 5/10 seconds to each additional infusion

 

Tasting Notes:
Water temperature is very important – not too hot! Keep the temperature around 190F for best results.
After the initial rinse, Tea Trekker’s Zhenyuan County loose-leaf sheng Pu-erh is ready to be steeped. It does not need the ‘initial steeping’ that some Pu-erh requires. The 1st steep is very representative of what is to follow – a mild sneak preview of sorts.

This 1st steeping of an Asian-style preparation should be stopped at about 30 seconds.
2nd steep – incredible mouthfeel and deep copper color – this tea’s well-developed style starts to show
3rd steep – color and flavor hold, and the aroma intensifies.
4th – the aroma is the tease here – deeply earthy and woody, and the camphor element is showing most – but will diminish from this point on.
5th and on – this leaf will continue to release good flavor for many more steepings – depending on the amount of time ‘in the water’. Assume another ten minutes of steeping ability, so you might be able to steep these leaves 8 – 10 more times

I think this tea tastes much better when steeped with slightly cooled water (190F) and then I cool the steeped liquor to a warm temperature and drink it at that temp – not cold but cool.

rjh

 

Coming soon!

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 forms of Pu-erh are made from. Mao cha is simple to manufacture but is complex in its diversity. Mao cha 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 new 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 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 available mao cha from the various tea villages for Pu-erh producers to work with.

We have recently purchased an assortment of loose-leaf sheng Pu-er from various production areas because we think that these teas should become more well known and available to tea enthusiasts.

Sheng Pu-erh offers the opportunity to really taste the essence of the tea trees and the place (terroir) without processing technique getting in the way and adding to the taste of the leaf.

If you are a fan of Chinese white tea, light oolongs such as Bai Hao, or soft and creamy Yunnan black teas, sheng Pu-erh would be a great–tasting light tea addition to your repertoire of tastes

Sheng Pu-erh is essentially the same as mao cha, the raw material used to press sheng Pu-erh cakes. Sheng Pu-erh has many tastes derived from the location of the tea forest (terroir), the age of the tea trees, etc.

Tea Trekker’s Zhenyuan County loose-leaf sheng Pu-erh has a flavor that is woodsy, but with a clean, fresh style. The steeped leaf has an intriguing hint of the camphor wood taste. More commonly noticed as an aromatic, both in cooking and incense, this characteristic brings a complexity and drying quality to the overall flavor of this tea. Elements of this naturally clean and slightly mentholated characteristic are also released in the aroma of this tea.

This loose-leaf sheng Pu-erh is made from fresh leaf material that was plucked from old-bush tea trees on the hillsides around Zhenyuan County. Politically, this region is under the administration of the Yizu-Hani-Lahu Autonomous County and the ethnic tribes living there who are responsible for nurturing and protecting both ancient tea trees and newer tea bush plantings of large-leaf tea bushes.

This leaf is similar in composition to what is harvested in other parts of Simao and throughout Yunnan Province for use in pressing sheng Pu-erh tea cakes (beeng cha.) This section of the Mekong River Valley (referred to as the Lancang River in China) in Yunnan Province has micro-climates that influence the characteristics of flavor and aroma that are so desired in the finished Pu-erh.

The fresh leaf undergoes a short sun-withering and a quick de-enzyming step (kill-green) in a tea firing pan. The leaf is then rolled and twisted by hand to generate internal cell changes within each tea leaf. Finally, the leaf is given a partial drying in the shade (to allow the residual moisture to begin natural fermentation) and then final drying in the sun.

This tea has a light, sweet flavor, and is un-fermented. It is delicious drunk plain as an easy-going, refreshing, and light tea for easy sipping. Most commonly served at room temperature, sheng Pu-erh can be  even more refreshing than iced tea when served slightly chilled.

Harvested from old-growth tea bushes in 2009, this tea has been stored in superb conditions. It has gained just enough age to have given up its youthful, woodsy astringency. You can certainly drink it now, or put some aside for the future.
Interested in cooking with tea? Mao cha can be used to make a flavorful stock for a hearty vegetable soup that might feature kale, cabbage, beans, mushrooms or squash!

Note:
Sheng Pu-erh is also known as ‘un-cooked’ or ‘raw’ Pu-erh. It is the un-fermented version of Pu-erh.Sheng Pu-erh is un-fermented when young but microbial activity on the leaf will allow the tea to slowly ferment over time when the tea is kept under good storage conditions. Sheng Pu-erh can be drunk now or stored for years to allow a slow microbial transformation of the tea into something rich and full. Similar to young wines that will, over time, tranform into much more substantial wines, Sheng Pu-erh is prized by collectors and tea enthusiasts for this ability to age and transform over time.

Tea Trekker’s Zhenyuan County loose-leaf sheng Pu-erh is very high in positive chi, so may cause flushing and a pleasant warmth emanating from the belly.

Want to know more?

New Tea, Rested Tea & Aged Tea