Cha Tao (Aged Old Tree)
Shu Puer Cake 357g 2017
Cha Tao is an exceptionally smooth and clean handmade shu puer made using a new patented small batch ripening technique. Its high quality leaves were harvested from old growth tea trees in Cangyuan County in Lincang and yield an excellent rich and complex brew.
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- Tea Origin
- Cangyuan County, Lincang City, Yunnan Province, China
- Tea Bush
- Yunnan Daye Quntizhong (Yunnan Large Leaf Heirloom Tea Tree), Camellia taliensis
- Tea Master
- Chen Keke and Li Dong
- Harvest Time
- Picking Standard
- One bud, three leaves
An exceptionally smooth and clean handmade shu puer made using a new patented small batch ripening technique. Its high quality leaves were harvested from old growth tea trees in Cangyuan County in Lincang. Made from both the usual Yunnan large leaf tea plant as well as the rare ancestral Camellia taliensis trees that grow in this region (the same plant our Laoshu Dianhong is made from). An exemplary tea demonstrating the excellent rich and complex character shu puer can achieve under skilled, refined processing.
A refined new microbial ripening technique for shu puer
Normally, making shu puer requires a very large quantity of tea leaves. Depending on the size of the batch being made, producers use 10-20 tons of leaves all piled together. Piling the leaves this way creates heat as the leaves ferment, providing an excellent growing environment for microbes of all kinds. But, this process that gives shu puer its darkness and smoothness is risky because it is difficult to control the microbial growth as the piled leaves ripen, which can create unpleasant earthy or fishy flavors. It typically requires 6 or more months.
However, Dr. Chen Keke’s world-leading and patented new technology for ripening mao cha into shu puer produces a much cleaner and more carefully controlled flavor in the tea in a much quicker process that only takes 3 months, all while using only a few tons of leaves at a time. This way, it is easier to adjust the temperature and moisture levels in the pile and isolate the specific microbes that drive the ripening process. This unique technique involves introducing a patented blend of beneficial microbes to the leaf pile.
With this nuanced and precise level of control of their development in the fermenting tea, tea makers can cultivate the beneficial microbes and discourage the growth of those that create unwanted flavors. This also makes it easier to avoid harboring potentially harmful mold pathogens. Using this method reduces the risk of wasting tea leaves if the ripening process goes awry. It also reduces the proportion of tea in any batch that inevitably becomes over-ripened. Furthermore, this preserves the more subtle flavors and high nutrition levels of the original leaf.
Good shu puer starts with good mao cha
The spring tea leaves for this puer tea were harvested from old growth tea trees in Cangyuan County on the Chinese border with Myanmar. While many of the tea trees in this area are belong to the large leaf Camellia sinensis var. assamica tea tree variety common throughout Yunnan, some of them are Camellia taliensis, which has a softer character and less caffeine and is the ancestor of C. sinensis. People in this area will harvest from both to make this particular puer tea.
Tea makers fry fresh tea leaves by hand in the wok at about 200°C (390°F) for 8-10 minutes. After that they are kneaded into long, twisted strips by hand and then sun-dried into mao cha. Such high quality forest tea mao cha such as this is usually saved to make into sheng puer. However, advances in processing shu puer have made it possible to make shu puer in smaller batches with lower risk of wasting those excellent leaves. Makers can now use more expensive leaf material to make shu puer, with remarkable results. For the Cha Tao puer cake, the mao cha is taken to Youle in southern Yunnan, where the humid climate and clean air provide a better environment for making shu puer.
Cangyuan County’s old forest tea trees
Cangyuan County borders old Pu’er City to the east and Myanmar to the west and south. The area has a long history of planting tea and as a result has plentiful old growth tea trees. The region’s forest tea tree resources stretch across borders, and the local tea-making families have a tradition of purchasing fresh tea from their neighbors across the border to make puer. Most people in Cangyuan are part of the Wa ethnic minority, a transnational ethnic group that lives partly in China and partly in Myanmar.
No chemical fertilizer, pesticide, or herbicide was used in the production of this tea. Click here to read more about our promise to fair trade and the environment.