Ma Guo Tou (Caravan Leader)

Shu Puer Cake 400g 2012

A carefully crafted shu puer made with young one bud and one leaf pluckings processed slowly in a 90-day ripening process for a gold medal winning clean, deep, and rich flavor. A rich red colored infusion with a lightly fruity and lingering finish.



Out of stock

Tea Origin
Jing Gu County, Yunnan Province, China

Tea Bush
Yunnan Large Leaf Tea Tree (Yunnan Da Ye Zhong)

Tea Master
Wang Xi Qun

Harvest Time

Picking Standard
One bud, one leaf

This shu puer cake was made from tea buds and tender leaves (grades 1 and 2) which were fermented two months before being pressed into cakes. The creators of this tea, Mr. Hu Hao Ming, a 3rd generation tea producer, and Wang Xi Qun like to source the mao cha (uncompressed green puer tea leaves) by themselves. By combination of the leaves selected for this cake, and the closely controlled fermentation processing, this cake is carefully crafted to have less earthiness and more sweetness.

Ma Guo Tou means the leader of a horse train, which was the method for transport of puer in ancient times. The leaders of these horse trains, naturally, were inclined to drink the very best tea available. As result, these Ma Guo Tou were highly regarded as judges of a tea’s tea quality. The picture on the cake’s wrapper is a depiction of Wang Xi Qun’s face, who was himself a Ma Guo Tou back in the 1970s. His job was to source tea deep in the forests, and make sure the horses and workers were transported safely from place to place. Wang Xi Qun is very respectful to minority groups in Yunnan, who own most of the tea trees in the forests, even now. He has built relationships with these minority groups for years, allowing him to source tea from very old wild tea trees.

This tea was plucked from bushes between forty and one hundred years old in the heavily forested Jing Gu county. In 1978, in Jing Gu, a tea scientist found a fossil of an ancestor for the tea plant from over 35 million years ago called Kuan Ye Mu Lan, making a strong case for the region being the place where tea first evolved. Jing Gu is home to the Dai and Yi ethnic groups, who have lived with tea as part of their life for a millennium. Jing Gu’s subtropical monsoon climate does not just suit tea plants, but also champagne mango trees, which bear the county’s next most famous crop.  The biodiversity of its forests influence the character of its tea profoundly, and some even insist that the teas capture a shade of flavor from those mango trees in the deep layers of their body.

This tea was produced by the biggest tea company in Jing Gu, which use to be owned by the government. They have a highly skilled method for the fermentation process. Jing Gu has a long history of producing tea and is the hometown region of mangos. In spring, tea is harvested more than 10 times from March- April to make mao cha. The mao cha is piled about 2 1/2 feet high in the production factory and covered with large sheets of fabric. The environment is full of microbes necessary for the fermentation process. The mao cha still has lots of moisture and enzymes, and over the course of 90 days (30 days longer than most tea companies) the tea will slowly oxidize and ferment. Heat is created inside the fermenting tea. Every few days, workers under the supervision of Hu Hao Ming will separate the leaves by using wooden shovels to move the entire pile of tea to the other side of the factory.

After the fermentation process is finished, all the tea becomes loose shu puer tea. They will use sorting machines to sort out all the leaves in to different grades. The smallest sized leaves are 1st grade, increasing all the way up to large leaf 10th grade. After the sorting process, they select the first and second grades of leaves and tea buds to steam and compress into Ma Guo Tou cakes. Using these small leaves creates a cake similar to the Qing Dynasty royal family’s favorite shu puer cake.

This very special cake was produced by the Cha Ma Si Tea Company. The bright red color of the infused tea indicates very concentrated nutrition. Its flavor is full-bodied but not heavy, with a pronounced sweetness in the aftertaste.

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.

Ma Guo Tou (Caravan Leader) 2012 brewing guidelines

Weight per piece: 400 grams
How to store: Store in a dark, well ventilated area with less than 70% humidity. Less than 25 degrees C or 77 degrees F. Store in the paper or fabric, not plastic. Keep away from odors and fragrances.

How to infuse: Any cup, pot, or gaiwan made of porcelain, glass, yixing clay, iron, or other material will work.
Brewing Guidelines: 1st infusion — Loosen and gently break off about 5 grams of tea from the brick for approx. 12 ounces water. Use boiling water (212 degrees F) and infuse for 2 minutes. 2nd infusion — Boiling water, infuse for 2 minutes 3rd infusion — Boiling water, infuse for 3-5 minutes 4th to 7th (or more) infusions — Boiling water, infuse for 5 minutes Infusions: 7 or more times