Shu Longzhu (Sweet Dragon Ball)

Shu Puer Ball 8g 2016

A rich and deep-flavored shu puer that brews clean, sweet and lingering. Made with unusually high quality tender young leaves from old growth tea trees to create impressive layered complexity. Hand-rolled into individual 7-8 gram single serving balls for a persistent hearty brew.

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Tea Origin
Lancang County, Pu'er City, Yunnan Province, China

Tea Bush
Yunnan Daye Quntizhong (Yunnan Large Leaf Heirloom Tea Tree)

Tea Master
Chen Keke and Li Dong

Harvest Time
Early April

Picking Standard
One bud, two leaves

A rich and deep-flavored shu puer that brews clean, sweet and lingering. Made with unusually high quality tender young leaves from old growth tea trees to create impressive layered complexity. Hand-rolled into individual 7-8 gram single serving balls for a persistent hearty brew.

Managing the risks and rewards of shu puer

A tea scientist leaning over a counter full of flasks while researching the microbes that ferment Sweet Dragon Ball Shu Puer
A tea scientist researching the fermentation process of Sweet Dragon Ball Shu Puer.

Sweet Dragon Ball is a high quality shu puer tea made with unusually good leaf material. Normally, the ripening 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. Rather than risk ruining expensive tea leaves, tea makers reserve them for unripened sheng puer cakes. However, after three years of research developing the small batch technique used to make Sweet Dragon Ball, tea makers can now control the ripening process carefully enough to work with higher quality leaf.

In the case of Sweet Dragon Ball, the result is a shu puer that is exceptionally clean and smooth, yet whose flavor retains the deep, layered complexity of a quality sheng puer. Soft sweet and mineral flavors reveal themselves in later infusions.

Unique new small batch processing technique

Four people laying a roll of palm fiber cover over a pile of fermenting Sweet Dragon Ball Shu Puer leaves.
Covering fermenting shu puer leaves for Sweet Dragon Ball with palm fiber to retain moisture and heat.

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. However, the small batch technique used to make Sweet Dragon Ball uses 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.

Stacks of dozens of petri dishes with cultures for researching the microbes used to make Sweet Dragon Ball Shu Puer.
Culturing microbes in petri dishes while researching the individual types of microbes that grow while ripening Sweet Dragon Ball Shu Puer.

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 earthy or fishy 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.

Quality old growth tea trees from a quality origin

A tea picker climbing a tree three times their height to pluck Sweet Dragon Ball Shu Puer leaves.
A tea picker in Lancang climbing a tree to harvest leaves for Sweet Dragon Ball Shu Puer.

Leaves for Sweet Dragon Ball are sourced in the Lan Cang area in southwestern Yunnan Province. This tea is harvested from trees of varying ages that are on average 60 years old or older. These trees grow under the canopy of Yunnan’s subtropical highland forests in their natural environment. Grown without the use of agricultural fertilizers and pesticides, these trees are largely untended except for minimal maintenance by the local residents.

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.

Shu Longzhu (Sweet Dragon Ball) 2016 brewing guidelines

One piece, 7-8 grams tea

12 oz 100°C (212ºF) water

3 min. first infusion

At least 5 infusions: 3, 3, 5, 8, 10 minutes