2016 Yunnan Sourcing "Suan Zao Shu" Old Arbor Raw Pu-erh tea cake

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Pu'erh Tea
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  • “I’ve had this sample lying around for over a year. I tried it the year it was pressed and didn’t like the sweet fruity rum, dates, prunes, and molasses flavor combos I was getting then. I’m sure...” Read full tasting note

From Yunnan Sourcing

Suan Zao Shu village is one of the most remote villages in the Jinggu area, taking nearly 2 hours from Jinggu town to arrive there. The winding dirt roads stop about 5 kilometers before you arrive and the remaining distance must be traversed by foot. Suan Zao Shu village lies at an altitude of 1800 meters and is home to tea trees ranging in age from 50 years up to 400 years. Our Suan Zao Shu tea cake is made from tea leaves harvested 200-300 year old tea trees in the Li family tea garden.

Suan Zao Shu tea is very strong in flavor, aroma and cha qi. The flavor is that of fruit with a honey like sweetness and a touch of sour, as well as having a bitter and savory edge as well that adds to it’s depth. The aroma is hard to describe, brothy and mushroom-like. This tea has very strong mouth-feel, returning taste (hui gan) and the cha qi is a bit stupefying (in a good way). The brewed leaves are mostly dark olive in color, large (in scale), thick and stout stemmed.

Stone-pressed in the traditional manner.

Wrapper design by Ronald Visser

400 grams per cake (7 cakes per bamboo tong)

40 kilograms in total

This tea has been tested in a certified laboratory for 191 pesticides, and is within the EU MRL limits set for those 191 pesticide residues. For a full list of the 191 pesticides we tested for and more information about MRL testing and the EU Food and Safety commission click on this link.

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1 Tasting Note

145 tasting notes

I’ve had this sample lying around for over a year. I tried it the year it was pressed and didn’t like the sweet fruity rum, dates, prunes, and molasses flavor combos I was getting then. I’m sure those notes sound nice to some folks, but it reminded me too much of Christmas fruit cake – something I strongly dislike.

Well, here I am revisiting this one on a cool, rainy Sunday afternoon…and I’m happy with where it’s at. It’s a lot more subtle and complex. Much less boozy and sweet. There’s a little brandy and dried fruit in the front, but it quickly moves into the background, allowing more subtle notes of brown sugar, green wood, Chinese dates (hence the “zao” in tea’s name), and sandalwood. The tea’s bitterness and astringency comes through as the liquid cools in the cup. It’s not overwhelming, but just enough to add interest. In a way, the bitterness exhibits the tea’s clean nature. It transforms into a very nice huigan, which mingles for a while with some residual bitterness on the tongue and in the back of the mouth.

These subtle notes allow the drinker to enjoy the tea’s less tangible aspects — warming qi, tingly and cooling sensations on the tongue, and strong mouthfeel. The qi is felt in the chest and back of the head. It’s got a nice calming energy that lasts a while, making mundane tasks, such as vacuuming, more meditative. All in all, the tea has become more subtle, but definitely distinct and more pleasurable. It will stay with the drinker throughout the day.

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