Made it the powdered way as I have begun to enjoy shu puerh in this manner. Briney with a dry wine-like palatal. Very interesting the way grinding brings forward these tastes.
“Made it the powdered way as I have begun to enjoy shu puerh in this manner. Briney with a dry wine-like palatal. Very interesting the way grinding brings forward these tastes.” Read full tasting note
“I came back to this tea after several weeks of drinking a fair bit of sheng puerh, and preparing a few orders of tea from Norbu and other suppliers, and thinking to myself that I have at least come...” Read full tasting note
“When I first went on a tea ordering tear, I ordered some things from Norbu and I got this as what I think is a very generous sample size. I certainly didn’t get a 250g brick. The packet says this...” Read full tasting note
-Producer: Norbu Enterprises Private Label
-Materials Vintage: 2006
-Compression Date: 7/02/2009
-Growing Region: Jing Gu County, Pu-Erh Prefecture, Yunnan
I am very happy to present this new private production ripe Pu-Erh tea for Norbu Tea! Cha Tou are one of my favorite forms of Pu-Erh tea, and these little nuggets are awesome. We tasted a ton of different Cha Tou this Spring, and these from 2006 were our favorites.
The tea was fermented in late Spring, 2006 at the Jing Gu Tea factory in Pu-Erh Prefecture. The 3 years since fermentation have really mellowed out the sour “fermentationy” flavor found in most newly fermented teas. It was compressed in early July at a little factory in Kunming, where we had the bricks stored for about a month after compression. To compress these bricks, the factory has to add moisture and use some pretty serious hydraulic presses to get the Cha Tou to stick together, so the bricks needed to air out and lose some of that added moisture for a while after compression.
The flavor of this tea is quite smooth, mellow & mildly sweet. The steeped liquor is not super thick because the nuggets don’t generally unfurl too much when steeped, but the texture of the tea liquor in the mouth is full and satisfying. The amazing thing about this tea is that it can be infused so many times. In the first tasting we did after receiving these bricks, we steeped the leaves 15 times before quitting, and there was plenty left in the nuggets for more infusions. Later in the day, we decided to boil the almost spent Cha Tou loose in a kettle, which gave a different but really good flavor. These things just don’t quit…which is one of the many reasons that we love them around here.
About Lao Cha Tou:
Lao Cha Tou translates loosely as ‘Old Tea Nugget.’ Cha Tou are small nuggets of clumped-together tea leaves that are formed as a result of the heat and pressure that is generated by the piles of tea when they are undergoing fermentation. At the end of the 40-60 day fermentation process the newly fermented tea is sorted into grades based on size using impressive wind tunnel sorting machines. The nuggets are found toward the bottom of the pile usually after sorting, and are just a small portion of a batch of ripened Pu-Erh. Usually, because of this small percentage of production, many tea factories will store their Cha Tou for a few years until they accumulate enough material for a full pressing composed of a blend of several years nuggets.
Properly fermented Cha Tou like these are highly sought after because they are incredibly infusable and give a flavorful brew well beyond 15 steepings. Also, many people say that the smallest leaf & bud material make up these little nuggets, although leaf grade/size really doesn’t have much impact on the taste of the final brew in this case.
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I came back to this tea after several weeks of drinking a fair bit of sheng puerh, and preparing a few orders of tea from Norbu and other suppliers, and thinking to myself that I have at least come to sufficient understanding of my preferences regarding puerh to skip the shu sections of their web sites. And today, I wanted a less demanding tea but wanted a puerh. So I worked loose a few little nuggets and brewed up a thermos of this tea.
It’s a lovely reminder of how nice shu can be: first impressions are delicately sweet and fruity, hints of cherries, plums, grapes, a bit of caramel. It has always been nice, but this is the best infusion yet. So nice. And this is a quart of tea from perhaps 5 or 6 g of nuggets that were still so dense and tight after about 10 minutes of hydration and infusions that there surely is a lot more flavor to be recovered in additional infusions, as the tight bits open up more.
Temp 200-212 degrees, infusions 1 minute or so, but really, there is no hint of bitterness or astringency, so infusion time is entirely up to your preference. The tea liquor is a deep ruby red, quite beautiful even in my rather use-stained Kamjove infuser.
When I first went on a tea ordering tear, I ordered some things from Norbu and I got this as what I think is a very generous sample size. I certainly didn’t get a 250g brick. The packet says this weighs 25g.
It appears to be a piece of the bigger brick, because it is not loose. So now I need to do a quick crash course from the internet on how to pry loose tea from a pu erh brick. This is my first time, so please be gentle.
I broke out the tool I bought for this purpose a while back. It’s a bone knife similar to this:
I am using the Yunnan Sourcing “fill about a quarter of the gaiwan with tea” method rather than weighing the tea.This makes me think I used a bit too much tea with the tuo cha because the first steep of this one, 10 seconds after 2 rinses, is the color of cognac. Not leaning toward espresso. In the sample packet, the tea has a fishy smell, but there’s not much of that after steeping.
Instead, there’s a lot of soil to the smell and a caramel/cocoa note that is not strong.
Second, 10 sec. This time the liquor is darker. Brandy headed toward dark amber beer color. There is no fishiness, just a mild, pleasant earthiness. I am getting mushroom here as well, though it is more subtle than in the Rishi I had earlier today. I’m getting excited about the possibilities of the various pu erhs I have. I am also thinking about my yixing pots. I need to remind myself which I seasoned for this type of tea. Very mild, very mellow, a softness in the sip that leaves a sort of freshness in the mouth. A slight sweetness at the end of the sip, as well.
3rd, 20 sec. OK, now I feel the need to bone up on my understanding of pu erh and how to tell better quality ones. I don’t know for sure, but I feel as though this is better quality than the Rishi I had earlier just because the flavor seems more refined. Smoother. This steep is darker still, sort of a mahogany color. I detect a sort of coffee note here, along with the mushroom. More sweetness is emerging.
4th, 30 sec. The caramel/coffee notes are at the top of the aroma. The color is redder, and a little lighter. The tea has lost some of its earthier aspects. The soil note isn’t present here.
5th, 40 sec. I’m getting a mocha note this time that is quite pleasant.
6th, 1 min. I’m not really getting much of a change from steep 5. The tea seems to have settled into itself. Since I’ve gone this far, I might as well go to 10, but I’m going to spend more time thinking and less time writing unless something amazing comes out of one of the next steeps: 2 min, 4 min, 6 min, 8 min.I made it all the way to the end! I think forcing myself to do this will be good for me. I spend to much time running to the next thing, and not enough time just being.
I can’t say I noticed a ton of different in the last few steeps. But the tea remained enjoyable and flavorful to the end.
Flavors: Caramel, Cocoa, Coffee, Earth, Fishy, Mocha, Mushrooms