Some tea vocabulary might be confusing, and I am still learning. I’d like to summarise the terminology about this tea for tea lovers who are not very familiar with pu-erh.
So, firstly Yongde is an area in Lincang, Yunnan. It is a famous area for its ancient teas (arbour trees). This wrapping for this tea does not necessarily talk about ‘ancient’, so I take it as a ‘no’ otherwise, it would have been stressed.
Secondly, tuocha refers to the shape of the tea. The Puerh tea is first prepared as mao cha (loose form) and then steamed to be compressed into different shapes. Some shapes are created by the tribes who make them. Amongst which you may find interesting ones, but the most common ones are cake, brick and bowl. This one is in the shape of a bowl, and tuocha signifies this shape. I did not think about the compression styles of Puerh teas, but I came across some reference to them being loose, or tight. I found this one quite tight but not the tightest I’ve ever seen. Also, the level of tightness of the compression influences the ageing process. The looser the leaves, the more air reaches out the inner leaves. Sometimes (this is entirely my opinion that) tight compression may help to conceal the ‘bad quality’. It also becomes unavoidable to break down the leaves when breaking off a piece for brewing. I want to say this happened with this tea and I ended up with small particles which made the tea liquor a little cloudy mainly for the first few infusions.
This tea was harvested in 2003 but made into toucha in 2004 since then it has been ageing for more than 15 years. Its taste, however, was not mature enough to my liking but it carried the earthy notes only an aged tea can provide. The flavour also included astringent elements of which I expected less given the age of this tea. Don’t get me wrong, I still like it. As there is something delicate about this tea and I could almost taste the subtle floral notes concealed under the astringency.
Type: Pu-erh (Dark)
Origin: Yingde, Lincang, Yunnan
Harvest time: Spring 2004
Leave colour: Shades of dark brown and green
Liquor colour: Cloudy amber
Tea aroma: Woody and earthy
Tea taste: Astringent and earthy with floral undernotes
Steeping/brewing: You can use around 100°C water and brew about 6 g for up to one minute in gongfu style or up to three minutes in Western-style. You can brew the leaves many times (until the taste is lost). To each infusion add additional time. Experiment for a result that suits your taste.
Shelf life: 30 years and more (to improve shelf-life store the sealed tea leaves in a dry, ventilated place with low temperatures and away from odour.)