Liubao is a famous dark tea that comes from Guangxi. Its name come from the town where it is produced. It is from 2000, and I was really excited to try this vintage tea which has been aged for more than 20 years.
Unfortunately, this experience disappointed me a lot. By the time I smelt the leaves, I had thought there must be something wrong. There was a smell of dirt and mould. I continued and steeped it in gongfu style. It tasted like muddy water. I contacted the seller who said if I am new to Liubao, I might have thought that way. I am new to liubao, but I have tried, and you are my witness, many darks teas from Hunan, Yunnan and Sichuan particularly. I got a few astringent and low-grade teas from time to time but nothing at this scale. I’ll give it another try when I come across another liubao, but I’ll probably put this tea somewhere I cannot see and will try to forget about it.
I must be very unlucky because I know there are enthusiasts of liubao and I’m sure this is not the experience they have been enjoying. Its taste should be sweet, and amongst the tasting notes, both the vendor of this tea and other vendors count betel palm and raisins. Some liubao have golden fungoid flowers (I think these are similar to the golden flowers of Fuzhou brick tea) and are of better quality.
According to Tony Gebely’s description, Liubao is made from tea leaves from Camellia sinensis var. sinensis and the leaves then go through fixing, rolling and drying processes. The dry leaves are then pile-fermented, a process where the leaves are piled, moisture is added, and the leaves are covered and allowed to ferment. Once fermentation is complete, the leaves are sorted, blended, steamed and pressed into large woven bamboo baskets lined with bamboo leaves for ageing.
When I found an excellent liubao, I’ll let you know!
Source: Tony Gebely. “Tea: A User's Guide.”.
Origin: Liubao, Guangxi
Harvest time: 2000
Leaf colour: Tones of dark brown
Liquor colour: Dark amber
Tea Aroma: Earthy and moldy
Tea Taste: Earthy and dull
Steeping: Place 5g in 100ml of water at 100ºC and rinse after 5 seconds. Steep for 10 seconds during the first infusion,and add 5 seconds to the subsequent infusions. You can re-steep this tea multiple times.
Shelf life: Can be aged