I got hold of this tea when I went to Hunan. In a humble tea shop, I was told that this was the oldest tea they were selling. They only had a couple of bricks left. The price was not over the top, I thought I’d get one of them. It was the right decision.
I knew that it came from Anhua and was from 2004. I love the engravings on the brick and still want to figure out what they mean. Recently, I discovered that this tea is known as Hua Zhuan Cha which translates as flower brick tea. The name ‘flower’ is to signify the ornate designs on the surface. As Tony Gebely explains, semi-finished dark tea like mao cha (in loose form but pile-fermented) is steamed (to prevent the leaves from breaking) and pressed into rectangular moulds. To get the best ornate figures, the compression for Hua Zhuan bricks is harder than regular bricks. Later the bricks are dried in a warm room and wrapped in a paper.
It was challenging to break this tea due to its hard compression. Naturally, I ended up with very tiny pieces. Despite this, I got a clear liquor and sweet fruity flavours. The taste of the tea was not too different from other Anhua dark teas I have tried. It would be interesting to compare this tea with a regular Anhua dark tea brick (loosely pressed) from the same year. I believe tight compression may have prevented this tea from ageing faster—however, an easy to drink with good qi.
Source: Tony Gebely. “Tea: A User's Guide.”
Origin: Anhua, Hunan
Harvest time: 2004
Leaf colour: Tones of dark brown
Liquor colour: Amber/orange
Tea Aroma: Fruity
Tea taste: Smooth, slightly sweet with fruity notes (dried dates)
1. Place 5 g of this tea in a porcelain gaiwan or teapot and add about 100 ml water at around 100°C.
2. Rinse after 20 sec.
3. Steep for 10 seconds for the second time and increase the consecutive steeping time by 10. You can re-steep this tea multiple times.