What HeiCha are you drinking

Puerh and other heicha
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Balthazar
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Tue Jul 07, 2020 11:41 am

wave_code wrote:
Tue Jul 07, 2020 4:04 am
No worries :) If you like the Duoteli character and the larger leaf/lighter fermentation I'd also recommend the 034006 that Lao tea shop has right now. They have been having a really nice mix of things lately for both good value younger teas and sourcing a lot of 90s and some 80s teas mostly from Malaysia. I've seen some of the younger ones for sale a bit cheaper online, but then you have to pay shipping from Malaysia if they will even ship, plus taxes, so on, and I'm happy to support a European shop that is getting good liu bao. Though I don't know if I was just lucky or if tea is on the exempt list for taxes in Norway? When I was in Oslo I don't think I ever got a tax on my tea.
Thanks for the tip. I haven't ordered from them yet but they definitely have an interesting profile.

As for Norway and taxes, the VAT for tea is only 12% (compared to 25% for most other products). It used to be the case that if you ordered something of less than $35 value no VAT or other taxes/fees would be applied when importing (and since many sellers tend to write an artificially low value on their packages, almost everything came through tax-free). As of this year this has changed, however. The VAT is no big deal, but for tea (and other foodstuff) an additional flat rate handling charge of $30 is applied. So long story short: $30 + 12% of the package value now has to be paid. I experienced this myself for the first time a few weeks ago. :)
Rui
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Thu Jul 09, 2020 7:26 am

Balthazar wrote:
Tue Jul 07, 2020 11:41 am
As for Norway and taxes, the VAT for tea is only 12% (compared to 25% for most other products). It used to be the case that if you ordered something of less than $35 value no VAT or other taxes/fees would be applied when importing (and since many sellers tend to write an artificially low value on their packages, almost everything came through tax-free). As of this year this has changed, however. The VAT is no big deal, but for tea (and other foodstuff) an additional flat rate handling charge of $30 is applied. So long story short: $30 + 12% of the package value now has to be paid. I experienced this myself for the first time a few weeks ago. :)
That is quite shocking.

If I was in Norway and belonged to the White2Tea Tea club which costs $29.99, the eventual cost would have been:

White2Tea $29.99
VAT 12% $3.60
Handling fee $30

Total cost: $63.59! :o :shock: :roll:

That is when I would start ordering TONGS! :lol:
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Balthazar
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Thu Jul 09, 2020 10:38 am

Good thing I don't subscribe to any tea club I guess :P
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Balthazar
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Sat Aug 15, 2020 1:11 pm

Decided to try out a new liubao after a heavy meal of fried and steamed baozi with plenty of garlic soaked in Zhenjiang vinegar on the side. Really, after such a pummeling of the taste buds and in the following state of profound, garlic-induced heat and sweating, something fermented, mild and “well-rounded” in taste is the only option for me.

Went with COFCO/CNNP’s 2015 Qiao Ge brick. 2011 leaves (“first grade” according to the official classification) but pressed four years later. On the heavy side of the fermentation scale. Stored in Malaysia. It’s one of those “chocolate bar” style bricks, with conveniently sized pieces of 7.5 grams each, easy to break off with the hands. That’s the reason I decided to get a brick in the first place, this was intended as a simple brewer at the office, grandpa style, but since COVID19 happened there’s been very little time at the office, and I doubt that’s gonna change much before the end of the year.

Anyways. The heavily compressed pieces take time to open up, and could probably do with a longer first washing steep than I gave them (20 seconds). The first three steeps are light (as evident from the photo below) but pleasant. After the fifth steep things really start moving, the color has changed to pitch black and a heavy nut flavors are dominating the show, with raisins and chocolate in the background. There’s really not that much more to say, this is another really safe choice in the heavy fermentation liubao compartment, it’s unidimensional but really solid at what it does.


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Interestingly, it’s the first liubao I have bought that comes with a test report. From this I learned that the maximum level for lead in tea leaves in China is 5.0 mg/kg. As this tea measured at 0.8 mg/kg, and the EU limits are typically much stricter than Chinese (and American) ones, this led to a session of googling... Turns out EU doesn’t have a specific limit yet but has proposed to introduce one for “dried leaves and stalks, fermented or otherwise of Camellia sinensis”, at 1.0 mg/kg according to this report.

Perhaps more worrying, at least to a layperson such as yours truly, is the fact that E. coli (大肠杆菌) is not listed as “not detected” but as < 30 MPN/100g (i.e. less than 1/10 the Chinese maximum level). Of course most strains of the bacteria are harmless (and part of the normal microbiome in humans), but the report doesn’t specify the type(s) discovered in the test. Probably nothing to worry about at those levels anyways, I'm gonna keep telling myself.
thommes
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Sat Aug 15, 2020 1:28 pm

That tea looks really good.
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debunix
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Sat Aug 15, 2020 1:51 pm

Balthazar wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 1:11 pm
Interestingly, it’s the first liubao I have bought that comes with a test report.
fascinating
Balthazar wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 1:11 pm
Perhaps more worrying, at least to a layperson such as yours truly, is the fact that E. coli (大肠杆菌) is not listed as “not detected” but as < 30 MPN/100g (i.e. less than 1/10 the Chinese maximum level).
You're hitting it with boiling water, and I don't think E coli generates heat-resistant spores like C botulinum does.
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Balthazar
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Sun Aug 16, 2020 2:32 am

debunix wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 1:51 pm
You're hitting it with boiling water, and I don't think E coli generates heat-resistant spores like C botulinum does.
Good point. And another reason for a longer initial steep, I guesss.
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Balthazar
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Sun Aug 16, 2020 9:46 am

The heicha weekend continues, today with the "2013 Zhu Yun Shan". Hard to find any info about this wild and lightly fermented tea or its producer, but I really like it. It has that characteristic "yesheng taste" but I also note berries and gives a dozen+ steeps before it loses any of its shine.
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wave_code
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Wed Aug 26, 2020 8:53 am

drinking through a lot of samples lately of mostly liu bao, some liu an, finding some nice surprises and some disappointments along the way as usual.

today I'm drinking a Three Cranes "raw" liu bao, 002, for probably the 4th time now and was still trying to figure it out though maybe I've cracked it now. I was initially pretty disappointed in it, while its not a super fancy or old tea it was just very flat and I felt like much lower tier tea was outdoing it. I was wondering if maybe it had been stored somewhere too dry for a bit or if several days was still too short a time for it to settle after shipping. I also thought maybe my pot was muting flavors or aromas so I tried in porcelain with basically the same results. today I went for much longer steeps, and while maybe one or two rounds had some astringency it wasn't overpowering or unpleasant and it started giving more incense/sandalwood and moving into honey/sweetness. I think this tea wants maybe slightly lower leaf, but long steeps, and I could see it probably becoming really nice with a few more years assuming it wouldn't loose too much of those nice aromas.

Its also got me wondering about and trying to fill in gaps about my knowledge on liu bao's processing. This is being sold at least as a "sheng" liu bao, but I don't know if that is the vendor or Three Crane's categorization. I'm assuming it still underwent some form of very light fermentation though. I don't know much about sheng pu, but from what I've seen these leaves are darker than I would expect with less astringency and zero effect on the stomach than if it had been left to ferment purely on its own, but then again Guangxi is pretty moist. I've had a handful of "ye sheng" liu baos and really enjoyed them and had some lighter fermented ones not described as such which are fairly similar. Again, I don't know when/where things like an actually processing distinction is being made, or where things like translation enter. My understanding (and others please fill me in/correct me here) is that "yesheng" means wild, so I'm guess this is probably meant to imply "less managed" gardens (since I'm guessing actual totally wild leaf would command a way higher price than would get used by a factory but maybe I'm totally wrong here?) and/or maybe this means just more rough/rustic material since it usually seems to be more stemmy and also less broken up. I feel like I have seen a few liu baos described specifically as raw, and I'm wondering again does this mean treated like sheng pu, or does it just imply lighter fermentation, or is this "ye sheng" or "yesheng" being taken as "sheng", particularly by western vendors, because that is what they understand it as?
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Balthazar
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Wed Aug 26, 2020 1:39 pm

wave_code wrote:
Wed Aug 26, 2020 8:53 am
I was wondering if maybe it had been stored somewhere too dry for a bit or if several days was still too short a time for it to settle after shipping.
How long has it been since you received it? With puer and heicha, the settling time for me is usually a minimum of two weeks (sometimes 3-4).
wave_code wrote:
Wed Aug 26, 2020 8:53 am
Its also got me wondering about and trying to fill in gaps about my knowledge on liu bao's processing. This is being sold at least as a "sheng" liu bao, but I don't know if that is the vendor or Three Crane's categorization. I'm assuming it still underwent some form of very light fermentation though. I don't know much about sheng pu, but from what I've seen these leaves are darker than I would expect with less astringency and zero effect on the stomach than if it had been left to ferment purely on its own, but then again Guangxi is pretty moist.
Here's an article (in Chinese) about "sheng" liu bao. Google Translate does a okay-ish translation job:
The difference between Liubao  raw tea and Pu'er raw tea is obvious. "First of all, the tea varieties of Liubao tea and Pu'er tea are different. Liubao tea uses the traditional Guangxi Guiqing species, which is a shrub-shaped medium and small leaf tea species; the raw material of Pu'er tea is Yunnan large leaf species. Although there are trees and shrubs, they are still dominated by trees." Zhang Junwei said. The reporter made a comparison on the spot and found that the tea leaves of Pu'er raw tea are mainly yellow-green and dark green, while the Liubao raw tea is obviously dark brown. In addition, Pu'er raw tea will be compressed into a variety of tea cakes, brick tea, tea lump, little loose tea, six Fort raw tea is not.

[...]

The final taste is also very important. Li Liangrong said that there is one big difference between Liubao raw tea and Pu'er raw tea. The raw tea of ​​Liubao is basically slightly fermented, while the raw Pu'er tea is unfermented. Therefore, even if the raw tea of ​​Liubao is new, it can be brewed. It is not as irritating as raw Pu'er tea, and it is relatively mild to the stomach, and the bitterness and astringency will not be as prominent as raw Pu'er tea.
So yeah, according to this source "raw" liubao is slightly fermented. This matches my experience with it too...

(On a side note, I had to laught when Google, after getting it right a bunch of times, suddenly translated "liubao" as "six Fort" :mrgreen: )
wave_code wrote:
Wed Aug 26, 2020 8:53 am
I've had a handful of "ye sheng" liu baos and really enjoyed them and had some lighter fermented ones not described as such which are fairly similar. Again, I don't know when/where things like an actually processing distinction is being made, or where things like translation enter. My understanding (and others please fill me in/correct me here) is that "yesheng" means wild, so I'm guess this is probably meant to imply "less managed" gardens (since I'm guessing actual totally wild leaf would command a way higher price than would get used by a factory but maybe I'm totally wrong here?) and/or maybe this means just more rough/rustic material since it usually seems to be more stemmy and also less broken up. I feel like I have seen a few liu baos described specifically as raw, and I'm wondering again does this mean treated like sheng pu, or does it just imply lighter fermentation, or is this "ye sheng" or "yesheng" being taken as "sheng", particularly by western vendors, because that is what they understand it as?
You're correct that "yesheng" means wild (so it really has nothing to do with the raw/ripe distinction although it's the same "sheng" character). As for what it specifically means, this will depend on the producer and/or vendor. Obviously "wild" has many of the same positive connotations as "natural", so it can obviously be used as a way to increase the price of the tea. "Wild" tea can be anything from stuff that is growing more or less unattended in the forest, to "tea" made from (or mixed with) other species than Camellia sinensis, to "less managed" (or even more mysterious: "forgotten") gardens.
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StoneLadle
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Thu Aug 27, 2020 3:52 am

Balthazar wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 9:46 am
The heicha weekend continues, today with the "2013 Zhu Yun Shan". Hard to find any info about this wild and lightly fermented tea or its producer, but I really like it. It has that characteristic "yesheng taste" but I also note berries and gives a dozen+ steeps before it loses any of its shine.
totally curious as to how you steep your tea for these sessions!
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wave_code
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Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:27 am

thanks for the article @Balthazar. it does seem to confirm my findings. I don't know if its translation but I wish it gave a bit more detail about what exactly that slight fermentation even raw liu bao experiences is. though I guess its just from its initial basket pressing and being allowed to remain less compressed than if it were in a brick. though, this particular one is pressed into a cake unlike the others I've had, but perhaps that came later. as the person you put me in touch with said and it does seem to be a general trend of moving more towards tins and cakes from baskets that now baskets are just being emptied out to be pressed into cakes. I guess both for consumer ease of storage/shipping, most private people don't want to or can't afford 7k of one tea at a time, and I would guess you can probably also charge a higher premium while also appealing more to the pu market.

as for settling in samples, it depends. if something is coming from close by in Europe so its hasn't been in transit more than a couple days I'll usually open it to have a look/smell when it arrives and then let it sit for at least 24-48 hours before I first try it. if its coming from further away and been in transit a long time usually at least 3 or 4 days before I try it. of course depending on time of year that affects things too. I always assume that first session is just that though- giving me some hint as to what is going on but expecting things to change, hopefully for the better, over the next few weeks or longer.

assessing somethings potential like this is something I've been trying to work through a bit more. vendors especially those outside the EU seem to get and keep much larger stock you have a long time to make up your mind about something- maybe prices will go up a bit but it seems like some teas unless they are extraordinary or very good value (and maybe not even being sold to folks like us anyway) or maybe get hyped by someone of influence (luckily most folks are obsessed with Pu) they can even be available for years. but with high demand, rare, or old teas, especially from western vendors who are maybe getting one basket instead of say 10 you maybe don't have 6 months to see where something is going before making up your mind if you want more. I still need to get some moisture packs anyway, but I've been wondering if taking samples and sticking them open in a small jar/box with a pack would help acclimatize them a bit quicker. I've had a few samples where I thought eh this is ok, then months later when I go back to it and its clearly settled in it makes a strong impression, and of course its gone. I suppose on the plus side the few times I've had a truly bad or gross fermented tea it is a pretty dead giveaway in about the first 10 seconds :?
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StoneLadle
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Thu Aug 27, 2020 5:57 am

After totally OD'ing on a ton of Pu Erh last night / this morning, and it being a scorcher of a day here in Kuala Lumpur, i crawled home to drink some Liu Bao. It's great when it's hot and you're hungover and need to feel human.

The discussion on the 'Sheng' Liu Bao intrigued me. So I've dug up some 1980s big leaf basket aged Liu Bao, stored in Penang, opened up around when Covid struck. I keep some of this in a tin lined with paper for easy access. Four scoops to make a generous 1/3 layer of leaves in the pot.


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This particular LB represents a "Sheng"-ish character in that the fermentation is best described as medium when compared to say a standard production "Landscape" packaged LB. Also the resulting leaves are larger and less chopped up and there are intact stems and leaf even mixed in. The compression in the basket is also relatively light, suggesting that the leaves were quite fluffy relative to medium or heavily fermented tea.

Quick wash of water just covering the leaves and a quick 10 count steep results in broth like the below that can be maintained for quite a while..


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It never wants to get darker or murkier, but the texture and flavour are unmistakably 'clean' like an unfiltered LB. Another term that comes to mind is 'refined'. As it progresses, steeping time increases and it's possible to maintain a steady flow of smooth nutty mellowness into the cup, and down the throat. It's the same with the energy, mellow, steady, tick... tock... and the returning flavour and aromas are just stuck to the soft palate. The signature earthiness of a decent 'working class' LB is simply a jazzy double bass here rather than heavy Smoke on the Water (which I prefer by the way :twisted: ) and in later steeps it gives me de ja vu of Pu Erh.

@wave_code this tea of yours, did it come in a tin? In any case, I have a hunch that your tea just needs some air. I'd suggest getting some paper to line a small dish or bowl, pour some leaves into it, like for 3 brews, and just cover it with another piece of paper and leave it out for a week or so. Somewhere airy, and it's summer right?..so an open window could be good too... I always seem to have tea laying about like this and it works wonders
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wave_code
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Thu Aug 27, 2020 6:51 am

ah that sounds like a great tea!

this particular tea is part of a cake, so it came in a standard zip pack. interesting idea on just leaving it out in open air- a friend of mine I got an older small puck from who is Taiwanese said her mother recommended actually breaking off a piece a day before I plan to drink it and leaving it out, but it was a much heavier fermentation and had seen some wet storage at some point. maybe I'll try your suggestion, though it gets extremely dry in this part of Germany in summer, especially with years of drought now, so maybe I'll wait until later in the fall when there is more moisture in the air from the rain. having it in a small jar with a moisture pack might be equivalent here to what you are suggesting here though haha

I'm curious, for liu bao especially, but just in general, are Chinese yixing or nixing pots the main choice, or are there other local clays and pot styles unique to Malaysia?
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StoneLadle
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Thu Aug 27, 2020 12:32 pm

wave_code wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 6:51 am

this particular tea is part of a cake, so it came in a standard zip pack. interesting idea on just leaving it out in open air- a friend of mine I got an older small puck from who is Taiwanese said her mother recommended actually breaking off a piece a day before I plan to drink it and leaving it out, but it was a much heavier fermentation and had seen some wet storage at some point. maybe I'll try your suggestion, though it gets extremely dry in this part of Germany in summer, especially with years of drought now, so maybe I'll wait until later in the fall when there is more moisture in the air from the rain. having it in a small jar with a moisture pack might be equivalent here to what you are suggesting here though haha

I'm curious, for liu bao especially, but just in general, are Chinese yixing or nixing pots the main choice, or are there other local clays and pot styles unique to Malaysia?
...Part of a cake, so it's real Liu Bao,,, it's just not LB if it isn't fermented. The article posted by @Balthazar... it's cool, it's a journal, but one can hardly call loose leaf maocha from Guangxi a raw aged LB... LB is a fermented tea. Period. In your case, the tea will benefit from resting and air, if only just to settle down. Also, water in Europe is hard... do you filter or get your water from some secret mountain spring source?... But no matter, give it some air and time and see what happens... i think it will only get stronger....

As for the clays and pots question.... LB was brought to Malaysia back in the day when human labour was imported to work the tin mines. These labourers came from Guangxi and the deal was that medicinal LB would be provided. So LB was just boiled up and kept in pots or cauldrons with easy access for the labourers.

I was born in Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia. Perak is the State, and it produced a bucket load of tin man... Jesus, everyone was profiting from it, especially the the Colonists meaning the UK... and indentured labourers from Guangxi, I tell you, if it was today, it would be GLM not BLM... but I digress... so they brewed their tea any old how...

My own grandmother would make LB every morning, as offerings to the ancestral altar as well as the Gods that we worship as a family. We are ehtnic Chinese. Malaysia is a Muslim majority country, so we exist at the pleasure of the majority, because after all, we ended up here after the overthrow of the Qing dynasty and subsequent nationalistic mess which has culminated in a world leader afraid of a Cartoon Bear.... but again, I digress...

From what I can remember, she made a huge pot of LB, using a good sized chunk of leaves. The best would go to the Gods and the rest would sit in the pot in the kitchen for anyone who was thirsty. Hot water would be poured in and leaves refilled when needed. It was like water in a jar, but much much tastier.

So now we do Gongfu style... and us ethnic Chinese here in this country simply just kept using the stuff we'd been used to. Malaysian clay? who knows,... not me... there are some indigenous items made, like jars and stuff, but they don't relate to Chinese tea... I use the same small pots as I use for Pu Erh, and I also use porcelain pots for simple brews and also thermos flasks for when I play Ping Pong...
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