Liu Bao Dark Tea (Guanxi Hei Cha) 2007
€9,80 – €32,90
Liu Bao Cha is a dark tea from the southern Chinese province of Guangxi. Here, the local “hei cha” typically stored in a woven bamboo basket for ripening, looks back on a millennium-old tradition. he dry leaf material exudes a pleasant fragrance reminiscent of old, well-seasoned mahogany. This combines harmoniously with the coffee and cocoa notes, from which the tea has its nickname “dark chocolate”, in the taste of the full-bodied infusion, which is characterized by a soft, silky-creamy consistency.
For more information and illustration refer to the product description below.
Liu Bao Dark – Guangxi Hei Cha
Liu Bao Cha is a dark tea from the southern Chinese province of Guangxi. Accordingly, it is a post-fermenting „Hei Cha“ made according to the millennium-old method of processing dark tea. Like all dark teas, it is based on the leaves of local large-leaved tea tree varieties. Its name, “Liu Bao” translates to “6 fortresses”. However, the history of the eponymous fortifications is so ancient that nobody can tell it anymore today. In turn, this makes Liu Bao Cha the last remaining witness of its own creation’s bygone era.
A characteristic of Liu Bao tea is the storage of the processed tea leaves in lidded woven bamboo baskets. There is no pressing in the strict sense. Nevertheless, the subsequent “ripening” (fermentation) processes lead to some adhesion among the tea leaves stored in this way. As a result, opening the basket after a few years will reveal a coherent bale rather than loose tea leaves. However, the consistency is quite loose, so that the outer layers fall off the bale almost by themselves, while the tea leaves further inside can be easily removed by hand .
The dry leaf material exudes a pleasant fragrance reminiscent of old, well-seasoned mahogany. This combines harmoniously with the coffee and cocoa notes, from which the tea has its nickname “dark chocolate”, in the taste of the full-bodied infusion, which is characterized by a soft, silky-creamy consistency.
What is Dark Tea (Hei Cha)?
Dark tea or “Hei Cha” is one of the 6 elementary processing categories of tea. It’s most characteristic feature is the so-called “wet piling” of the tea leaves as part of the processing. The related special type of fermentation consists in changes in the biochemical composition of the tea leaf induced by microorganisms. A Chinese term for this part of the processing of dark tea is “wo-dui”.
Dark tea is expressly not to be confused with what we call black tea in the west. This in turn is called “red tea” (= “Hong Cha”) in China. The Chinese name referring to the cup color instead of the color of the dry leaves keeps causing confusion among Western tea drinkers.
In this context it is also interesting to know that the processing of yellow tea also involves a “wo-dui” process.
Types of Dark Tea
A requirement for the production of dark tea is the local presence of large-leaf tea tree varieties. Dark teas therefore only occur in 5 provinces of China, namely Guanxi, Sichuan, Hunan, Hubei and Yunnan. At this, each region has its very own Hei-Cha tradition. These in turn differ in their individual characteristics of processing, pressing and packaging for transport.
types of dark tea according to origin
The best-known type of dark tea outside of China is the ripened (“shou”) Pu Erh tea. As to that, many sources date the invention of the “wo-dui” method to the 1970s only. However, this is not entirely true. Because dark tea – and thus the method of piling the (still moist) tea leaves – has been around since the time of the Song dynasty and thus for around 1000 years. For the maturation of “shou” Pu Erh, however, the ancient method underwent two major modifications. One of these was to extend the process from about 1 day to up to 2 months. And the other was adding water at the beginning of the process. Despite their shared processing characteristics, matured Pu Erh teas therefore taste significantly different from dark teas of other origins.
The History of Dark Tea
At the time of the Ancient Tea-Horse-Road Hunan was one of the provinces, from where tea was transported north on that very trade route. Now the long journey on foot and with mules as a means of transporting tea took a very long time. As a result, the tea kept getting wet on the way, but could not dry well due to the cramped transport conditions. This is why the tea finally reached its end customers – mainly Mongols, Tibetans and Uyghurs – in a changed condition. While the producers and traders originally considered this rather undesirable, it soon became apparent that the end customers really appreciated this changed condition. Accordingly, ways were soon found to bring the tea into the desired state during processing already. With this, the tea’s continued maturing during its long journey was no longer a problem either…
Liu Bao Cha – Picking and Processing
The proper picking time for Liu Bao Dark Tea falls into April. At this, picking standard is the young spring bud along with the youngest 2-3 leaves attached to it.
We can roughly divide the processing of Liu Bao Cha into 6 steps:
- Withering of the freshly picked tea leaves
- Oxidation stopp (“kill green”) through high temperature heating
- Rolling of the tea leaves
- Fixating the shape through drying under heat feed (our Liu Bao undergoes particularly intense roasting)
- Wet-Piling (chin. : “wo-dui”)
- Storage in woven bamboo baskets for further ripening
Of course, the details of dark tea processing can differ also in Guangxi from farmer to farmer and from one regional tradition to another. So, for example, the “wet-piling” of Liu Bao tea can last between several days and several weeks. Also, you can occasionally find Liu Bao tea pressed in brick or cake shape, too. However, the comparably loosely pressed storage in the bamboo basket is considered as superior, as it promotes postfermentation processes.
Over years of ripening – comparable to Fu Zhuan Cha from Hunan – traces of so-called “golden flower” can form. These are spores of a fungus named “Eurotium Cristatum”. However, its formation is no reason to worry, but a sign of best quality and optimal fermentation.
Depending on dosage, style and number of infusions, there are 3 basic types of preparing dark tea:
“Gong Fu Cha” means preparing a tea with relatively high dosaging over a long series of rather short steeps. That is, dosaging starts from 6g leaves per 100ml water and infusion periods shorter than 1 minute per steep. At this, the infusion temperature is always 90°-100°C, which corresponds to boiling hot. As with all ripened teas, a short “washing steep” of 5-10 seconds with boling hot water is recommendable.
The “western approach” to preparing a dark tea resembles that of “black” (in China: red) tea. At this, the infusion temperature is also boiling hot. However, this approach goes with a more modest dosaging (3-5g/100ml) and longer infusion periods (2-5 minutes). The western approach can also involve the preparation of several steeps (2-3). However, their number is rather small in comparison to the Gong Fu approach. Also here, a short “washing steep” is recommendable.
Also from China comes the practice of boiling the tea leaves for up to ten minutes. With this, 4-5g Teeblätter per 1 liter water suffices to help the the single resulting steep to full flavor.
25g, 50g, 100g
Colin Brace (verified owner) –
I adore Hei Cha in general and Liu Bao in particular, but sometimes the latter can have a very strong “wet pile” flavor, a “wet basement” taste. This one is just perfect: a dark woody flavor with a nutty character, almost walnut-like. I really enjoy a cup of this after a hearty breakfast. My kind of “coffee”. This a great addition to the Siam offerings and I look forward to seeing what other Hei Cha is in the pipeline.