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1998 Hong Kong Traditional Storage Liu'An Basket Tea (Post Fermented) (50g)

1998 Hong Kong Traditional Storage Liu'An Basket Tea (Post Fermented) (50g)

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While Hong Kong is known for its pu erh and has played a pivotal role in the popularity of pu erh today around the globe (including the popularity of dry storage, which has many pu erh aficionados around the world aging pu erh at home), liu'an is also a historically important tea to the city. While liu'an gets much less attention today, prior to the pu erh boom, liu'an was considered superior to pu erh. Liu'an leaves are smaller and finer, and the more delicate sinensis varietal is used, instead of the assamica type used for pu erh. I've read that aged liu'an was traditionally gifted by the bride's side of the family at Cantonese weddings. Hong Kong is, of course, a city with a Cantonese majority due to its proximity to Guangdong province, so many of Hong Kong's traditional tea vendors offer one or more liu'an varieties for their older clientele. Hong Kong's traditional vendors are often extremely surprised when I show an interest in liu'an, which I've never seen anyone else under 50 purchase!

This liu'an is from 1998 and has been well aged by a master of traditional storage. The 1994 liu an on the site is from the same family, and is no longer available from the family, so baskets of 1998 tea were broken down for this offering!

This tea has mellowed out to become much smoother, which is what Hong Kong's older tea drinkers look for in liu'an (and aged pu erh, and even aged oolongs, for that matter). There is a definite aroma of traditional storage in the dry leaf and in the pot. I brewed this tea up in a Nixing gaiwan. The gaiwan I used helps to reduce traditional storage flavor, so if you're using porcelain or glass, the flavor of the storage will be more noticeable. I could taste the storage note, so more muting clay would perhaps be more desirable for this tea. I suggest a good sandy zisha (purple sand) teapot for all Hong Kong traditional storage pu erh (and heicha) for this reason. Now, that said, growing up, we always drank traditionally stored ripe pu erh in large porcelain pots, and the flavor profile of that type of bo lei (pu erh) is very comforting to me, humid storage notes and all. 

Airing this tea out for a few weeks would also reduce and even remove all traditional storage flavor if you are averse to it.

While the original flavor of the liu'an has dissipated over two decades of Hong Kong traditional storage, it is still noticeably different from pu erh from the same time period (and from the same warehouse)! There is an interesting nutty quality to the tea that you won't find in pu erh. 

This is a taste of Hong Kong history, and a great value considering its age and how pleasantly smooth it is to drink. This was a surprise offering from the vendor, and not one that is available to the public. Only around 1 kg of this tea is available.

Please note:  Most traditional Hong Kong tea merchants do not offer discounts on volume until I am purchasing several kilograms at a time, and in many cases, no discounts are offered at all, even for ten kilos of a single tea or more. For this reason, I cannot offer a discount on larger purchases at this time.

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