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2009 Jay's HK Storage Dayi Lao Cha Tou Brick (50g)

2009 Jay's HK Storage Dayi Lao Cha Tou Brick (50g)

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November 2nd, 2020

Please note the pictures of the brick (and the liquor) are of the previous HK home storage version.

This recipe was the second shu pu erh I offered from my home storage. This current batch of 15 bricks was stored 11 floors above street level in my warehouse in Hong Kong for just under four years. 

These 250g bricks were produced in 2009, stored in Kunming warehouses (with a Chinese government connection, but I won't get into that here), and then shipped directly to me in 2016. I bought up the last of this tea! 

I have long been a fan of Dayi's lao cha tou productions because of their incredible flavor and the pleasant experience they provide in the cup! Lao cha tou, aka 'old tea heads,' are the nuggets that form at the bottom of a pile of ripe pu erh during the fermentation process. These little nuggets are packed with flavor since lots of tea fluid drips down to the bottom of the pile, and the greater heat and pressure at the bottom of the pile causes these hard little chunks of tea to form. These lao cha tou can go for many more infusions than the shu pu erh higher up in the pile! 

Due to the nature of lao cha tou, I needed to use my gaiwan to lid to poke the chunk of brick I brewed today to really get it going. When this tea came in, it was sweetly aromatic, but with a little roughness on the tummy. The aroma is now more subtle, but still present, and the tea is much, much easier to drink. It is extremely smooth on the swallow and on the tummy, which is what Cantonese drinkers (the largest group of pu erh drinkers in the world) hope to achieve with pu erh storage!

I transferred one of these bricks to a paper-covered thick plastic pu erh cake bag last night. After the rinse, I get milk chocolate notes and some active yeast-like notes. In the cup, milk chocolate and vanilla dominate, but there are also prune and almond notes in the aftertaste, as well as sweet American chewing tobacco and date-like aromatics. In my home storage, there was still bitterness to this material after two years, but four years in my warehouse has really transformed this tea and the bitterness is now much more subdued. There are absolutely no unpleasant fermentation or humid storage notes in this tea whatsoever. The number of infusions you can get from good lao cha tou is incredible. This is really lovely lao cha tou and classic Hong Kong dry-stored versions aren't really something you can find on the market anywhere!

I expect more aroma and complexity from my sample brick in the near future since the brick is now in plastic. This tea has lovely, calming energy and drinking this tea is now a completely different experience from when these bricks first arrived from Kunming!

Brewing suggestion: Full boil, with water of low hardness (35 ppm/L, with 1-3mg/L of magnesium). Rinse once, and start with a 45-second infusion, then add 10-15 seconds to each successive infusion. If the liquor is too weak, add more time. You may need to give this tea a little poke to help it open up as the compression was very tight at the factory.

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