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2018 Tribute Grade Sun Yi Shun Raw Liu An Basket Tea (100g)

2018 Tribute Grade Sun Yi Shun Raw Liu An Basket Tea (100g)

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May 24th, 2020

Demand for liu an basket tea is particularly strong in Hong Kong and Guangdong, where it once held much more respect than pu erh did. Of course, pu erh now dominates the scene, but there are a lot of people who grew up drinking liu an (or copycat teas) who continue to do so today.

Liu an production ended before the Cultural Revolution, and was lost to time until a Hong Kong merchant attempted to restart production to meet local demand back in the 90s. Whether or not today's liu an is the same as it was in the early 20th century is debatable, but the (good!) Sun Yi Shun baskets produced since the 90s are very popular and have plenty of fans in this part of the world.

This outfit is a registered factory that seeks to differentiate itself with its own branding, and I must admit I'm very pleased with the quality of their tea. The tea smells just like the liu an I buy down here in Hong Kong, but fresher (since it hasn't been aged down here...yet). In PRC, the liu an scene is much messier and there are a lot of downright unpleasant or even scary 'Sun Yi Shun' baskets on the market, so I haven't dared to purchase one from a PRC-based source until now. I was gifted some liu an from a dealer in Kunming several years ago and was horrified at how bitter and unpleasant that tea was!

This tea is produced in the same manner as the rediscovered HK recipe, which bodes well for long-term aging. The baskets have been aged in Anhui for two years, and while the tea is very drinkable now, I have no doubt it will improve with more time. I am, however, enjoying the distinctive character I get from the liquor from this tea, which I believe is partly due to how young this material is at this stage: I can't buy liu an this young (that I'd want to drink at all) down here in HK.

After the rinse, I get a whiff of smoke from the leaf: this doesn't carry over in the cup, however, and should age out in a few years down here.

The flavor of the liquor is full and pleasantly bitter when pushed hard. I do detect a honey-like flavor in this tea that I don't get from the aged baskets, which is something I really enjoyed when trying this tea. The tea has excellent ku wei and calming energy. The aftertaste is longlasting after the swallow. I had a good feeling about the aging prospects of this tea right from the first infusion, so I would definitely like to put some away to age, funds permitting!

The freshness of the bamboo wrapper lends a hay-like character to the liquor, which is actually quite pleasant. I noticed my body warmed up rather quickly from this tea, which was unexpected. As the liquor cools, fruity honey and date flavors are present in the bottom of the cup.

This is a great tea that holds a lot of promise! I'd keep infusions a little shorter than with pu erh due to the small leaf grade used for these baskets. If you have enjoyed my other raw liu an and would like to try a premium modern basket, or would like to try aging some yourself, these are well worth trying out. 

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