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2019 China Tea 5501 Nanyang Story Grade I Ripe Liubao (100g)

2019 China Tea 5501 Nanyang Story Grade I Ripe Liubao (100g)

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Update: June 2nd, 2021

The storage note is now entirely gone from this tea (although I am brewing in Nixing clay today). The dark chocolate/orange flavor is much more pronounced as well. This is a great tea! 

March 8th, 2021

This 2019 production was first made in 2018, and both the 2018 and 2019 boxes feature the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. These boxes commemorate the history of Chinese migration and settlement in Malaysia, which is also a major market for liubao tea since it was popularly consumed by Cantonese migrants to Malaysia. Hong Kong was the main transit point for liubao to Malaysia for a long time, and a lot of the liubao that passed through HK, especially in the later years, was stored in Guangxi to meet HK dealers' demands for a well aged product.

The 5501 is a modern liubao: carefully produced, fermented and aged, and sorted with the latest automatic screening technology to remove foreign matter and ensure a higher quality product. Liubao tea has never been cleaner or safer to consume than it is today, and this tea comes with a pesticide report. While liubao in Malaysia was traditionally low grade larger leaf material with stems incorporated, this grade is smaller leaf and tips, and the difference is readily evident when brewing this tea up.

The bag on this 2019 version has a small hole to allow for gas transfer, which is a very nice touch. This allows for storage aromas from the two years of light traditional storage this tea had (between December 2017 and Septembe 2019) to dissipate and the tea can age more naturally than in a sealed bag, which causes undesirable results, particularly with traditionally stored teas (in my experience).

The liquor from this tea is nice and dark. I used around 8g/150ml to test this tea, and I chose to test in porcelain, as I am wont to do nowadays since it provides for a more neutral test than a clay pot (in most cases). The dry leaf smells very clean. 

In the cup, I was surprised by pleasant and balanced bitterness, which I don't usually get from new liubao, as well as a chocolate-orange aftertaste which reminds me of the 2020 China Tea 5133 liubao I also offer. This aftertaste is more pronounced in the 5133, but I suspect this taste will get more prominent in the 5501 now that the bag is opened and the tea can breathe fully (I will update this description when I test the tea again).

I suspect the dark chocolate-like bitterness from this material will translate to better kuwei (sweetness after bitterness) down the line, and I think this liubao is an excellent candidate for long-term aging (with the bag unsealed)! This tea has a lovely calming effect that I felt from the first sip. The storage note is very, very faint and I have to look to find it: I expect it to dissipate fully over the next few months in the opened box.

The caffeine effect became evident after a few infusions, and I felt the tea left me feeling very satisfied. The longevity of this material is excellent, and much better than with grade III liubao. 

Please note samples will come from a box that is unsealed and aging (until I need to open a new box). Tea from a new, sealed box is likely to be considerably different until allowed to age some.

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