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2020 China Tea / Zhongcha Traditional Storage 5133 Grade I Liubao (100g)

2020 China Tea / Zhongcha Traditional Storage 5133 Grade I Liubao (100g)

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December 27th, 2020

This is a Grade 1 liubao from China Tea / Zhongcha, formerly known as CNNP (the Chinese government's food product conglomerate). The government of China have been producing liubao for export to HK and Macau (and reexport to other destinations) since the 50s or earlier. The ripe process was actually devised for liubao tea first, before ripe pu erh was produced, and this was done by CNNP. Due to the demand for traditionally stored teas down here, the government of China even ensured tea was traditionally stored to meet Hong Kong demand. Hong Kong has a long history of involvement in the liubao trade, and merchants from here even set up shop in Guangxi to distribute liubao from farmers to the Chinese market before the establishment of the PRC!

This is a traditional storage liubao done right. While there is still some residual funk, I am quite sure it will dissipate quickly once the sealed bags are opened up and the tea is allowed to breathe. The storage flavors will dissipate over time. This is already a very clean tea for a traditional storage tea, and the right clay selection will entirely remove the storage taste. I tried this tea in both Nixing clay and one of the new Purion infuser mugs today, and the Purion mug made this tea sing!

This tea was originally processed and put into storage in 2019, and was ready for sale in May 2020. As with Three Cranes liubao, Zhongcha liubao now comes with pesticide reports proving the tea is clean. None of the potential agrochemicals or contaminants were detected by the government laboratory that tested this tea. I am much more comfortable drinking tested liubao after I had some raw liubao unexpectedly fizz in a very unnatural way, right before I was about to buy some to offer for sale. I will now stick to the good stuff after that experience!

The handwoven basket this tea is offered in was produced in a traditional Guangxi style, but with modern colors and a wood panel with the Chinese character for tea on the lid. Guangxi ethnic groups have a long history of weaving baskets that continues to this day, and this is a great example of how this ancient tradition still thrives today. Please note the baskets add around 250g of weight to the tea, so I am offering this tea both with and without the basket.

The dry leaf smells like traditional storage and chocolate. The pitcher smelled surprisingly sweet after the rinse, with not a hint of storage aroma. I preferred this tea in more muting Purion clay at this stage, but this tea is perfectly consumable in porcelain or glass if you aren't averse to traditional storage notes (and I know some of you love traditional storage tea).

The wet leaf smelled herbaceous and like traditional storage after the rinse.

In the cup, this tea has some residual traditional storage flavor, but the true character shone through clearly in the Purion mug, and I got notes of orange and chocolate, which was very interesting. This tea will definitely change over time, and I can't wait to see how these baskets develop over the years. The tea is smooth and clean, but was smoother in Purion for sure. The cha qi from this tea is excellent, and I felt a powerful calming effect that traveled to my fingers and toes. I also found this tea mildly dissociative, which was a surprise, as I usually only get that kind of effect from pu erh.

There is some betelnut in the cup as well, which was more prominent in Nixing than in Purion. Purion also brought out some balanced bitterness to a greater degree than in Nixing, perhaps due to the larger vessel size and longer steeps I used with the mug. This tea definitely likes to brewed long. I definitely much preferred this tea in the Purion mug at this stage since the storage note was muted almost entirely out, but I think a year or two of appropriate storage with the bag opened (or at least punched) will cause significant changes in this tea!

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