Organic Ancient Green Pu-Erh Tuo Cha

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Pu-erh Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by Jason
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200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 15 sec

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From Arbor Teas

This compressed Green Pu-erh is made with top-quality sun-dried buds from the 1300-year-old tea trees of the Jing Mai Mangjing region of China’s southwest Yunnan province. Its flavor is mildly sweet with a character of gentle white and green teas. The infusion of this exquisite tea is light brown with a rose hue, yielding the flavor and aroma of malted grains and sweet apples. The faintest hint of earthiness that is characteristic of pu-erh teas can also be detected. Each tuo cha is individually wrapped and perfect for a small teapot or can be broken apart to accommodate a single serving.

Sustainability is a cornerstone of Arbor Teas’ business philosophy. In addition to offering an exclusively organic selection of teas, they recently became the first tea company to offer their whole catalog in 100% backyard compostable packaging. They’ve also carbon-offset the entire supply chain of their products, from origin to the customer, making Arbor Teas the greenest option for Earth-conscious tea drinkers, and one of few tea companies recognized by Green America.

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About Arbor Teas View company

We’re tea enthusiasts with a lot of passion. Passion for top quality tea, the environment, fair trade, and our community. We started Arbor Teas in Ann Arbor, Michigan, intent on creating a tea company as passionate as we are. Our passion is reflected in every aspect of Arbor Teas. You’ll certainly notice it in the exceptional collection of teas we offer - one of the largest catalogs of USDA certified organic teas around, nearly three-quarters of which are Fair Trade Certified®.

12 Tasting Notes

6770 tasting notes

This is a tough lil Tuo Cha!!!
Still unNESTING!
4th infusion…
I could do TONS more infusions but I received more tea today AND I have been juicing so…I have to get a movin’ here! LOL

Color I finally got to a light orange-brown.

Aroma – woodsy

Flavor – woodsy AND floral with a hint of citrus and/or apple!

Rating for this infusion about 80. My favorite was the 3rd. This is a neat pu-erh! Upping the overall rating because of that

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911 tasting notes

More new tea! This one from Arbor Teas’ fair trade selection. When I first started drinking tea a few years ago, it seemed like there were only about three fair trade and five organic teas. Anywhere. And they were all kind of meh tasting but cost twice as much as normal teas. So when I went to see what samples I might want to try from Arbor Teas, I really figured that they wouldn’t have that many options. Dude, they have a lot. Seriously, have I been that far out of the Fair Trade/Organic tea loop or were there always lots of options and I just didn’t know where to look?

Anyway, I’m really excited to try this one, mostly because the only green pu-erh I’ve tried was CTG’s Sticky Rice one which gave me the idea I might actually like green pu-erhs. This one will be the ultimate test to see if I really do!

First off, the tuo-cha is surprisingly heavy so I broke it in half for my 10oz mug. The leaves are soft and furry and look somewhat Silver Needle-like. I did a rinse then steeped for about 30s. The liquor is very light and smells softly honeyed/musty.

The taste is delightfully surprising – sweetly musty, soft, smooth and earthy but light, not heavy/syrupy earthy like a cooked pu-erh. There are hints of hay in the sweetness and sometimes a faint honey. The aftertaste is deliciously nectar-y and pretty. I was worried about the possibility of bitterness (since CTG’s has a tendency to get bitter if you steep even slightly too long) but there is no hint of bitterness or even any astringency here – it’s very smooth. The lack of bitterness makes me think I might steep it just a little longer next time to get a bit stronger flavor but then I think that for something like this, a fainter first steep isn’t unusual.

The second steep (40s) is much darker and has an allover stronger scent and flavor, but it is just as pretty – lovely musty, sweet, honeyed smoothness with a bit of a richer flavor than the first steep and a hint of more normal pu-erh earthy but still not the overly sweet syrupy earthy that is just too much for me. There also seems to be a fair amount of honey in the aftertaste. It actually reminds me of a tasty Silver Needle tea. I’m not sure if that’s a normal green pu-erh taste but honestly, I don’t really care because this is the type of pu-erh I can totally get behind.

The third steep (~45s) is smooth and rich and earthy and nectary and a little heavier but not too heavy… There’s an almost… bready note to it too? Kind of like wheat bread or perhaps toast? It’s hard to really peg but it’s super-tasty.
~1/2 tuo-cha/10oz

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec

I need to order from Arbor Teas again. I live in the city (Ann Arbor) so they deliver to my door for free. :)

Thomas Smith

Young, pure bud sheng cha is just half a step (if not less) away from a silver needle style white tea, so the similarities you’re drawing are totally justified.

Fair Trade really didn’t have a presence in tea in China until recently and has largely spread from a single project/organization in Yunnan. Really, it isn’t applicable for most teas in China (private sellers are ineligible – only coops qualify – and most tea is sold through middlemen). However, it’s exactly the kind of program that needs to be applied in Assam and Dooars in India and should probably start a presence in Africa (other than the rooibos growing coops) as well.


Thomas, you are a wealth of tea information! And glad to know about the similarity to a SN white – makes me feel not so crazy! :)
I just finished the book The Empire of Tea and that (along with a few other things I’ve read) has definitely made it hit home how important things like Fair Trade teas are.

Thomas Smith

You should give Liquid Jade a looksee as well!

I generally don’t put much thought into Fair Trade for tea (or even coffee, where it’s more applicable), since I am one of those types that wants a direct traceable line from a single farmer/producer or small village organisation to the consumer rather than a larger coop that blends material. However, the atrocities in Assam’s tea industry and the fact that one of the only outlets for organic tea from the region is owned by one of the major perpetrators in human right’s negligence as well as pollution from tea farming in the entire tea industry really angers me. It’s a big part of why I rarely buy Assams anymore even if they are really good. It’s strange to me to think that India has more issues in this arena than China (in tea, anyway). Fair Trade coupled with government programs in China have really worked to better the lives of some of the generally impoverished communities by bolstering tea production, though it has taken a toll on the environment. Transfair really needs to mobilize in Northern India. There are organisations waiting and trying to work it out on their own – they just need the outlet to get things moving.


Awesome – I will have to check that out. It looks like it will be a bit more engaging than The Empire of Tea which, while it had interesting info, tended to be pretty darn dry…

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2816 tasting notes

My first time trying a green pu-erh so I really have nothing to compare this to…

I infused this for about 3 minutes western style. The tuo cha does not want to open up and come unfurled – is this a good sign? A bad sign? Who knows.

First infusion is very mild, green tea is not a very prominent flavor here. I am getting apple and a bit of malty sweetness. Like many pu-erhs this reminds me of mushrooms, but a delicate white button mushroom instead of a deep, dark shiitake.

Second infusion is very much the same with no loss of flavor… a very light and aromatic brew. Not sure I will need to buy this again because I think I prefer the black pu-erhs but it has made for a very nice sample. :)

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

I’ve only tried black Tuo Cha, and they never completely unfurled.

Jim Marks

I’ve been known to poke stubborn tuocha with a chopstick if they won’t open up.

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4846 tasting notes


A very nice pu-erh. I usually find pu-erh to be very earthy, but this has a mild earthy note and I like that. No overwhelming earthy, brine-y, or fish-y tastes to this tea and I like that.

The flavor gets deeper with the second and third infusions, although it still maintains the mellow earthiness. It is sweet and almost hay-like, reminiscent of a Shou Mei rather than a dark Pu-erh.

Smooth and tasty. Here’s my full-length review:

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59 tasting notes

First Infusion: This is a very different pu-erh than most I’ve sampled. It retains the earthiness of most pu-erhs, but it has a very slight sweetness to it that really rounds out the taste. Additionally, it smells more like a black tea than a pu-erh. But it’s really nice to find a pu-erh that doesn’t smell like fish :p

Second Infusion: This time I used a third less water in order to concentrate the flavor more. It definitely has more of the rose-tinted hue described on the company’s website. The flavor is even more complex than the first infusion. It kind of reminds me of a cross between a black tea and a white tea, if that makes any sense – you can easily identify a black tea taste to it, with some of the lingering lightness of a white tea.

Overall, this is a pleasant and very interesting pu-erh. Definitely worth the price of a sample on the company’s website.

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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559 tasting notes

Backlogging from the day before yesterday.

This tea is so interesting! I’ve never tried pu-erh from a little cake before. Or green pu-erh, for that matter. I used an entire cake for a pot that usually makes around 4 cups and as it steeped, I broke it up with a spoon to make sure it soaked all the way through.

In hindsight, I should have steeped it for longer. I saw that it was a green tea, almost like a white, so I treated it delicately. Somehow the fact that it’s a pu-erh slipped my mind. The flavor was very light this way, much like a white tea, but with the sort of aged aftertaste of pu-erh. The tea’s liquor was a light yellowy green.

My second attempt will steep at least five and a half minutes.

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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14 tasting notes

The first time I steeped this tea I made the mistake of treating it like a green tea. It is not. It is infact a pu-erh and must be steeped at boiling to really open it’s flavor profile. First lightly sweet wheat flavor giving way to sweet and green apples and finishing off with an ever so light earthy musty note. This tea is fairly simple and yet carries an experience of sophistication that I haven’t ever noted while tasting another tea. What does sophistication taste like you might ask? Order the sample and tell me if I’m wrong. This simple little tuo cha is delicious and a treat in every sip. Steep multiple times to ride the entire flavor train, but it looses me after the fourth.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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