Old Tea Nugget - Lao Cha Tou - 2005

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Pu-erh Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by Nathaniel Gruber
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From Mandala Tea

During the process of turning tea leaf into ripe Pu’er, a relatively high degree of compression takes place toward the bottom of the fermenting piles. This compression, along with the heat that occurs within the tea, causes some of the leaf to press together and form tight nuggets of goodness.
This particular tea leaf was harvested and compressed in 2005 and like all cha tou gives up the best flavor using the hottest water possible. We learned while in China that cha tou is best rinsed three times rather than the usual two one would perform on other ripe teas.
Relish many steepings of this rich smelling tea which yields a full-bodied and clear red cup of ripe tea joy!

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4 Tasting Notes

2816 tasting notes

I was definitely not sure what to expect from this one because descriptions I have heard of Lao Cha Tou just sound so weird… since these nuggets are formed at the bottom of the pu-erh fermentation pile (while making shu puerh).

I did decide to follow the recommended instructions and I rinsed the nuggets three times. After that I infused my first batch in the gaiwan for about 60 seconds. I have to admit this does smell a little bit like a barnyard but I’m not one of those squeamish types. I got a very dark red liquor that is clear in color, slightly sweet and very earthy.

My second steep was only for around 30 seconds because the color already started getting so dark. I’m picking some some mushroom-y type flavors as well as the sweeter ones mentioned above.

Third steep seems like it starting to mellow out a bit and get slightly more grounded. Imagine shiitake mushrooms cooked with a handful of twigs and a touch of merlot and that’s starting to get close… lol. This is some pretty interesting stuff I must admit. I’m not sure if I would buy anymore but it’s pretty fun to try.

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Mushrooms, twigs, and merlot! Yum! Hahahahaha!! You’re hilarious!


I forgot to mention the eye of newt. :)


Hahaha….I was just thinking of an eye of newt Gingrich in your tea! hahaha. :))


Also, I read the title quickly and thought it read OLD TED NUGGENT! What’s wrong with me today?!


@Scott – lol


HI Amy! Thanks for writing this up! This particular vintage of old tea nugget has been our bestselling one to date. I usually start out at around a 30-40 second steeping and just keep doing that over and over. We have many customers who report 25-30 infusions before they call it quits! I must admit, it’s one of my favorites and I like the sweetness that comes through. I can’t tell you how many customers quit coffee on the spot when they have tasted this brewed up nice and strong :) Have a tea-riffic day, everyone!!!

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97 tasting notes

I have to admit that I was a bit frightened of this tea. I’ve had them in my cart to buy every time I ordered with Mandala and I’ve gotten spooked each time. So I am very happy that Garret included a sample with my last order.

I did the recommended 3 rinses on this one.

1st Steep-30 seconds
Perhaps a bit too earthy for me on the first steep. I didn’t hate the taste though. It was very earthy but there was a nice sweetness to it. I’m interested to see how this mellows.

2nd Steep-45 seconds
I get what people mean when they say a tea smells “barnyard.” Because this one kind of does. I didn’t find it at all unpleasant though. It actually brought back lovely childhood memories. The taste was very smoky. Kind of like a sweeter Lapsang.

3rd Steep-1 minute
It still smells a bit musty but it’s fading to a nice leathery note. The taste, however, is fantastic. Naturally sweet with a brown sugar, raisin note. There is also a wine-like tang that I find very appealing even though I hate wine. I don’t know quite what to make of this tea but all the feelings I have are positive.

4th Steep-1.30 minutes
It’s mellowing out in a very nice way. It’s a bit roasty and nutty like coffee with a nice chocolaty flavor. Kind of like Nutella on whole wheat toast.

5th Steep-2 minutes
Very light but still a bit roasty and nutty. It doesn’t seem to be weakening very much at all.

6th Steep-10 minutes
I always manage to forget about the last steep. This is very light with a very surprising floral note. After the roasty toasty of the previous steep, the floral note is very shocking and a great note to finish on.

This tea started out so bold and finished so gently. I liked it a lot. Perhaps not an everyday tea but when I need a good kick in the pants, I would definitely reach for this one first.

P.S. I don’t think I will ever see my team win again.

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LOL Yep add it to my wish list. This sounds amazing, right up my alley.

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41 tasting notes

Most people haven’t familiarized themselves with the processes that occur at the bottom of a pile of fermenting tea leaves. I had recently been introduced to the idea and this is my first experience with trying such a tea.

The brew is golden and sweet even from the beginning. Garrett suggests rinsing three times. That’s fine and well…since I like lighter steepings I often choose to rinse only once or twice if I’m making this for myself. There is kind of a sugary crispness that is present with this tea. For those of you only familiar with much stronger and muddy Pu’ers I would suggest this as a much nicer, sweeter alternative to that.

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8155 tasting notes

mmmmmm so i’ve had this sample in my cupboard from gracebtlb for a while now. Not because i haven’t wanted to drink it, but because i try to take the time to sit and really focus on the puerh, at least the first time i have it haha. I have to say that this one shocked me with just how much i loved it. I’ve been pretty much drinking it since this morning – in between cups of other teas. This will be an order for sure in future!

I didn’t really take notes while drinking this as i was really enjoying it. but i did give it two rinses to start, as suggested to me by grace. After that i just kept adding 15 sec or so each steep.
-earthy; bold; smooth; a little sweet; leathery; sweet; sort of roasty…kinda

Just a really happy tea for me today in rainy ville. I need to start setting aside time every weekend for puerh!

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