2009 Traditional Storage Raw Liubao

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From TeaLife Hong Kong

June 9th, 2021

This liubao is from an authorized factory and produced very well. A lot of raw liubao is produced outside the legal framework in China, and after some rather scary experiences with some of those teas, I’ve been looking for a good raw liubao from a registered factory. I’ve finally found one, and this tea is very different from the family producer-style raw liubaos I’ve tried before.

Hong Kong has longer ties to liubao production than pu erh production, and I believe this style of traditional storage raw liubao preceded traditional storage raw pu erh in Hong Kong. This is a very interesting tea that was entirely aged on the other side of the border, but in the style Hong Kong is known for. Hong Kong dealers dominated the liubao trade in Guangxi in the 19th century, and I feel this tea fills in an important gap in my understanding of how Hong Kong’s tea scene developed in the 19th and 20th centuries (at least as far as heicha goes).

Some of the leaves in this material have coalesced into small chunks, and there is a light frosting of mold. The aroma of the dry tea is very much like some of the HK traditional storage pu erh I drink and offer here on the site, which was a surprise, since the larger factories don’t store their liubao in quite this manner. I rinsed this tea twice before testing due to the frosting of mold, which is definitely light. The storage on this tea has been done very well, but due to the power of the material here, I think this tea will improve massively in my storage over a few years and mellow out significantly.

In the cup, there is some low-down, old school sheng-like bitterness. The liquor has aromatics I strongly associate with HK traditional storage, and these should recede with time in my warehouse. I get an instant calming effect from the first sip, which is always a good sign. I’ve been less sensitive to these effects for a few weeks, but I felt the effect of this tea immediately.

Some of the flavors I get in this material are flavors I associated specifically with traditional storage sheng, and I thought they came from the material itself. I now realize these aromatics are due to the effects of storage on raw material alone. This tea would fool me blind, and I would think it was traditional storage sheng! The flavor is camphorous, vegetal and a little floral, along with some date in the aftertaste.

This tea is a great candidate for blending with ripe liubao, and I tried blending it 50:50 with China Tea liubao with excellent results. The storage taste was much milder, the liquor smoother and the overall experience a little ‘spicier’ than with plain ripe liubao. I’ll probably try a 25:75 raw to ripe ratio next.

As the liquor cools, some soil notes are apparent, but they are mild. The similarity between this tea and some HK traditional storage shengs is uncanny. This tea still has a little bite since it’s raw, but it is very far along, of course. More time will definitely help mellow this tea down further, but it’s very interesting to drink at this stage.

This tea definitely gets my digestion going. I’m not sure if this is due to the probiotic effect from the aging, the material itself, or both.

I’m very happy with this tea, and I think it’s going to be very popular with the liubao and traditional storage pu erh aficionados out there. I feel this tea is representative of the liubao that would have been sold in Hong Kong in the 19th century.

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