In recent years, there’s been a bit of noise around liu bao on the online tea universe. For those who have never had, it’s quite similar to shu pu’er, but still quite distinct. The “golden flowers”, aka good mold that this genre – heicha – is known for, was a turn off for me at first, as I thought it was either a marketing ploy for poorly stored tea. In fact, the opposite is true. It’s a good thing and their growth is natural and intentionally triggered. There’s plenty of literature out there for those interested.
I’m an openminded guy, so I ordered a sample without expectations. This is not a pretty tea, BUT it has grown on me fast. Dried tea chunks smell like old furniture, which makes sense for 16 years old leaves. Wet leaves smell of wet leather. Interesting.
The tea soup is an aesthetically pleasing reddish hue and very clear. The initial steeps are thick, lively, complex, and almost spicy. Lots of wood notes, leather, and hints of paprika that linger on the tongue. It looks and tastes clean. Especially after airing it out. 5 g will yield about 9 steeps, depending on how you brew of course.
This one is very comfortable going down, yet still interesting on the palate. I ended up purchasing more. I find airing out the tea upon arrival for a week or so will help it settle, improve sweetness, and produce a cleaner taste.