2009 Norbu Lao Cha Tou - 250g Shu Pu-Erh Tea Brick
I am very happy
to present this new private production ripe Pu'er tea for Norbu Tea!
Cha Tou are one of my favorite forms of Pu'er tea, and these little
nuggets are awesome. We tasted a ton of different Cha Tou this Spring,
and these from 2006 were our favorites.
The tea was fermented
in late Spring, 2006 at the Jing Gu Tea factory in Pu'er Prefecture.
The 3 years since fermentation have really mellowed out the sour
"fermentationy" flavor found in most newly fermented teas. It was
compressed in early July at a little factory in Kunming, where we had
the bricks stored for about a month after compression. To compress
these bricks, the factory has to add moisture and use some pretty
serious hydraulic presses to get the Cha Tou to stick together, so the
bricks needed to air out and lose some of that added moisture for a
while after compression.
The flavor of this tea is quite
smooth, mellow & mildly sweet. The steeped liquor is not super
thick because the nuggets don't generally unfurl too much when steeped,
but the texture of the tea liquor in the mouth is full and satisfying.
The amazing thing about this tea is that it can be infused so many
times. In the first tasting we did after receiving these bricks, we
steeped the leaves 15 times before quitting, and there was plenty left
in the nuggets for more infusions. Later in the day, we decided to boil
the almost spent Cha Tou loose in a kettle, which gave a different but
really good flavor. These things just don't quit...which is one of the
many reasons that we love them around here.
About Lao Cha Tou:
Lao Cha Tou translates loosely as 'Old Tea
Nugget.' Cha Tou are small nuggets of clumped-together tea leaves that are formed as a result of the heat and pressure that is
generated by the piles of tea when they are undergoing fermentation.
At the end of the 40-60 day
fermentation process the newly fermented tea is sorted into grades based
on size using impressive wind tunnel sorting machines. The nuggets are
found toward the bottom of the pile usually after sorting, and are just
a small portion of a batch of ripened Pu'er. Usually, because of this
small percentage of production, many tea factories will store their Cha
Tou for a few years until they accumulate enough material for a full
pressing composed of a blend of several years nuggets.
fermented Cha Tou like these are highly sought after because they are
incredibly infusable and give a flavorful brew well beyond 15
steepings. Also, many people say that the smallest leaf & bud
material make up these little nuggets, although leaf grade/size really
doesn't have much impact on the taste of the final brew in this case.