The Chinese Tea Shop’s 2006 Six Famous Tea Mountain, Organic Ban Zha Tea Cake & 1990’s Ancient Camphor Wild Tree Loose Leaf Pu-Erh Tea | Tea Review

by Tea in Spoons

Tea provided for review

The Chinese Tea Shops Spoons

After trying some aged teas from The Treasure Green Tea Company, I was craving some more. So, I decided to try the raw (sheng) pu-erhs I received while I was in Vancouver! One tea is in cake format and the other is loose.

I came across The Chinese Tea Shop when I was looking for tea shops to visit during my trip to Vancouver. Daniel Lui owns the shop and moved to Canada in 1997. Due to his knowledge of Chinese tea and culture, people encouraged him to start his own Chinese tea shop.

In 2001, Daniel opened The Chinese Tea Shop, then known as Arts De Chine. Sadly, I was unable to visit the tea shop because Daniel was on vacation during my trip. However, he kindly left some tea for me with a friend, so I was able to receive a few of his teas. This week will be the two pu-erhs, and I will leave the other three for another post!

Pu-erhs (pu-er) are fermented types of tea which are made in Yunnan, China. There are two types of pu-erh; raw (sheng) and ripe (shou). Linda Gaylard, a tea sommelier, explains succinctly in her book, The Tea Book the difference between the two. She writes: “There are two kinds of pu’er: Sheng (raw), which is allowed to develop and age naturally, and Shou (ripe), which undergoes an accelerated fermentation process.”

The Chinese Tea Spoons Brew Times

Lastly, when it came to steeping parameters, Daniel has written a primer on tea brewing: Gong Fu Cha The Complete Guide To Making Chinese Tea. Therefore, I followed that, which had different recommendations for cake and loose tea. Hopefully, that gave some background information about The Chinese Tea Shop, as well as raw-pu-erh and tea brewing.

Let’s go!

The Chinese Tea Shop: 2006 Six Famous Tea Mountain, Organic Ban Zha Tea Cake, Diancang Pin

The Chinese Tea Shop 2006 Six Famous Tea Mountain dry

Description: “The taste is mellow and has very soft “cha qi” balance bitterness. Sweet after taste.”

Review: I really enjoyed that the website provided some information on where the tea was from. For example, Ban Zha refers to tea villages where pu-erh grows, and there are three: Lao Ban Zhang, Xing Ban Zhang, and Lao Man Eh, which are located in the Bu Lang Mountain. The villages are difficult to access, therefore the old trees are maintained in the original condition. Additionally, Six Famous Tea Mountain is a well-known tea factory in Yunnan which was founded in 2002.

Since I only had a sample, I only had a portion of the tea cake. The leaves were a chocolate brown colour and I could see some orange tips. There was a very faint smell when dry. However, it became much more pronounced after steeping. The wet leaves had a warm, woody and spiced smell and became more of an olive green colour.

The Chinese Tea Shop 2006 Six Famous Tea Mountain wet

The liquor was a dark clear orange and the first steep tasted earthy, with a tail end of bitterness. The liquor became a darker as the infusions continued and became a golden-reddish colour.

The second steep had a much bolder flavour that lingered in the mouth, and I was able to feel some astringency during the end of the sip. During the third steep, the taste was very similar but I tasted it more at the back of the throat, with lingering woody, earthy, and damp moss notes.

For the fourth and fifth infusion, the earthy flavours started to wane, but I was able to detect some fruity and nutty notes instead. The last infusion was very mild and consisted mostly of astringency. Overall, I enjoyed the tea and I liked that it had a nice range of flavours (3/5 rating).

  • Type: Pu-erh tea
  • Origin: China
  • Caffeine: High caffeine
  • Ingredients: Pu-erh tea
  • Company: The Chinese Tea Shop

The Chinese Tea Shop: 1990’s Ancient Camphor Wild Tree Loose Leaf Pu-Erh Tea

The Chinese Tea Shop 1990 Ancient Camphor dish

Description: “The tea liquid is very clean with a deep reddish cherry amber color, infused with a comforting camphor, woody, and earthy flavor.”

Review: This tea also came with some information on how it was stored and its materials. The tea originally was stored in Hong Kong for 10 years, then moved to Vancouver and stored there for over 10 years. The cake is made a blend of wild teas from different mountain, seasons, sizes and ages.

Appearance wise, the tea was a dark brown with a hint of ashiness.  There was a very faint smell of wood and some mild fermented notes. It smelled like a very classic example of a pu-erh. The damp leaves became even darker and almost black with a damp, earthy and musky smell. The liquor came out as a dark red-orange.

The Chinese Tea Shop 1990 Ancient Camphor wet

Despite giving the tea a quick rinse, I was surprised how flavourful it was during the first steep; there was a sweetness which reminded me of honey, along with hints of earthiness. During the second infusion, I was able to smell a strong aroma from the liquor as I was sipping the tea. The flavour was similar to the first infusion and didn’t leave the mouth dry.

The liquor became darker during the third infusion. However, the sweetness was starting to decrease with some astringency creeping in. I was able to fully taste the more “classic” earthy pu-erh flavour coming through.

For the fourth steep, the liquor was a dark brown with red undertones. The sweetness was mostly gone. What remained was a very clear earthy flavour. For the final infusion, the colour was the same, but the flavour was mostly gone. I enjoyed the first and third infusions the most because of the contrast in flavours (4/5 rating).

  • Type: Pu-erh tea
  • Origin: China
  • Caffeine: Medium caffeine
  • Ingredients: Pu-erh tea
  • Company: The Chinese Tea Shop

Final Thoughts

Overall, I have to say, I am pretty happy with the two pu-erhs. I really enjoyed the 1990’s Ancient Camphor Wild Tea Pu-erh. It had a great classic flavour which started off sweet and ended earthy. Personally, I wouldn’t have steeped the teas for more than 4 infusions since most of the flavours had left by then.

Lastly, in an earlier review, I reviewed both a rraw and a ripe pu-erh from The Bitterleaf Teas and you can also buy a copy of Gaylard’s book The Tea Book here, and read Daniel’s Gong Fu Cha The Complete Guide To Making Chinese Tea primer here

What is the oldest tea you have tried?

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Tea in Spoons is where I share my love of teas through tea reviews, tea travel, tea tips, information, and more. New tea adventure every Thursday!