Lately, I have been using tea as a virtual getaway to other parts of the world. I have never visited Myanmar, nor tried tea from the country, so this was hitting two birds with one stone!
Description: “Aged tea made from the leaves trees over 100 years old in the Guo Gan region of Myanmar a region inhabited by minorities of Chinese origin.”
I also wanted to try this tea because I know very little about teas from Myanmar. All I know about is laphet, which is a traditional Burmese pickled/fermented tea salad that contains roasted peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, fried garlic, green chilli, dried shrimp, and various vegetables, as noted in the tea book, Jane Pettigrew’s World of Tea.
I also found out from Jane’s book that tea leaves and buds from old trees are commonly sold to Yunnan, China to make pu-er (as noted in the Camellia Sinensis description). However, as of 2011, tea farmers have been facing financial and social problems relating to the decline in the market, high costs, low tea costs, military conflict, and so forth. So, this tea produced in 2012, pinpoints it to a specific period in the country’s tea history and acts as a time capsule which is interesting to think about.
After learning about the tea, I decided to brew it using both gong fu cha and western (teapot) style since the Camellia Sinensis website listed both. Let’s go.
Gong Gu Cha Technique
Instructions: 5 grams | 250 ml | 95° | Rinse leaves (5-10 seconds) | Infusion 1 (15-20 sec), Infusion 2 (10-20 sec), Infusion 3 (20-35 sec)
Review: The dry cake was a dark reddish-brown colour with a mellow fermented woody smell. It was a mixture of broken cake pieces and loose leaves since I purchased a sample size.
Quick rinse: (5 seconds): The liquor picked up a faint reddish colour, but it had no real smell or taste.
Infusion 1 (20 seconds): The liquor was a darker brownish colour and had an earthy mushroom smell. The taste was faint but there were hints of classic shou pu-er notes – mushrooms, fermented, earthy, and woody, like a cellar.
Infusion 2 (15 seconds): The liquor was darker but the taste was still mild.
Infusion 3 (30 seconds): A nice smooth reddish-brown liquor with earthy pu-er notes.
The wet leaves were a dark brown and were still ridged/unfurled. It had an earthy and musky smell.
Since the Camellia Sinensis website only had steeping suggestions up to 3 infusions, I decided to add the rest of the tea into a cup and brew it grandpa style (where you continue to add water to the tea). The taste was mellow and there was faint dryness at the back of the throat, but still very drinkable and smooth. I didn’t have any dim sum with me, so I had it with a savoury puff pastry which was nice!
Instructions: 1 tsp | 250 ml| 95° | rinse leaves (5-10 seconds) | 3-4 min
Review: Since I tend to normally brew pu-er in a gaiwan, I wanted to brew it in a cup and see how it compared. After 4 minutes, the liquor was a dark reddish-brown liquor with an earthy and fermented smell. It had some broken tea leaves at the bottom of the cup. The tea was smooth with some subtle classic notes like in the gong fu session. It had a lingering dryness and was quite palatable.
Overall, the tea was quite mellow. Since I only had a few grams of it, I wasn’t able to play with the steeping perimeters as much. I didn’t find there was a large difference between using gong fu or teapot style. Personally, since the tea is pretty easy to brew, this would be good for grandpa style since it didn’t really get very astringent. As the flavours are mellow, it may also be enjoyable for people who do not prefer the strong fermented pu-er notes some fermented teas have (3/5 rating).
- Type: Pu-er tea
- Origin: Myanmar, Guo Gan region
- Caffeine: Unknown
- Ingredients: Pu-er
- Company: Camellia Sinensis Tea House
The question of the post: What tea have you tried that had a historical significance?