2006 Shou Pu-Erh Zhong Cha Ping Cha 357g

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Zhong Cha China National Native Produce (CNNP), Yunnan, China

You want a ripe pu-erh with no mustiness or medicinal flavour? This tea is made for crossing over non-believers. Dangle this on a hook and watch ‘em take the bait.

Conversely, if you’re already a pu-erh drinker, it’d make you less of a big factory cynic.

If you’re really starting someone out on pu-erh though, a CNNP production may be a controversial choice but there’s method to this madness. Yes, they are the big brother of pu-erh companies, State owned prior to privatisation in the 1980s and since then lost in a tangled web of subsidiaries, affiliates, copycat outfits - all resulting in market confusion and product inconsistencies. 

But isn’t this the perfect metaphor for a pu-erh journey and more broadly, one’s tea tao anyway? 

That, despite the drama, the rumoured back stories, snubbing of old brands, ultimately your choice should come down to taste and feel.

This 2006 offering had been stored and aged in local Yunnan high alt, temperate conditions, lending a mellow, thick “tong” with a sweet dried prune finish. It’s a tea that keeps on giving, seemingly infinite infusions that offer a consistent accent from first to tenth infusions. Thereafter you might think about tweaking your brewing technique a little but by then you’d be floating with the gods anyway and adjustments may likely come intuitively on a subconscious, other-worldly plane.

Dry leaf: compressed, dark leaves with golden buds
Taste: dried prune, apricot, cola
Process: pan-fired, sun-dried, wet piled, rolled, steamed, compressed and aged.
Storage: Break up the disc in pieces and keep in a clay caddy. Clay pores and occasional opening introduces the right amount of oxygen that help the tea develop character over time.
1. Pre-heat a 150ml Yixing (clay) pot with boiling water
2. Add 5-8g of tea and rinse the leaves for up to 10 seconds
3. Brew using 90C water for 20-30 seconds
4. Can be infused >10 times