Long ago, the wise tea master Lao Cha was on a pilgrimage through the mountainous ranges of Guanxi province, China, when he stumbled upon a tired farmer:
— Shifu, do you have something for me that is comforting, like a thick rice porridge, yet sweet and robust like coffee that will help me tackle all this work?
— Of course, young one! Let me share with you a woven basket of Liu Bao.
Liu Bao can be considered the sister and, at the same time, the forefather of Shou Pu-erh. This tea originated from Guangxi province in China and dates back to the 1500s. Farmers age it using large bamboo baskets. The production of Liu Bao involves wet piling – the same method that tea producers later adapted to create Ripe Pu-erh.
If you are into the aged qualities of Ripe Pu-erh, we recommend trying Liu Bao Hei Cha. Compared to a Ripe Pu-erh, however, this tea has lighter, more uplifting qualities. The taste of Liu Bao is sweet and soft and has deep notes of red dates, earth, and tobacco. The mouthfeel is relatively thick yet refreshing.
Traditionally farmers make Liu Bao Hei Cha using the "triple-steaming method." That involved steaming, rolling, a second steaming and compressing into boxes for fermentation, additional rolling of the tea leaves, drying, then a final steaming for compressing into boxes. It served a double purpose for the convenience of transportation along with aging and further fermentation.
In the 1960s, the processing of Liu Bao began to change. Farmers began to use the wet-piling process to encourage fermentation. They first pan-fried the tea leaves, wetted them with water, and piled them in controlled conditions. This new production method, in turn, influenced the start of Shou Pu-erh production. However, the processing method for Ripe Pu-erh involved more water and heavier tea piles for an even deeper level of fermentation. That once again influenced Liu Bao's production. Nowadays, farmers produce practically all Liu Bao using the wet-piling method versus the traditional triple-steaming. Naturally, this results in a deeper taste.
Our Liu Bao Hei Cha uses a unique combination of steaming and wet-piling methods. First, farmers wet-pile the freshly harvested tea leaves, after which they steam them and leave them to age.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Liu Bao has both heating and cooling properties (yin and yang). It made Liu Bao Hei Cha has been very popular with Chinese mine workers who went to work in Malaysian tin mines. Large amounts of this tea were exported to Malaysia, where the workers would drink it to combat the harsh and damp conditions of the mines and expel excess dampness from their bodies. Today, you can still find old traditional Liu Bao supplies across Malaysia. Furthermore, locals love drinking this tea in the humid climates of Guangdong and Hong Kong.
A common preparation method is bringing the tea leaves to a boil in a pot, then letting them steep while cooling. The hot temperature doesn't harm the tea or extract any bitterness. Instead, this method only enhances the tea's nutritional value. Liu Bao is a straightforward tea to brew and can be both cooked and steeped as usual.
212℉ / 100℃
1g per 80ml 3-5min
1g per 20ml 10sec + 5sec for each subsequent infusion