A young disciple asked Lao Cha:
– Shifu, the pu-erh you so kindly offer us fills our hearts with energy, warmth, and strength. Yet, there are times when I long for something more. A sense of jubilation, a feeling of celebration. How can I attain such a state?
The venerable tea sage, Lao Cha, peered into the young man's eyes.
– My dear disciple, a celebration is not just a feeling. It is a flavor. It is the fragrance of tangerines, the zest of life. If you wish to make your pu-erh tea a celebration in a cup, we must unearth the treasures of the tangerine, the very soul of the fruit. Dry the peel and fill it with tea. And so, the pu-erh shall be filled with the gods' nectar and the citrus's jubilant aroma.
In Yunnan's mountainous region, Menghai, lies a centuries-old tradition of blending tea leaves with Chen Pi (陈皮), the dried peel of an orange or a tangerine, resulting in a tea that is both delicious and beneficial for the body.
Chen Pi is a time-honored ingredient in Traditional Chinese Medicine, prized for its ability to balance the Qi (气) – the vital energy that flows through the body. It is believed to alleviate inflammation and soothe coughs and sore throats. And shou pu-erh is known to aid digestion and drive away cold and excessive dampness that can accumulate in the lungs.
This tea features high-quality ripe pu-erh tea leaves known as "Palace grade." Palace-grade pu-erh tea is characterized by its abundance of golden buds, which impart a rich sweetness to the brew. The leaves are processed carefully to preserve their delicate flavors, resulting in a soft, smooth, and incredibly mellow tea that lingers on the tongue long after it is sipped.
To create this special tea, farmers first scrape out the pulp of the tangerine, leaving only the hollow skin. They then fill it with ripe pu-erh leaves. The stuffed tangerine is then either slowly baked on a low fire for up to 26 hours or wrapped in cloth and allowed to age naturally.
The result is a rich and unique flavor that combines the refreshing citrus notes of Chen Pi with the mild earthiness and sweetness of ripe pu-erh. The taste is layered and balanced, bringing the drinker a peaceful, grounding feeling. The clear, intense red-orange liquor exudes a strong refreshing fragrance, enticing the senses with its aroma.
You can prepare Chen Pi in many ways. For example, you can take out the shou pu-erh using a pu-erh pick for a more intensive pu-erh tasting tea experience. Or you can soak the whole tangerine, using boiling water, in your preferred tea vessel. You can equally simmer the stuffed tangerine for 5-10 min.
Combining these exceptional tea leaves with the tangy, bright flavors of Chen Pi makes this tea an exquisite experience for the senses. Each cup is a celebration of the unique cultural heritage of Menghai County, a testament to the expertise and dedication of the local farmers and tea artisans who have worked for generations to perfect their craft.
Whether sipped alone as a meditative indulgence or shared with friends and loved ones as a gesture of hospitality, this tea will delight and enchant all who partake. With each sip, one can taste the essence of the mountains, the forests, and the people who have nurtured this tea for centuries.
Experimentation is the key to achieving the perfect balance of citrus and earthy notes. By adjusting the amount of mandarine peel used in each brewing, one can tailor the flavor to their taste.
212℉ / 100℃
1g per 80ml + 1g of peel per 250ml 3-5min
1g per 20ml + 1g of peel per 100ml 5sec + 5sec for each subsequent infusion