Liu Bao is a post fermented tea originating from Liubao village in Cangwu County, Wuzhou prefecture in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. It is often compared to shu pu, which inherent processes in its production actually predate.
While this point of reference is not completely off the mark based on my experiences with these types of teas; I prefer to keep them separate, as they are ultimately two different teas. This particular Liu Bao, a 1970s 6608 from Camellia Sinensis, is assuredly one of the most pleasant productions that I have experienced.
The stems and flattened leaves of the sample displayed varying shades of cocoa brown and exhibited the texture of crêpe paper. It was similar to the crisp dryness of the bamboo wrapped Ya Xi Tibetan tea that I purchased from Life in Teacup. I derive a great pleasure in the sounds these teas make as they are prized from their wrappings, or tumbled into porcelain; it seems rather singular.
While little aroma was present in both the sample bag and cha he, the dry leaf cast a clean wood note with a hint of spice into the rising steam as the cluster tumbled into the warmed gaiwan.
A heavy scent of musty loam developed with the first steeping measure of water, as the liquor immediately assumed a beautiful, clear shade of mahogany.
The broth possessed a pleasing medium body that delivered a full mouth feel, exhibiting its 30 plus years of age in taste with a pleasing mustiness shadowing the dominant wood and old leather. A mineral like quality was present from the beginning, and persisted to end.
A note of eucalyptus induced a gently cooling sensation which emanated from the soft palate into the forehead starting with the third steep. The old leather note continued to linger into the sinus cavity until the fifth. As this diminished, I began to detect a light touch of aniseed in the throat. I was most pleased when that old tea calming sweetness began to present itself by the sixth.
The hui gan strengthened throughout the length of the session, really taking hold around this pivotal sixth steep. It proceeded to gradually fill the mouth until it had penetrated the soft palate. I steeped this enduring leaf well into multiple minute intervals, and continued to coax pleasing broths until the liquor lightened significantly and had become mere shades of sweet in taste.
The qi of this tea was subtle, but ultimately calming.
On a day such as today, when spring seems to have retreated into a second round of late fall, this tea was the perfect companion.
Notes taken on March 31st, 2012
steeping listening: Phill Niblock: Touch Works, For Hurdy Gurdy And Voice