Lao Shu Qian Liang Cha 2021

A disc sawn from a greater log of tea, the Qian Liang Cha is more than just a curiousity; it is a team effort to prepare it for what lies ahead. While this one hasn’t seen much ageing, it is a portrayal of the raw, greener flavours of a compressed mao cha before it relinquishes itself into a deeper solitude (take the Qian Liang Cha from 2013 for instance). The initial aromas of roasted coffee beans, incense wood, and smoke meets a tart and slightly astringent liquor of ginger, green apple, and malt. Many interesting contrasts has one reaching back for the cup, as if to decipher all the faces of this tea and like the hands that went into its making - through its countless brews are ever-changing.

 

About the producer

We were approached by Huang Xiaofeng, who runs a small-scale tea company in Anhua, with a portfolio of quality heicha or dark teas from the alpine forests of the region. Their focus on local tradition and authentic techniques took our intrigue immediately that we decided to source a bunch of heichas to take on an exploration of a tea category lesser known to us. The raw materials are sourced from their 100-acre Laocong old tea garden, a biodynamic environment more than 700m deep in the mountains and far away from local villages and roads.

Image to the right: Huang Xiaofeng tending to fixed tea; image to the left: Tea farmers carrying their pickings down the mountain.
  • ORIGIN: Gaomaerxi, Anhua, Yiyang, Hunan, China
  • MEANING: Thousand Tael tea (lao shu qian liang cha)
  • CULTIVAR: Anhua qun ti zhong
  • HARVEST TIME: 2021
  • TASTE: Ginger, apple pie, malt
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Preparation

IN THE TEAPOT
  • Quantity: 6g / 500ml
  • Water temperature: 100°C
  • Infusion time: 5 min
GONGFU CHA METHOD
  • Quantity: 5g / 100ml
  • Water temperature: 100°C
  • Several short infusions

After an initial rinse, start with few seconds. Increase the brewing time at each following infusion. Exception: If the leaves are pressed, make the first infusion longer than the second. For best results in gongfu cha, brew in a Yixing teapot.

Additional Information

Named after a twisted tea bun, Hua Juan Cha is a category of Hei Cha uniquely compressed into hand-woven bamboo baskets resembling pillars of tea. Each pillar is lined with reed leaves and palm bark before being stuffed with raw material according to ancient propriety. The iconic Qian Liang Cha measures 36.25kg, or qian ('1000') liang; an old Chinese unit measuring about 36 grams, and requires a team of men in its making. Ba ('100') Liang Cha and Shi ('10') Liang Cha are variants and come in their respective sizes. It is a unique emblem of the Anhua tea trade originally conceived for the ease of transportation, though its true value now lies in the way this particular method regulates ageing tea. By allowing oxygen to circulate inside yet retaining the moisture needed within it, aids a slow and steady fermentation.