Sunday, October 9, 2011

Zina Tea's '06 '07 '08 Shu Puer Cake

My friend Donia has some excellent connections for Chinese tea. She recently started a Seattle-based business called Zina Tea (website coming soon) to bring these treasures to the North American market. Last weekend, she debuted her current selection at this year's Northwest Tea Festival and I was lucky enough to procure a small sample of an interesting shu bing (熟餅) called "2006-07-08 Blend Puer Cooked Cake" to review here on my blog.

The cake is beautifully presented in a wrapper advertising 喬木古茶 (tall trees old tea) in bold black characters. The factory is listed as Chang Yun Tea Company (昌雲茶業有限公司出品).

In her product description for this cake, Donia describes the production of shu puer as it pertains to this product. She notes that the level of fermentation differed for each of the three batches, 2006, 2007, and 2008, and that care was taken to ensure good air circulation for the leaves between batches. At a certain point, while processing the 2008 leaves, 2006 and 2007's leaves were mixed in. This melange waited three more years before being pressed into cakes.

The dry leaves appear dark brown and black with a few golden buds and stems. They have a sweet, toasty smell.

I used a ~100 ml gaiwan with 5 grams of leaf and boiling water. A short rinse released a pleasant malty, earthy aroma.

As expected, this cake performed very well for me. Six infusions poured silky, smooth and complex. The broth was a little bit lighter than most of my favorite shu puer teas so I'll try a couple more grams of dry leaf for my next session. My tasting notes included walnut, old growth rainforest, and vanilla bean.

I'd recommend this cake to anyone looking for a delicious and interesting shu puer blend. I also encourage my readers to contact Donia directly ( to receive her tea list or to ask her any questions about her business.

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