We have released Wu Jia Zhai Raw Pu-erh Tea. It is a Loose Tea (Mao-cha). This tea was made in 2018 and has been aged for nearly three years. Thanks to the aging, it has developed more distinctive flavour with sweet scent of sugar cane and dried fruits.
Sustainable Tea Garden at high altitude of 2000m
Wu Jia Zhai (武家寨 in Chinese) is a small village located in the southwestern part of Lincang City, Yunnan Province, China.
The tea plantation is located at altitude of 2000m or more, and it is located on an east-facing sunny slope. Along with Ming Feng Shan, Wu Jia Zhai is also known as an area where high quality good tea is produced.
In Wu Jia Zhai tea garden, the tea trees are of old trees that are hundreds of years old. These tea trees are grown with no pesticides, no fertilizers, and no pruning. Unlike the common tea gardens, each tea tree is planted independently by their ancestors. For hundreds of years, these tea trees have been nearly left in the nature, like wild trees, so each tree is kept in a natural state just like other wild trees in mountain.
Because of no fertilizer is used for a long time, these tea trees grow very slowly, and each tealeaf has high density cells, and it is rich in polyphenols and minerals. As a result, the aftertaste is thick, the aroma is complex. When you drink this tea, you feel that the flavour flows deep inside your body.
Pu-erh Tea made with low temperature pan-frying
In making raw pu-erh tea, the purpose of Pan-Frying process (Sha-qing) is to inactivate enzymes by applying heat. Once the enzymes are inactivated, the tea will not be fermented (enzymatic oxidation).
If we just want to inactivate the enzymes, heating at high temperature will be more efficient to stop the enzymes activity. However, when temperature is too high, the flavour substances in tea are oxidized and charred, and the original flavour of tea substances is damaged.
On the other hand, if we conduct pan-frying at lower temperature, the temperature inside the tea leaves will rise slowly, which may activate the enzyme and cause rapid oxidation (fermentation) during the heating. For this reason, the low temperature pan-frying is ideal in terms of optimising the natural tea flavour, but it is very difficult to control if the production facility is not carefully designed.
2018 was the first year we introduced low temperature pan-frying method. I myself was involved in the process, and together with the tea manufacturer, we repeatedly experimenting different parameter like the temperature of the wok, the loading quantity of the tea, and the flipping speed. At last, we identified the optimum working parameter. So, Wu jia Zhai 2018 was the first batch of tea that was successfully pan-fried at lower temperature. So, it is a very memorable tea for me.
Sweet scent formed by aging
Wu Jia Zhai Raw Pu-erh Tea was made in 2018, but it was not processed into a cake. It was stored as loose form until now for further aging. Since it has been kept for 3 years, it is now matured, and you can notice the sweet aroma reminiscent of dried fruits, sugar cane and raw honey. This tea taste is very soft, smooth and has a strong aftertaste.
For now, I think the drinking sensation is satisfying. Nevertheless, it's also good to further mature it for a few years or more. If you want to age tea in an ideal manner, please keep the bag unopened and store it in a warm place as much as possible. Tea will age well without oxygen. The higher the temperature of the storage environment, the faster the aging will proceed. In addition, since HOJO packs tea in oxygen-free packaging, as long as the bag is unopened, there is no worry about quality deterioration especially when there is unfavourable factors in the environment (like contamination of unpleasant odour, high humidity during rainy day, etc).