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The Beauty of Pu-erh Tea Mao-Cha

[2014.03.18] Posted By

During our purchasing of Pu-erh tea in Yunnan, we select the tea in mao-cha form. A mao-cha means loose tea right after the production. For more than a thousand years, tea compression was carried out, where the mao-cha is compressed into a round cake or rectangular brick shape.

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Raw Pu-erh tea in Mao-Cha form

 

There are 2 reasons why the pu-erh tea in Yunnan is compressed.

  1. The mao-cha is too bulky due to the low bulk density of the loose tea leaves. The compressed teas are much easier in handling during the long distance transportation.
  2. The hard compression will eliminate air from the tea leaves and allow them to achieve a vacuumed environment which would encourage the well maturation of tea.

I believe many people have not tried the mao-cha of raw pu-erh tea. The mao-cha is the loose form of the raw pu-erh tea leaves. In the production area of pu-erh tea in Yunnan, most people drink Pu-erh tea in mao-cha form. As the process of raw pu-erh tea is pretty close to that of green tea, the flavor of mao-cha is very floral with an up-lifting refreshing aroma, and this refreshing floral flavor is normally diminished once tea is steamed and compressed.

The comparison of the process between Green Tea and Raw Pu-erh tea.

Green Tea : Pan-Frying/Steaming > Rolling > Hot Air Drying
Pu-erh Raw Tea: Pan-Frying > Rolling > Sunshine Drying

If you have never tried the mao-cha of raw pu-erh tea, I would suggest you to try one of our line-ups called “Mei Lan”. The Mei Lan has a very distinctive citrus flavor that reminds us of the pomelo skin. Despite the tea is still very young, it gives a very strong flavor. Many customers who have tried this tea so far thought it was an oolong tea. The mao-cha is very flavorful and pleasant to enjoy.

For the process of tea compression, the first step is to apply steam to the dry tea leaves in order to soften them. Due to this step, the moisture will be trapped inside the tea leaves when compression is carried out. The compressed tea is just like a chunk of wet cloth crumbled tightly together. You could easily imagine how difficult it would be to get dried. Usually, it takes more than a week to eliminate moisture from the compressed tea cake/brick. Consequently, the tea leaves would be dam for more than a week; which is no doubt, the original flavor of mao-cha will disappear.

Due to this reason, many compressed Raw Pu-erh teas give a quite similar flavor despite each of them has its very distinctive flavor while they were in mao-cha form.

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However, it is hard to decide if we should stop compressing tea. The compressed tea has an advantage as well, as it is more stable for maturation when the tea is not kept under perfect environment. Thanks to the absence of oxygen inside the cake, the maturation of tea is steadier. After storing the tea for another few years, the sweet flavor starts emerging back; it is due to the maturation of the tea.

Starting from 2013, we are wishing to bring in some raw pu-erh tea in mao-cha form. Based on our experience, we have confirmed that the mao-cha also undergoes maturation very well as long as we ensure that there is no oxygen inside the bag. This year, if we find any loose pu-erh tea that produces very distinctive and strong flavor, we are likely to bring it in mao-cha form, just like the Mei Lan 2013. If the flavor of mao-cha is not too strong or outstanding, we may consider compressing it as usual for further maturation.

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