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Lao Hei Zhai Raw Pu-erh Tea : HOJO TEA

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HOME>Dark tea>Lao Hei Zhai Raw Puerh


pu-erh tea


If you wish to learn about pu-erh tea in detail, please click here >>



Why Lao Hei Zhai could meet the criteria mentioned above.

In Yunnan, Pu-erh tea is produced in 3 major areas: Xishuang Banna (西双版纳), Pu-erh (普洱) and Ling Cang (临沧).  Historically, the most famous place for Pu-erh tea is Xishuang Banna. There are a number of famous tea production areas in Xishuang Banna, such as Lao Ban Zhang (老班章), Bu Lang Shan (布朗山)and Yi Wu (易武). Due to its fame, teas from Xishuang Banna are highly priced in commercial tea market.

Conversely, we wish to introduce high quality tea at more affordable price. To achieve this objective, every year we spend more time and effort in Yunnan especially in the South West to West Yunnan. We paid more attention to search for quality tea from less famous manufacturing area. The Lao Hei Zhai is from the village located in Ling Cang City. 


The trends that trivial village produces good quality tea


The more we stay in Yunnan to learn about tea, the more we understand that good tea exists in both Pu-erh and Ling Cang. In these places, many villages are located at remote area. Due to very limited access, many villages are not exposed to the commercial market. Because of the villages were less famous in the history, there were limited demand in the market and the farmers cannot sell their tea at higher price. Under the circumstances, farmer won’t pluck tea very often but only once a year in early spring. Besides, no pesticide or fertilizer is applied to the tea tree. Tea tree in these villages are kept just like the wild tree. As a result, tea leaves grow very slow and more mineral is accumulated. Because of rich in minerals, tea gives very deep aftertaste. You can tell the difference even if you drink the tea when you are pinching your nose. 

On the other hand, tea from famous production area has a higher demand in the market. To earn more income, farmer tends to increase the production quantity. Thus they have to apply fertilizer, trim branches to promote the growth of young branches for more production of tea leaves. This can enable them to pluck a few times throughout a year. Since tea tree has to generate more number of tea leaves, yet the supply of minerals from the root is limited, the taste of tea becomes lighter and less lasting in flavour. 


Very old tea tree at 500 year's old

Many people might think that old tea tree only available in famous tea production area. In point of fact, old tea trees were also found in less famous places like Pu-erh and Ling Cang city. The tea plucked from the old tea tree has 2 advantages as follow:

1. Tea is very rich in minerals. Old tea tree has very long roots that grow deep under the ground and larger surface area. Thus it can supply tea leaves with more minerals. 

2. Tea trees prefer red soil that is rich in iron content. Many tea production areas have red soil. However, the red soil usually found at the lower layer underground and it is unreachable by young tea tree since the root is still very short. The old tea tree could effectively absorb the iron that exists in red soil and therefore it gives very rich aftertaste and long lasting flavour. 


The thick body and long lasting sweetness thanks to the high mountain climate

Lao Hei Zhai raw Pu-erh is produced from the mountain situated in Ling Cang city. Ling Cang city is located almost the farthest north of Pu-erh production area. Due to the high latitude, the weather in Ling Cang, especially the temperature at night is cooler than other areas. Most importantly, Lao Hei Zhai tea is grown at altitude around 2200-2300m. Tea from high mountain is generally good in quality. The altitude of 2200m-2300 is similar to the altitude of Li Shan or Cui Feng Mountain in Taiwan. At higher altitude, tea received strong sunshine in a daytime. Tea produces more energy thanks to the efficient photosynthesis. On the other hand, the temperature at night is extremely low at high altitude. Due to low temperature, tea is unable to consume the energy for growing. As a result, all nutrients including minerals are accumulated in the tea leaves. This is the reason why the tea grown at high altitude is generally good quality. 

The very appealing thick body and long lasting sweetness of Lao Hei Zhai is the gift from the high mountain.


How does Lao Hei Zhai Raw Puerh taste like?

This tea does not give either flowery or identical fruity flavour, but it gives gentle greenish flavour that reminds us of freshly produced straw. Because of very deep and long lasting aftertaste, you can feel its quality even if you drink this tea pinching your nose. This tea matured very well thanks to its rich mineral content. After keeping this tea for a few years, its flavour becomes more fruity and honey-like. 

The character of Lao Hei Zhai and Bing Dao is quite similar. If you need to select one, I suggest Lao Hei Zhai for a start. Please try Bing Dao after trying Lao Hei Zhai since Bing Dao gives deeper after taste than Lao Hei Zhai.



Tea garden and scenary situated near Lin Cang City

If you wish to learn about pu-erh tea in detail, please click here >>


Raw puerh is the original Yunnan tea.


By far, many customers associate Pu-erh tea as tea with liquor that is dark brown in color and gives moldy or muddy smell. In fact, tea that has “brown liquor and moldy smell” is just referring to one type of Pu-erh teas, we call it Pu-erh ripe tea. Pu-erh ripe tea is invented back in 1973. It was produced with the microbiological fermentation. Most of Pu-erh teas available in oversea market are this sort of ripe tea. However Pu-erh ripe tea is not the original Pu-erh tea. In Yunnan province, Pu-erh tea means "raw Pu-erh". The ripe Pu-erh is considered as "export tea". Most of tea connoisseurs, me included seek for Pu-erh raw tea. Although both teas shared the same name as "Pu-erh", the Pu-erh raw tea and ripe tea is completely different kind of tea. In fact it is as different as comparing black tea and green tea.

This tea is produced by minorities in Yunnan. They were historically originated from South East Asia. Most of their tea trees existed ever since long ago. Today, these tea trees adapted into the surrounding natural environment and grew just like wild plants. Usually, they go to the mountain to pluck tea leaves whenever they need to make some money for living. The environment of the mountain where these tea trees grow is just like any ordinary mountain area. Needless to say, no fertilizer or pesticide is applied. Thanks to the fact that tea trees were left to grow like wild trees and no chemicals were applied, their natural habitat has a very efficient ecological system. The pests co-exist with their natural enemies. Thanks to no pesticide, these natural enemies of pest can survive in adequate numbers to keep the pest population under control.

Pu-erh raw tea has more than 1000 years of long history and China is the only country that produces Pu-erh tea. It was originated from Yunnan province in southwest China. In Yunnan, the locals drink this tea on a daily basis. In making Pu-erh raw tea, the quality of raw material has a critical impact on the quality of finished tea.  
What are the quality criteria of good Pu-erh raw tea? We noticed that many people thought that Pu-erh tea is very special and different from other teas. However, Pu-erh tea is also one type of tea. There is no difference in its character from other types of tea. No exceptional taken just because it is Pu-erh tea. 
The quality of Pu-erh consists of 2 elements.


1. Intensity of after taste

Good tea gives very deep after taste which allows you to enjoy the taste deep down in your throat. The flavor of good tea stays longer in the throat and lasts for a long time. This quality aspect has nothing to do with the method of processing. The intensity of after taste is due to the minerals content of tea leaves. Usually, tea produced from old tea trees or trees grown at high altitude will give much better quality and after taste.


2. Quality of flavour

Tea must maintain its fresh flavour. As a matter of fact, most of Pu-erh teas were stored under inappropriate environment where the humidity tends to be very high. As a result, tea loses its fresh flavour, and instead it gives oxidized and sour flavour. Many people misunderstand that this sort of oxidized flavour as the flavour of “aging”. In fact, Pu-erh tea that has undergone proper aging naturally gives a fresh fruity flavour. 

3. Astringency

Tea that gives bitter or astringent taste indicates that it is not early spring tea. They are plucked either during end of spring or summer. Usually those teas are classified as lower quality. Spring tea is high in quality, but the yield of early spring tea is very limited in a year. Thus, majority of Pu-erh raw tea available in tea market is summer tea which tastes bitter and/or astringent. Many customers told us that they could not drink freshly made raw Pu-erh because it was too strong (bitter or astringent) and therefore raw tea has to be kept for more than 5 years before it can be consumed. In a way, this is true but also not so true. If the tea is made of tea leaves plucked in early spring, it will never taste bitter or astringent. In fact, most people in Yunnan like to drink fresh Pu-erh tea produced less than a year. Only occasionally, the locals in Yunnan drink vintage Pu-erh tea. 

If you wish to learn about Pu-erh tea in detail, please click here >>


pu-erh tea


If you wish to learn about pu-erh tea in detail, please click here >>





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Brewing Method

(1) Water


If you are using tap water, it is necessary to filter the water using an activated carbon filter. If not, you wouldn't be able to enjoy the authentic taste of tea. Chlorine is added to tap water in order to sanitize bacteria. This chlorinated water will also harm our body cells. Concerning about our health condition, it is very important to remove chlorine from drinking water. The most effective method in removing chlorine is to install an activated carbon filter. This type of filter is designed for removing organic substance. It will remove not only chlorine, but also other harmful substance such as contaminated pesticide. The activated carbon filter can be easily obtained from the common hardware shop in most countries. If activated carbon filter is not available, please place a charcoal inside the water and leave it for overnight. The material composed of activated carbon filter is made of ground charcoal. The difference is that activated carbon filter contains much finer particles and hence it has extremely large surface area for a better efficiency in filtration. The intensity of after taste becomes stronger if water is kept overnight. Keeping water with stones or inside clay jar will increase the content of minerals. However, you need to confirm whether or not the water kept inside particular jar or with stone is suitable with your tea or tea equipment (such as teapot). If water jar carries certain minerals like copper or zinc, it will rather spoil the taste and flavor of tea. For this, you need to confirm with experiment on try and error basis.
For boiling water, please do not use aluminum or copper kettle. It spoils the taste of water. We suggest using kettle made of iron, stainless steel, tin or glass.
In the long run, you may observe a thick layer of scale accumulated inside your kettle. Our mother usually taught us to wash and remove it with citric acid. But please do not even try to remove the scale. Scale consists of minerals that exist in the water. The mineral composition is reflected from the water you used. If you remove the scale, the mineral ion balance between scale and water is destroyed. This balance is called buffer effect in science. The flavor and taste will seriously run out and you won't be able to get previous taste and flavor for a long time. It is also important to stick to the same type of water whenever brewing tea. If source of water is changed, it carries different type of minerals. It will affect the mineral ion balance too.


Go to further information about suitable water for brewing tea >>

Go to further information about suitable water for brewing tea >>

(2) Quantity of tea leaves

Use 1g of tea leaves for 40ml of water. It means that you need 5g of tea leaves for 200ml of water.

(3) Temperature

It is important to use boiling water. Please do not stop as soon as water is boiled. It is advisable to keep water boiling for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

(4) Warm up teapot

It is important to pour boiling water into the teapot and leave it for about 10 seconds. Without this rinsing process, the temperature of boiling water decrease about 20 degree C when it is pour into the teapot.

(5) Warm up tea leaves

Place tea leaves in teapot and pour boiling water again. Leave it for less than a second and discard the water, and immediately pour boiling water one more time and repeat the same procedure. Without this step, the temperature of tea will reduce nearly 30 degree C.
If (4) and (5) is not carried out, your brewing temperature will be 50-60 degree C. This is too low to extract sufficient flavor and taste. Please repeat rinsing process one more time. Please do not soak tea for more than a second.

(6)Brewing Time

1st Brewing: A few seconds
2nd Brewing Onwards: Less than a few seconds.

You can brew up to even 8-10 brewing using the same tea leaves. From 2nd brewing onwards, it is very important to keep brewing time as short as you can. As tea leaf is wet and hot, definitely it is not necessary to brew more than a few seconds.
Note: Please remove the lid while you are waiting for subsequent brewing. If the lid is not removes, tea leaves will be over steamed and get oxidized.

Simple Brewing Method using Gaiwan


Firstly, warm up the Gaiwan with boiling water, and then place tea leaves up to 60-70% of the capacity of Gaiwan. We use 1g of tea leaves for 10ml of water. So if the capacity of Gaiwan is 100ml, we need about 5g of tea leaves. Please remember to place tea leaves gently and not to compress it into the Gaiwan. Pour boiling water up to the level of tea leaves, and then place the lid and immediately pour out the water from Gaiwan. Repeat this action once more. It means you need to rinse the tea leaves twice with boiling water. This action is to warm up tea leaves and also to open up the leaves. These actions must be carried out swiftly so as not to lose the precious flavor and taste of tea.

For the actual brewing, it does not require long infusion like making other teas. Instead, you have to brew it the "touch and go" style. As soon as you pour the boiling water up to the level of tea leaves, place the lid to Gaiwan and then immediately pour out the tea without letting it soak. It is recommended to accumulate the 1st and 2nd brewing into a pitcher in order to even out the flavor and taste. For each subsequent brewing, you just need to brew less than a second. By brewing this "touch and go" style, you can continue brew up to nearly 20 times.

If you wish to learn about Pu-erh tea in detail, please click here >>


Note: Please remove the lid while you are waiting for subsequent brewing. Tea leaf will be over steamed and get oxidized if the lid is not removed.


Storage of Tea

Pu-erh tea can lasts more than 10 - 20 years as long as tea is kept in dry environment. Before tea is kept, it must be tightly sealed. Tea should be kept in ambient temperature and dry conditions such as in the living room and it must not be kept in humid environment like in the kitchen. Avoid enclosed area such as inside the cupboard or drawer as these places are damp. Also avoid opening the bag of tea in humid atmosphere. It is recommended to open the bag during a sunny day or under air-conditioned atmosphere. Once tea leaves absorb moisture, deterioration of tea will be triggered within a few days. Tea will give an astringent taste, and sometime it tastes sour. Its aroma also becomes weaker.

Traditionally, Pu-erh tea is compressed to remove oxygen from the leaves and kept it intact. It was the wisdom of ancient people to keep tea without oxygen and let it matured very well.

From scientific point of view, oxidation does not only refer to receiving oxygen. The oxidation also takes place when it releases hydrogen and receives electron. Even if tea is kept without oxygen, it will still undergo oxidation.

In 1960's, generally Pu-erh tea was compressed tightly and shaped like a bing (flat and thin round cake). It was called “iron bing”. The tea leaf was compressed extremely tight until it became like a piece of stone; we can hardly pry it even if we use the proper tool that designed for prying the Pu-erh cake. This style of compression succeeded the elimination of oxygen from the tea leaves. If you have ever tried this kind of Pu-erh iron bing, you would know that it was very well-matured. It gives flavour like honey with fruity note and gives no earthy flavour at all. The only problem is that it is so difficult to loosen the leaves from the iron bing and the leaves are often damaged during the process.
On the other hand, nowadays most of Pu-erh cakes are loosely compressed. Some of the Pu-erh cakes can be easily break apart by fingers. Obviously there is oxygen remained in between the leaves.  If we keep loosely-compressed Pu-erh in ambient environment, tea will expose to not only oxygen but also moisture and develop unwanted oxidation that usually generates earthy flavour. To achieve the same maturation effect like the iron bing, we encourage customer to keep Pu-erh tea without oxygen. With modern technology, we are able to apply the same theory.  Some people in Taiwan intentionally keep high mountain oolong in the vacuum bag for a few years. In the beginning, high mountain oolong is green in colour and it gives a delightful fresh flowery flavour. After a few years of maturation, the leaves turn into yellow colour and it gives the flavour like ripen peach or apricot. This is exactly the same effect as what we are looking for in Pu-erh tea. Based on our experience, well-matured Pu-erh tea gives a very fruity flavour and no earthy or mouldy flavour at all.

Wrapping Method for Pu-erhTea

Safety as a Part of HOJO's Quality


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We accept various kinds of credit card through Paypal.

Only if customer prefer other option of payment, we suggest "Bank Transfer".



Various choice of shipping method

EMS, SAL, Small Packet, Small Packet (SAL) Yamato Express and Surface

For shipping tea, we usually suggest small air parcel, the estimated shipping cost of tea in 100g (with wrapping material ) is

Small Parcel

USA JPY 600, EU JPY600 and Asia JPY470

Small Packet (SAL)

USA JPY380, EU JPY380 and Asia JPY320

The shipping fee to oversea by small air parcel happens to be even cheaper than domestic shipping fee in Japan.


Custom Fee

For your information, some countries, EU in particular imposes custom duty. We need buyer to bare the duty. We are sorry, but we cannot change the amount on the invoice, and we do not mark any packages as gifts. We will strictly follow the custom regulation.

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