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This bundle includes five 100g pressed cakes of sheng pu’er tea
for 500g total (100 sessions).

The Dongsa Cooperative in Qianjiazhai offers this collection as an opportunity to take a deep dive into the remarkable terroir of the oldest and wildest tea forest in the world through five unique perspectives on their hand-foraged and hand-finished sheng pu’er, each pressed in special 100g cakes using their traditional carved stone mold.

These five cakes were picked by one family – the Li Family – from wild trees on the mountains above their home at over 2000 meters elevation, benefitting from the misty mornings, the deep tree roots reaching for mineral-rich mountain springs, and of course, the tremendous biodiversity inside this protected natural preserve.

This kit highlights cakes of different leaf types and tree ages, ranging from around 100 years to over a thousand year old tea trees, including one cake pressed from a single tree – the ultimate expression of true single origin. Compare the single tree to younger blends from the Li Family’s hillside including the fruity and sweet Gu Hua harvest, the spiced and deep Zun pressing, and the rich flavorful Huang Pian, plus a limited edition Gu Hua sheng pressed with the tea flowers blooming across the hillside at picking time.

This is an excellent opportunity to not only explore the full range of Qianjiazhai’s famous sheng ancient tree sheng pu’er, but to build a collection for long term aging while it is still possible to bring in limited teas like these so that you can enjoy them for years to come as they grow and develop even richer nuance.

 

from the Zhenyuan Dongsa Cooperative: 

 

2019 Huang Pian Sheng Cake (100g)

Huang Pian refers to the larger, more mature and flavorful leaves that will inevitably be picked after a long day of wild-foraging. These leaves dry differently and finish differently than younger leaves and buds, so Master Zhou separates them out of his cakes before pressing, saving the precious few pounds harvested each year to enjoy himself. Though often jokes that Huang Pian leaves are the ugliest, he treasures his Huang Pian because it has a distinctive crisp texture and bright fruity flavor that becomes deep and rich with just a few years of aging. This year, for the first time ever, Master Zhou was able to set aside much of his Huang Pian as a limited offering for us. Judging from the many cups of Huang Pian we’ve sipped with Master Zhou in Qianjiazhai over the years, this cake has tremendous aging potential.

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2019 Gu Hua Sheng Cake (100g)

Master Zhou’s Gu Hua harvest is a careful blend of maocha from trees aged between one hundred and three hundred years old, picked for a balanced and rich full body and aroma. Gu Hua is the very early autumn harvest prized for its rich flavor and intense aroma. These truly wild trees grow in one of the oldest and most remote tea forests in the world, on Mt. Ailao. Every leaf is hand picked and carefully sun-dried with minimal time on the wok for a more natural and pure flavor. The maocha is finished with careful stone-pressing in a custom 100g mold carved by Master Zhou. While much of Yunnan has experienced difficult rain and heat in recent years, the high elevation microclimate, and well-preserve forest of the Mt Ailao National Forest Preserve has granted Qianjiazhai spectacular growing seasons, making their new 2019 harvest a great choice for long term aging.

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2019 Zun Sheng Cake (100g)

Zun, which roughly translates to “respected or venerated” is Master Zhou’s designation for a careful blend of Maocha harvested from Qianjiazhai’s ancient trees, with a mix of smaller 300 year trees for rich flavor and aroma, five to eight hundred year trees for texture and body, and a handful of thousand year tree pickings for deep lingering aftertaste. These wild trees are foraged by the Li Family of the cooperative on their high elevation plot in Qiajiazhai. Many of the trees actually need to be climbed for picking so the harvest is a labor-intensive process. Finishing is done entirely with sun-withering, slower than wok-firing but more true to the natural flavor of the region. The high elevation and extremely established rootstock of the wild trees has allowed for a spectacular harvest in Qianjiazhai despite winter rain and summer heat across lowland Yunnan in the past years, making Zun a perfect candidate for long-term aging.

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2019 Tea Flower Sheng Cake (100g)

In early autumn when Gu Hua tea is being harvested, Qianjiazhai blooms with fragrant golden tea flowers. Master Zhou and Master Deng have recently started picking the flowers for their own steeping and enjoyment. Master Zhou agreed to set aside some of his precious tea flowers to blend with early spring sheng pu’er for a unique flavor. This year’s tea flower cake is pressed with Gu Hua sheng pu’er and about 15% tea flowers. This small batch of cakes is an beautiful opportunity to taste taste the effect of tea flowers in autumn-only material Qianjiazhai cakes and see how they affect aging over time.

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2019 Single Tree Sheng Cake (100g)

Qianjiazhai is home to some of the oldest tea trees in the world. Once again, we are extremely lucky this year to be able to offer a single-tree harvest from the oldest tree on the Li Family’s high elevation plot, estimated to 1300 years based on its trunk diameter. Located at 24°16’13.6″N and 101°12’19.6″E, this single tree needs to be carefully climbed to sustainably harvest about ten kilograms of leaf per year. Growing out of a rocky mountainside, and surrounded by a biodiverse wild growth of evergreens, tulsi plants and flowers, this tree benefits from cool misty air, and mineral-rich soil. It takes three people with linked arms to circle the trunk! The deep roots and thousand plus years of fighting for survival give this tea an incredible complexity full of yun cooling sensation and aloeswood incense undertones. The Li Family works with Master Zhou to dry this tea in bamboo baskets in the sun, and hand finish the maocha for traditional stone pressing. Even within a microclimate like Qianjiazhai, each mountaintop and valley has its own unique qualities, and the cooperative selected this tree as worthwhile to finish separate from their blended cakes to show off the stunning terroir and the complexity that is possible with ancient tree stock. Set aside a few cakes for aging and the yun cooling and tingling qualities continue to develop over the years. We’ve been following this tree for six years now and have been blown away with the development we see in cellaring.

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