Select Currency

  • Call us on 0203 476 6991
Jen and Ali see puerh cakes being pressed and witness some extremely rare beeng cha in the making

Alice and Jennifer in China: A Puerh Pilgramage

by on May 15th, 2013

A morning of serious tea tasting at Mr Li’s Da Fu factory – one of the region’s best producers of top class Puerh, followed by a visit to the puerh pressing room.

A shaky, hungover Mr Li, leaves us to indulge in some rare spring Purple buds in both loose leaf and cake forms. The leaves are beautiful in appearance, dark, glossy needles which look particularly impressive in cake form.

We also taste a cake of the Da Bai Hao (big white hairy buds). This tea was made in 2011 so has not had the eight years aging it needs to develop its full flavour palette. It’s good now but will be fabulous in 2019.

We taste a smooth, caramel Yunnan black, which has been pressed into a wonderfully practical and original shape. More news of this when and if we secure some for sale.

In the afternoon we tour the Da Fu factory and shoot a great little video showing the beeng cha pressing process:

11 steps from Maocha to Beengcha packed in a Tong:
1. Maocha given a final sort
2. Weighed,and a nei fei added (paper ticket embedded in the leaves)
3. Jet of steam softens the leaves
4. Maocha encased in a linen bag and twisted closed, roughly hand-shaped to a cake shape with knot of linen in the centre
5. Pressed once under a mechanical press
6. Measured to check correct size
7. Pressed under a stone mould
8. Placed on cooling racks
9. Linen removed and cakes placed on racks in dark room to dry.
10. Later, each beengcha wrapped in paper
11. Seven beengcha packed in bamboo bark. This is a tong.

We have been drinking a lot of liquor from this year’s maocha. It’s been a fascinating education in how small changes in production alter the taste. We enjoyed an experimental maocha fired by our friend and Tea Master Zhong Xin the previous day. It had a delicious sticky rice aroma and less astringency than most, more soft, fruity notes with what Xiao Yen referred to often as a deep throat feel – it suffers in translation.

Zhong Xin had his maocha pressed into beengcha. These have to be some of the rarest cakes in the world – a limited edition of three – and sadly not for sale.