Autumn 2019 Ancient garden leaves from Wen Shan Ding village, Jinggu
Fermented in July 2020 by Mr Shi in Pu'er City, 8.7kg batch
Perfect for cuddling your intestine, very warming
This tea comes from Wen Shan Ding, a village located in Jinggu area, in the center of Yunnan. This is not an extremely famous place but it provides very decent tea.
The opening of this tea is yeasty, it smells like a clay rich soil. Fragrance is not the point of this tea, it will warm up your body in a few cups and will keep you going on for over an hour. It was fermented in July 2020, which in a conventionnal ripe would mean a strong 'taste of the pile' a.k.a. Dui Wei 堆味. The micro-batch technique allows to somewhat skip that step of preliminary storage, they can be enjoyed almost straight away. However, this tea will surely evolve as it ages further, the fermentation is medium and the tea has potential. It can be interesting to age for a couple of months or years and monitor its evolution. For now, it's a very robust Shu Pu-erh that you'll enjoy for the warming ability.
Mr Shi is a retired professor who spends his free time studying pu-erh tea fermentation. Most of the ripe Pu-erh tea you will find on the market is fermented in big piles that range from 500kg to 10 tons. After spraying water on the leaves, the pile heats up due to microbial activity. Since the pile is big and lays in an basic hangar without temperature control, the heat is not evenly spread in the pile. The surface is colder than the core. This temperature gradient leads to differences in microbial activity, you can see several layers on which different microorganisms thrive. In order to allow an even fermentation, the pile has to be shuffled several times throughout the five to six weeks long fermentation.
Mr Shi uses a different approach. He puts 10kg of leaves in a large basket. This won't be enough to generate significant heat, instead, temperature is controlled in the room. This allows for a more accurate fermentation temperature and a homogeneous batch. No need to shuffle the tea during the fermentation. This technique also allows a finer control of the humidity and water content inside the leaves.
As a result, the leaves are better preserved and look closer to the original tea than by using the conventional fermentation technique. Fermenting small quantities also allows for higher quality material to be used, and therefore finer and more diverse tasting profiles.
The micro-batch technique allows for more unique ripe pu-erh teas to be made, which remain true to their terroir of origin.