Tibetan 1992 Heicha
Dark (Pu'erh / Heicha)
Fancy a journey to Tibet? This "kang" or brick reflects the diversity and colour of this remote nation where its sacred lakes are left untouched for the benefit of the gods; hills are festooned with elaborate prayer flags; and women dressed in colourful, elaborately embroidered dresses and hats.
The tea was grown, harvested, dried and processed in a small tea factory in Guizhou Province and then sent to Tibet (in groups of 20, packaged in long bamboo baskets measuring 1-metre). There, it was stored for 10 years before returning to Yunnan where it underwent an additional seven years of aging before being released for sale. It is now 24 years old!
Traditionally these bricks were carried on the backs of sherpas or horse's for thousands of kilometres. Not so long ago, bricks like this were legal tender in Tibet and may have been given in payment for a dowry or a horse or other goods of value. In Tibet, the tea is boiled with yak butter to produce a form of yak butter tea. Tea lovers in the western world like to prepare this tea using the gongfu technique. It is recommended to air the tea, then double-rinse before enjoying subsequent infusions.
In the cup the leaves give up a bright amber coloured liquor. The smell is earthy but the flavour is somewhat of a surprise. There is a nice, gentle tang of cheeries or plums and a sweetness that remains through infusions. A slight nutty flavour (walnut) tingles the back of the mouth and throat.
Spring 1992 (small-leaf varietal)
Earthy nose with tangy cherries or plums with a lingering sweet aftertaste.
Heicha means "dark tea" in Chinese. This designation is given to aged teas that are not manufactured in Yunnan province and therefore, cannot carry the name "pu'erh."