2009 "Gan Ku" Farmer Style Aged Raw Liu Bao

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Dried Fruit, Floral, Grain, Medicinal, Mushrooms
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Edit tea info Last updated by m2193
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200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 oz / 100 ml

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  • “2009 “Gan Ku” Farmer Style Aged raw Liu Bao 5.1g, 100mL gaiwan, 200f Of course I don’t especially like bitter flavors as much as the next person. And of course I believe that tea shouldn’t just be...” Read full tasting note

From Three Bears Tea

This is a farmer-style raw/sheng/green liu bao tea produced in 2009 by growers near Liu Bao township.

Tasting notes

“Gan ku” means “bitteersweet” in Chinese, and as a young “farmer style” raw liu bao, this tea has punchy flavors. It’s an educational example of what raw farmer style liu bao is like in its adolescence. Fans of sheng pu’er will recognize many this tea’s flavors: dried hay, wood chips, and the namesake bittersweetness. You can also note its young age in the green colors of the leaves.

Storage history

Storage is clean, with no moldy flavor or aroma. It was aged naturally in Liu Bao township until 2016, then in Wuzhou until 2019, then in Seattle, Washington. Liu Bao township and Wuzhou have a humid subtropical climate with an average relative humidity of 60-80%. Liu Bao is slightly more temperate than Wuzhou. It was not “wood warehoused”.

What is “farmer style” liu bao?

Farmer style liu bao comes from a more traditional or old school process compared to how liu bao teas are typically created and graded today.

To understand farmer style liu bao, you need to know a little about how liu bao is produced and graded.

Liu bao tea is graded using a standard system, where “top grade” (特级) and “grade 1” (一级) include only bud tips. As grade numbers increase, leaves from farther down the bud stem are included. Grade 2 includes very little stem. Grade 3 includes larger leaves and tender stems. Grade 4 can include stems that aren’t tender, i.e., small woody sticks. I have seen some labeled grade 5 and 7, where 7 was mostly mature leaves (called 黄片, huangpian, “yellow pieces”, based on the color these leaves turn when dry, compared to the rich green of more tender bud leaves) and sticks.

Farmer style liu bao is produced with the entire bud stem and doesn’t fall easily into the grading system, but averages about grade 3, with tender stems and large bud leaves, but few to no sticks or fully matured leaves. This is the household tea of small farmstead owners, often stored and aged in the family’s own wood board sheds.

In addition, farmer style tea typically does not undergo wet piling, and is instead kept “raw” (生). Wet piling is the controlled fermentation process used to produce most factory liu bao teas nowadays, and is similar to the process for how “cooked” pu’er (aka shu pu’er, 熟普洱) is made.

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1 Tasting Note

255 tasting notes

2009 “Gan Ku” Farmer Style Aged raw Liu Bao

5.1g, 100mL gaiwan, 200f

Of course I don’t especially like bitter flavors as much as the next person. And of course I believe that tea shouldn’t just be sugar water, etc. etc. At any rate the description was intriguing enough, and I’m not brave enough to try a ku Ding tea, so I thought this might be fun to try.

dry leaves don’t smell like much.

1x 3s rinse, which smells a bit grainy

wet leaves smell like young sheng, sharp and fruity

3s: tastes a bit smoky. A hint of medicine. something peppery on tongue.

5s: not too much flavor upfront, but leaves a slight sweetness on tongue afterwards.

10s: dried fruit like a sheng still

30s: stronger on medicinal note

1 min: still like before, but more fruity.

2 min: similar

1 min: not much to add. starting to fade.

2 min: slight mushroomy note

2 min again, but 212f on this and subsequent infusions since this doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. no notes added

5 min: a light sort of floral medicinal

10 min: lightened significantly

thermos overnight: standard thermos sheng profile.

Overall, this was unexpectedly soft overall and tasted similar to a dry stored aged sheng where I expected more harshness, especially as there was a note on my order to brew like a young sheng to avoid excessive bitterness. I suspect that my notes in large part have to do with the temperature I brewed at, which is 5 degrees under the arbitrary 205f suggested for young shengs, which maybe I’d adhere to when I have time to wait around for the temp to hit 205 since my kettle only does 10f increments. Unfortunately, this is start of finals time, and I am procrastinating my work everyday by brewing tea and making notes on steepster. (For the greater good, I assure myself!! I digress.) But even so, I thought the thermos brew might draw out bitterness, as it does for some shengs, but there was none here. Will add on notes in the future if I change brewing parameters to start with boiling.

Flavors: Dried Fruit, Floral, Grain, Medicinal, Mushrooms

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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