Nannuo Handmade Shou
Grower: The Li Family
Tea Maker: Li Shu Lin
Origin: Nannuo Mountain in Yunnan Province, China
Elevation: 1,800m (5,900ft)
Cultivation: Natural, Ecological
Harvest Date: Spring 2009
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Flavorful and aromatic, this shou puerh manages to be both richly earthy and pristinely clean at the same time. Unlike most shou puerh which are produced in large factory settings, this tea is handcrafted by Mr. Li in small, 10kg batches. The result is a tea with more character and a clean, fragrant profile with a depth of flavor. The 2012 harvest occurred during a drought year, resulting in a striking, lush earthy flavor.
This puerh is a "maocha", or loose-leaf version. It could later be pressed into the typical cakes and bricks, but this pressing is not necessary, and the tea is ready to drink on its own. It took Mr. Li many years of research and study to develop his small-batch shou technique, drawing from his family's tea heritage and his experience at the famous Menghai Dayi tea factory. Even with his experience, handcrafting shou puerh by hand is a painstaking process, requiring the utmost attention to ensure that the fermentation process doesn't go too far. Many shou puerh are often very "musty" or cloudy, but the tea maker's diligence has resulted in a tea with particular clarity and clean richness.
Mr. Li grew up learning about tea from his father who was a famous Yunnan teamaster. The growing, harvesting, and processing of tea is like second nature to him, as he spent many years in the fields and in the famous Menghai Dayi puerh tea factory. This factory is credited with the development of the "wo dui" fermentation process for shou puerh, and it was from his exposure to this factory technique that Mr. Li was able to develop a small-batch technique on his own, and to return to his family's lands to make tea at home instead. The tea trees on Mr. Li's land have never had any added manures, pesticides, or soil additives of any kind, and thrive completely on their own in their natural environment. The local tea growers believe that this gives the tea a more genuine character. This shou puerh is harvested from relatively young trees, less than 20 years old, which Mr. Li planted himself to add to the older trees on his land.
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Recommended Brewing Instructions: Use 3tsp (~5g) of leaves per 4oz (120ml) of water. Rinse, then brew for 3 seconds, increasing the seconds with each steep, up to 8-10 steeps.
- 205-212F for a full extraction of the many layers of flavor.