Ripe Pu Erh Tea Cake, Zhongcha Original Red Green Label 357g/12.6oz
This is the real stuff: a zhongcha cake from 1999 in the original red wrapper with the Chinese character ‘tea’ in green.
Given the messy history of CNNP tea cakes, it takes some effort to find real cakes available on the market these days. This is especially the case when you’re looking for really old cakes like this one. It’s red green wrapper is perhaps the oldest pu erh packaging label in history. There’s a green mark (绿印) In the middle surrounded by ‘8 zhong’ characters (八中).
Luckily, we managed to get our hands on a final batch of 1999 ripe pu erh directly from the original producer. These are the final 20 cakes without restocking availability after it’s sold out. If you ever want to own such a old ripe pu erh. Here’s your chance to order one right now.
After many years of aging this cake isn’t as tightly compressed as it was before. It’s super easy to get a chunk of it using a good tea knife. Steep 8 grams of this pu erh with a gaiwan or small clay teapot.
Give it one or two quick rinses to wake up the leaves and warm your teaware. This also helps to remove the final bit of storage taste. We advise to use the hottest water possible bring out all it’s deep nuances. With regards to steeping time, this pu erh is very forgiving. The first 2 steeps are earthy and decent, while it really becomes magical from the 3rd brew. The tea is super smooth and tarty, yet complex with a thick mouthfeel. The tea colour has a nice saturation level. We also found that this is a very forgiving tea that hard to over-steep. There’s very little pile fermentation flavour left after so many years of aging.
Definitely brew this tea at least 10 times, as the flavour is more layered and complex than most ripe pu erhs. The flavour evolves from steep to steep, and you definitely don’t want to miss out on such entertainment. All in all, it’s a well balanced CNNP tea with good ‘cha qi’ accumulated over the years.
CNNP is an abbreviation that stands for “China National Native Produce & Animal By-Products Import & Export company”. This text is also shown on the label of this CNNP cake.
In China CNNP is however known as ‘Zhongcha’ (中茶) which literally means ‘Chinatea’. Nowadays Zhongcha is owned by COFCO (China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation), which is one of China’s largest state-owned food manufacturing, processing and trading company.
CNNP took a hard hit when the pu erh tea bubble bust in 2007, but in 2012 COFCO decided to make a comeback with the original CNNP label. The brand today is regarded as premium, lifting the prices of old cakes.
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