The four stages of making mao cha

There are four stages in making mao cha. First, a reminder that mao cha is the tea used to make pu erh, either raw or cooked. It is also worth remembering that the way mao cha is made has evolved over time. Basic withering followed by drying in the sun has become more complex as trends have changed, and as dark teas have become so popular among the Chinese. Today, this is what is involved: after harvesting the leaves, they are withered for around two hours. Then the leaves are “fixed” in a wok (see photo) at 200°C for around 30 minutes. Next, the leaves are rolled for ten minutes before being left to dry for the whole day in the sun. In theory, mao cha is used to make compressed tea, but it can be drunk as it is, and appreciated for its mineral, fruity, vegetal and animal notes.


Posted in Producing tea by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , ,

Pu Erh, a fascinating group of teas

blog-15-01-2016

At this time of year, I particularly enjoy drinking Pu Erh after a meal. Firstly, it is said in China that this tea “dissolves fats” and helps prevent cholesterol. Secondly, I like its aroma of wet earth, rotting wood and damp straw; its smell of cowsheds, mushrooms and oak moss; its aroma of cellars, dry wood, liquorice, manes, wax and flint; its vegetal, fruity smell.

From one Pu Erh to another, the variety of olfactory notes is wide, another reason to try this fascinating group of teas, the only ones that undergo real fermentation. It is available loose-leaf or in a “cake”. It can be “raw” or “cooked”, depending on whether fermentation is done in the traditional manner or accelerated. It can also improve with age, like good wines.


Posted in Country : China by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , ,

Tea and food pairing: Cantal Vieux and Bourgeon de Pu Er

blog-19-12-2014

I’ve already written about cheese, when I celebrated the pairing of a fresh goat’s cheese and a Premium Bao Zhong. Today I’m recommending another combination: a Cantal Vieux and a Bourgeon de Pu Er. The tea is infused hot, as usual, but it’s best to then let it cool and drink it at room temperature. This allows you to prepare your tea a few hours before the meal, keeping it in your teapot. To serve, I suggest a small clear carafe and liqueur glasses. Your guests will be amazed! I’m sure they’ll appreciate the richness of this accord, the balance and harmony between the woody, undergrowth and animal notes of the Pu Er and the notes of the Cantal Vieux.

 


Posted in Tea and food pairing by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , , ,

Highly prized pu er cakes in China

Pu Er - Discovering Tea

2007 saw the start of a spectacular craze for pu er in China. In the space of a few weeks, this previously barely-known tea became the subject of frenzied speculation, and it took two or three years before prices came down again. Now it seems this same phenomenon is about to be repeated. Once again, the Chinese are queuing up to buy cakes of this tea, which is said to improve with age. As before, the cause is speculation. At the Canton Tea Fair, which has just taken place, we saw pu er cakes selling for over €1,000 each.


Posted in Country : China by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , ,

Keeping tea

The optimal storage period can vary a great deal from one tea to another. Green teas from Japan and China do not last long, and just a few months after harvest the difference in flavour is noticeable. The same goes for first flush Darjeelings. On the other hand, what are known as dark teas, the famous Pu Ers, get better with age. Lastly, many black teas as well as the most oxidised of the Wulongs often retain their qualities for years. Like this Nepalese plucker whose smile, charm and generosity are impervious to the passing of time.


Posted in Country : Nepal by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , , , , ,

The author

François-Xavier Delmas is a passionate globetrotter. He’s been touring the world’s tea plantations for more than 20 years in search of the finest teas. As the founder of Le Palais des Thés, he believes that travelling is all about discovering world cultures. From Darjeeling to Shizuoka, from Taiwan to the Golden Triangle, he invites you to follow his trips as well as share his experiences and emotions.

Articles classified by themes

Blogs on tea in English

Blogs on tea in French

Cooking

Links to Le Palais des Thés

Past travels