This tea is an aged "farmer style" raw/sheng/liu bao made from the local gui qing varietal (桂青种) of Camellia sinensis. Gui qing varietal has medium-sized leaves, puts out new growth late in the season, has relatively low yield, and is prized for its robust structure that holds up well during processing and for its long-lasting fragrance and mellow flavor.
While nearly 15 years old, this uncommon raw "farmer style" liu bao tea has a balanced, lighter taste with a pleasant, sweet flavor and a slippery and thick mouthfeel. Among its typical liu bao woody scent is the slight floral aroma of osmanthus flowers and a slippery and thick mouthfeel.To be clear, no osmanthus blossoms were added to this tea; it has this delightful aroma all on its own.
Liu bao tea is grouped into three flavor/aroma profiles: betel nut, wine, and osmanthus. This tea belongs to the osmanthus type, which can be difficult to find, as it only appears in raw to very lightly wet-piled liu bao made with the local gui qing varietal mentioned above.
Storage is clean, with no moldy flavor or aroma. This tea was produced in 2006 by growers near Liu Bao township and aged there in natural conditions - which is to say, without wet piling - before being purchased by a small tea factory in Wuzhou in 2017. It was not "wood warehoused" in order to preserve its delicate floral qualities. It's been in Seattle, Washington since then.
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.
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.