This is an aged raw/sheng/green "farmer style" liu bao produced in the early 2000s. My source couldn't pin down an exact year, saying probably 2001 or 2002. If you are looking to try liu bao for the first time or want a benchmark liu bao tea, this is an excellent choice.
This aged raw liu bao has the classic wood and betel nut flavors developed through traditional wood board warehouse storage. Strong and balanced, its thick and strong buds typically last me upwards of 10 infusions when brewing gongfu style in a 100ml pot with 7 grams of dry tea and boiling water, becoming sweeter and lighter in color in later infusions.
Storage is clean, with no moldy flavor or aroma. It was aged naturally in wood board warehouse storage in Wuzhou until 2019, when it arrived in Seattle, Washington. Wuzhou has a humid subtropical climate with an average relative humidity of 60-80%, conditions that help tea to age more quickly than in drier climates.
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.