Haiwan Mini Brick Ripe Pu-erh (海湾小砖熟茶) is a ripe (shu) pu-erh from Menghai County, Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province. Made from leaves that are loosely pressed into small bricks, this ripe pu-erh has a classic woody profile with a rich flavour that is earthy and nutty. The current batch is from 2012 harvest so it is a little aged. Each mini brick weights around 4.5-5 grams, making it very convenient for brewing. Our 10g packs have 2 bricks, while 50g packs have on average 11 bricks.
These mini ripe pu-erh bricks make a nice difference to the usual mini tuo cha shape. They are produced by Haiwan Tea Factory (海湾茶厂), which is a reasonably new company. The founder of Haiwan Tea Factory, Mr Zou Bing Liang has worked in the famous Menghai Tea Factory since 1957 and then managed it from 1984. In 1999 he decided to start his own factory with a focus on high grade tea and the high end market. Haiwan Tea Factory has grown in popularity and the products from here are highly sought after.
This Haiwan Mini Brick Ripe Pu-erh is a great introduction to shu pu-erh. It comes in individually wrapped mini bricks that are around 5 grams in weight. This makes them ideal for both western style brewing (1 tuo per 500ml pot) or gong fu brewing (1 tuo per gaiwan or yixing pot). As the leaves are loosely pressed together, the flavours are quickly released so it is suitable for quicker brewing if you prefer a lighter cup.
This tea comes pressed into small bricks, known as Zhuan Cha (砖茶). It is the traditional shape that was used to facilitate more efficient transport of tea along the ancient Tea Horse Road. Of course traditionally the bricks were much larger in size!
This ‘ripe pu-erh’ or ‘Shu Cha’ (熟茶) has undergone accelerated fermentation in order to speed up the ageing process and improve flavour. This technique is known as Wo Dui (渥堆), and is known as ‘wet piling’ in English. It was first developed in 1973 in Menghai Tea Factory and Mr Zou Bing Liang played a significant role in developing the technical aspects of this process. During the Wo Dui process the tea leaves are carefully processed under controlled conditions in a warm, humid environment. This process is somewhat similar to composting and is designed to simulate prolonged ageing that raw ‘sheng’ pu-erh would undergo under natural conditions over the course of many years. This speeded up fermentation normally takes 40-60 days and the tea is generally ready to drink straight after. However many prefer to leave it for a few extra years in order to even out the flavours post Wo Dui processing.
Haiwan Mini Brick Ripe Pu-erh tea bricks are formed of loosely pressed black leaves with some golden tips. The tea brews very quickly so it is easy to achieve a rich and deep, flavoursome liquor. The colour of the liquor is very dark, with a pronounced woody aroma. The taste is clean with dominant woody and earthy notes. The rich flavour has savoury notes of walnuts, red fruits and vine leaf. The aftertaste is superbly smooth, with a nice mineral edge. This is a very approachable tea that is great for everyday drinking or as an introduction to the world of ripe pu-erh.
We suggest brewing at 90°C for 3-4 minutes according to your taste. It should be brewed multiple times depending on your taste preferences.
This Haiwan Mini Brick Ripe Pu-erh tea was first featured in our February 2020 Curious Tea Subscription Boxes.