CUP CHARACTERISTICS: Nest shaped compressed green tea. Each nest makes tea for 3. Full bodied with a hint of oak.
INGREDIENTS: Green tea
INFORMATION: Simply put, mini Toucha is the smaller sibling of our large Toucha pods. This ancient variety of tea is made from a Yunnan large leaf varietal, Camelia Assamica, and is actually a variety of Pu-erh. The pods themselves are made by taking the processed green leaves, steaming them, and then pressing them into small bowl-shaped forms. The process is quite laborious as each pod must be pressed by hand.
Mini Toucha pods, like all Pu-erh teas age exceptionally well - in China it is not that uncommon to find processed tea in local Yunnan tea shops that has been aged for 25 years or more! When infused the tea has a mild musty character that to connoisseurs is immediately identifiable as Yunnan Pu-erh. To the initiated, this character can be surprising and remind one of the smells of fresh earth. It is also because of this character that the tea is known in some parts of China as "Earth tea."
As with many green teas, and especially Pu-erh teas, mini-Toucha pods can be infused multiple times. The next time you brew up a pot pay close attention to the flavor profile of the cup. Much like re-reading a novel, or watching a movie again, you will discover that while the fundamental character remains, the subtle nuances of flavor will change slightly from cup to cup - a subtle mustiness here - a milder sweetness there. This is truly one of the Yunnan provinces most compelling brews.
Where was black Pu-erh developed? Good question. While the exact origins of most Chinese Pu-erh teas have been lost to the mists of time and place, the origin of black Pu-erh can be pinpointed directly to the Kunming Tea Factory in the year 1972. In that year, the government of China, seeking to broaden its economic base, mandated that the Kunming factory develop a new, delicious tea that could be widely marketed. Drawing on centuries of experience, the tea masters of Kunming determined that a black Pu-erh was the ticket. (They were right, to this day black Pu-erh is the world's top selling variety.)
What makes black Pu-erh tea different from other black teas? Great question. The answer is real fermentation and aging. Black Pu-erh undergoes a fermentation process in which the tea is processed and stored for a set period of time without being dried completely. The tea is usually either buried in the ground, stored in caves or under damp heavy tarps. Fermenting over time imparts the earthy character typical of most Pu-erh teas.