In the world of dark tea, Puerh often takes the spotlight, but there are countless hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. Among them is Liu An, a captivating height originating from China’s picturesque Anhui Province. Recently, I had the opportunity to acquire a basket of this tea through a group buy, which ignited my curiosity to delve deeper into its unique characteristics. Surprisingly, online information about Liu An is scarce, but I have gathered as many intriguing facts as possible to shed light on this enigmatic tea. It’s essential to note that despite the similar names, Liu An should not be mistaken for Liu An Gua Pian, a green tea also hailing from the same region.
The Art of Crafting Liu An:
The journey of Liu An Tea begins with a meticulous process. Freshly harvested leaves undergo withering to reduce moisture content, followed by pan-firing to halt oxidation. This is when the tea is transformed into mao cha or rough tea. Subsequently, the leaves are carefully stored until autumn arrives.
Upon resuming the processing, the leaves are baked and sorted, with special attention given to removing Huang Pian (yellow leaves) and stem. Through meticulous sifting, the tea is separated into different grades. The next step involves high-temperature firing using bamboo frames. Following this, the leaves are spread in a thin layer outdoors, allowing them to absorb the “white dew” overnight. Interestingly, this process is believed to have influenced the wo dui fermentation step used in the production of Puerh tea.
After steaming, the leaves are packed into baskets lined with bamboo leaves. These baskets are then tied together and fired once more to complete the drying process, which can take up to two days to remove sufficient moisture. Traditionally, Liu An tea is not sold until three years after processing, allowing it to mature and develop its unique flavors.
Origin and Terroir:
Liu An tea finds its roots in Qimen County, situated in the breathtaking Anhui Province of China. Specifically, it originates from the areas surrounding Luxi and Rongkou villages. This region holds great geographical significance as it lies at the confluence of several rivers. After nearly disappearing from production in the 1940s, Liu An tea experienced a remarkable revival in the 1980s, thanks to the passion of tea enthusiasts. Among the esteemed brands associated with this tea, Sun Yi Shun stands as one of the oldest and most renowned, guaranteeing an unforgettable tea experience.
Due to its fermentation process, Liu An tea shares similarities with Shou Puerh. However, don’t let that discourage you, as it offers a unique and distinctive experience. With its earthy undertones, this tea imparts a clean and mellow flavor. Liu An is known for its alluring aroma of betel nuts, accompanied by a delightful sweetness and subtle hints of bamboo. It also carries a faint medicinal quality, reminiscent of wandering into a herbal shop in Chinatown, evoking the fragrance of ginseng.
Masterful Brewing Techniques:
Liu An tea is celebrated for its versatility and adaptability to various brewing methods. Its low natural bitterness allows for higher leaf-to-water ratios, making it a popular choice for gongfu brewing. Personally, I prefer using boiling water and longer infusion times of at least 30 seconds to extract the essence of the tea fully. Additionally, I recommend rinsing the leaves at least once, especially if they have been stored in a damp environment. As a traditional practice, adding a piece of bamboo wrapping to the brewing vessel can enhance the brewing experience, infusing the tea with a subtle bamboo essence.
Share Your Liu An Journey:
Have you had the pleasure of savoring Liu An tea? I invite you to embark on this delightful tea adventure with me. Discover its captivating flavors, unique aroma, and the intriguing story behind its production. Whether you are a seasoned tea connoisseur or a curious beginner, Liu An tea is sure to leave a lasting impression. Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below, and let’s delve deeper into the enchanting world of Liu An together!
Have you ever tried Liu An? Let me know about it in the comments below