A deep and abiding love of Oriental Beauty

A deep and abiding love of Oriental Beauty

Creating tea from Liu Bao Hei Cha that I can steep all day and add a little sweetness to by way of goat milk and a sprinkling of cocoa nibs.


Long ago the wise tea master Lao Cha was on a pilgrimage through the mountainous ranges of Guangxi province, China, when he stumbled upon a tired farmer:

— Shifu, do you have something for me that is comforting like a thick rice porridge, yet sweet and robust like coffee that will help me tackle all this work. 
— Of course, young one! Let me share with you a woven basket of Liu Bao. 
Path of Cha's legend:) 

The best inspiration for me to make large pots of Liu Bao Hei Cha!

Many of the types of tea we drink nowadays are nothing like the tea that was drunk 1000 or even 200 hundred years ago. The tea sages that we nowadays admire, like Lu Yu, drank tea that was processed and prepared in a completely different style from the tea we know and love today.


Liu Bao, on the other hand, is a tea of history. It is one of the oldest styles of tea preparation that is still preserved and drank to this day. It is an excellent example of the trade routes that existed many years ago when the nomadic people of faraway places used to depend on the tea supply received from the warmer climates of China. The fermentation that the tea undergoes helps it survive the long journeys.


The name alone — Liu Bao — is full of history. "Liu Bao" literally translates as "Six Castles," which refers to the forts in the specific part of Guangxi long ago. The tea took on this name because its production first started in the Liu Bao village of Guangxi Province.

Liu Bao dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907). Of course, its production and drinking ways had very little in common with the Liu Bao we know today. Later during the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1912), it was one of the most highly prized teas. Nobles would drink it daily for health and beauty or gift it to visitors and travelers.

In recent history, Liu Bao was exported to Macao, Hong Kong, and Malaysia, where it was consumed mostly by mineworkers. For this reason, the tea slowly gained a reputation as an everyday tea. Only recently has it started getting more recognition by tea connoisseurs worldwide and earning the appreciation it deserves.

 The processing methods of Liu Bao served as the base for modern-day Ripe Pu-erh preparation (which developed fully only quite recently — the 1970s, to be exact). The two teas go through very similar processing partially because they are both part of the Hei Cha tea category.


  • First, the raw tea leaves undergo gradual pan-frying, rolling, and drying stages, becoming the loose-leaf Mao Cha. 

  • Next, tea leaves are piled and exposed to high humidity until reaching the desired fermentation level.

  • Finally, the leaves are steamed and pressed into their iconic large bamboo baskets. After the tea leaves are packed into the baskets, they are left to air-dry for several months and then aged even further. 


Liu Bao used only to be sold in 40 - 50 kg baskets. However, after gaining popularity, Liu Bao recently started to sell in smaller packings. And not only in baskets but in various compressed shapes much similar to its cousin pu-erh.


The Historical Tea Processing Method:

When Liu Bao was first developed, it was made individually in homes. The residents of Guangxi would cook the leaves in a wok with some water and hang them to dry above their kitchen oven. They used pinewood for their fires, which would give the tea a bit of a smokey flavor. Although this form of tea preparation is rarely in use anymore, one can still find it from time to time in some homes in Guangxi that wish to preserve this ancient tea ritual.

guangxi tea

Guangxi Province


Health Benefits of Tea: Liu Bao 

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Liu Bao has exceptional properties. It can hold both cooling and warming qualities depending on its fermentation level. Liu Bao has the effect of removing excess heat and clearing blood. At the same time, it warms the body by eliminating excess dampness.


It is an excellent tea, acting as a probiotic of a sort and clearing our intestines. When drunk after eating, it helps break down heavier foods and aids digestion. We also find that drinking some Liu Bao has a calming effect that clears the mind and prepares us for a day of work. Many notice that drinking this sincere tea is both comforting and motivating. In a sense, it is a tea of contrasts, which is indeed what we love about it.


To Prepare Liu Bao:

Similar to pu-erh, the darker the tea — the better. A quality Liu Bao won't be phased by a bit of extra tea leaf, using boiling water, or even oversteeping. On the contrary, it might make it even more robust and delicious. Try adding a bit more leaf than you are used to, or steep the tea a bit longer. Aim for a tea liquor with dark, intensive color.


A typical preparation method is bringing the tea leaves up to a boil in a pot then letting them steep while cooling. The hot temperature doesn't harm the tea or extract any bitterness; instead, this method only enhances the tea's nutritional value. Liu Bao is a very easy tea to brew and can be both cooked and steeped as usual. 


What makes a good Liu Bao unique and different from all other teas is its distinct aroma — one that reminds us of betel nut. The taste of Liu Bao is also like that of betel nut, and it has a prominent lingering sweet finish, one that is sought after in many teas.  


Literally meaning “black tea” (or "dark tea"), Hei Cha is different from the "black tea" we know of in the West, which is actually called “red tea” in China. 

Hei Cha tea leaves belong to the post-fermented category. It means the tea leaves of the finished product continue to transform under the combined action of various bacteria, yeasts, and molds. The wet fermentation process exposes the tea leaves to high amounts of moisture under higher temperatures, taking Hei Cha a step further from black tea.

My all time favorite kind of aged tea! Raw Liu Bao


The best time to drink it is right now. And I don’t mean that in a general sense, I’m speaking directly to myself so that I can remember this. Sunday morning, 6 AM and outside, of course. Liu Bao tea has always remind me of both the smell of warm cement during the first rain of the day, wet moss, and going back again to the cement theme, those aromatic walks home from elementary school with a light rain misting all that warm Californian earth, and fragrant sidewalk. But let me tell you what Yunnan Sourcing themselves say!

This is a raw (not wet piled) Liu Bao tea aged for more than 20 years already!  It's ultra clean tasting and steeps 10+ times while keep flavor.   It's not a graded Liu Bao, meaning it was picked with leaf and buds together and was never separated into different leaf grades.  This means you get the tea in the form that has the most depth and completeness with this tea!

Taste is strong but not overpowering, with notes of tropical hardwood, betel nut, osmanthus, and incense.  There is not even a little bit of mustiness at all!  There is very long lasting mouth feel with this tea and the cha qi strong!

If you are looking for a clean aged Liu Bao or just want to try an excellent 20+ years aged tea then this will surely be a worthwhile choice!


A GREAT Dong Ding Oolong from Eco-Cha

 I love this company! Presentation, quality of leaf and super fun to drink multiple infusions of.

Dong Ding Oolong is a medium oxidized, heavily roasted tea with a hearty, complex, and robust character.

The initial steeping brings forth a complex bouquet of roasted vegetables, pine, and a touch of smokiness. On the palate, you get roasted sweet corn, nutty/fruity notes, and a tangy, heady finish with just the right touch of astringency.

Eco-Cha's source of this tea is representative of a Dong Ding Oolong from the original source of this type of tea. It demonstrates the broad spectrum of character and flavors that can be captured by refined roasting techniques.

My favorite Shu Puerh

Clean & fresh - made from choice raw materials - with a comfortably ascending energetic profile. 

Usually what is the most noticeable about this tea, or at least the most talked about, is its energy. The frequency is high and crystalline. This is due in part to the old arbor raw material used in its crafting. The roots of the mature plants are more able to source the deep nurturing chi of the subterranean landscape. Combined with the organic growing practices, clean air and water, and the adept hands of a master, we have the resultant masterpiece.


Ingredients: tea

If stored properly, vintage teas can continue to age over time.

  • This tea is still relatively young, and as such, has the slight edge that younger shous can have on the first couple of infusions. In this case, it is reminiscent of chicory or raw cacao. It then totally smooths into a graceful, well-structured, highly refined broth hitting on all points you want it to (and more). Dark and elegant - refined and smooth.



    large meaty leaves with perfect uniform brown/black tone • aroma is elemental with floral and legume notes



    very lively and bright liquor with gorgeous hues of cherry amber and copper • ripe, dense, and full-bodied



    as stated earlier this tea's chi is most noticeable • if a “reset button” experience is what you need, give this cake a try • the energy is quickly ascending then branching in a fan-like radiation - a common energetic descriptor is “crystalline

Floating Leaves Oriental Beauty

 I am being very careful with this particular special reserve tea from floating leaves as it is noted in the description that one will have better results with a lower temperature of this very special and delicate and feminine floral tea. As you can see from the pictures I might be taking that a little bit too far but I'm really experimenting with temperatures as low as 170 to 185f. I've noticed that I seem to almost 'burn' the delicate sense and taste away if I go above 185. All in all, I'm not 100% sure this tea has been totally worth the extra expense however there is one part of this tea that's just as exquisite as the very best OB's I've ever had, which is  after I warmed the pot, poured the water out and poured the dry tea in and let it sit and steam for a few minutes then stick my nose into the pot and breathe deeply. Completely and utterly exquisite and, I must say, priceless. 

Rock Milk Wuyi Oolong. Multiple steep times yield more and more! Amazing!

Verdant Tea Company. Spring of 2022 by the Li family. The only thing I like more than the various tastes of this tea is the way it smells after the leaves have been wet and on the top of my gaiwan. Sticking my nose deep into the empty vessel almost touching my nose to the still-hot leaves, I feel I can pick up dark cherries, chocolate and a hint of something floral. Stone fruit, warm mineral-y rocks is the taste, however, to my still infantile palate.  

A very fun immersive tea and terrific for waking the senses and one's curiosity first thing in the morning. Pairs great with a good understated butter cookie too!
From the verdanttea.com:
Rock Milk or Shi Ru is an uncommon varietal that the Li Family cultivates on their mist-shaded, mountain spring-fed biodiverse plot within the Wuyi Ecological Preserve. The naturally rocky elements of this tea come through even stronger as they take in the deep minerality of the volcanic rocky soil. As a rare offering, Mr. Li takes the time to bring out the rich mouthwatering lingering yun sensation of this tea through the hand firing at low heat for hours needed to bring out the very best. This varietal is an excellent chance to taste the terroir of the region

June in Kentucky. And so it begins.

 Early morning back-porch tea sessions will have to start even earlier than this one is, as the humidity begins to announce itself behind my neck.

But having a rare Oriental Beauty from Floating Leaves tea in my old Celadon vessel makes me want to sit out here all day.

The sounds and the company have to measure up to this particularly good tea so I have Deva Premal singing the Moola Mantra, Daisy Gerber, my parakeet and even my tortoise here with me!