Feel the Cha Qi with Our New He Kai Shan Sheng Bing Cha

The latest addition to our lineup of puerh cakes is the interesting He Kai Shan Sheng Bing Cha, a green puerh harvested from a respected but lesser known puerh mountain in Yunnan Province.

Roy is excited about this tea because of its intense fruitiness, which will continue to refine and concentrate as the cake gradually matures. It's so fruity that the tea is good to drink now. However, if you choose to drink it as a green tea, brew with cooler water, less tea (perhaps 4 grams), and don't steep too long - otherwise, the young tea's astringency will surface.

The cake exhibits plenty of silvery tips and not too many stems, while the infused leaves are generally moderate in size - all of which point to harvest earlier in the spring. In the cup you'll appreciate this tea's rich amber color, a sign that it's packed with nutrients that mean it's both healthful and full of flavor. It also provides a sweet, clean finish that lingers pleasantly on the palate for some time.

In the big picture the astringency is a good thing, as it's the result of tannins that give the tea enough structure to age well. Roy believes this tea will age superbly, continuing to improve for 20 years or more. It's best aged in rather dry but not arid conditions where there are significant temperature fluctuations that encourage the cake to "breathe." You may want to buy two of these cakes: one to nibble on every few months to see how it's coming along, and the other for the vault, to enjoy many years from now, when it's at its peak.

Another interesting aspect of this tea is its potent cha qi, a much discussed but elusive phenomenon. You can't see or taste cha qi, but when you drink a tea that has it, you suddenly realize that everyone in the room has become more animated and gregarious, and you may even find yourself loosening your collar as you warm up a bit. When Roy and I first tasted a He Kai Shan cake in the (unheated) warehouse, we immediately felt the cha qi kick in, and I experienced it again when I brewed the tea today in the teahouse. If you've wondered about cha qi, this is a good tea to learn from.

Affordably priced at only $65 for a standard 360-gram (12.7-ounce) cake, this fine He Kai Shan sheng bing cha will handsomely reward your investment.