The origins of our Tuocha Pu-erh Mini Cakes aged Chinese tea
Our chestnut-brown, bowl-shaped Pu Erh cakes are a brilliantly convenient way to experience the smooth, woody characters of this luxury Chinese tea. Aged to perfection for two to three years, Tuocha Mini Cakes make a delicately complex brew: musky, earthy and with notes of wet woodland followed by a lingering sweetness. Simply steep one of these authentic Pu-erh cakes in near-boiling water for two to three minutes and enjoy watching the gloriously rich, russet-coloured infusion evolve in the cup.
These little marvels are made by artisan tea producers in Yunnan Province, China's historic home of Pu-erh. To make them, leaves are steamed and compressed into the Tuocha (literally 'bowl shapes'). These are then left to age naturally – as per the Sheng or 'Raw' category that this tea belongs to. The Tuocha are then individually wrapped to maintain quality and freshness
This single-origin luxury fermented tea is high in caffeine, so you can enjoy it as an appetite-suppressing brew between meals, or you can sip it an hour or so after you've eaten. As a fermented product, this tea's health benefits may include the introduction of beneficial bacteria into the microbiome, thus aiding digestion.
What is Raw Pu-erh?
Sheng Pu-erh Cha, or 'Raw Pu-erh Tea', is made from the Assamica variety of Camellia sinensis known in China as Da Ye Zhong (meaning 'large leaf type'). Sheng's flavour changes over time, as the compressed tea leaves are stored and left to age naturally, sometimes for decades, with the process of oxidation and microbial fermentation triggered by external bacteria and fungus as opposed to enzyme changes in the leaves. When aged and stored correctly, the tea yields a strong yet clean and smooth flavour, sometimes with toasty or sweet undertones. Hence these teas are among the most prized in China.
What is a Pu-erh tea cake?
While Pu-erh is sometimes produced as a loose-leaf tea, more often it comes in a 'cake' form that harks back to the days when the teas were compressed and carried on the backs of horses, mules and camels across the Chinese empire. It first became popular in the Tang dynasty (618-907), with the teas sorted into bamboo baskets of various shapes for easy transport. Today, the shapes remain, used mostly for presentation and for ageing. While the disc-shaped Bing Cha ('Cake Tea') is the most common, others include: Jin Cha ('Tight Tea'), for leaves pressed into a mushroom form; Fang Cha ('Square Tea') for brick-shaped tea; and of course Tuo Cha ('Bowl Shape Tea'), in which the leaves resemble a bird's nest. You'll also find Pu-erh teas pressed into anything from bamboo tubes ('Zhu Tong Cha') to oranges ('Ju Pu Cha').
Alternatives to Tuocha Pu-erh Mini Cakes
For a next-level loose-leaf aged tea, consider our speciality loose-leaf Aged Pu-erh – matured to perfection over a period of 30 years – or our Lincang Ripe Pu-Erh, aged for nine years and from a premium producing district of Yunnan. If you love the mellow, earthy notes that premium Pu-erh is famed for, our Yunnan Pu-erh provides an exceptional example of the style. Alternatively, try our Tangerine Pu-erh, aged in a hollowed-out tangerine and with citrus notes adding an element of brightness to all that earthy complexity.
Crafted from rosewood and brass, our Pu-erh prying pick is an essential tool to break apart your Mini Cakes. Also, to get the most authentic brewing result for your Pu-erh tea, we recommend that you use a Gaiwan from our Teaware store. For more speciality Chinese brews, from Jasmine Dragon Pearls to Lapsang Souchong, browse our Tea Shop.