Liu Bao tea is a type of fermented black tea that is produced in the Guangxi region in Southern China. It is made from a medium-leaf variety of Camellia sinensis and undergoes an artificial fermentation process. It tastes deep, woody and somewhat smoky.
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As Liu Bao means 'Six Forts', it might refer to ancient fortifications in the region of Guangxi where this tea is grown. Liu Bao tea hails from the village in Wuzhou City in Guangxi province - a region that was home to six wooden forts many, many years ago.
Known for its tea culture and ideal climate, Guangxi has a long history of tea production. Tea has been growing there for hundreds (or perhaps thousands) of years! Several experts believe Guangxi has been producing Liu Bao tea for over 1500 years.
Liu Bao tea has a long history in China, and is traditionally made using a process that involves pilling the tea leaves (also known as wet piling or wo-dui).
The tea is harvested and allowed to wither, followed by shaqing (steaming or pan frying) and then rolling tea leaves before wet piling them and finally transferring them to bamboo baskets for aging. Before it is sold, the finished tea was typically aged for 1-3 years in large bamboo baskets before it is ready to be consumed.
Nowadays, this doesn't have to be the case and the tea can get sold right after being processed.
The magic of Liu Bao comes into full effect when it is left to age. The tea's depth and earthy flavor increase. As a result, aged Liu Bao is highly sought after and can be very expensive.
Liu Bao tea is known for its rich, full-bodied flavor and reddish-brown color. The flavor profile of Liu bao tea may be described as earthy and woody, with slightly bitter notes. Some people also describe the flavor of Liu bao tea as having a hint of sweetness and a smoky taste.
People in Asia often describe Liu Bao as tasting like betel nut. In the west, we don't have betel nuts, so this doens't tell us anything about the tea.
Liu Bao is widely known for its health benefits and high medicinal value, especially due to its chemical compounds. Thanks to its cooling and warming characteristics, Liu Bao is known to keep the body warm in winter and cool during summer. It also aids in improving appetite, stimulating digestion, and relieving fatigue.
It is good to drink Liu Bao tea after meals to aid digestion. It can also help to eliminate extra body fat, lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol. The theanine in this tea helps reduce stress and anxiety. Definitely a great daily choice, and one of the best breakfast options to replace coffee in the morning.
Liu Bao tea warms the stomach and reduces internal dampness due to its chemical compounds. You can drink it no matter what the climate is, even in the middle of summer or winter.
As previously stated, aged Liu Bao can be a real treat to drink and is in high demand. Typically, Liu Bao would be stored in large warehouses in climates where the average temperature and humidity is high, like southern China or Hong Kong.
In the West, it can be challenging to successfully age a Liu Bao tea. The weather is far colder and indoor living spaces have very low humidity levels.
If you plan to drink your Liu Bao tea within two years from purchasing it, store it in an airtight jar and keep it away from smells and temperature swings.
If you want to age the tea, you can store the jar in a closed cabinet next to a bowl of water. Don't expect the best results though. Better to get a friend in Hong Kong to store the tea for you!