Old and Rare Pu-erh: Guang Yun Gong

A 1960s tong of guang yun gong

Strictly speaking, guang yun gong (or guangyun gong) cannot be called a pu-erh officially. But for the purposes of this article, we will stick with that designation which was used since the first cakes were produced in 1958 until late 2008. That year, pu-erh tea was declared as a “product with geographical indications” by the Chinese government. This restricts the naming of tea as “pu-erh” to those produced within specific regions of Yunnan Province, currently being disputed by producers from Guangdong, since they often produce cakes from tea leaves grown in Yunnan.

You can find some guang yun gong from the 1960s through 1990s around here and there. The quality, however, can vary, depending on how carefully the cakes were stored. For the most part, though, if you come across some, take a chance. All guang yun gong were lightly oxidized (cooked) during production, so the taste lacks the same intensity as found in Yunnan pu-erhs of the same period but are only slightly lower in price than the Yunnan pu-erhs.

The 1960s Guang Yun Gong

  • Tong was wrapped by softer bamboo shells than that used for 1970s and later guang yun gong.
  • Only raw Yunnan arbor leaves were used.
  • Cakes have neifei, but no nei piao and wrapper.
  • The size of neifei is 38mm X 38mm for 1960s guang yun gong.
  • The 1960s cakes were made of Yunnan mao cha, with bold leaves and stems like used in pre-1960s pu-erhs, and a more red color.
  • The tong emits a beautiful sweet woody fragrance with a quite cool feeling when opened.
  • Exceptional clarity from the first to the last infusion (as many as 15 are possible) and a rich reddish to red-brown color.

The 1970s Guang Yun Gong

  • Tong was wrapped by stiffer bamboo shells than that used for 1960s guang yun gong.
  • Started using tea leaves from other provinces such as Sichuan, Guizhou, and Guangdong, among others.
  • Cakes have neifei, but no nei piao and wrapper.
  • The size of neifei is slightly larger than the 1960s size of 38mm X 38mm.
  • Appear more black than the 1960s.
  • Exceptional clarity from the first to the last infusion (as many as 14 are possible) and a rich reddish to red-brown color.

There are also 1980s and1990s guang yun gong. After the mid-1980s tongs were wrapped in paper bags instead of bamboo shells.

Steeping Recommendations

Get the best results by using a Chinese Yixing (purple clay) or porcelain tea ware. Rinse your teacups and teapot with hot water to warm them. Put about 2 grams of tea leaves (1-2 teaspoons) for every 150ml of water into the teapot. Steep in water heated to a boil for 1 minute for the first and second steeping. Gradually increase steeping time for subsequent steeps.

About Janice and Stephen Shelton

Purveyors of Premium Teas
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