Pu-erh teas abound, made according to recipes that are guarded carefully. Some are created for special occasions or to commemorate certain events. The Kai Men Hong Tuo Cha is one such pu-erh, specially-ordered as a memorial Tuo Cha and first produced in early 2006 to represent the Xiaguan Tea Factory success.
Founded in 1941 in Dali, Yunnan Province, China, the Xiaguan Tea Factory has achieved a reputation for teas that have a unique flavor that some say is a bit sour but in a good way. As the teas age, the taste becomes even more complex.
This tuo is made using leaves collected from the Lincang tea growing areas. These are processed into a fine Spring maocha. The tea is steamed using Can Er spring water that is supposed to lend a highly desired special characteristic — sweetness and a mellow quality to the taste. That makes this particular tea fairly non-typical for the Xiaguan Tea Factory.
The tuo is packaged with care in a bright red box (the color that symbolizes good fortune to the Chinese) with golden yellow cloth inside. It makes this tuo perfect for giving a special tea gift to your tea loving friend. The box also protects the tuo from absorbing odors around it and from sudden and wide changes in humidity, such as can occur in the southeastern part of the U.S.
The tuo itself is wrapped in the traditional paper that allows it to breathe, even inside the box. The wrapper has a 4-digit number on it where the first 2 digits are the year the recipe was produced, the third is the grade of leaves used, and the last is the factory (3 for Xiaguan Tea Factory).
When unwrapped, the tuo appearance shows the leaves it is comprised of. Note the varying colors.
The price can seem a tad daunting for a mere 250 grams of tea leaves, but keep in mind the many infusions you will get out of each bit of leaves you break off and steep. When spread out over all the cups of tea you will steep from this one tuo it comes out to pennies per cup. We were able to get a good deal on these and so can present them at a better price than other vendors.
If you are new to pu-erh, this is a good introductory tea. If you are a regular imbiber, this one is still good to have as part of your array.