Friday, February 24, 2006

Too tight for aging

What is Iron Cake? (Cut & Pasted from M&J's)

"This is Xia Guan’s newest old idea (let me explain). Many years ago Xia Guan (in the 50’s) used iron to press the teacakes it was an idea to improve the productivity rate by using a machine to press the cakes. After the results Xia Guan was not impressed with the teas result they said using the iron instead of the a wooden press by hand made the tea packed to tight and did not allow it to age properly. They stopped making the tea with the iron press and went back to the wooden press. Many years later they realized that the tea even though slower to age in this way turned out better then wooden pressed cakes. Years later they refurbished the press and made a limited amount of Iron cakes. A top grade limited Iron pressed cake is what you get that will only get improve with age."

Xia Guan cakes are painfully tight and require the utmost kkung kkung power* to pry off even a tiny amount of leaves. Does this mean tightly compressed tea ages better or is this nonsense marketing fluff to justify modernization and price cutting. Giant factories could not crank out the volume that they do in the old manner of stone pressings.  

*Kkung kkung. Koreans emote these sounds when struggling over anything physical.

1 comment:

  1. Around 2005 I became interested in pu'erh tea, and over the next 5 years or so bought way too much of it. I've got enough to not run out in my lifetime. Today I am drinking a 2006 Liu Da Cha Shan Iron Pressed tea. Honestly, I don't hold out much hope that this will improve, ever. It actually has a metallic taste that I'm sure is NOT from the power of suggestion of the word "iorn". The harsh pressing doubtlessly exposes the chemicals in the leaves, but it also produces less aerobic conditions inside the cake. The former would expedite oxidation of the compounds, and the latter would slow it. Generally speaking, I doubt strong pressing is a good idea, and I don't particularly like having to hack away at the beeng, either.