Shu Pu'er

Lao Cha Tou

Little ol' tea heads for the tea heads, morsels of compressed Shu Pu'er that hold on tightly to profound flavor. If haste makes waste, the accelerated process used for Shu is a very thrifty one, leaving behind these nuggets to the bing cha's bullion: during the wet piling stage, some of the hot, moist leaves stick together in clumps, undesirable when pressing into a large cake. But these leftovers are considered to be the most flavorful parts and a good deal by the aficionado. Compacted as they are, it takes some effort to prise out their prize, but the varied application of hot water and time will extract a wonderful range of qualities, from gently sweet and starchy to a full-bodied and almost-bitter brew, and a panoply of notes, including licorice, toasted hazelnut and grain, raspberry, and cacao. A fair amount in the brewing vessel may well last all day, with longer infusions providing more intensity; alternatively, try boiling a handful on the stove for a very thick liquor. The nuggets encourage play and are very forgiving.

  • ORIGIN:  Menghai, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China
  • MEANING:  Old tea head (lao cha tou)
  • CULTIVAR:  Da Ye Zhong
  • HARVEST TIME:  Spring 2017
  • TASTE:  Licorice, toasted hazelnut, cacao
$9.50 $9.50


  • Quantity: 12g / 500ml
  • Water temperature: 100°C
  • Infusion time: 10 min
  • Quantity: 5g / 100ml
  • Water temperature: 100°C
  • Several infusions: 30–120 sec.

One or two rinses before infusing are recommended. Increase time for more intensity.
For best results in gongfu cha, brew in a Yixing teapot.