Buying old cakes from the CNNP label is always a risky matter. They always tend to be really good or quite disappointing. Today, we’re reviewing a cake from Puerhtea.eu: the CNNP 55 Anniversary raw pu erh!
55 Years Anniversary?
The wrapper itself looks lovely with vibrant red and green colours as you can except from a CNNP cake. Instead of the large Chinese character ‘tea’ (茶) in the middle of the wrapper, this one displays the number ’55’ in the middle. The cake was pressed in 2006, in which the Zhongcha brand is celebrating its 55 years of existence! Hence, this cake was pressed to celebrate that important year.
Preparation & Tasting
We steep 6 grams of tea in a small 120 ml gaiwan. The compression tightness of this cake was average. It was fairly easy to pry off a piece from the cake, but it was still tight enough to keep the cake together after so many years. What we often see with loosely compressed teas, is that they tend to become too loose over time, and many leaves start to come off.
Steep 1-3: Strong and Medicinal
After a quick rinse we started brewing the tea at 100ºC. The flavour seemed to release quite fast so we found that a 10 second brew was more than appropriate. The flavour is strong and medicinal, the texture was smooth. Yet, there wasn’t much of a trace of bitterness and sharpness of a fresh raw pu erh. The first two steeps a slight astringency. The fermentation process worked out really well for this cake.
What was also really remarkable is the cha qi. The taste may have nicely smoothened out due to many years of aging, but the tea itself is really mind elevating. This tea likely contains lots of caffeine, which is great if you need a mental boost. If you’re not font of too much caffeine, give this tea a slightly longer rinse of 20-30 seconds. Then drink this tea with flavours and skip the first 3 brews. Don’t worry, you won’t miss out much, as the best flavours are yet to come! Still too much caffeine for you?
Steep 4-6: Sweet Patato, Mineral & Sticky Rice
After 3 steeps, the flavour starts to become like a light roast dark oolong with notes of minerals, sticky rice and the savoury sweetness of sweet potato. The texture of the tea is now nicely soft, and the astringency in the first two steeps are gone.
The picture of the tea (see above) inside a white cup are taking at steep 6. The color is also quite comparable to a dark oolong at this stage.
Steep 7-12: Like A Delicate Black Tea
The tea becomes lighter, but still has soo much underlying flavour. The intensity reminds us of a delicate black tea like Jin Jun Mei or a Dian Hong. Its sweetness reminds us a bit of jujube and longan fruit with the medicinal notes that is unique for this cake.
The picture above of the tea inside a glass pitcher are taken at steep 10. You can see that the color is still really intensive after so many steeps.
Some pu erh teas are simple with very consistent flavours steep after steep that just becomes lighter. This CNNP 55 Anniversary cake definitely isn’t. At first the strong medicinal notes cover the other flavours, but soon notes of sticky rice, minerals and sweet potato will appear. As get to the later steeps, the flavour is almost like a different tea with lots of complex sweet notes of jujube and longan.
As a result, we believe this cake is a great choice for advanced pu erh tea drinkers and those who’re bored by the average raw pu erh. It’s strong in caffeine though, so stay away if you’re quite sensitive to it.