Friday, April 6, 2018

Educational Series – The 3 Eras of Liu An Tea

The 3 Eras of Liu An Tea is an experience that spans a lifetime. A period of over 60 years of Liu An tea history is captured in these ancient leaves and old baskets that hold them. The story of this renowned and at times forgotten tea is told through the magical brew that connects us to the people and the times of each era.

The Educational Series is a genuine opportunity I am offering to my readers to learn about the different aspects of age tea. You have read the descriptions. Now you can share in the experience!

Part of the appeal of historical tea is that it connects us to key events chronicled in history. There is a romance and wonder involved in reliving the history that is captured in these ancient leaves. This can be further emphasized during a tea session through tangible experiences that reaffirms noteworthy traits from the period of time that the tea represents. This goes beyond age and the maturity of the tea but propels us deeper towards exploring various aspects within the fabric of society and governance in history and how the significance of each era impacted the people, environment and hence the tea that was produced. This sample pack is an opportunity to experience rare and historic Liu An teas. The 3 Eras of Liu An Tea combines 3 Liu An Teas in a Sample Pack. The 3 Eras of Liu An represents three very different time periods of varying social affluence, the standing of Liu An tea in the market, changes in the tea growing environment, belief and ideology, and the impact of technology and trends on the work of tea processing. These factors and conditions are the driving force that shape each era and thus each era of Liu An tea that is produced.

High quality Liu An tea consists of small tender leaves that are meticulously processed. The top level production requires tremendous human labor and skillful craftsmen resulting in an elegant tea that is a representation of historical and cultural art.

The 3 Eras of Liu An Tea Sample Pack
2 SIZES - Small / Large

1) 1950s Liu An Sun Yishun
2) 1970s Liu An Sun Yishun
3) 2000s Liu An Sun Yishun

Small (3x7g) - Sample Pack US$150 + shipping costs

Large (3x15g) - Sample Pack US$280 + shipping costs

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The Antique Era of Liu An Tea (Pre-1950s)
 1950s Liu An Sun Yishun (Supreme Grade)
For much of China’s history the Chinese conducted trades and adhered under the principals of capitalism. This allowed the elites consisting of nobles, wealthy landlords and merchants to accumulate colossal fortunes that gave them great influence over society. High-end products that catered to their needs were produced to the highest quality by skilled craftsmen utilizing the best materials. Some of these items were comparable to what could be found in the Imperial Palace. The appreciation of Liu An tea by the elites propelled the production and craftsmanship of this tea to its highest level. The Sun Yishun brand is regarded as the most valued and famous of the time. Time and scarcity has made Liu An from this era very precious and rare. The supreme grade Liu An baskets from this era captures the excellence and refinery that is symbolic of the wealth and affluence of the period of capitalism in mainland China. The meticulous and labor intensive craftsmanship of these ancient Liu An baskets is evident from the appearance of the leaves and in the appreciation of the tea. The brew is rich and elegant possessing depth, potency and an expansive sweetness that lingers in the throat. Despite the long years of aging the strength and energy of the tea remains well intact. The tea is very giving and durable allowing for many steeps under Gongfu brewing. For many Liu An enthusiasts the era represents the pinnacle of Liu An tea appreciation. - More on the 1950s Liu An Sun Yishun

 The Return of Liu An Tea Production (Late 1970s)
1970s Liu An Sun Yishun
The end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949 would be the beginning of the end of capitalism in mainland China. After establishing “The People's Republic of China” Chairman Mao Zedong and the Communist Party would instigate the transformation of the country towards communism. Many private businesses were either shut down or became state controlled operations. Mob riots and class warfare drove vast numbers of the once ruling and powerful elite class out of China to Hong Kong, Taiwan and neighboring countries. Production of the once famous Liu An tea stopped in mainland China for over 20 years. It was not until after the death of Chairman Mao Zedong in 1976 coupled with demands from overseas Chinese (that held on to memories from the previous era) that prompted the return to production in the late 1970s. Great efforts were made to replicate the processing of the past era but the long layoff and wonton destruction of the old facilities during the many waves of chaotic times meant that there were gaps in the overall processing techniques. This was further compounded by the changes to the growing environment and the new generation of workers. It was a great achievement that the reproduced Liu An tea was able to capture the main profile of its ancient predecessor. Over the many decades the 1970s Liu An tea has developed into a very charming and special age tea in its own right. This reproduced Liu An from this era is noted for possessing a softer and more gentle profile in part from the higher fermentation during the processing. - Opening of the 1970s Liu An Sun Yishun

The Industrial Revolution & the Puerh Influence (Post 2000s)
 2000s Liu An Sun Yishun
China’s race to become an economic superpower have transformed the country causing unprecedented changes within the space of a few short decades. The incentive and momentum of business privatization in the 1990s became the catalyst for China’s fast paced growth. This new directive revolutionized the national industrial sector and prompted large scale rollout of mega projects throughout multiple sectors, inclusive of the practice of intensive commercial farming. Chinese factories no longer produced for local consumption but became manufacturing powerhouses that catered to a global demand. In 2010 China overtook Japan to become the second largest economy in the world. China is forecast to become number one by 2030. The era of big industry and large scale production increasingly shifts the labor from man to machine run manufacturing under the agenda for efficient and cheap manufactured goods. Under such an agenda this form of efficiency means simplifying processes so that it can be adapted partially or become fully mechanized, losing out on the finer details of craftsmanship and artistry. Additional shortcuts and cost-cutting measures are encouraged to increase profit margins under this era of pursuing capitalist wealth. The industrial revolution has thus become an era for establishing large scale production houses that prioritizes quantity over high quality goods. This early 2000s Liu An Sun Yishun is a decent to good tea but it has not escaped these influences. It is my opinion that the industrial influence on this tea means that the quality and refinement of this Liu An tea cannot match the older productions from the previous eras. The fermented notes and green vibe of youth is still very much present in this tea and whilst lacking in maturity the experience is by no means unpleasant. There is a rough and tumble charm to the experience.

See more of the Educational Series

Additional Note - Trends exist throughout history bringing people together through ideas, beliefs and shared commonality. The hysteria and popularity of puerh tea during this period in time crossed borders not only geographically but also into other categories of tea. Tea leaves from different varieties of the camellia sinensis became compressed to appear like puerh tea to ride the wave of its popularity. Furthermore certain aspects in the production of puerh tea have become exported to be utilized in the processing of other teas. Some batches of Liu Bao tea especially have taken on more of a pronounced ripe puerh tea profile. New Liu An teas in this era have also been made available in greater variety with some possessing overlapping traits to puerh tea.


  1. hello, it's the second time i see this lign of thought on your blog, i think it should be modified in this fashion :
    "The supreme grade Liu An baskets from this era captures the excellence and refinery that is symbolic of the wealth and affluence of a few at the expense of many, of the period of "capitalism" in mainland China, "capitalism" that spread inequalities in such a manner that it contributed greatly, as well as colonial interference, and war, from imperial Japan and the West, to prepare the terrain for the maoist revolution." there, not perfect, but closer to the truth i think.
    Be that as it may, i'm a tea drinker and i like your blog.

    1. The era of the 1950s produced a very unique and special Liu An tea shaped by affluent capitalism. This level of refinement and superior quality in the tea is strongly connected to the demand and resources from the wealthy class that appreciated Liu An tea. I believe that message got through and that is enough.

      Ahh, human history there’s plenty that can be read and watched on Wiki, Youtube, etc. for those wishing to learn more. The more I step back and see the bigger picture the less I am drawn to singular events. The actions and reactions are but ebbs and flows from various dominating forces taking a turn to rise and later fade away as another comes to the fore. Optimistically I am hoping that it’s a journey of our evolution and we become better for it.

      Best, VP