We were very lucky to get these four-year-old handmade tea bowls from Auntie Ai, letting us all taste what a few years can do to our beloved Mountain Gate. Also, these balls are completely handmade, including the compression. Rather than using a stone-press to make discuss cakes (bing), these balls are hand-compressed, which takes a long time and lends the tea more character. They were stored in Taiwan these four years, and have changed quite a lot.
Ai Li Juan is a Ku Chuong from the village of Qian Jia Zhai, in the Ai Lao Mountains. She loves tea and her culture. A vast amount of the funds she raises from the production of old-growth Puerh is being devoted to a new center that will preserve the Ku Chuong handmade tea skills as well as other aspects of their cultural heritage, from weaving to singing and dancing. All of the ancient trees surrounding Qian Jia Zhai are protected by the local council, and the farmers cooperate in their harvest. The trees are numbered and also guarded by a forestry service to prevent over-harvesting or other harmful agriculture, like agrochemicals. Only a very limited amount is harvested each year, and always by hand; it takes hours to hike into the forest where the old trees are. For that reason, only 190 of these cakes were made. The magical liquor of this tea was ordered in May of 2016 when around twenty-five Global Tea Hut members traveled to Qian Jia Zhai together to purchase the tea.
Due to inflation and rising prices in new puerh tea every year, this four-year-old Mountain Gate is actually cheaper per gram than the 2016 version is!
Each of these cakes comes hand-stamped with our own Guanyin Light Meets Life stamp on handmade rice paper. Every cake is a different weight, since they were all compressed by hand, but they are roughly 200 grams, give or take 10-15 grams. The minimum donation for each is 60$ +shipping.