Expansion Packs

Expansion Packs

Every few months, we plan to offer a limited number of expansions to the topic we are covering in detail any given month. These extras will be rarer and/or important to your journey exploring the kind/genre of tea discussed in that month’s issue. We hope to offer three or four such expansions next year as well. Each expansion pack will be exclusively for Global Tea Hut members. We will keep the expansions transparent, letting you know our cost for the tea, shipping and how much we think is a fair minimum donation. Like with all our work, you will be able to choose the amount you donate based on the cost of the tea and the minimum suggested donation, which will not be much more than what we have paid. The expansion packs will be limited, and distributed on a first-come-first-serve basis. If we find that demand for them is high, and that they are really helping you to explore different teas and learn more, then we will try to make more next time.

Every few months, we plan to offer a limited number of expansions to the topic we are covering in detail any given month. These extras will be rarer and/or important to your journey exploring the kind/genre of tea discussed in that month’s issue. We hope to offer three or four such expansions next year as well. Each expansion pack will be exclusively for Global Tea Hut members. We will keep the expansions transparent, letting you know our cost for the tea, shipping and how much we think is a fair minimum donation. Like with all our work, you will be able to choose the amount you donate based on the cost of the tea and the minimum suggested donation, which will not be much more than what we have paid. The expansion packs will be limited, and distributed on a first-come-first-serve basis. If we find that demand for them is high, and that they are really helping you to explore different teas and learn more, then we will try to make more next time.


  • Expansion Pack V: November 2017
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    • Stacks Image 271731
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    • Stacks Image 271741
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    Exciting Aged Shou Puerh Teas

    This month, we are offering a very special Expansion Pack. Puerh is abundant in Taiwan, as so much of it was shipped here from Hong Kong in the 1980s and ‘90s. We are spoiled with options. We wanted to share some of our all-time favorite shou puerh teas with you, so you can learn more about the genre and the ways that shou puerh production has shifted, then till now.
    Most loose-leaf shou puerh teas are blended. In fact, almost all loose puerh is blended, full stop. And we don’t mean blended during production to create a more balanced brew, though most puerh since 1972 is created in that way as well—we mean added to over time to increase weight, change the flavor (often to make the tea seem older than it is) or to create a unique tea that separates the shop selling the tea from the source.

    It is consequently impossible to date loose-leaf puerh tea. You should never, ever use the date of a loose-leaf puerh given by a vendor as the measure of whether to purchase the tea or not! There may be some basis in truth in the date, but usually the date increases as the tea is sold from person to person. Most old loose-leaf sheng puerh is a blend of some older tea, younger wet-stored tea and a little shou. Overall, these teas taste fine. They should be evaluated based on their own merits and bought accordingly. In other words, a tea lover must compare loose-leaf puerh to other loose-leaf puerh and develop a sense of quality and price. This is why we encourage friends with tea shops to create a nomenclature for aged, loose-leaf puerh based on terms that they can use consistently, like “aged,” “well-aged,” “vintage,” etc., and each term then corresponds to a certain flavor profile and quality/price. This is a much better approach to the world of loose-leaf aged puerh.

    Storage also plays a huge role in aged loose-leaf puerh. One of the reasons cakes age so much better than loose-leaf puerh is that there is too much oxygen in and around loose-leaf tea, which means it oxidizes/ferments too fast. There is nothing wrong with some wetter storage, within reason, so long as the price reflects the condition of the tea. This is as it should be with any antique—the price is determined, in large measure, by the condition of the object.

    This month’s expansion pack is:

    50 grams of Bindbole (early ‘80s loose-leaf shou)
    50 grams of Shaman’s Drum (late ‘80s loose-leaf shou)
    15 grams of mid ‘80s 7572 shou puerh cake
    25 grams of a mid ‘90s shou puerh cake
    25 grams of the cake version of our very own “Spirit”

    This expansion is a bit more than previous ones, as it includes so much aged tea, but, as usual, this is not a fundraiser, but rather an educational opportunity, so we have not marked up the teas: $65 + shipping

    Sold Out

  • Expansion Pack IV: August 2017
    • Stacks Image 271201
    • Stacks Image 271204
    • Stacks Image 271207

    Spectacular Wild Old-Growth Purple-Red Buds from Dehong

    This month, we are offering a very special Expansion Pack. We were very fortunate to get ten of the twenty or so kilograms of wild, all-bud Evening Sky. This is a very rare chance to taste a wild version of the tea we all love so much! If you love this month’s tea, you won’t want to miss this chance!

    This amazing tea comes from higher up than the ordinary Evening Sky, which is from wild gardens at around 1,700 meters above sea level and is harvested from wild trees that are between forty and two hundred years old. The trees are sparse and follow the contours of the mountain, with biodiversity, no irrigation or agrochemicals, and all else that makes up a living tea. These are healthy gardens, as you no doubt felt in the cleanliness of the Tea of the Month. In fact, we are often inspired by Dehong, which is making strides in the promotion of organic tea in both second-generation gardens and bigger plantations. We can only hope these movements will gather momentum as more tea lovers understand fully the environmental implications of their tea consumption.

    The wild, all-bud version of Evening Sky comes from an altitude of around 2,000 meters above sea level, deeper into the forest and higher up the mountain than the gardens ordinary Evening Sky comes from. These wild trees, shown on pages 5, 6 and 8 of this issue, grow huge with thick whitish-purple buds that slowly unravel to the sun, changing to green as they grow into very large leaves. These wild trees can be up to eight hundred years old, though most are younger than that. The average is between one and two hundred years old. The main difference between this and our Tea of the Month is that this tea is only the buds of these higher altitude and older trees, selected and picked by hand.

    This tea is fruity and peachy like our Tea of the Month, but with a richer and deeper Qi. It also is sweeter, coming from only buds. This is a rare chance to taste a truly wild tea, ethically sourced and with all the vibrancy of clear pristine mountains. Also, a portion of this tea was donated to us by a kind and dear friend who is in close connection with the locals. As a result, we are offering this at a very affordable price.

    This month’s expansion pack is:

    200 grams of this Wild Old-Growth All-Bud Evening Sky

    Sold Out

  • Expansion Pack III: June 2017
    Stacks Image 271657

    Exploring Gongfu Red Tea

    Traditionally, there are several kinds of gongfu red tea: Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong (正山小种), Qimen, Yixing red tea, zheng he (政和), bailin (白琳) and tanyang (坦洋). As we were setting out on our fourth annual Global Tea Hut trip, we realized that we would also be traveling to one of these regions (Yixing), and knew we’d have access to some very nice red tea while there. Then, days before we left, a good friend of ours in Wuyi called and asked if Wu De could travel there at the end of the trip for a few days to help out with a CCTV film and brew at a large tea gathering. Wu De immediately realized that we would then be able to offer an expansion pack of two more gongfu red teas, worried that the Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong would make this impossible, as it is one of the most expensive teas produced on Earth.

    The defining feature of Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong is the drying, which is done with pinewood smoke. Most tea scholars agree that this began because the houses in Tongmu Village (桐木村), the area where this tea is produced, were traditionally built alongside small roads in the mountains with little space surrounding them. For this reason, the locals learned to wither the tea in lofts above their living spaces. There are pine forests all around, so of course, these villagers would cook all their food, heat their water for drinking and bathing, and warm their homes with pine fires. The smoke from their daily lives would then drift up through the rafters to the tea that was withering in the lofts above. Tea is very sensitive to aromas, and will absorb whatever is around it. In Yunnan, camphor trees were often planted near tea trees and the tea tastes of camphor as a result. Tea leaves are also scented with flowers in the same way. As a result of this, Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong developed a smoky flavor, which was surprisingly appreciated by the market, including Western tea drinkers. After commercial production began, the tea was processed in a building called a “qing lou (青楼),” a three- or four-story building with a large fireplace for smoking.

    A lot of Xiao Zhong is smoked in ovens these days, or very casually, and not made in the traditional way. The highest grades, however, are still processed by hand in the old ways. Our tea comes from an organic farm with seed-propagated trees and was completely processed by hand. Such high grades of Xiao Zhong are amongst the most expensive teas produced in the world. Only aged teas rival it. For that reason, we thought we wouldn’t be able to get a nice version to share in an affordable expansion pack. Very generously, the farmer agreed to donate more than half the cost for this amazing tea so we could all get the chance to drink more gongfu red tea this month.

    Red tea production probably came to Yixing from Qimen in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. There were already many kinds of green tea produced in the area, so using bud sets to make red tea was a natural shift. Most local potters drink Yixing gongfu red tea over and over all day, rarely sampling any other tea. Our tea offered here is from a wild, organic farm up in the hills beyond some of the other gardens and plantations. Since it is wild, it is bolder and far less delicate than most Yixing red tea, but also much more unique, offering a depth of forest that the tea you drink in local shops over teapot discussions will never have.


    This month’s expansion pack is:

    25 grams of fine, superior-grade Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong
    25 grams of wild Yixing gongfu red tea

    Sold Out

  • Expansion Pack II: February 2017
    Stacks Image 271489

    Exploring Rare Dian Hong

    Dian hong is a kind of tea everyone loves. It is affordable, delicious and when it is made from good raw material, can be stunning to drink in ceremony. Since dian hong is more inexpensive, we wanted to include a greater variety of Yunnanese red teas that we enjoy, each very unique in its own way, including cakes and loose-leaf tea. We have included different mountains, seasons, ages and kinds of trees and vintages so you will taste a broad spectrum of the genre and learn more.
    So, here’s this month’s expansion pack:

    A 100-gram cake of Spring 2013 dian hong from Feng Qing in
    Lincang, similar to the Golden Vajra cake we made years ago.

    50 grams of Autumn 2016 Bu Lang Mountain dian hong.

    50 grams of a very unique dian hong made from a different species of Camellia called Camellia taliensis, like the Moonlight White tea we sent in April of 2016, which was also a Light Meets Life cake. This delicate red tea is one of the most gorgeous teas we’ve ever seen, and glorious to drink as well!

    50 grams of Spring 2016 Evening Sky wild purple red tea from De Hong.

    50 grams of Spring 2016 wild old-growth dian hong from Mengku.

    20 grams of our all-time favorite dian hong, which we call “Joy.” Joy is an early-2000s dian hong from ancient trees in Lincang.


    Our cost for these six teas, including shipping to Taiwan and packaging, is just around $37. Like the first expansion, we only produced 50 sets and we are going to ask for a suggested minimum donation of $50 plus shipping, which Shen thinks will be $20 or less to most places in the world. You can donate anything you want above that. All proceeds will support our free Center. Each expansion will also come with a descriptive booklet that will explain each tea and why we chose it.


    Sold Out

  • Expansion Pack I: December 2016
    Stacks Image 271428

    Exploring Rare Vintages of Liu Bao Black Tea

    Liu Bao is a very rich genre of tea, with a lot to learn. One of the reasons we have included so many articles on the history of this magical tea is that Liu Bao is an aged tea, like puerh, so its history has much more bearing on the genre, since we often find ourselves drinking teas that were processed very differently than farmers do today. In other words, a trip to Liu Bao is not necessarily going to help you understand how the aged Liu Bao you are drinking was made. For that, you will have to research historical records, talk to old-timers and drink the different vintages yourself. Some of you who have been around here for a while will remember the other two Liu Bao teas we have sent out (a year 2000 Liu Bao and Old Grove, which was from 2008), but for some of you this will be your first exposure to Liu Bao (and maybe even black tea as a genre). For our first expansion pack, we wanted to offer you the opportunity to try two older, rarer vintages of Liu Bao, in the hopes that they would help you further understand the articles in this issue, as well as develop a greater appreciation for this wonderful genre of tea. So, here’s this month’s expansion pack:

    20 grams of 1970s SSHC Liu Bao (Shuang Xing Hao Yin, 双星号印)
    20 grams of 1980s Eight Directions Liu Bao (Ba Zhong Liu Bao, 八中六堡)

    These two teas are wonderful examples of vintage Liu Bao and amongst the best you can find without getting into the older and much more expensive baskets. They also will allow you to taste the changes in processing over time, as we have discussed in these pages, since the piling methods changed in the 1980s. Both were stored in Malaysia until now.

    Our cost for these two teas, including shipping to Taiwan and packaging, is just under 40$. For this first experimental foray into offering expansion packs, we only produced 50 sets and we are going to ask for a suggested minimum donation of 50$ plus shipping, which Shen thinks will be 15$ or less to most places in the world. You can donate anything you want above that. All proceeds will support our free Center.

    Sold Out

  • Expansion Pack V: November 2017
    • Stacks Image 271665
    • Stacks Image 271668
    • Stacks Image 271671
    • Stacks Image 271699
    • Stacks Image 271703

    Exciting Aged Shou Puerh Teas

    This month, we are offering a very special Expansion Pack. Puerh is abundant in Taiwan, as so much of it was shipped here from Hong Kong in the 1980s and ‘90s. We are spoiled with options. We wanted to share some of our all-time favorite shou puerh teas with you, so you can learn more about the genre and the ways that shou puerh production has shifted, then till now.
    Most loose-leaf shou puerh teas are blended. In fact, almost all loose puerh is blended, full stop. And we don’t mean blended during production to create a more balanced brew, though most puerh since 1972 is created in that way as well—we mean added to over time to increase weight, change the flavor (often to make the tea seem older than it is) or to create a unique tea that separates the shop selling the tea from the source.

    It is consequently impossible to date loose-leaf puerh tea. You should never, ever use the date of a loose-leaf puerh given by a vendor as the measure of whether to purchase the tea or not! There may be some basis in truth in the date, but usually the date increases as the tea is sold from person to person. Most old loose-leaf sheng puerh is a blend of some older tea, younger wet-stored tea and a little shou. Overall, these teas taste fine. They should be evaluated based on their own merits and bought accordingly. In other words, a tea lover must compare loose-leaf puerh to other loose-leaf puerh and develop a sense of quality and price. This is why we encourage friends with tea shops to create a nomenclature for aged, loose-leaf puerh based on terms that they can use consistently, like “aged,” “well-aged,” “vintage,” etc., and each term then corresponds to a certain flavor profile and quality/price. This is a much better approach to the world of loose-leaf aged puerh.

    Storage also plays a huge role in aged loose-leaf puerh. One of the reasons cakes age so much better than loose-leaf puerh is that there is too much oxygen in and around loose-leaf tea, which means it oxidizes/ferments too fast. There is nothing wrong with some wetter storage, within reason, so long as the price reflects the condition of the tea. This is as it should be with any antique—the price is determined, in large measure, by the condition of the object.

    This month’s expansion pack is:

    50 grams of Bindbole (early ‘80s loose-leaf shou)
    50 grams of Shaman’s Drum (late ‘80s loose-leaf shou)
    15 grams of mid ‘80s 7572 shou puerh cake
    25 grams of a mid ‘90s shou puerh cake
    25 grams of the cake version of our very own “Spirit”

    This expansion is a bit more than previous ones, as it includes so much aged tea, but, as usual, this is not a fundraiser, but rather an educational opportunity, so we have not marked up the teas: $65 + shipping

    Sold Out

  • Expansion Pack IV: August 2017
    • Stacks Image 271758
    • Stacks Image 271761
    • Stacks Image 271764

    Spectacular Wild Old-Growth Purple-Red Buds from Dehong

    This month, we are offering a very special Expansion Pack. We were very fortunate to get ten of the twenty or so kilograms of wild, all-bud Evening Sky. This is a very rare chance to taste a wild version of the tea we all love so much! If you love this month’s tea, you won’t want to miss this chance!

    This amazing tea comes from higher up than the ordinary Evening Sky, which is from wild gardens at around 1,700 meters above sea level and is harvested from wild trees that are between forty and two hundred years old. The trees are sparse and follow the contours of the mountain, with biodiversity, no irrigation or agrochemicals, and all else that makes up a living tea. These are healthy gardens, as you no doubt felt in the cleanliness of the Tea of the Month. In fact, we are often inspired by Dehong, which is making strides in the promotion of organic tea in both second-generation gardens and bigger plantations. We can only hope these movements will gather momentum as more tea lovers understand fully the environmental implications of their tea consumption.

    The wild, all-bud version of Evening Sky comes from an altitude of around 2,000 meters above sea level, deeper into the forest and higher up the mountain than the gardens ordinary Evening Sky comes from. These wild trees, shown on pages 5, 6 and 8 of this issue, grow huge with thick whitish-purple buds that slowly unravel to the sun, changing to green as they grow into very large leaves. These wild trees can be up to eight hundred years old, though most are younger than that. The average is between one and two hundred years old. The main difference between this and our Tea of the Month is that this tea is only the buds of these higher altitude and older trees, selected and picked by hand.

    This tea is fruity and peachy like our Tea of the Month, but with a richer and deeper Qi. It also is sweeter, coming from only buds. This is a rare chance to taste a truly wild tea, ethically sourced and with all the vibrancy of clear pristine mountains. Also, a portion of this tea was donated to us by a kind and dear friend who is in close connection with the locals. As a result, we are offering this at a very affordable price.

    This month’s expansion pack is:

    200 grams of this Wild Old-Growth All-Bud Evening Sky

    Sold Out

  • Expansion Pack III: June 2017
    Stacks Image 271655

    Exploring Gongfu Red Tea

    Traditionally, there are several kinds of gongfu red tea: Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong (正山小种), Qimen, Yixing red tea, zheng he (政和), bailin (白琳) and tanyang (坦洋). As we were setting out on our fourth annual Global Tea Hut trip, we realized that we would also be traveling to one of these regions (Yixing), and knew we’d have access to some very nice red tea while there. Then, days before we left, a good friend of ours in Wuyi called and asked if Wu De could travel there at the end of the trip for a few days to help out with a CCTV film and brew at a large tea gathering. Wu De immediately realized that we would then be able to offer an expansion pack of two more gongfu red teas, worried that the Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong would make this impossible, as it is one of the most expensive teas produced on Earth.

    The defining feature of Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong is the drying, which is done with pinewood smoke. Most tea scholars agree that this began because the houses in Tongmu Village (
    桐木村), the area where this tea is produced, were traditionally built alongside small roads in the mountains with little space surrounding them. For this reason, the locals learned to wither the tea in lofts above their living spaces. There are pine forests all around, so of course, these villagers would cook all their food, heat their water for drinking and bathing, and warm their homes with pine fires. The smoke from their daily lives would then drift up through the rafters to the tea that was withering in the lofts above. Tea is very sensitive to aromas, and will absorb whatever is around it. In Yunnan, camphor trees were often planted near tea trees and the tea tastes of camphor as a result. Tea leaves are also scented with flowers in the same way. As a result of this, Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong developed a smoky flavor, which was surprisingly appreciated by the market, including Western tea drinkers. After commercial production began, the tea was processed in a building called a “qing lou (青楼),” a three- or four-story building with a large fireplace for smoking.

    A lot of Xiao Zhong is smoked in ovens these days, or very casually, and not made in the traditional way. The highest grades, however, are still processed by hand in the old ways. Our tea comes from an organic farm with seed-propagated trees and was completely processed by hand. Such high grades of Xiao Zhong are amongst the most expensive teas produced in the world. Only aged teas rival it. For that reason, we thought we wouldn’t be able to get a nice version to share in an affordable expansion pack. Very generously, the farmer agreed to donate more than half the cost for this amazing tea so we could all get the chance to drink more gongfu red tea this month.

    Red tea production probably came to Yixing from Qimen in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. There were already many kinds of green tea produced in the area, so using bud sets to make red tea was a natural shift. Most local potters drink Yixing gongfu red tea over and over all day, rarely sampling any other tea. Our tea offered here is from a wild, organic farm up in the hills beyond some of the other gardens and plantations. Since it is wild, it is bolder and far less delicate than most Yixing red tea, but also much more unique, offering a depth of forest that the tea you drink in local shops over teapot discussions will never have.

    This month’s expansion pack is:

    25 grams of fine, superior-grade Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong
    25 grams of wild Yixing gongfu red tea

    Sold Out

  • Expansion Pack II: February 2017
    Stacks Image 198298

    Exploring Rare Dian Hong

    Dian hong is a kind of tea everyone loves. It is affordable, delicious and when it is made from good raw material, can be stunning to drink in ceremony. Since dian hong is more inexpensive, we wanted to include a greater variety of Yunnanese red teas that we enjoy, each very unique in its own way, including cakes and loose-leaf tea. We have included different mountains, seasons, ages and kinds of trees and vintages so you will taste a broad spectrum of the genre and learn more.
    So, here’s this month’s expansion pack:

    A 100-gram cake of Spring 2013 dian hong from Feng Qing in
    Lincang, similar to the Golden Vajra cake we made years ago.

    50 grams of Autumn 2016 Bu Lang Mountain dian hong.

    50 grams of a very unique dian hong made from a different species of Camellia called Camellia taliensis, like the Moonlight White tea we sent in April of 2016, which was also a Light Meets Life cake. This delicate red tea is one of the most gorgeous teas we’ve ever seen, and glorious to drink as well!

    50 grams of Spring 2016 Evening Sky wild purple red tea from De Hong.

    50 grams of Spring 2016 wild old-growth dian hong from Mengku.

    20 grams of our all-time favorite dian hong, which we call “Joy.” Joy is an early-2000s dian hong from ancient trees in Lincang.


    Our cost for these six teas, including shipping to Taiwan and packaging, is just around $37. Like the first expansion, we only produced 50 sets and we are going to ask for a suggested minimum donation of $50 plus shipping, which Shen thinks will be $20 or less to most places in the world. You can donate anything you want above that. All proceeds will support our free Center. Each expansion will also come with a descriptive booklet that will explain each tea and why we chose it.

    Sold Out

  • Expansion Pack I: December 2016
    Stacks Image 271430

    Exploring Rare Vintages of Liu Bao Black Tea

    Liu Bao is a very rich genre of tea, with a lot to learn. One of the reasons we have included so many articles on the history of this magical tea is that Liu Bao is an aged tea, like puerh, so its history has much more bearing on the genre, since we often find ourselves drinking teas that were processed very differently than farmers do today. In other words, a trip to Liu Bao is not necessarily going to help you understand how the aged Liu Bao you are drinking was made. For that, you will have to research historical records, talk to old-timers and drink the different vintages yourself. Some of you who have been around here for a while will remember the other two Liu Bao teas we have sent out (a year 2000 Liu Bao and Old Grove, which was from 2008), but for some of you this will be your first exposure to Liu Bao (and maybe even black tea as a genre). For our first expansion pack, we wanted to offer you the opportunity to try two older, rarer vintages of Liu Bao, in the hopes that they would help you further understand the articles in this issue, as well as develop a greater appreciation for this wonderful genre of tea. So, here’s this month’s expansion pack:

    20 grams of 1970s SSHC Liu Bao (Shuang Xing Hao Yin, 双星号印)
    20 grams of 1980s Eight Directions Liu Bao (Ba Zhong Liu Bao, 八中六堡)

    These two teas are wonderful examples of vintage Liu Bao and amongst the best you can find without getting into the older and much more expensive baskets. They also will allow you to taste the changes in processing over time, as we have discussed in these pages, since the piling methods changed in the 1980s. Both were stored in Malaysia until now.

    Our cost for these two teas, including shipping to Taiwan and packaging, is just under 40$. For this first experimental foray into offering expansion packs, we only produced 50 sets and we are going to ask for a suggested minimum donation of 50$ plus shipping, which Shen thinks will be 15$ or less to most places in the world. You can donate anything you want above that. All proceeds will support our free Center.

    Sold Out


Expansion Pack Discussions