A luxury pu-erh present that would make even the most fierce tiger purr. Introducing The Tea Centre’s ‘Year of the Tiger’ pu-erh gift box.
Don’t let the shiny exterior and innovative packaging of our ‘Year of the Tiger’ pu-erh gift box fool you—the traditions and rituals behind this gift have stood the test of time.
To commemorate the year that is, The Tea Centre has created a beautiful tea gift that pairs the king of the jungle with the king of tea. No matter the occasion一Mid-Autumn Festival, corporate gifting, or in need of a premium 红包 (hongbao / lai see) 一this tea box has you covered.
Commemorating the Year of the Tiger
As made obvious from the awe-inspiring beast that adorns our pu-erh box, this gift takes inspiration from 2022’s traditional Chinese Zodiac sign: the tiger.
The fact that 2022—a year that sees the world slowly recovering from the pandemic—is the year of a brave and resilient animal could not be more appropriate. Symbolising tenacity in the face of struggle and new beginnings, the tiger was just the face we needed for this gift. And as the king of the jungle, who better to guard the treasure inside?
Pu-erh tuo cha mini cakes
Nicknamed the ‘king of tea’, pu-erh was the first tea to ever travel outside of its growing region. Pu-erh was also such a valuable commodity that Tibetans would trade their strong horses for bricks of it during the Tang Dynasty (618–907).
Today, one type of traditional pu-erh—tuo cha—is famous for its compressed ‘bird’s nest’ shape. This shape allows the shou (ripe) leaves to dry and age efficiently. In terms of ageing, both the black and green tuo cha in this gift were aged for five years! As a result, both boast deep flavours, with black tuo cha verging on smoky while green tuo cha is more floral with hints of chestnut. To learn more about the health benefits and the fermentation processes behind pu-erh, click here.
Spanning 2.5 cm in diameter, these mini cakes are the perfect size for brewing up 1–2 cups of tea. You can find our methods for brewing both Western-style or in a traditional gaiwan below.
How to brew pu-erh tuo cha mini cakes
The traditional way of brewing pu-erh tea requires a gaiwan or gong fu set.
- Place your tuo cha into your gaiwan and pour boiling fresh spring water or purified water on top. Allow the infusion to steep for just five seconds before discarding the water. This first steep is not meant for consumption. It is meant to rinse the pu-erh of unwanted particles and prepare the leaves for further steeping.
- Fill the gaiwan with water and allow this infusion to sit for 15-20 seconds. If you’re serving multiple people, pour the infusion into a glass pot with help from a strainer. The pour from the glass pot into each teacup (this ensures that every sipper receives the same level of flavour). Otherwise, strain the infusion into your teacup and enjoy this first steep!
- Repeat this process and simply increase steeping time by 5-10 seconds for each subsequent infusion to get the most out of your pu-erh. This pu-erh can be re-steeped up to ten times.
For those sippers who only have a teapot on hand or looking for a simple style of brewing. One pu-erh tuo cha mini cake is already the perfect size for a two-cup teapot.
- Place one tuo cha inside your teapot’s basket infuser, or in a filter bag so that it’s easy to scoop out later. This step is important if you’re looking to steep your pu-erh multiple times.
- Using boiled fresh spring water or purified water, fill your teapot and allow the first infusion to sit for about two minutes.
- Pour and enjoy!
- Increase the steeping time by one minute for each subsequent infusion. This pu-erh can be re-steeped up to ten times.
The Tea Centre’s take on 红包
Giving and receiving hongbao (lai see in Cantonese) is a beautiful East/Southeast Asian tradition and one that The Tea Centre is honouring in the design of our ‘Year of the Tiger’ pu-erh gift box. How did we do this, you ask?
The tradition goes that gifting money in red envelopes bestows happiness on its recipient for the rest of the year. Likewise, this tea gift’s vibrant red packaging envelops our tuo cha cakes that, during ancient times, were actually a form of currency between Yunnan merchants and the Tibetans. It also helps that the ‘bird’s nest’ shape is reminiscent of old coins too!
A mixture of traditions both new and old, this first is a homage to the birthplace of tea and all the wonderful rituals that stem from it. The perfect gift in more ways than one, be sure to pick one up for friends, colleagues or loved ones before the year is out!