This foot high, 2-piece Pu-erh ‘stupa’ is the largest size that we have been able to procure from China. But believe me, this 1-kilo tea structure is a tiny tot compared to the 5-foot tall, multi-level stupas we have encountered in Yunnan. The term ‘stupa’ here refers to the shape of the tea which resembles the shape of Buddhist Stupas – there is no religions connotation inferred by this that I know of. In fact, tea shops in Yunnan proudly display their monumental tea stupas for their customers admiration. Used in this manner they symbolize bounty and prosperity. I do not know the history of why these Pu-erhs came to be made and shaped like this, nor when manufacture of these started. Clearly it is tea compression taken to an extreme, perhaps only for the challenge of doing it. If anyone knows the history, please share !
This ‘stupa’ is made from clean and good condition raw materials from Bulang. The surface is tight and smooth and the compression has been well executed – the shape is crisp and the ridges of the melon are very nicely formed. The aroma is mild, clean and earthy; it has ‘good environment’ smell.
Overall, it is an excellent example of these compressed, showpieces. This one is sheng Pu-erh from the 207 harvest. No, I have not tasted it, and I assume that anyone who purchases this will not tuck into it either. For most it will be bought as a showpiece, a beautiful something that shows off the craft of compressing and shaping large units of tea. It would be stunning placed on top of a tea cabinet or set off to the side on a generously-sized tea table. No matter where it is, it will create Pu-erh envy in all who see it.
Every tea lover needs a wonderous ‘tea object’ that reminds him or her that the culture of tea goes beyond what one sips in a cup. For me, these Pu-erh stupas are a daily reminder of the craft and ingenuity that exists in changing raw materials into tea or something related that celebrates tea.
We have less than a dozen of these stupas and have already sold several. I suggest immediate action for anyone who is serious about owning one.