2009 Shi Liang Cha Pillar (十兩茶, Shí Liǎng Chá, "10 Ounce Tea") - Anhua, Hunan is famous for its Hei Cha ("Dark Tea" or "Black tea" - a name used for fermented tea other than Pu'er). Anhua tea masters are able to produce a range of flavors and characters of fermented tea from different grades, shapes, and processing styles. Ranging from brick-pressed Fu Zhuan, made from the lowest grade of leaves, to basket-aged Tian Jian, made from the highest grade, Anhua has one of the oldest and certainly the most diverse Hei Cha production culture in China. These different grades, shapes, and denonminations of tea were created for trade with steppe tribes in Central Asia and Western China. Shi Liang Cha, meaning 10-liang tea (a liang is an ancient unit of measure analagous to an ounce), is a diminutive version of the traditional Qian Liang Cha (thousand-liang tea - 100x bigger), which was the largest denomination of tea normally exported from Anhua. These massive pillars of tea were produced from the second-highest grade of tea leaves, and pressed using bamboo straps using the concerted effort of 9 artisans. The fermentation and pressing occurs in the autumn, commencing during the Mid-Autumn festival. This centuries-old tradition has a rich culture with specific rituals and work songs to coordinate the task. The Shi Liang Cha pillars are made using the same processes and techniques, just at 1/100th the mass.
The flavor of this tea is darker and earthier than lower grade Anhua Heicha, such as Fu Zhuan, but more malty and robust than Tian Jian, the highest grade. Fans of Shu Pu'er will enjoy the darkness and minerality of this tea.