Just before officially launching our store, we invited friends, family and fans to visit the site during the last few days to give (and get) impressions of what we are doing. The response has been very rewarding and we're excited to see so much enthusiasm to try the Bada tea that Jeff has selected for us.
You've asked us questions and we want share the answers with everyone.
What is a tea cake?
Tea cakes are full tea leaves or a mix of cut leaves that are steamed and then compressed into a mold in the shape of a disk. Long a tradition within Asia, compressed forms of tea were used in the days of trade for ease of transport and often enhanced for the aesthetic appeal. Within the tea cake (or other compressed form) the Yunnan big leaf (Camellia Sinensis Assamica) will 'age' and develop qualities and other health and medicinal qualities as it ages.
Can you provide more information on your Bada tea offering? Year of harvest, area where the tea leaves are harvested, processing, & are the cakes raw or fermented?
Jeff's answer: "Our Bada Mountain Puerh is a Spring 2011 unfermented (raw) Puerh grown on south and west facing hillsides between 1700-2000 metres elevation. Our teas are harvested entirely by hand by local Hani and Pulang people, dried and withered at the source, and are processed just outside of Menghai City in Xishuangbanna about 2.5 hours north of Bada Mountain."
Is this a Puerh tea cake?
Yes. For those who don't know what a Puerh is, it 'should be' a big leaf varietal and 'should be' produced and harvested in Yunnan province in southwestern China. In Yunnan province many Puerh lovers will refer to the necessity of the "smell of the sun" which many feel is important in determining a good Puerh. Puerh's should, for many drinkers, have been at least partially dried in the sun thereby 'tainting' the tea with the sun's smell. The name Puerh refers to a tea market town in southern Yunnan that gained prominence during the days of the Ancient Tea Horse Road. As an added bit of interest the 'Pu' people (also referred to as Pulang) of southwestern Yunnan are considered one of the original indigenous peoples that cultivated tea and mastered tea production.
From what kind of tea trees is your Bada tea from?
Jeff's answer: "Our Bada unfermented Puerh is organic and is a mix of old tea trees (100+ years) and younger 50-60 year old tea plants. All tea leaves are of the Yunnan Big Leaf (Camellia Sinensis Assamica) species. The mixing, while not as exclusive as a pure "old" tea brings out great flavours. The newer tea bushes add some fresh bite to the more mellow flavours of the old tea tree leaves. I sourced the teas myself from areas that have great environments, and a perfect climate for the tea bushes and trees."
Is the Bada tea organic?
Jeff's answer: "Our Bada is organic and most - if not all - teas I source for JalamTeas will be organic. Most small plantations cannot afford pesticides and have no tradition of using it in southern Yunnan and I want to source from the small plantations as much as possible. Another 'good' aspect is that the tea variety that is "Puerh" (big leaf Yunnan varietal) is not so susceptible to pests so that pesticides aren't so neccessary. Spring harvests are also best due to the winter temps dropping making conditions difficult for pests." Note that it isn't certified organic as often these plantations are often too small to go through the certification progress.
Is the Bada tea fried during the manufacturing process?
Jeff's answer: "All tea is 'fried', yes. Some is fried in small pans by hand (as our Bada tea is) while some teas are fried in machine friers which roll the freshly harvested tea plants in steel drums which are fired by wood. Frying a tea is crucial to remove as much of the tea's humidity and moisture as possible (and in many cases the faster this process is done post picking, the better)."
Is JalamTeas planning to offer more teas in the future?
In 2012, we'll be launching a new and unique service that will allow you to discover great teas and their stories. As we're organized to launch this new service, Jeff is sourcing more teas to share with you. He's already telling us about an exclusive 'Gu shu' teas (Ancient Tree teas) that he secured for JalamTeas' drinkers. More to come 2012. If you want to be among the first to know, subscribe to our mailing list bellow (in the footer)."
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