The Journal

One of the great joys is to source tea - pure and simple.
This ‘source-time’ now approaches for me to organize and ‘find’ the next offerings for JalamTeas; and within there is the knowledge that I not only am about to imbibe outrageous amount of tea that delight (or depress), but to source teas that I think would make a nice follow up to our successful Bada Mountain Pu’er.

A brief one-hour flight from our perch at 3200 metres in Yunnan’s northwest, where my home sits in a cold vacuum of unrelenting winter, to Kunming. A three-hour wait and then another hour-long flight to Xishuangbanna’s humidity in the deep-south, and a 50 minute bus ride west follows that, and into one of the ancient basins of tea, Menghai.

While the harvest times begin as early as late February, I have long preferred going down a bit later to avoid the inevitable hype, and to see what has sold, what hasn’t, and what little gems might be lurking unloved at the rear of a forgotten tea shop, or in a villager’s home. It is in such places that ‘new’ classics or simply palate pleasers are found.

There are two teas I know are ready for the coming months’ JalamTeas’ menu; teas that I have tasted in the past month that were sent up from the tea regions to sample. They are teas that are different enough, and of a good enough quality to begood follow-ups to our current Bada Mountain Pu’er. The remaining teas are those special wonders, ‘the yet-to-be’s’. They are the yet to be sampled stunners that stopthe mouth and breath dead with their qualities…and always these teas lie in wait; unpredictable until they send their message through a cup into the mouth. After that it is a case of sorting out that ‘necessary’ of any transaction, the money.

With this trip not only will teas be sampled, but one of the other underrated aspects of sourcing will be indulged: exploring the isolated villages in the mountains, the meals taken on the floor, and the odd little venerable piece of local lore or tea-philosophy, will be taken in as well. Again and again it is the people aspect that I appreciate (and of course their generous servings of the tea) and it is one ofthe great earthly classrooms: to be amidst, to listen and ultimately to take in the knowledge.

Because of our obsession with quality – rather than quantity – we can stock up on small amounts of teas that suit the mood, or that I think might be treats for our friends.

Notes, (and sips) from the field to come.

Jeff in Yunnan
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13 days until Christmas! We'll help you get ready with free shipping on your order.

Today* is your last day to order to the USA with free shipping and to get it before Christmas Day.

For orders to Canada, you have until Wednesday**.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. You can find live help in the bottom corners.

Note: You'll still be able to order in time for Christmas after these dates but you'll require a premium courier shipping option.

* December 12th
** December 14th
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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)."

Have more questions? Send us an email at or post a comment.

- Aurelien Continue Reading ›
It finally got here: our first package from Jeff. It travelled by foot, truck and plane from the south of China all the way to Ottawa, Canada. 

Actually smelling this tea that Jeff has been raving to us was exciting. Also exciting, was knowing that we successfully tested of our shipping logistics. Exporting from China and importing into Canada has been a exercise in bureaucracy and patience.

Here is a picture of the cakes all wrapped up in bamboo.


Roughly 50 cakes arrived, couple hundred more to go.

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