An old tea drinking colleague of Jeff's doing what he has done for 60+ years: sip tea at a local shop. Though tea money has brought much change to southern Yunnan province, the emphasis on sharing and bringing people together has never been in doubt.
Teas from the Pulang Mountains have long been associated with force and bite due to both the production techniques and the soil itself where the teas grow. Ba Ka Ngoi is a village that is located deep in the southwest of Yunnan province where both the Pulang and Wa peoples have long been residing. Jeff loves the region’s teas for the variations and for the fact that teas from here tend to age well and become subtler with time. The Wa and Pulang peoples have tended to produce ‘rougher’ teas in the past, with an emphasis on strength and vegetal astringency. Now with improved and more consistent production methods, that initial strength - while being kept - has been harnessed by more controlled flavoured ranges.
Tea cakes in a small factory dry after having been steamed, and formed.
Ba Ka Ngoi, like many classics of the Pulang Mountain range benefit from ideal climates, drainage, and superb soils that are heavy in clay content. Tea is often found planted within forests that provide ideal shade and filtering of both sun and precipitation which teas need thrive within.
Harvested in the summer of 2013 from bushes between 1300 and 1400 metres the oxidization of this Ba Ka Ngoi has simply smoothened a powerful tea making it a little easier on the system and a slight decreasing of the stimulant effect.
The wonderful world that is tea sampling involves much beloved sipping, studying and smelling of the very leaves that end up in water being heated and consumed.
Insecticides and pesticides have not been used in the region as many of the indigenous growers including the Pu and Wa minorities have never used any sprays and consider them highly destructive. In the area if one destroys or desecrates (either accidentally or purposefully) a tea tree or bush it is considered an act of aggression and could instigate a village feud.
Small factories like this thrive in southern Yunnan as they are far more capable and willing to deal with small quantities of high quality tea. In the background, stones that act as moulds for tea cakes.
Like in so many of the isolated regions of the southern Yunnan province, the local people of Ba Ka Ngoi have a long list of medicinal benefits that they associate with tea. First among these is the use of tea to treat internal heat related afflictions. It is also lauded for its abilities to soothe and invigorate the internal organs. Teas in the Pulang Mountains often have herbs, roots, spices, and even garlic added to them to either increase or slightly alter tea’s benefits.
Even within Puerh, the higher the percentage of white leaves in a tea, sampling, or cake, the 'better' or more flavourful (and more expensive) a tea..
This is a great and gentle morning fluid taken either hot or cold and because of the lowered levels of caffeine within an oxidized tea it also makes for a late-day or evening drink. It is a tea that is ideal for a slightly stimulant but very smooth beginning to the day.
- Jeff Fuchs
While we encourage each drinker to tinker with infusion times and amounts of tea used according to taste, the below is a good base from which to begin the JalamTeas Ba Ka Ngoi experience.
If this is your first tea cake, here is a step-by-step guide on how to break and prepare a tea cake.
Use fully boiled water.
We recommend not less than 6 grams per serving using a 250 ml container to prepare the teas. Jeff recommends 8-10 grams for all of our JalamTeas’ offerings. Locals in southern Yunnan will use as much as 12 grams and wring out more than a dozen infusions, keeping the infusion times relatively short.
When the tongue ceases to enjoy an infusion's strength, that is the time to begin anew with a fresh load of leaves.
Don't be shy to ask me any questions about your tea leaves or anything related at [email protected]. You have my ears and I will get back in touch with you.