Busy hands during harvest season. In many tea zones, there aren’t simply the three classic Spring, Summer and Winter harvest seasons, but rather a slow constant harvesting of leaves throughout the year. These ‘casual’ harvests fit generally into seasons as well and can yield just as sumptuous results.
There haven’t been too many more consistent teas for us than Bada Mountain offerings. They consistently wring out crisp and clean flavors and great aftertastes. This is a tribute to both the soil and environment as well as the standards that the local Hani producers maintain. While experimenting with different producers can often uncover a gem, the issue often becomes: “can they do it consistently?”
Looking at leaves up close of a Bada tea cake. The region offers up stunning teas from young bushes, medium aged bushes and ancient trees. The main differences between the oldest of the elders and the young newbies (if produced well) is astringency and length of flavour.
A producer who is consistent and careful is something utterly valued regardless of the season or tea type. It has been this rare quality with the teas (any teas) that we have sourced from Bada’s Manmai region. Two of the most vital aspects of the treating the leaves post-pick is the wither and the fry. It is in these two processes that Bada teas seem to become enhanced, where so many others weaken. The wither period for Puerh teas, wherein the tea sits after it has been plucked in a loose pile, is vital. If the pile is too deep and not turned or recycled enough, a humidity will form that can create an almost sour tea which is one of the most damaging irreversible elements for a tea. What is important here is that a process that is tried and tested. In Manmai the withering depth of leaves is generally shallow, the withering time before the fry brief, and attention and focus is on recording consistent times.
A valley in northern Mustang, Nepal, from which teas, salts, and resin would be transported to and from Tibet.
The fry consists usually of a tilted pan that is kept clean, never oiled with anything but tea moisture, and a fryer who knows their business. If the pan is pre-heated to a temperature that is too hot, the leaves will burn which in turn alters the flavors immediately and irrevocably. The fryer’s hands (sometimes gloved) creates a kind of gentle (but unending) turbine of movement in which the leaves in the pan are rarely still and rarely resting on the hot pan surface for more than milliseconds. It is during the fry usually when most of the flavours are fixed within a tea. To take in the scent of heated tea leaves releasing their moisture and becoming malleable is something close to narcotic.
A Bada tea cake in a rarely seen compressed shape. Shape rarely designates anything to do with quality, whereas a name of producer and region does.
This present offering is a summer 2015 raw Puerh from bushes of 30-50 years at around 1600 metres. While not big fans of too much ornate language when it comes to the flavor notes, this tea does carry a nice vegetal line throughout along with some herbaceous flavours. Vitally too, theses Bada offerings are tremendous teas for ageing as they soften over the course of a few years but seldom lose their strength.
Puerhs need boiled water and so can be served from a Yixing clay pot or a ceramic gai-wan cup.
The region shares many of its culinary customs with nearby Myanmar including pickling and fermenting raw un-fried tea leaves and adding spices and even local forest mosses to recipes.
A Bada tea cake in a rarely seen compressed shape. Shape rarely designates anything to do with quality, Dried loose leaves before they are steamed and made malleable for compressing into bricks, cakes, or balls.
This offering is one of the teas that reveals much of its inherent qualities in the multiple infusions it can offer up.
- 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' Bada Mountain Sheng tea experience.
If this is your first tea cake, here is a step-by-step guide on how to break and prepare a tea cake.
Do not be afraid to make a stronger brew than you might be accustomed to. The tea can use some extra leaves or time to strengthen the infusion. Bada is a tea that continually opens up infusion after infusion. If needing a less intense brew either lessen the amount of leaves or cut back on infusion times. Use fully boiled water.
We recommend not less than 6 grams per serving; ideally 8-10 grams. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You have my ears and I will get back in touch with you.