With JalamTeas' Bada unfermented Puerh we’ve decided to take you right into one of tea's original, understated origins - southern Yunnan's Bada Mountain sanctuary. Long an area that inspires with its simple tea traditions and ideal climate, I think it a perfect place to begin the JalamTeas journey.
Bada's high altitudes allow for mists and fogs which diffuse both sunlight and rain. Steep slopes are also vital for proper drainage - another of tea's 'needs'.
Tucked along the Burma border, the Bada Mountains are known for ancient smuggler routes, rich indigenous culture and some of the planet’s most exulted ancient tea forests. It has long been an area that I’ve visited and sourced from that in all of the years has changed little. It is a place where one can sit, sip, learn and sip some more, all within a sanctum of green.
Paths that scurry through brush shoot upwards into the dense forests that are in many cases populated by ancient tea trees. Amid valleys of red soil and green foliage of Bada Mountain, small towns of the Hani and Pulang sit raised from the ground with little more inside the huts than beds and a fire-pit. Tea is an informal but vital item of everyday need. Little fuss is made over the serving of exceptional teas, but there is always tea to be served any time of day. One needs only a cup, water, green leaves and that one essential: a thirst.
It is without exaggeration one of the globe’s true tea origins, with the requisite culture and sense of adventure. Simply arriving to the region requires the dual prongs of patience and will. It is near the Bada Mountains that I had my first sip of potent green Puerh and became smitten with its vegetal bite. It is the understated and little known Bada that my taste buds inevitably come back to again and again and so it becomes the flagship Jalam tea.
The end, yet to unfurl buds, on an ancient tea tree on Bada Mountain. Ancient tea trees are governed and treated with respect and gentle hands as they are the past and future of tea cultivation for many small isolated towns.
Some of the planet's oldest tea trees reside here and our own offering is meant to reflect not only a great tea, but also a rarely accessed region that is layered in tea lore. The landscapes of blue humid mists and hazy sub-tropical forests seem to have been happily forgotten in time, which makes for an ideal paradise for tea to grow and it is from here that we source.
Hani (pictured here), Pulang, Wa, Lahu and Dai are all involved with tea production and harvesting in southern Yunnan.
The ancient Pulang people, who are regarded as the original tea growers and the Hani, who have picked up the mantle of tea harvesters work in tandem throughout the Bada region.
Hani hands prepare tea leaves in one of the crucial elements in tea production, killing off as much of the moisture as possible in the tea leaves themselves. A tea 'fryer' within the Hani and Pulang peoples is considered an almost sacred position within society given the importance of tea.
Pickers harvest our Bada between 1700-2000 metres by hand, clipping with a quick slit of a fingernail. From the fields and forests the leaves are dumped onto rattan and banana leaf ‘sheets’ to sit before being carefully dumped into frying woks. The leaves lose much of their mass and moisture within the pan frying process being kept in a continuous cycle of motion by vigilant hands and bamboo prongs. The leaves are then emptied onto another sheet and wrung and expunged of remaining moisture by hand rolling motion.
A fraction of their original size, the leaves are then set out to dry in the sun and then in the shade, acquiring that precious ‘sun smell’ that is so important for local buyers and drinkers. It is that simple, paying homage to a system that is at once traditional and honest to the tea’s inherent qualities.
The Hani (known throughout Laos and Thailand as the Akha) have perfected growing, harvesting and producing class Puerhs in southern Yunnan. Here an elder explains her - and her peoples - version of what makes a great Puerh, great.
Long used for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agents, green Puerh has been used as much for its medicinal abilities as it has to sate thirsts within southern Yunnan. While Bada Puerh can be consumed any time of day we recommend waiting 20 minutes after a meal so as not to bother the stomach with its astringency nor leech the body of precious minerals and vitamins.Bada grabs the tongue with a flourish of vegetal edge, while finishing with an almost sweet tang. Harvested in Spring of 2011, our tea is an ideal and rare introduction into a true Puerh.
We hope you enjoy our first JalamTeas offering of Bada Mountain Puerh.
- Jeff Fuchs
While I 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 tea experience.
Use fully boiled water, as the large leaf 'Camellia Sinensis Assamica' (Puerh) can handle the heat.
When the tongue ceases to enjoy an infusion's strength, that is the time to begin a new 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.