When tea is prepared small scale, every single step requires the hands. From the harvesting, through to the frying and drying and on until the step above where the loose leaves are sorted. This stage is to remove stems, misshapen leaves and other ‘goodies’ that may have gotten into the leaves. Stems and ripped leaves won’t affect the actual quality so much as the appearance of the tea. Stems and other ‘throw-away’ leaves will be used and consumed by locals, who care little about appearances of the tea.
We’re happily back to one of our favourite regions and teas. Bada Mountain tea was the very first offering that JalamTeas ever made available to our sippers. It was one of the teas that in fact inspired the whole JalamTeas’ journey as well. Co-founder and procurer Jeff was introduced to the tea and the mountain over a decade ago and the impression stuck with him that Bada was something a little special. This has remained the case.
Leaves during times of intense heat or sun will develop a purplish tone which often gets made into what is known as “Purple Leaf” Puerh.
We return to Bada for the variations in both the season and the weather conditions and the influences that these elements have upon the teas. Every harvest has its own particularities but what remains true (in particular to Bada and other heralded zones of tea harvesting) is the raw materials of the leaves themselves. Soil and weather are immaculate and the Bada Mountains are known for their relative isolation from roads and industry with only a few Hani communities dotting the region. Increasingly because of the ancient tea tree sanctuaries the area gets more and more visitors and of course with more visitors comes demand and that in turn often leads to diminished quality, but Bada teas have remained robustly true.
Tea was and to a degree still is sacred to the Tibetans and it would often be blessed in the prayer room beside the Buddha when it arrived from afar.
Bada Mountains continue to provide beautiful teas and this present Sheng (raw) Puerh is no different. Harvested and produced in late autumn of 2016, the leaves have had time to soften ever so slightly while maintaining the wonderful vegetal edges that we so love in Bada Puerhs.
Tibetan monasteries frequently and for long periods had their own caravans which were mandated to collect the essentials: resin, thangka paintings, salt….and “ja” or tea.
Altitude is relatively high for the tea gardens, sitting between 1500-1600 metres on superbly angled slopes which provide the necessary drainage that all bushes love. Roots are vulnerable to pooling water and moisture and though tea craves relatively high humidity and ample rains, the roots cannot tolerate being sodden.
A great view of the various contributors to a final sip of tea. New young shoots, medium sized leaves and the below them in darker tones, the larger leaves. All of these leaves appear in various forms in the present cake.
Director Andrew Gregg of the Tea Explorer film, good friend and tea maker Da Fa, and Jeff sit with a meal before commencing shooting for the documentary.
Notice the lighter coloured smaller buds and leaves within the cake interspersed in with the darker and larger leaves. These buds contribute much of the subtle flavours and antioxidants along with the floral or honey tones, where the heavier malty base of the tea ‘taste’ is provided by the larger leaves. One of the great but simple arts is the ‘mixing’ of these leaves to ensure that there is a blending of enough of each to contribute to a rich width of tangs in the mouth. The leaves of this Bada are from 30-40 year old bushes and you can see the quality of the leaves in each individual cake and stem, and in the clear nectar that you pour into cup. Enjoy this Bada from Yunnan’s deep southwest.
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 Sheng 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 tinker with the below recommendations. A classic bit of vegetal flavor with great depth in the mouth along with a superb finish. Try playing with slightly different infusion times as well as the amount of leaves to find the right feel…and that feel may vary depending on the drinker or the time of day.
We recommend not less than 6 grams per serving; ideally 8 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.