Ban Po Sheng Puerh





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The Gentle Auntie

A Tibetan hostess in Nepal smiles just as she prepares a tea for our expedition team. She remembers well the tea caravans that passed through her community in eastern Mustang.

Content

Quick Facts
The Story 
Suggested Serving 

Quick Facts

  • Ban Po Sheng (Raw) Puerh
  • Region: Ban Po Village and surrounds
  • Type: Mid-Altitude Puerh (1400 meters)
  • Harvest: Late Summer/Early Autumn 2016
  • Harvesters: Hani minority

The Story

 Though each individual tea is unique, the hands and personalities that actually produce the teas along with soil characteristics provide much of the backbone potential of what a tea can become. Ban Po Village and the greater Nannuo Mountain region are inundated with rich clay soils that are nourished by ideal humidity levels and blessed by consistent sun and rain. The region’s tea is known for neutral tones and great floral width in the mouth of flavours and much of this is because of the nutrients within the soil itself.

 

A combination of new shoots and older mature leaves with the tell-tale signs of organic growth: blotches and holes from insects.

 The village of Ban Po (the old original village) sits at a higher elevation than its newer incarnation. Many of the Hani villages have moved down off of the mountains closer to the highways, from where they can sell their tea, medicines, and honey.

 

A combination of new shoots and older mature leaves with the tell-tale signs of organic growth: blotches and holes from insects.

 Like so many of the products that are sold in the local village stalls or along the highway that links the capital of southern Yunnan, Jing Hong, to Menghai and beyond, tea is something that has long been used not simply as a luxury or stimulant fuel but as a medicine.  Often, freshly harvested tea leaves will be boiled within bamboo husk containers that are put over a fire. The heated bamboo imparts a particular roasted flavor and the raw tea leaves give off an almost toasted tone. The fluid is then used to consume to ward off heat and the effects of exertion while quenching thirst. The Hani people have dozens of herbal recipes for afflictions and conditions, and tea is prominent in their diet of prevention.

 

Tea houses are places to sample tea, gossip, eat, and occasionally argue. If only the tales were able to tell their tables.

 Many of the homesteads throughout the region have small tea production plants on the ground floor of the home. One or two pans will sit angled, positioned over small wood fired structures where the leaves are fried. Drying and much of the withering process is often done on elevated racks that lie under clear plastic sheets where both the sun – and shade – have access to the dry leaves. From there, leaves are sold to buyers who likely will compress the loose leaf tea into cakes are bricks.

 

A single portion (8.5 grams) allotted for a sampling. Some sampling shops will be vigilant and ensure that each and every sample is identical in weight, while others throw random bits of leaves in to the serving vessels.

 

A gai-wan or gai-bei gets ready for an infusion. The ceramic ‘flared cup with a lid’ preparation ensures a consistent fluid offering.

  Within the tea forests and gardens, one can see a kind of permaculture principle at work with many different species of vegetation growing in harmony around the tea bushes and trees.

  This present offering is from the surrounding areas of Ban Po village within the Nannuo Mountain range, from areas of about 1400 metres in altitude. The leaves have had time settle as they were harvested during early autumn of 2016.

  The Ban Po offering is a very forgiving tea and we greatly encourage playing with slight infusion time differences and the leaf amounts for the infusion. This Sheng (raw) offering is also an ideal tea to consume ‘now’ or in the coming months rather than worrying too much about ageing it. Fresh tones, with hints of hay and mineral green make the Nannuo and slightly more delicate and floral offering than some of the more potent offerings of Puerh from southern Yunnan, like the Naka or Zhang Lang.

- Jeff Fuchs

 

Suggested Serving

  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 Ban Po 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.

  This tea has some wonderful slight vegetal astringency and is very much a neutral tea on a scale of ‘strength’. 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.

  • First rinse infusion of 10-20 seconds to open the leaves. It is perfectly fine to consume the first infusion if one chooses (and our procurer, Jeff, does often) though with Shou or post fermented teas we recommend this first infusion as a rinse rather than one to imbibe.
  • First drinkable infusion - 10-20 seconds or more depending on taste.
  • Third to tenth infusions - we recommend increasing times by 5-10 seconds per infusion to wring as much of the full flavour from the leaves as possible. Once again though, be sure to experiment to find what works for your palate.

  When the tongue ceases to enjoy an infusion's strength, that is the time to begin anew with a fresh load of leaves.

  Read all about, and tips, for storing your puerh collection.

Don't be shy to ask me any questions about your tea leaves or anything related at jeff@jalamteas.com. You have my ears and I will get back in touch with you.