Nomads have traditionally consumed tea from both Sichuan and Yunnan to counter the protein rich diets of dairy and meat. Breaking down fats and fibre the tea has also provided one of the only vegetal elements to these people who live far above the tree line.
One of the reasons some teas do not make it out into the greater world is that their names and reputations do not go beyond a small little area. These teas, which are often great, remain known and consumed only within a community for its qualites. Bang Pun is a tea that has over the past few years broken out of this mold and into a wider world of drinkers.
Located near Lao Banzhang and in the shadowed sub-tropical jungles of the Bulang Mountains, Ban Pun, the leaves are an excellent example of what this region near Menghai can produce. While Banzhang teas remain some of the most coveted and distinguished of Puerhs nearby Bang Pun teas have long held a quiet value to local drinkers.
A portion of the Tea Horse Road, which predates the Silk Road and has remained largely unheralded in Asia's history and that of the Himalayas.
Located at close to 1400 metres the leaves from the 60 year old bushes have an intense flavour with some blasts of floral due to the proximity of nearby jungles, flora, and fauna. Up until a few years ago the region was only accessible for a portion of every year due to monsoon rains which kept the dirt roads impassable. This made it difficult to get the seasonal harvests out of the area and to the tea markets. This is a late summer harvest from 2013 that has had some time to mellow.
Hani, Lahu, and Bulang people all reside in the greater Bang Pun area and harvest teas, though our own Bang Pun is entirely cultivated and harvested by the Hani. Clay rich soils in the area are famed for their red-orange colours and drainage is ideal. Within the ancient forests smuggling routes, trade routes and pathway meander through the forests.
The nomadic convening point of Litang in western Sichuan where trade items came together and tea and salt were the most coveted of all items.
Across the nearby borders that Yunnan shares with Myanmar the Hani are known as ‘Akha’ (their more ancient name) and have long been harvesters of all things medicinal in the sub-tropical jungles that they make home. Tea, called ‘la’ to the Hani, is medicine that has been used for everything from ulcers to ritual dishes for weddings and special events.
A still active portion of the Tea Horse Road in northwestern Yunnan which for 1300 years took tea to some of the most remote communities in the Himalayas. This photo was taken of one of our co-founder's (Jeff) caravans while exploring the various strands of the route.
It is one of the areas where our tea procurer and co-founder spends much time every year seeking out teas and the stories that surround them. Because of the growing popularity of teas from the Bulang region which include Ba Ka Ngoi, Bang Pun, and Banzhangs roads are being improved leading to both benefits and downsides. The downside being that increasing people are now making their way into the mountains, with the upside being that the superb teas of region are being savored by more palates.
One elder that was asked about the increasing numbers of people coming simply said, “It will help them understand what our teas are but I would prefer that they keep their cars at home”.
- 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 Bang Pun experience.
This is a tea in Jeff’s words, with “power” and is great for those moments when a little extra stimulant kick is needed.
Use fully boiled water, as the large leaf 'Camellia Sinensis Assamica' (Puerh) can handle the heat.
If this is your first tea cake, here is a step-by-step guide on how to break and prepare a tea cake.
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.