Tibetan monks were and still are some of the globes great drinkers of tea. Stimulant power for long hours of meditation and studying of scripts, monasteries often had their very own tea trading caravans to ensure that even the most remote of locations never ran dry of the leaf.
Bulang’s teas have always carried some astringency and slight tangs of bitterness – which isn’t the “bitterness” that the west has traditionally tried to avoid, but rather something more akin to some ‘bite’.
Located in southwestern Yunnan’s Laos and Myanmar borderlands, the region is a hotbed of sub-tropic humidity and indigenous know-how. Wa, Bulang, Lahu, and Hani minorities populate the region and the teas have often been accused of being “too raw”. Now the teas coming out of Bulang are more consistent but retain some of that traditional strength.
Withered leaves on their way to the fry.
This cooked Puerh has become mild with the artificial oxidization and it makes a great mild summer tea carrying traces of the tang we so enjoy from Bulang Mountain.
Entirely harvested by Bulang from fields that straddle forests this offering comes from bushes that are around 30 years old, which sit at between 1400 – 1500 metres.
Leaves going into a pre-heated pan for their fry…frying is done by specialists who are either family or village designated. This is one of the most crucial stages for the tea leaves.
The term “cooked” simply refers to Puerhs that have undergone an enforced period of humidity and/or the addition of certain bacteria that work to create a tea in a short period of time that resembles a Puerh that has aged naturally (and taken years to darken in colour). These dark Puerhs are a more recent development and are in many parts of the world more known than their raw unmolested cousins that age naturally.
Leaves in both raw and cooked format can be steamed and formed into compressed shapes. Teas in compressed shapes and loose leaf formats age differently. Many within Yunnan advocate compressed shapes because the leaves are in a kind of fractious contact with one another increasing the dynamic for development and ‘ageing’.
Shou teas are darker, less astringent and also generally contain less stimulant compounds and antioxidant effects. This Bulang offering is a great example of an all-the-time-anytime-tea. There has often been an incorrect assumption that darker teas are more laden with stimulants. Many green and oolong teas contain higher levels of stimulant than their darker fully processed cousins.
Once infused and served, leaves will be studied once again during tastings in tea shops. At every stage there is studying of the leaves and aspects of tea by those can ‘read’ the signs of well produced leaves.
It is also a great cold brew tea that won’t become overly bitter so we recommend playing with infusion times and styles. As the tea ages, it will slightly diminish further in strength and tang so we suggest downing this tea in the coming months so as to enjoy its character. Unlike raw, and often slightly pungent Puerhs that have plenty of strength and astringency to soften, the cooked Puerhs are ideal drinking teas soon after they have been produced.
- 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 Bulang Shou 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 will darken quickly with the infusions but many prefer this tea a little stronger in flavor. 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 [email protected]. You have my ears and I will get back in touch with you.