He Kai Sheng

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One of the last remaining yak skin boats remaining in operation in Tibet. In its heyday these leather boats moved tea, salt, and muleteers across the great rivers of the Himalayas. It remains a vital part of the movement of tea onto the Tibetan Plateau from its origins in Yunnan and Sichuan.


Quick Facts
The Story 
Suggested Serving 

Quick Facts

  • He Kai Sheng (Raw) Puerh
  • Region: Menghai County southwestern Yunnan
  • Type: Mid-Altitude Puerh (1300-1400 meters)
  • Harvest: Summer and Autumn harvests have a little more bit because of unusually high heat and loads of sun in 2014 which is good for the tongue and palate. It also means that for some less time is required for steeping.
  • Harvesters: Lahu people

The Story

  Though our present offering remains the same geographical designation as our previous He Kai, the actual family and seasonal temperatures are different. We believe that this region, the local makers and the raw materials remain optimal and offer a superb value and flavor profile. Our procurer Jeff remains a faithful devotee of its rich range of power-floral hits.

  The Lahu are one of the more isolated of the minorities but they’ve gotten this tea very very right year after year and season after season. It has gone from inconsistent to consistent and remained there. We are fans.

Where so much tea was destined for on the days of the Tea Horse Road: Lhasa. Destined for both the monasteries and the great market of Bharkor Puerhs we awaited by lovers and traders alike.

  The Bulang Mountains are bastions of rich soil and heavy red-orange clay content, which is perfect for our good friend, the Yunnan Big Leaf species/Puerh. This batch is a little more on the heavy flavor side simply because the family that produced it left it out in the sun drying period longer than usual while the shade drying portion slightly less. More sun drying increases the drying times and brings up the ‘bite’ a little bit speedier.


One of the accountants of the Pomdatsang, which was one of the largest tea trading families of the last century.

  Though nearby regions of Bang Pun, Lao Ma Er, and Banzhang get much of the attention, this tea is as good as its nearby neighbours though we remain committed to the notion that taste is subjective…as long as the quality of production and raw materials has integrity.

  He Kai is a great tea to age over time as it will mellow slightly but has the strength to remain a wonderful tea for the next 1,2, or 10 years. The wonderful aspect of teas is that even when it isn’t necessarily a an ‘old tree tea’ it can and will age beautifully if produced properly and remains unsprayed.


A Puerh when it is sampled and made is in loose leaf form.

  He Kai’s are known for their ‘width’ and overall balance of strength and floral, rather than a particular or specific flavor…though as we’ve said before He Kai’s inevitably are perceived by some to hold hints of Orchid.


Another luxury of the mountains was snuff powder called ‘nada’ in Tibetan. This is a muleteers snuff ‘boxes’ from his days along the Tea Horse Road.

  This particular tea comes from 30 year old bushes and was produced by a family we’ve not sourced from before (though Jeff sampled the teas). Harvested in Autumn of 2014 the bushes come from 1300-1400 metres.

  A Naxi band in Lijiang. The Naxi people were another of the vital links of tea in Yunnan and its movement up from the south onto the Tibetan Plateau.

  When Jeff sources from He Kai, he never can simply remain for a couple of hours. Meals, local whisky, and loads of tea are had and amongst the Lahu people there is a pride that their teas are going beyond simply Yunnan and Asia.

  We hope to be able to continue offering differing vintages of this He Kai tea in the future…it is that good.

- 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 He Kai tea experience. 

  He Kai really comes to life after 3 infusions and has a broad strength from start to finish with good colour. A tea’s colour has little to do with its stimulant ability, as some of the most stimulant-laden teas are light in colour.

Enjoy the He Kai’s strength and we urge you to have some fun ageing it as it will take to some time and airing. When ageing make sure to keep in a cool, dry and unscented area…preferably not in a kitchen.

Use fully boiled water.

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 8-10 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.

  • First rinse infusion (to open the leaves and stimulate the enzymes) - 15 seconds
  • First drinkable infusion - 20-30 or more depending on taste.
  • Third to tenth infusions - we recommend increasing times by 10 seconds per infusion to wring as much of the full flavor from the leaves as possible.

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 jeff@jalamteas.com. You have my ears and I will get back in touch with you.