An elder Dai woman sorts through leaves in Jing Mai town, southwestern Yunnan. The nearby ancient tea forests are some of the largest in the world and have long been treated with a kind of reverence that speaks to their vital nature in the lives of local indigenous.
One of the mildest fermented ‘shou’ or black Puerhs that I have found, the Jing Mai fermented Puerh is a tea entirely known for subtleties rather than power. The entire Jing Mai region itself is an iconic part of Puerh history that has long been regarded as one of Yunnan’s ‘secret’ gardens of tea. Tucked into the ‘southwest’ of southwestern Yunnan, Jing Mai is home to one of the largest ancient tea forests on the planet. The region is just a couple of dozen kilometres northeast of the Burma border.
A melting pot of the dominant Dai people, it is also the traditional homeland of the Lahu, Hani, and Wa people who all harvest tea in the area. The Dai, traditionally masters of the ‘valleys’ rather than the mountains have been producing Puerhs in this region.
Generations of Dai – who have produced our own offering – have carefully harvested, sorted through, and exported their brilliant teas outwards. The actual species of tea is slightly different from many Puerh’s in that the leaf size is slightly smaller than most ‘classic’ Puerhs from further east in Xishuangbanna.
Like many of the hidden tea regions, elders play a huge role in both the production of tea, and in my documentation of tea’s uses and roles in people’s lives. Women play a great role in the production and selling of teas, and it is often the case that grandmothers will sit sorting out tea leaves on the ground floor, chatting as they do.
Our Jing Mai fermented (or ‘cooked’ as sometimes the black Puerhs are referred to as) is an autumn 2011 harvest, so the tea has had time to become even smoother with time. It has been harvested between 1500-1700 metres.
This is a tea that is ideal on an empty stomach, where both the nature of the leaves and the slight ageing mellows the tea. Many in China take a few cups of this tea first thing in the morning, believing it to clean the system. It is also a great digestive tea after a heavy meal of oils or meat. Because of its ageing and its process, the actual caffeine content of the tea is significantly lower than many teas.
I spend a few days in Jing Mai in both Spring during harvesting and in the autumn and always circulates between four households that I have come to be close to.
Enjoy this super smooth tea anytime on an empty stomach, before sleep, or as a light stimulant in the mid-day.
- 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’ Jing Mai 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.
Use fully boiled water, as the large leaf 'Camellia Sinensis Assamica' (Puerh) can handle the heat. Fermented tea is generally far less intense in terms of stimulant effects so it acts as a great evening tea.
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. Our Bada Fermented Puerh can be consumed on an empty stomach with no ill aftereffects.
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.