A handful of freshly harvested Jinuo Mountain tea which will be used for an old recipe, ‘La Hiao’, which combines tea leaves with orange blossoms, raw garlic cloves and peppercorns.
The ancient Jinuo people are not so well known in the Puerh tea circles as the Hani, the Bulang or Wa but their tea lineage traces back just as far with just as many uses for the green leaf. The Jinuo Mountain region is located north of the Mekong River in southern Yunnan and this designation is important as Puerh is generally divided into teas originating north of the river or those to the south.
The ‘back yard’ of a Jinuo tea farmer with the ever present tea fryer in the background.
Our JalamTeas’ Jinuo unfermented offering is an autumn 2013 harvest and the tea has had time to ‘open’ and soften ever so slightly from its original vegetal format. Jinuo Mountain is one of the classic tea mountains in Han tea lore and for many it is a sanctuary that is ever so slightly off the tea grid. Our Jinuo unfermented tea comes from 30-40 year old bushes, and is handpicked from villagers near Ya Lo.
Our tea procurer Jeff has long wanted to offer up a local tea and now finally we have one. Slightly vegetal, with some light floral hints the teas of this region are known to carry long in the mouth and change with successive infusions. We recommend it as a mid-morning or afternoon tea. This tea will age well over months and years partially because of the inherent strength of the tea and also because of simple clean production methods.
Young tea trees within the Jinuo Mountain region.
The Jinuo people have long blended raw tea leaves along with orange blossoms, raw garlic cloves, and ground peppercorns along with some local chilly peppers. Mixed with warm water the concoction is similar to a soup and the results are according to locals “good for whatever ails the body”. Used as a tonic to remove heat and cleanse the organs, the blend, known as La Hiao to the Jinuo was also used at ceremonies in the past to commemorate special events.
A hand full of fresh green power. Jinuo people believe that the perfect tea is made up of a combination of young buds and shoots (often appearing small and almost white) along with slightly older bigger green leaves. Locals say that the combination of delicate and more robust flavours (larger green leaves) creates an ideal combination.
Par of the Tibeto-Burman ethnic group the Jinuo are animistic and former hunters so there are many traditions associated with the land and forests that make the Jinuo protective of the health of the lands. One of the last of the formally recognized minorities of China, the Jinuo were only fully acknowledged in 1980.
A corner of tea to be consumed by locals. Locals homes literally have tea in every conceivable corner and nook at the ready for anytime. Tea is viewed as both something medicinal and as something ceremonial for the Jinuo people.
Much in the household revolves around the women, and the society comes from a matriarchal tradition. Tea, locally made spirits, and herbs and plants not only provided (and still do provide) the base for medicines and social interaction.
This part of Yunnan is known for an often quoted phrase about spice: “If a meal has no spice, it has no taste”, and the Jinuo subscribe to this ideal. Chilly peppers and peppercorns are used liberally and tea serves this cuisine well being one of the old world’s natural coolants. Peppercorns feature heavily as well within the communities. Peppercorns, not far to our south find its bastion in Vietnam, a country that produces and exports more of it than any other nation. Used by the indigenous (and used heavily in Ayurvedic medicine) to help expectorate phlegm, stimulate the digestive system, and clean toxins out of the body. Peppercorns join tea and garlic in forming an absolutely complete cleanser and neutralizer.
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’ unfermented Jinuo 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.
When Puerh teas ‘age’ their colour deepens and becomes slightly less vegetal, but they will ‘feel’ stronger. We suggest trying to find a taste (and not necessarily a ‘colour’) that suits the palate. As Puerh’s age they lose a bit of the initial stimulant force.
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 Manmai 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.