Lao Ma E' Sheng





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The Little Bite


Content

Quick Facts
The Story 
Suggested Serving 

Quick Facts

  • Lao Ma E' Sheng (Raw) Puerh
  • Region: Bulang Mountain Township, Menghai County, Yunnan
  • Type: Mid-Altitude Puerh (1400 -1500 meters)
  • Harvest: Summer 2017
  • Harvesters: Bulang minority 
  • Bulang used to mix local forest herbs in with tea as a strengthening and cooling tonic for those recuperating. Tea has also been mixed with chili peppers as well to break fevers.

The Story

  We at JalamTeas offer you our very best wishes for a great New Year ahead with many adventures, wanderings, thoughts, and of course some good fluid in a cup within reach.

  Bulang Mountain remains one of the prime sources of Puerh and it has long been a cultivating and production hotspot for teas that range in price from a couple of dollars a kg to thousands of dollars. Lao Ma E lies west of some of the more famed names of the Puerh world like Banzhang and He Kai, but its teas have steadily improved in consistency over the years. Not so long ago teas from the region were crapshoots in terms of whether the production had been done with attention. Raw materials in the region have long been excellent but the question was always whether or not the ‘making’ of the tea was up to scratch. Now the teas and their makers can be depended upon for great offerings with their own particular qualities and character coming out.

A discarded pan, where leaves go through one of the most important stages of their production: the pan fry. Frying has to be done with attention to heat temperature, smoke, and length of time leaves actually remain sedentary. Ideally, the leaves are churned continuously on a consistent heat. This pan reached a stage where the surface was no longer clean enough.

  It is often the way that a particular mountain, village or even family has a style or flavor profile by which their teas get known for. Nannuo Mountain for example is known to produce fine neutral Puerhs that are not too astringent nor too floral. Bulang Mountain teas, and in particular the Bulang people’s teas, tend to be on the ‘stronger’ more vegetal side of the spectrum of flavours. This makes for teas with a little bit of bite and teas that can age well. Ageing is simply ‘time’ and the setting and surroundings need to be those without odors or any scents, spices, or even herbaceous taints as the tea will easily take on these influences. When selecting a tea to age there is no hard and fast rule, but a tea with strength rather than subtle floral notes will likely age a little better simply because there is more basis from which to soften and flatten over time. A mild tea has the potential to fade into obscurity. There is an increasingly voiced dispute about whether humid or dry surroundings are preferred for storage of your Puerh. For us, we go with locals in Yunnan who insist that dry surroundings are more favorable as dry storage won’t change the innate tea flavor whereas humidity tends to play with the actual flavor profile. We also recommend not putting the tea into any air-tight containers (which differs from traditional ‘Green’ teas and Oolongs).

One of the many tea stops in the Bulang Mountains. From these little stations in the tea zones, tea is fried, and dried, sold and sampled. Here an owner sits with his tea paraphernalia with a guest.

  The Bulang Mountain range is a sanctuary of herbs, medicines, and superb earth. Clays abound in the region’s soil and it is from this rich source of nutrients that the roots feed and take in what will contribute to their structure and their flavor. The Bulang along with the Wa, Hani, and Lahu are true mountain folk and their animist beliefs combine with Buddhism in influencing the importance of a close relationship with the natural world.

 

JalamTeas' tea cakes drying after having been steamed, wrapped, hand pressed, and unwrapped for drying.

  This present offering comes from altitudes of between 1400 and 1500 metres from bushes that are about 30 years old on slopes that drain well.

 

Behind the scenes. It is from here that specific woods are fed into the ‘ovens’ from which heat will be conducted up and under the tea frying pans. One of the most vital aspects is that smoke must not be funnelled into and under the pans. It must smoke ‘out’…here one can see the black smudges of smoke. Smoke or the smell of it will ruin a tea’s flavour in short order.

 

Though the actual colour of a tea isn’t a huge issue, the clarity is. Clarity in the tea’s nectar indicates that at least the production of the leaves was done reasonably. The senses are always involved when selecting teas; sight, smell, feel, and finally taste…and then it all begins again.

  Enjoy this, our first tea of 2018, which finds its origins in one of the most special of Puerh zones of cultivation. There is a great pride in the region that sprays have never made it up into the mountain zones because of altitude and also because of the local indigenous views of chemicals of any kind.

 

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 Lao Ma E Sheng 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 tinker with the below recommendations. This tea has some power and beautiful sharp vegetal notes which can hit the palate with force. Try playing with slightly different infusion times as well as the amount of leaves to find the right feel…and that feel may vary depending on the drinker or the time of day.

  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.

    • First, rinse infusion - 10-20 seconds to open the leaves can be consumed with this Zhang Lang offering. Skim off any bubbly froth that might appear with the first preparation infusion. This is simply a bit of bitterness collecting at the surface.
    • First drinkable infusion - 15-30 seconds or more depending on taste. 
    • Third to tenth infusions - we recommend increasing times by 5-10 seconds per infusion to wring as much of the full flavor from the leaves as possible. Once again though, be sure to experiment to find what works for your palate. We recommend not more than 6 or 7 infusions, though you’ll no doubt be able to wring out more.

When the tongue ceases to enjoy an infusion's strength, that is the time to begin anew with a fresh load of leaves. We encourage you to consider this tea for ageing as it has plenty of vegetal edge and strength.

  Read all about, and tips, for storing your puerh collection.

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.