An old Tibetan medicine man and friend of Jeff's who claims that the only medicines needed in life can be found in the mountains. Tea is one such medicine in his books. Here he takes Jeff on a journey into some of his old haunts to collect medicines (though not tea on this particular journey). Jeff is his 'tea dealer'.
Our tea procurer, Jeff Fuchs, consistently ranks Bada teas amongst the best and most consistent of all Puerh teas. Our offering this month is from Manmai village located in the greater Bada Mountain region, about 60 km’s west of Menghai. The greater Bada Mountain range hosts the most extensive old growth tea forests in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, making it a place of considerable tea lore and history. Medicines, ointments, poultices and tonics have all been created and used in the area from of the illustrious green leaf.
Hand-sorting teas as opposed to machine filters ensures that people have work and that sifting is in fact done properly.
What makes the Hani minority stronghold so ideal is that fact that the region rests under layers of fog and mist for much of the year and the humidity levels of the area rest between 80%-90% for most of the Spring and Autumn seasons. The mountains that make up the greater Bada range are known for their ruggedness and remoteness, as well as a healthy population of feral boar.
Super smooth teas come out of Manmai village and the region and the Bulang and Hani ethnic minorities know well the value of great raw materials. One of the largest wild tea trees in the world is located in the nearby town of Hesong, providing evidence that the region has long been a mecca of tea.
Tea harvesters reach up into the trees to harvest tea leaves in southern Yunnan province.
‘Black’ or ripe Puerh differs from unfermented ‘green’ or raw Puerh due to a traditional and only recently developed technique known as Wò Dūi (developed in the early 1970’s) which is a form of piling tea leaves high in a humid mound, and manipulating them. Through the ‘help’ and introduction of bacterial and fungal elements, carefully controlled humidity levels, and a churning of the leaves, the tea artificially ages and ferments creating a replica of a genuinely aged Puerh.
A pile of Mao Cha (sun dried 'unfinished' tea before it gets steamed and pressed into shapes) gets a careful inspection. Errant stems, and unsightly (though still great) leaves, and particles are removed from the collection.
Less powerful in the mouth, and lacking the stimulant kick (and vegetal punch) of a green ‘raw’ or unfermented version of itself, this tea is a gentle introduction into the day on an empty stomach and a great digestive aid after a heavy meal.
A tea harvesters path cuts through the forests of Bada Mountain near Manmai.
Though the tea growing regions extend up to almost 2,600 metres, our Manmai tea comes from tea bushes at a decent 1700 metres. The bushes range in age from 30- 60 years old and are harvested by Hani pickers. After picking the leaves are lightly withered before being pan fried.
Ripe or cooked ‘fermented’ Puerh is the only tea that can truly be called fermented as it is the only tea to go through an enforced microbial process. The tea bushes and tea trees of this region are known as the Menghai Large Leaf varietal, sometimes called the ‘Fohai’.
Jeff recommends the Manmai tea for cool temperatures as it provides more ‘heat’ than a green tea, as well as making for a great late-day tea. Less caffeine and stimulants won’t keep the blood roaring until all hours.
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’ Manmai Fermented Puerh 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 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.