One of Jeff’s Himalayan hosts in Nepal. The very first thing that is offered before even a conversation is tea. Tea’s vital nature as panacea, stimulant, and fuel cannot be overstated still now. It is this wider view of tea that inspires JalamTeas.
The third tea of 2016 is another tea that was discovered off of one of Jeff’s normal tea runs. Heading south from the capital of Xishuangbanna, Jinghong, through the tea mecca town of Meng Hai, Jeff normally continues west towards Myanmar. Manzha lies between the ‘214 National Road’ and the S320 Provincial Road with tea fields in nearby plots and hills between Manguanglong and Manbian towns. As with an increasing number of our Puerh offerings, we are finding more and more of our teas in smaller and smaller villages that lie just outside of the more established sourcing and cultivating tea areas. With recent droughts, many tea farmers have turned to trying their hand at coffee as the coffee market in the East continues to grow and coffee plantation owners are able to pay more in terms of salary. By encouraging smaller villages and buying from them we hope that in some small way we can support their efforts to remain with their tea practices.
Row after row of tea pots on sale at a tea market. Tea pot sales are going down as new methods of tea preparation expand and develop. Many of the most valuable tea pots are those made by (and sometimes used by) tea masters using purple clay.
Our tea procurer Jeff Fuchs within a tea forest that he sources from near Menghai. He describes the sourcing as “walking and sipping trips”.
Grown and nurtured by Dai people, the younger 30-year-old bushes are now producing wonderful fresh teas. Younger tea bushes produce slightly more astringent and vegetal teas (not something negative in the local’s desires). The older the tree or bush, generally the more smooth the finish and more complex the layering. There are a few different ‘ages’ to tea bushes and trees. There are very young bushes (tai di), young bushes (sen tai), old trees (lao shu) and ancient trees (gu shu). All of these different aged trees- if produced carefully and by someone who cares and knows leaves - can produce wonderful teas, though the youngest bushes (3-10 years) can sometimes produce overly-astringent offerings. The older the tree or bush's age the more expensive the tea in the Puerh world. Older tea trees generally produce smoother more layered teas as well. We at JalamTeas encourage experimentation with newer ‘raw’ green Puerhs as there is much in the industry now that promotes ‘old’ expensive teas that are difficult to confirm the age of. Newer teas are easier to assess in terms of quality and have the added positive that they will continue to age with time in your own care.
An ancient tea tree covered in moss and scabs indicates (most of the time at least) that no pesticides have been used.
Small villages without a reputation often resort to simply selling their leaves on streets, though the quality (and even the geographic designation) are often in question.
This offering is a relatively low altitude Puerh that has taken more sun on its leaves before harvesting. Though not ideal, it does offer up a different flavor range bringing some broader strength to the palate. Limited amounts of Manzha tea are produced simply because the region isn’t known as a bastion of tea growth, and thus there isn’t such a tradition of harvesting to sell to the outside world. And so Manzha teas emerge out into a greater world of palates. Our Manzha is a winter offering, which isn’t common. Picked late in 2015 this Manzha is one of our only winter offerings ever but we think the quality and production is there.
- 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’ Manzha 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.
This tea has lots of character and subtleties that come through as the leaves open up. The Manzha tea can handle multiple infusions and is a joy to observe what changes in the hints. It is a winter harvest so there will be some interesting tang in the infusions.
We recommend not less than 6 grams per serving using a 250 ml container to prepare the teas. Jeff recommends 8-10 grams for all of our JalamTeas’ offerings. 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.
Don't be shy to ask me any questions about your tea leaves or anything related at [email protected]. You have my ears and I will get back in touch with you.