A Hani woman gestures within her families tea forests in Nan Nuo. For the Hani, tea is referred to as ‘la’ and drinking tea is “la ba doa”.
The Nan Nuo Mountain region of southern Yunnan province is made up of many tea producing villages and regions, each one with their own character. While Nan Nuo teas are known generally as milder teas on the charts, there are differences in seasons, in villages and in families that produce the teas. This tea is made using tea leaves from 30 year old tea bushes at about 1000 metres.
Ancient forests of tea trees dot the mountains and almost all of the new bushes cultivated and harvested by locals are cuttings from the nearby ancients. In recent years larger outside interests have bought up or ‘rented’ forests and in some cases even individual trees to be able to label their teas as Nan Nuo.
What it ultimately is all about, the sip. An elder tea farmer and friend raises his cup.
Heavy clay deposits in the soil have been credited with creating an ideal tea-growing environment and the local Hani people (known as Akha in Thailand, Laos, and Burma) have long been masters of tea production. They have benefited from being one of the first of the minorities to adopt more rigid tea producing techniques. As one tea buyer that Jeff often sips with says, “The Hani produce teas that you can predict more often than most producers”.
Some of the famed clay heavy orange soil of the Nan Nuo Mountain area.
On a flavor chart (and of course in consideration of who produces and how a production flows) Nan Nuo teas are not known for hitting any high bitter or astringent notes. They are traditionally known for a more moderate flavor range with soft and subtle notes of the earth and foliage. This offering from us is a kind of open ended honey flavor and soft vegetal blend that can easily stand longer infusion times or adding to the leaf amounts of a serving. Jeff often refers to a tea saying from southern Yunnan, that there can be “Seven different people sipping one tea, tasting 5 different flavor notes”, and he subscribes to the idea that a well made tea using great raw materials is in some ways the only fact that some within the tea realm can agree upon.
A local small-time tea factory creates tea cakes close to Nan Nuo Mountain in southern Yunnan province.
The village of Zhu Ling has gone from a thatched roof community six years ago into a significantly built up village with big homes. All the while the life style remains simple with rampant chickens and dogs roaring around the little roads. The new village of Zhu Ling was created further down the mountain from the old town, which remains higher up in the mountains. Younger families moved down to be closer to access roads and ever-increasing markets.
Nearby to Nan Nuo Mountain a statue communicates what is held to be sacred…a tea pot.
Near the village of Zhu Ling, lie ancient trees that are over six-hundred years old and ‘borders’ are unofficial and understood rather than marked or fenced in. Most villages work as a unit to sell and agree to prices but still there remain families who negotiate their own pricing usually selling most of the seasonal harvest to a single buyer.
- 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 this raw Nan Nuo tea experience.
This tea can easily use longer infusion times if one is looking for a stronger pick me up. It remains a great starter tea for the day and should be kept for when the palate is ‘clean’ or untainted by a meal as it has a more delicate body.
Use fully boiled water, as the large leaf 'Camellia Sinensis Assamica' (Puerh) can handle the heat.
If this is your first tea cake, here is a step-by-step guide on how to break and prepare a tea cake.
We recommend not less than 6 grams per serving; ideally 8-10 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.
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.