In Yunnan's southern tea regions, within the old forests where sprays are not used, it is the human element which literally defines each harvest of tea.
One of the smoothest of all unfermented Puerhs, this Nan Nuo Pa S is a tea known for utter consistency. Nan Nuo Mountain teas have long been known as gentle teas in part because of generally higher naturally occurring sugar content within the tea trees and leaves. This keeps the flavours from spiking into bitterness or becoming overly vegetal or astringent. The other reason is the local Hani inhabitants have long mastered withering, frying, and drying tea leaves.
Dandee Pinchu, who featured in Jeff's book was one of the last traders remaining along the Tea Horse Road. Though he has passed, his words and passion about both the route and tea remain etched in Jeff's mind.
Pa Sa has a special place in the tea conscience of locals and even amongst the various villages within the greater Nan Nuo Mountain region. Pa Sa is a village and region deep within the Nan Nuo Mountain range between Jinghong and Menghai cities in southern Yunnan.
Lush forests, mountain streams and far enough away from too many of man’s noise and pollution, Pa Sa teas and trees have long benefited from being allowed to grow unhurried. Another aspect of tea grown in the region is that because of its long years of relative isolation it hasn’t been subject to over-harvesting or the quota system. The bushes and trees have been allowed to grow in their own time and develop tastes and flavours that one doesn’t find in teas that are mass harvested.
A tea being fried at home in Pa Sa. It cannot be overstated how vital this stage is to a tea's final judgement.
Sprays have never played a role in the high mountain villages that host and sit beside the ancient tea forests. Hand harvested three times a year by local villagers in a careful system that doesn’t fully strip a tree or bush of its entire harvest, thus ensuring a bounty for the next harvest.
A portion of the Tea Horse Road that is still used. The horse and muleteer are crossing a 'sliding bridge' which rather than immobile has been built like a chain link to absorb movements and floods of the river.
Jeff first sipped this tea back in 2007 and initially found it too subtle, but this was more of a palate issue as his ability to distinguish the full range of soft layers wasn’t fully rounded yet.
Harvested at around 1200 metres by the local Hani this spring 2014 harvest has already had time to mellow a little. Locals often stuff raw tea leaves within bamboo husks, which are then jammed into fire to ‘cook’. The resultant tea is a roasted bitter fluid that is both stimulant and heat pacifier in the body.
Another of the ancients along the famed Tea Horse Road. In his time Yeshi worked loyally for the powerful Tibetan tea trading family the Pomda-tsang. He spoke of the endearing worth of good tea. "Tea could be sold or traded for anything one desired anywhere. It was better than cash".
We recommend slightly longer infusion times for the Pa Sa tea if one is looking to get a jolt. This is a tea of the mild middle ground rather than a punchy stimulant force. Lower in vegetal force it is a tea that needs a clean palate to enjoy its softer qualities.
This is definitely a tea for immediate enjoyment and consumption.
- 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 Pa Sa experience.
Do not be afraid to make a stronger brew than you might be accustomed to. The Pa Sa is a mellow tea so a little longer infusion time would help. Recommend trying to increase infusion times by 50% if one is so inclined, though this tea’s strength is in its subtleties.
Use fully boiled water.
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 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.