Pulang Mountain unfermented Puerh has been cultivated and harvested at 2000 meters and remains one of the most isolated tea growing regions in southern Yunnan. Harvested and produced by the ancient Pulang people, this is a perennial favourite of Jeff's.
Potent, vegetal, and powerful our Pulang unfermented Puerh offering is a permanent fixture in Jeff’s collection. One of the most ancient of all tea growing regions in the world, Pulang Mountain, which is located near the Yunnan-Burma border, is still an isolated region of mists, elevated Pulang villages, and green sub-tropic heat. It remains a favourite local to Jeff because of what he calls its “authentic adherence to the tea production principles”.
Drying tea needs both sun and shade to complete the process. Sun drying teas bring the flavour elements 'up' quickly while shade drying slowly allows a tea to completely dry. Here the best of both worlds in a covered roof area that allows the sun's heat to dry the leaves, while being protected from the potentially ruinous rains.
The ancient Pulang people, as we’ve mentioned before are one of the original tea cultivators and they have long harvested tea, and cared for their ancient forests, treating them like family members. In the past, to desecrate, destroy, or otherwise interfere with a tea tree’s existence in this area could start a blood feud. Animist elements remain in the area and tea trees are still worshipped in many a village as being living things.
Racks of freshly picked tea leaves wither on trays before they are fried. Depending on the region's traditions, withering can be either an extended process or something brief. Either way, it is one of the defining elements within tea's process.
For many tea drinkers, the name Pulang conjures up thoughts some of the best ageing teas in all of Yunnan. Slightly astringent to begin with because of the locals’ love of teas that ‘bite’ into the palate, these teas mellow over a year or two to become well-balanced teas that have long finishes. Jeff prefers them fresh (within 6 months of harvesting) and punchy, and he often wanders the region’s towns to sample, as the area is inevitably a treasure trove of hidden delights as many teas from the Pulang Mountains simply don’t get much exposure beyond the villages that cultivate them. Pulang teas are traditionally known for their vegetal strengths, and astringency as opposed to any ‘bitterness’. Jeff loves the tea because of its ability to “wake up the mouth”.
Beyond the forests and drying racks, the desiccated leaves inevitably find themselves being tested. Here, a taster's table outfitted with tasting cups, spoons, and bowls where tea's taste, leaves, and scents will all be studied.
JalamTeas’ Pulang tea is one of our highest altitude teas, with this tea being harvested at two-thousand meters and above. High altitudes, though not crucial to a good tea, do tend to contribute to some of the finest teas as the cooler temperatures tend to ‘help’ the teas develop more slowly, which in turn assist with developing more complex and longer-finishing teas. Heat accelerates everything within a tea leaf, including the growth but slightly cooler temperatures are much preferred and our Pulang comes from some of the highest tea plantations on the mountain.
The Pulang people use tea to ‘revive’ themselves and begin the day, and many Pulang still live in their traditional stilted homes. There is an unpretentiousness to the way in which many of the indigenous people prepare tea, and the Pulang, Wa, and Lahu have retained some of the simplest and most traditional methods of tea preparation.
Freshly picked leaves are set out to wither. Withering (like drying) needs attention to detail as if the leaves are stacked too thickly, there will be an uneven taste and consistency. Thin careful layering ensures each leaf, stem, and batch is consistent.
One of Jeff’s formative and most memorable tea experiences was sitting watching an elder Pulang prepare a sumptuous tea, by simply throwing in a handful of leaves into a burbling tea kettle (no first rinses, no measured heaps of leaves, and none of the esthetic elements) and then simply pour the tea into thimbles sized whiskey glasses. The tea was made with a local’s taste in mind, and the resultant liquid was potently unforgettable.
This Pulang offering was harvested and produced in late February of 2012 which has given it a perfect amount of time to ‘age’ and slightly smoothen in taste, without losing its punch, however.
Pulang tea dries in the full power of the sun. A tea's bitterness or smoothness can be linked back to its withering and drying process as much as it can to the actual tea trees and soil.
The soil of Pulang Mountain is known for its orange hue and it is claimed by many to be one of the reasons for such great tea-breeding grounds.
Enjoy some of this ‘tea with bite’ and as always, experiment a bit with amounts and infusion times. This tea usually hits its ‘strength’ at the third infusion, and we encourage you to try this tea and compare it directly with the Zhang Lang, Nan Nuo, or Meng Song, to taste the subtle differences of our unfermented line-up thus far.
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 Pulang tea experience. When Puerh teas ‘age’ their colour deepens and becomes slightly less vegetal, but they will ‘feel’ stronger. We suggest trying to find a taste (and not necessarily a ‘colour’) that suits the palate, keeping in mind that the Pulang’s generally have some power.
Use fully boiled water, as the large leaf 'Camellia Sinensis Assamica' (Puerh) can handle the heat. Using more rather than less will in some cases bring the lighter Pulang flavours into the mouth more quickly.
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 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. You have my ears and I will get back in touch with you. I would also love hear your thoughts on this Pulang. I invite you to share your questions and reviews below.