The gardens of Ta Go, like so many others benefit from drainage, relative isolation and superb soils.
Our discovery of Ta Go the place, and its teas occurred on a tea sourcing journey to Pa Sa, northeast of Menghai in southwestern Yunnan. Though Pa Sa is getting more attention, the surrounding region isn’t so well known. Our procurer Jeff explains that “This beautiful tea town off the side of the road just appeared. The tea needed to be tried”. So try he did and now we’re bringing it to our subscribers. A little nugget of a town with a great tea that we hope might become a regular on our annual tea pilgrimage journeys.
Rolling and kneading remaining moisture out of the leaves as well as giving the leaves a slightly rolled appearance. This process is done directly after the fry.
In previous trips to Pa Sa either weather or napping had obscured this little Hani village from view, which flashed by in seconds. A more recent journey revealed neat and tidy tea bushes, simple and straightforward tea production methods and the pre-requisite to all things: great raw materials. Exactly the kind of tea we seek: a little something special from a tucked away region.
An ancient tea tree in all of its gargoyle-like splendour.
Hani harvesters in the region have seen their teas climb in quality and inevitably climb in price but as it is in many tea regions throughout the world, quality teas often lie just outside of the more famed regions.
Tea leaves in a prime state of imperfection. Holes, spider’s webs and chewed edges all point to a bush or tree that hasn’t been sprayed.
This tea is a lower altitude harvest from great drain slopes and superb humidity ranges. The tea itself is a fresh tasting ‘green’ Puerh with a slight malt flavor which is a little unique. Not carrying too much astringent strength, this is a tea that is ready for immediate consumption and we recommend playing a little with the amount of leaves used. Jeff feels slightly longer infusion times with less leaves works well, as the flavors seem to need a little while to emerge, but as always we urge you to find that range that you enjoy.
Teas in loose form are the ones sampled. Sampling is almost always done in a flared cup (gai wan) or bowl to both see and sample the leaves.
This is a Spring 2014 harvest and was – for Jeff – a better flavor profile than the other harvest seasons. In this region there are two main harvests, Spring and Autumn, though there are families who pluck on and off for much of the year. Spring harvests are more coveted and it is rare to access a Spring tea for a reasonable price, if at all. Our Ta Go offering is from 30-50 year old bushes.
Leaves lined up waiting for bulk buyers on the streets of Menghai.
This lower altitude offering (1000-1200 metres) is a stunningly pristine zone of lush green sub-tropics and slow speed. A local remarked, “We have good tea I think but we are ‘hidden’ so not many get to try our teas”. Now it can be tried at will.
- 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 Ta Go tea experience.
We’d recommend a little tinkering with this tea as it is a tea that has some interesting characteristics when it is brewed longer, using less leaves.
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, and we again promote some experimentation with times and amounts of dry Ta Go leaves.
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.