-elder ‘Mei’ of the Bulang people upon being told Jeff wanted to buy more of the Zhang Lang tea-
Bulang tea harvesters west of Menghai in Xishuangbanna right in the midst of where we source our teas. Bulang are one of the original tea cultivating minorities and share much in common with the dominant Dai minority of the region.
Returning once again to Zhang Lang’s wonderful raw Puerhs we’re paying homage to teas that have consistently elicited praise from you our coveted drinkers, and to teas that we can consistently rely upon. Much was made about the ability to create infusions that were both strong but layered and how the tea aged well over months.
Zhang Lang’s were one of our standout offerings in 2013/2014 due to its strength in the mouth and its ability to repeatedly deliver superb infusions. When Jeff told the Bulang growers of the love for Zhang Lang teas, there was in Jeff’s words “a kind of silent surprise that westerners would understand the qualities”.
The making of one of our tea cakes in a cube-sized tea factory near Menghai.
While there are many reasons for Zhang Lang’s popularity as always there are a few basics that the tea (and its creators) have realized: keeping tea production simple and consistent, making strong teas with character that are recognizable, and getting high altitude leaves into our cakes (leaves of JalamTeas’ Zhang Lang come from between 1700-1900 metres). The local Bulang are classic story tellers of the land and the forests, often speaking as if the forests were in constant communion with eachother. Our procurer, Jeff, feels like they are one of the true earth peoples of the regions and loves recounting quotes and stories from the Bulang simply because they still reflect some of the wonder of the world around them and have deep connections to the soil and earth.
This is precisely the manner in which our own JalamTeas’s ‘tongs’ (containing either 5 or 7 tea cakes) are wrapped and shipped. An old skill that we are trying to ensure doesn’t disappear.
The mix of leaves from bushes between 30-70 years old also seems to be adding some subtle firepower to the teas from this region. Zhang Lang is near the famed Bada Mountain (where another of our top rated ‘Bada’ teas are from) and what we’ve realized is that both teas carry within them nice sweet notes held together with strong character and some power. It is the quintessential afternoon ‘break’ tea with its ability to bring much qi into the body and stimulate the entire palate.
Freshly dried tea sits ready to be separated into different qualities. Even though the leaves are from the same tea bushes and plants the leaf size, quality and age of the bushes will determine what qualification (and price) the tea is assigned.
While freshly harvested teas are all the rage when they come out there are many teas that are from previous seasons that offer up sumptuous results and value and this Zhang Lang, a Summer 2014, is one such.
Our Zhang Lang carries in its cake, a relatively high concentration of end buds and leaves to add to the floral content of the cake. One of the classic observations of ‘great’ raw green Puerhs is that the best of the best always carry both strength and subtleties and Zhang Lang fits wonderfully into that category.
Menghai is quite literally a town committed to tea. Tea shops sell, villagers haul their leafy wears into town, and even on the streets simple green Puerhs are available at every corner.
Huge swaths of the Bada Mountain range, which Zhang Lang abuts, are known for great natural splendor, huge mountain corridors and huge sources of spring water. Because of the percentage of forests and relatively difficult through-routes, the region has always been clean and relatively little travelled. Isolation, great soil, and deep slopes all contribute as well as the famed high mountain mists which diffuse so much of the sun and precipitation.
- 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 Zhang Lang experience. If this is your first tea cake, here is a step-by-step guide on how to break and prepare a tea cake.
When Puerh teas ‘age’ their colour deepens and becomes slightly less vegetal, but they will ‘feel’ stronger. This is a great tea for those looking for a slightly heavier impact on the palate and a superb tea for general ageing.
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 Zhang Lang flavours into the mouth more quickly and it is a tea with innate strength.
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 related at firstname.lastname@example.org. You have my ears and I will get back in touch with you.