Tea is prepared using an old method of boiling the leaves within a bamboo husk to impart a different texture and flavour to them. The leaves will then have chillies and orange tree blossoms added to them for a ceremonial offering during festivals in some of the local villages. Though these traditions are waning, they have an importance beyond the simple ceremonial aspect; there is too an ancient medicinal aspect to these kinds of preparation as well.
From one of our favourite and most consistent producers, Jeff managed to get some Spring 2015 leaves and have them pressed. Rare that Spring teas are available at reasonable prices, even when the leaves are from younger bushes we’re delighted to offer up Zhang Lang as it has easily been one of our most popular offerings.
Ideally most tea from most cultivars love mists which diffuse both the sun and rains. Spring teas are often coveted more so than others because of the lower 'winter' temperatures which allows teas to develop slightly slower.
High altitudes, great soils and the Spring harvest (lower growing temps means slower growth but deep tones and flavours) all make this offering a little special. Humidity and mists make the Zhang Lang region a prime source for diffused sun and rain.
Two balled compressed Puerh tea shapes. The tea 'cake' is a far more recent compressed shape than balls, cylinders, or bricks.
Zhang Langs traditionally carry a nice bit of natural strength and long finishes and during JalamTeas’ sampling at the Toronto Tea festival, this tea (albeit a different harvest) was a favourite. It remains a great tea to age if one is looking for an offering to put away for a few months or years.
Weighing a small portion of dried tea leaves that will be measured out, steamed, put into a permeable cloth sack and then compressed.
Jeff loves the area and the fact that the harvesters, the Bulang, seem to nail this tea every time. The Bulang are one of the original tea cultivating peoples and though they have long had access to wonderful raw materials, their final preparation and production have sometimes lacked the required ‘finesse’. Zhang Lang has no such issues as it is a great go-to for punch and consistency. Zhang Lang is intensive mountain corridor that was for centuries virtually cut off from much of the outside world. The Bulang are a true mountain people and share much culturally with the majority Dai people of Xishuangbanna in southern Yunnan province.
The fry, which remains one of the most vital of all stages of producing a great Puerh. Frying in the world of Puerhs 'should' be done entirely by hand in small batches.
This Zhang Lang was harvested in the Spring of 2015 from bushes that were between 25-40 years old, though we imagine (and fantasize) about offering an ancient tree version of Zhang Lang one day. Teas produced by the Bulang tend to retain a bit of vegetal astringency and power. This has to do with production and for some Bulang teas verge on being too powerful but for many a well produced tea with attentive production is something to seek out at all costs.
Zhang Lang region is an amazing geographic zone, with old trade and smuggling routes that zig-zag throughout the dense canopies of sub-tropic forests.
A small Yixing clay pot and a tea bowl. For Puerhs some drinkers advocate a flared cup with lid (gai wan) while others stick with a favoured clay pot.
There are nice hints of malt on the palate with the Zhang Lang and the sensation remains within the mouth for long moments. We recommend Zhang Lang particularly if you enjoy using smelling cups as the flavonoids adhere for a long while on the ceramic for a pleasingly long while.
- 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 Raw tea experience.
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. Sheng is usually more intense in terms of stimulant effects so acts as a great pick-up. This is one of our teas that comes with strength in every harvest and has wonderful malty notes.
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. Our Zhang Lang Puerh can be consumed on an empty stomach with no ill aftereffects and can be infused many times with long finishing notes. Zhang Lang retains much of its vegetal power so do play with the infusion times and amounts 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.