Banzhang Tea Forest
Banzhang Mountain is located in southwestern Xishuangbanna at 1800 m above sea level. Our high regard for this tea area began when we visited it for the first time in 2005. It takes a few hours to get to the tea forest, up a mountainous dirt road. A small community of of 140 families are native residents of the area. The families control the tea area collectively and not a private company or organization. As such, friendship and relationship with the village elders is needed to source leaf from Banzhang. The tea forest is for the most part a natural, wild type tea forest. The tea trees are several hundred years old and an assortment of wild medicinal herbs and plants grow around the base of the tea trees. Because of the high elevation and the age of the plants, the tea from here is considered quite flavorful. It commands amongst the highest price for leaf in Yunnan.
This is spring 2005 batch newly sprouted leaves of old growth tea trees. The leaves comprise a number of large tips and are dark green / silver colored.
Unique Puer Processing Factory
Our friends from this region have a simple, clean tea factory that utilizes the Banzhang mountain grown leaf. The processing is done using old-style techniques of sun-withering. We find that these old techniques result a higher quality and cleaner leaf.
We have aged this leaf in our storage since 2005. It seems to get better each year. A portion of our collection is reserved and not available for sale. This enables us to continue to age the tea and gain more maturity. Although the climate in Oregon is very different than Yunnan, we have found creative ways to help the aging process of pu-er. At this time, we are offering a limited amount to our customers.
Local Ethnic Minorities
The Hani people of Lao “old” Banzhang and Xin “new” Banzhang villages are descendants from a branch of the ancient Qiang people, a nomadic tribe from the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. They are famous in Xishuangbanna for their abilities in harvesting and producing tea.
Old Growth Tea Forests:
Old Growth Tea Forests are self-sustaining, biodiverse ecosystems untouched by clear-cutting or mono-agriculture. Centuries-old tea trees grow side by side with other indigenous trees and plants in a dense, subtropical mountain forest environment. There are few such tea forests remaining in the world and most are found in southern Yunnan, primarily in Xishuangbanna and parts of Simao and Lincang prefectures.
|Quality of Water||Quantity of Leaf|
(tsp / 8oz water)
|170°F (77°C)||Best with Spring water||2||3||3-5|
Traditional pu-er, starting green and growing gradually darker with age, differs somewhat from darker, 'Wo Dui' cooked pu-er in steeping style. Younger, greener pu-ers require a steeping method similar to other Chinese green teas using slightly cooler water and shorter infusions to avoid bitterness. We recommend infusing two teaspoons of leaf per 8 ounces of 160 to 180 F water for 2 to 3 minutes. This should provide at least 3 or 4 good infusions.
Older, properly aged, traditional pu-ers are much richer and smoother then their younger counterparts. However, using the same care in steeping will give you the most out of a fine, aged tea. Many also use the Gongfu style for brewing prized traditional pu-er.
Greener pu-er can also be enjoyed â€śChinese styleâ€ť. Merely place a few leaves at the bottom of a cup or teapot, add hot water, and cover. After a couple minutes or so the leaf will infuse and sink to the bottom of the vessel allowing you to drink or pour from the top. When the water is down to just over the leaves, simply add more water. This style provides many infusions for a small amount of leaf.