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 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. Just like any other high demand agricultural item, this has resulted in a number of counter-fits in the market. It is common to find tea cakes, blended with leaf partially sourced from Banzhang and the rest from lower elevation cheaper areas.
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, gentle steaming and stone molding of the cakes. We find that these old techniques result a higher quality and cleaner tea cake. Many tea factories in Yunnan utilize overly-mechanized processes in making tea, a departure from old-style artisanship.
We have aged these cakes in our storage since 2005. They seem 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 number of cakes 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.
Size: 6.5 inch diameter
Weight: 250 grams
Servings per cake: 60 first steeps. 3-4 second steeps
|Quality of Water||Quantity of Leaf|
(tsp / 8oz water)
|180°F (82°C)||Best with Spring water||1||4-5||3-4|
The first step is to separate the leaves from the brick/cake. Use a thin, flat knife to wedge between the leaves and gently pry them from the brick/cake carefully avoiding breakage where possible. If the leaf is compressed loosely, the separation can begin with the knife and be finished by hand.
One method of brewing uses about 1 to 2 grams (1 to 2 teaspoons of pre-separated compressed leaf) per 24 oz of 180 F water and a steeping time of 3 to 5 minutes. This method provides a lighter, sweet brew and about 3 or 4 re-infusions. Porcelain, glass and well-seasoned yixing teapots work best for this infusion style.