A young Pu er tea selected deep in the Yongde forest (Lincang) central Yunnan.
New Discovery: Pu Er 2019 Yongde Da Shan
This year, Jasmin's trip to Yunnan had a specific theme: exploration. Rather than strengthen his relationships with already known producers, this year it was all about discovering new territories, meeting different cultures and finding new products.
In Yunnan, any worthy search begins with the South, in Xishuangbanna, the "golden triangle" of Pu Er. Think Bordeaux in France. Think Grands Crus. While Xishuangbanna teas are exceptional, they are often expensive. And while some offer rare tasting experiences, what we can mostly find over there doesn't match the needs of our market. However, in an environment where prices make you cringe, you can still find great teas without emptying your pockets. This is what we discovered thanks to Mr. Lei, the producer of our Pu Er 2019 Yibang Man Gong. For those who want to experience an exceptional Pu Er at the peak of its freshness, it is still possible to get some. But hurry up: the quantities are extremely limited. Only 2kg is available for sale!
After visiting Xishuangbanna, Jasmin traveled up north, towards the region of Pu Er, then to Lincang. In these regions, tea production is more modest and less famous (despite the presence of big names like Bingdao or Xigui). The traffic is much lower. Local buyers are rare here. Despite superb product quality, prices remain much lower than in Xishuangbanna. The Yongde region specifically is one of the few tea producing regions in Yunnan that still escapes the growing turmoil of the terroir and the high rise in prices we have seen in recent years. This is an obvious place for Jasmin to concentrate his efforts.
His objective: find a young and affordable Pu Er, which allows both an immediate tasting experience and a long-term preservation. This is not an easy task: old tea trees are expensive, even in the most remote corners. This is obviously not unjustified: Yunnan is practically the only land in the world (with a few tiny exceptions) where there are gardens of trees several hundred years old. And while the quality is almost unbeatable, the fact remains that operating costs are much higher than elsewhere. Trees whose branches are never pruned give fewer buds in the spring and are much more difficult to access. Bamboo scaffolds are often needed to climb and grab the young buds to harvest.
But it doesn't stop Jasmin. The difficulty of the task motivates him. The discovery of new places always comes with a lot of surprises. After several days of exploration, countless hours of driving on the mountain roads and dozens of producer meetings, the spark occurs. When visiting Mr. Yang Wen Bin, a producer that was recommended to him for the quality of his Pu Er shou, Jasmin randomly sampled fresh maocha production. This immediately piques his curiosity. This lot, we are told, comes from the surrounding mountains called Da Shan. It is entirely composed of old tea trees. 70 years old trees to be exact. Not yet centenarians, but offering excellent value for money.
This Pu Er is a small treasure with dense and warm aromas. As with most Pu Ers produced from old tea plants, powerful tannins unveil one by one the aromatic notes in a sustained bitterness that punctuates the tasting. But even beyond this intensity, what really surprises him is the sweetness of the liquor that brings to the foreground succulent flavours of maple and waffle. The honey taste and bitter finish at the same time stretch between the infusions. The price? Extremely affordable ... enough to satisfy both regular consumers and those who wish to enhance their personal collection.
To conclude, a brief note on the conservation of Pu Ers. Two chemical processes are involved in tea aging: oxidation and fermentation. Oxidation occurs on its own when in contact with air no matter where you store your tea. It's a normal process that you do not need to slow down or speed up yourself. Fermentation requires bacterial intervention. It is necessary, so to speak, to maintain the flora already present on the surface of the leaves. To stimulate this bacterial flora, it is recommended to keep the tea in a medium to high relative humidity (60 to 80%). A stoneware pot in a cupboard with a bowl of water nearby is just fine. Also, remember to place everything in a clean environment without foreign odours that may affect the tea.
A vintage product, ideal to highlight an important current event: the birth of a child, a wedding, the purchase of a home or any other special date for you. Mark the occasion with tea!
Add a comment
*If you don’t have a Facebook account, you can write down your comments here.