Spring 2017 raw Pu-erh tea, picked from medium-sized trees
Try this special 'Teng Tiao' varietal from Eastern Mengku
Aged in the mountain for three years at high altitude, dry storage.
A refined journey, recommended if you are sensitive to Cha Qi
Mengku is divided into two large mountain ranges: Xi Ban Shan to the West and Dong Ban Shan to the East
While most of the renowned villages are located on the Western Mountain, Ba Nuo is one of the most famous village on the Eastern Mountain. Sitting at an altitude of 1900m, its gardens are located above and below the village, from 1700m up to the ridge at 2100m. The gardens are not implanted with shade trees, but you can find patches of forest on the upper slopes.
The soil is shallow and rich in organic matter. Unlike the Western Mountain, you won't find stones in the top soil, that makes it easier to work. The gardens are tilled once a year, during which fertilizer can be applied if needed. Yet, what makes this area special is not the soil, nor the lack of forest cover. Have a look at the tea trees:
Can you see how long the branches are? This is due to a picking method called 'Teng Tiao', it is only used in Eastern Mengku and Jinggu because it requires a specific eponymous varietal. In most tea gardens, you'll want to prune the trees in order to facilitate branching. More branches means more sprouts and therefore more tea leaves! However, in this area, the opposite approach is taken. They prevent the tea trees from branching out, only allowing a few stems to grow long. The logic is to channel all the energy into the tip of the stems and have fewer, but faster growing flushes.
This technique certainly has an impact on tea quality, this tea has a special character.
In this village, just like in the rest of Mengku, they sell the tea in three different qualities according to the size of the trees: small, medium and big. We opted for a slightly aged medium tree tea that the farmer had stored for three years. It seemed to offer the best price for value of what we tried.
This tea contrasts a lot with the ones from Western Mengku. You might find it bland at a first sip. No high mountain fragrance, low bitterness, really nothing special... until you get to feel where this tea shines: Cha Qi.
If you're sensitive to it, this tea will give you a great buzz and keep delivering more as the session goes. It has a good balance between sweetness, Huigan and fragrance; aging in dry conditions has given this tea some wisdom and probably contributes to the restrain of its expression. If you usually don't feel anything in your body when drinking Pu-erh tea, I would not recommend this one.
Eastern Mengku is worth exploring for the contrast it provides with the more mainstream Western Mengku. Who knows? You might even fall in love with this Teng Tiao tea.
For more information about Mengku, you can check our video about the region: