In 2016, we decided to give more punch to our homemade Jingmai teas. But by doing this, we would left aside some traits of Jingmai tea, and this is a pity considering what this mountain can offer to the tea enthusiast. This is why we sought help, and we found it in Nanzuo, a hamlet bordering Jingmai Mountain. Mr. and Mrs. Zhang helped us craft teas with a different personality from ours; their tea factory is full of charm.Nanzuo feels like a western movie town; it’s windy, dry and suspiciously quiet. But unlike the far west, they have no guns but a bunch of tea trees instead. Their tea gardens are not as extensive as in Jingmai village, but they do have a couple of ancient tea trees scattered around the sloppy hills. Mrs. Zhang owns about thirty of these hundred-year-old tea trees; own we got the chance to collaborate with her this year and release these pu-erh tea cakes.
Our Nanzuo single trees pu-erh tea is made in a traditional way: withered on bamboo mattresses and processed in a wok with a lower temperature than we used for our jingmai-produced cakes. The brew renders a yellow soup that marks the prelude of a symphony well-known to the tea aficionado. This tea guarantees you a smooth and energizing session that will last as long as you wish. Plenty of sweetness builds up on the back of your mouth, and the fine fragrance of this tea is noticeably different from our Jingmai tea.
Read and write more about this tea on Steepster.
In the West, the tea enthusiasts focus mainly on the fragrance of tea. However, for the avid Pu-erh tea drinkers, the pleasure of a fine cup lies in other dimensions.
Huigan is probably the most trait sought-after in high-quality Pu-erh tea. This Chinese word refers to the freshness that gradually seizes the back of the mouth and the throat during a tea session; it can remind you of a mix between camphor and chicken soup. A good Huigan is easily perceived when breathing in, feeling air going through your throat, loaded with tea scents; it makes you feel like your breathing channels are opened wider than usual.
Huigan most often comes in the middle of the session. Sometimes, an old-growth Pu-erh tea can seem disappointing in the early session, only to make you high in the end. Old-growth tea tends to take more time to reveal its power than plantation tea; you will only start to feel its power in the 4th or 5th brew. Huigan can last for a long time, sometimes hours after the tea sessions. It can go deep, down to the middle of the throat, or stay only in the back of the mouth. The depth of Huigan is an indicator of quality for many tea drinkers.
Good tea will not leave your body indifferent. The body reaction varies a lot depending on the individual and the time of day. I find the most pungent effects occur on an empty stomach, and that's why I love to drink tea in the morning.
An excellent tea should make you feel both relaxed and energized. It can help many people focus better or have creative ideas. I notice my guests tend to be more talkative after a good tea. The body feeling is like an internal massage; you can feel your blood vessels expanding. I love to drink tea when performing mental tasks; it seems to me drinking good tea helps think better.
If you drink too much tea, you might end up "tea drunk," which is a mildly unsettling feeling, quite hard to describe. I recommend you eat something, and the symptoms should subside soon. When you invite friends for a tea session, it's always a good idea to have snacks on hand: nuts and dried fruits are an excellent choice.
The scientific community has not much studied the detailed effects of tea on the body, and many people don't feel anything special when drinking tea. This is why the Chinese term Cha Qi is so controversial; some conspiracy theorists see in it the advent of a mighty tea sect. More rational people would argue that Cha Qi designates the different feelings, noticed during and after a tea session, caused by the cocktail of psychoactive molecules present in tea.
Caffeine is the primary active stimulant in tea, but there are actually dozens of other compounds, present in varying quantities, that add up and offer the tea drinkers a special experience. Theobromine is suspected to improve mood, it is present in large quantity in chocolate and can be found in tea too. Traces of Theophylline can also be found; it is known to improve breathing by relaxing the airway muscles temporarily. Finally, L-Theanine, which is present in significant quantities in tea, is supposed to give a relaxing effect and is also responsible for the umami taste in tea.
There are probably many more psychoactive molecules in tea, and the feeling provided by tea is the interaction of this molecule cocktail with your body. The best way to know about it is to try it yourself!