Bangwai is located halfway between Jingmai and Mengku, in the North of Lancang County. The place is famous for a single huge tea tree, thought to be 1700 years old. An impressive sight for sure, but not leaves you can get in your gaiwan. The tree is harvested once a year under government supervision, and its tea is out of reach. You would need serious connections and boatloads of banknotes to access this material.
While most people visit the area to contemplate the wisdom of this unique tree, Bangwai has a small area covered in ancient tea gardens, in which the trees are of a good size; bigger than what you’d find in Jingmai.
I always thought low of Bangwai area. It is famous for the single big tree, but the bulk of the production comes from young natural tea gardens, similar to those we own in Jingmai. You can find plenty of such tea in the markets of Pu’er City. The ancient garden material, however, is hard to access. For the most part, you won’t find it on the tea markets. The production is low and tends to be sold directly to private buyers in the big cities of China.
We met a well-established tea producer from Bangwai, no less than the owner of the huge tree. She runs a tea factory in the village, and presses her own cakes with the best material available: the largest trees from their ancient tea gardens.
This tea was an eye-opener, never had we tried such a complex and deep tea from that area. It is not cheap for sure, but worth it in our opinion. In terms of taste, it is a mix of Jingmai and Yiwu, in which you get the best of both world. It features a complex fragrance, medium thickness, a velvety mouthfeel with no bitterness, low astringency, and a great Huigan.
It is surely an area to try, away from the beaten path, with a unique profile.