Spring 2020 first and second flush.
We carefully selected the raw material used in this Pu-erh cake, they come from the best ancient tea gardens of Jingmai we have access to.
You'll be charmed by the balance of this tea. Smell the complex orchid fragrance, delivered with a short-lived bitterness and leaving a powerful Cha Qi in its wake.
Expect 15-20 brews gongfu style.
Jingmai mountain is located in South-Western Yunnan, close to the Burmese border. It is well known for hosting the largest ancient tea gardens in the world. Historical evidence shows tea trade was already going on 1200 years ago, the gardens could have been planted even earlier. The lack of written documents makes the history of the hills mysterious, and only trade records or religious notes give us a clue of life in the past.
We can know more about the recent history, simply by asking the elders in the village. They told us the ancient trees were as big when they were young as they are now. Tea drinkers in China got interested in those ancient gardens about twenty years ago, and since then, they have sustained the livelihood of the farmers in Jingmai.
There is more to it than the large size of the gardens. The Da Ping Zhang plateau, laying just above our village, is a rare feature, it's not typical to have such flat lands on the top of the mountains in Yunnan. About half of all the ancient tea trees in Jingmai grow on that plateau. This makes for a unique landscape. While walking through the gardens, you will encounter a wide variety of insects and plants, some of them not even properly identified by the scientists.
We don't really know how life was in the past, but we can see now that there are five different ethnic groups living on the mountain: Dai, Bulang, Han, Hani and Wa. Each of them has their own language, values and traditions. Nowadays, all of them make tea.
Jingmai is the perfect intersection between environment and culture and shows how agriculture has linked mankind and nature. The mountain is now candidate to become a UNESCO World Heritage site.
We started making tea in Jingmai in 2011. Yubai started out on her own with just a wok and a few bamboo mats. She had to learn the intricacies of Pu-erh tea processing. It seems simple at a first glance but requires years of practice and active learning to master.
We've been improving the quality of our production every year through a careful selection process of the best gardens. The ancient tea gardens of Jingmai mountain are vast, it is our task to explore them and understand the 'taste of the mountain'.
Each year, we refine the blend of ancient garden leaves used to make the Jingmai Gulan. This is our flagship cake, designed to be a worthy ambassador of Jingmai mountain. We aim at a high quality well-rounded tea.
While most of the Chinese buyers refer to that large area by a single name, the local Dai, who cultivate the plateau, separate the area into many gardens. We want to bring you as much accuracy as possible in the description of the terroir.
In 2020, we used only leaves grown on the Da Ping Zhang plateau. The Jingmai Gulan is a blend of gushu leaves from Aiban, Guang Jing, He Huan, Guang He and Nuo Gu Wan gardens.
Just like every year, we get excited as the season approaches. We made our first batches in mid-February, but we had to wait for a whole month before the sprouts really kicked in. The busy time was from March 20th to April 20th, despite having a few rains in February, the season was late this year.
We faced the coronavirus crisis in mid-February in Yunnan, fortunately, by the time the first buds sprouted in Jingmai, the restrictions had been lifted. During peak season, we rely on daily workers for tea picking. There weren't many this year. Lots of them are Burmese, and despite being relatively free within Yunnan, the borders with Myanmar was closed, they couldn't join us for the harvest.
Just like in 2019, the tea sprouts grew very slowly and would mature at the 1 bud/2-3 leaves stage. In plantations where fertilizers are used, you can easily harvest 1 bud/4 leaves of large leaves. Our gardens are not fertilized and do not receive pesticides, hence the scarce harvest. A low yield means higher quality, and this rule is confirmed again this year.
The dry weather and slow growth this year gives a somewhat unappealing look to the leaves. Yet, these leaves pack a punch, you will get your money's worth of Cha Qi, Huigan and other buzz with Spring 2020 teas. All of the teas we tried tasted better than their 2018 or even 2019 version. This year will be remembered by the Pu-erh tea enthusiasts as a particularly good vintage.