Martin visited us two years ago in Jingmai. He wanted to make tea in his adoptive land: Mae Hong Son, in the North of Thailand, bordering Burma. The so-called Golden triangle, thrive with smugglers and warlords. The place is called Pang Mapha, it's a no man's land stuck between Thailand and Myanmar.
In this conflictual area, someone decided to plant tea trees. We don't know who, we're not sure when. The locals have no clue. The Lahu were nomads before they had to settle down on those steep hills, the trees were already there when they arrived, 50 years ago.
Such an exciting project cannot be refused. We gave technical support to Martin, a few months later, the factory was operational. We got the first batches in Spring 2019 with promising results.
Many of the gardens are not maintained, the branches grow tall, too high to harvest. It is very hard for Martin to collect the leaves, the locals are not used to picking tea, but he persists.
It is unclear what cultivar was planted. The fresh leaves have a distinct fragrance which reminds of oolong cultivars, but the tea trees look like var Assamica.
Here is a video from when we visited the place:
This is the first cakes we got from Martin, pressed in Thailand and freshly arrived in Yunnan. Don't be put off by the funky look of the leaves. They are not too appealing because the climate was very dry in Spring 2020, they endured severe water and nutrient stress. Such leaves give a stronger brew, because they grew in hard conditions.
The tea is very interesting because it has the fragrance of an oolong with the robustness of an Assamica. It is quite endurant for a white tea and keeps delivering that rich fragrance in a juicy broth over ten infusions.
You will taste nothing like it in Yunnan.