Saturday, August 24, 2013

2012 Nannuo Mountain Spring Bing

(Pu'er, Puer, Pu-erh)

 This was not a heavily anticipated tea for me.I Didn't even try it when it first arrived.  Honestly, this tea landed directly to my stock and patiently acclimated itself for a couple of months, waiting to be adored and appreciated as a fine tea of this quality should be. It's not to say Nannuo Mountain isn't "my cup of tea" it's that my preferences occupy the front of my mind like that favorite song you can't stop singing even if you want to. Well, I finally got over my obsessions and found out what I was missing. 

 My enthusiasm spiked as soon as I opened the wrapper. To say this is an attractive looking tea is an understatement, this cake is gorgeous! A sweet and highly appealing fragrance immediately filled the air and prompted the question, what have I been waiting for? 
        The fragrance of this tea is of special note; floral and abounding with sweetness. I will also be assertive enough to say this tea has plum fragrance, one of my favorite qualities in pu'er tea

 One of my favorite qualities of pu'er in general is complexity. I believe I can perceive the qualities of every other kind of tea within the
flavor and fragrance of exceptional quality pu'er. With that being said, when I first tasted this tea I distinguish the buttery and floral qualities of a Wen Shan Baozhong wulong (oolong). But it doesn't stop there, it also contains all the woody, earthy qualities pu'er is known for. Still further, this tea is abounding with a rich, but not overstated, sweetness that truly makes this tea exceptional.The mouth fill is thick and full. Bitterness is present but not as pronounced as the astringency, witch is typical of genuine Nannuo Mountain gushu (ancient tree) tea.

   With 6g of tea in a 150ml gaiwan, I was able to get 15 good steepings with the plum fragrance pervading through them all. I am excited to try this tea again and again, year after year as I'm sure it will age into something to be enjoyed over and over.

 Recommended food pairing: fresh green figs. Amazing! 

View this tea in our online tea shop - 2012 Nannuo Mountain Spring Bing

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Nannuo Mountain Pu’er (Puer, Pu-erh)

 The closest pu’er producing mountain to Jinghong, the capital city of the Shishuangbanna prefecture, is Nannuo Shan. Because of it proximity to “civilization” Nannuo Shan endures a large amount of tea tourism, most of witch is domestic, but they are no strangers to the recent increase of foreigners in pursuit of tea. It is not my intention to sound cinical as I was recently one of these nostalgic foreigners. Take it from me the rewards are great for the minimal amount of travel needed to access a famous pu’er-producing region.
 Your journey begins in Jinghong, the low valley area near the infamous Lancong Jiang (Mekong River). As you leave the city the view from your window is mostly small scale vegetable farming and large scale banana production. Don’t forget to try a genuine banna banana; it’s a memory you won’t soon forget. It doesn’t take long before you begin to drastically rise in elevation. It doesn’t take long for the view to change either. Bananas disappear in exchange for rice, rubber and eventually tea. If your paying attention, the first tea plants you see might just be the first tea plants this American tea fanatic has ever seen. Don’t be fooled though, the tea you came to see isn’t visible from the highway.

 Small villages of indigenous minorities, mostly Eini People, are seen on both sides of the road and in the near distant mountains. When you reach the summit elevation of the highway, there is even a little roadside market selling vegetables, crafts and you guested it, tea. A little further up the road and not far off of it is the gloriously titled Nannuo Shan Cha Shu Wang (Nannuo Mountain King of Tea Trees) an eight hundred year old tea tree surrounded by terraced shrub tea.

 The real gem of Nannuo Shan is much further up the mountain. Navigating a series of dirt roads through many unmarked forks and past wooden gates that look like entrances to strange and mysterious places: really just more villages and tea gardens. Our destination was a trailhead that leads to another eight hundred year old tea tree. Along this two kilometer trail is a bio diverse forest ecosystem with an immeasurable amount of plant and animal life.
At the center of attention was, of course, tea. One to several hundred-year-old tea trees blanket the forest filling in all the spaces between every other species of plant life. Seeing the diversity in the natural ecology these tea trees where cultivated in made me realize how truly “organic” and special genuine gu shu (ancient tree) tea is.
At the end of the trail was another magnificent Nannuo Shan Cha Shu Wang, this time surrounded by the natural forest ecology. Along side this “king of Tea Trees” was a little hut with an Eini woman, dressed in her native attire, posing for pictures and serving tea. Cliché? Maybe. Kitschy? Perhaps to some. A fun and exciting experience for an enthusiastic first timer? Indeed!

 But what is the tea like? I’m glad you asked. Nannuo Shan is known for producing tea that is highly fragrant, and mild in bitterness. If you like tea that is floral in fragrance, complex in profile and soft in finish than I highly recommend seeking out a high quality genuine gu shu tea from Nannuo Shan. Nannuo tea is also a great introduction tea to the world sheng pu’er (naturally fermented tea) because it generally has a mild bitterness and low astringency. An easily palatable tea for one and all. My personal favorite is the 2012 Nannuo mountain spring tea from Yun Hai Zhi Dian. Love love love that tea!