Old Growth Tea Forests are self-sustaining, biodiverse ecosystems untouched by clear-cutting or mono-agriculture.
Centuries-old tea trees grow side by side with other indigenous trees and plants in a dense, subtropical mountain forest environment. There are few such tea forests remaining in the world and most are found in southern Yunnan, primarily in Xishuangbanna and parts of Simao and Lincang prefectures.
Banzhang Mountain is located in southwestern Xishuangbanna at 1800 m above sea level. Our high regard for this tea area began when we visited it for the first time in 2005. It takes a few hours to get to the tea forest, up a mountainous dirt road.
A small community of 140 families are native residents of the area. The Hani people of Lao “old” Banzhang and Xin “new” Banzhang villages are descendants from a branch of the ancient Qiang people, a nomadic tribe from the Qinghai-Tibet plateau.
They are famous in Xishuangbanna for their abilities in harvesting and producing tea. The tea area is controlled collectively by these families, rather than by a private company or organization. As such, friendship and relationship with the village elders are needed to source leaf from Banzhang.
The tea forest is for the most part a natural, wild tea forest. The tea trees are several hundred years old, and an assortment of wild medicinal herbs and plants grows around the base of the tea trees. Because of the high elevation and the age of the plants, the tea from here is considered quite flavorful. It commands amongst the highest prices for leaf in Yunnan.
Our friends in this region have a simple, clean tea factory that utilizes the Banzhang mountain grown leaf. The processing is done using old-style techniques of sun-withering. We find that these old techniques result in a cleaner and higher-quality leaf.
This spring 2005 batch consists of the newly sprouted leaves of old growth tea trees. The leaves are comprised of a number of large tips, and are dark green and silver in color.
We have aged this leaf in our storage since 2005. It seems to get better each year. A portion of our collection is reserved and not available for sale. This enables us to continue to age the tea, allowing it to gain more maturity.
Although the climate in Oregon is very different than in Yunnan, we have found creative ways to help the aging process of Puer. At this time, we are offering a limited amount to our customers.
Water Temp: 200°F
Quality of Water: Spring Water/Filtered Water
Quantity of Leaf (tsp/8 oz water): 1-2
Steep Time: 1-3 minutes
Number of Infusions: 4-5