Category Archives: Bulang Shan

Weather Report

 

ancient tea tree in Bang Wai

Ancient tea tree in Bang Wai, December 16th, 2013. Photo by Wang Xiong

We are having the longest sustained cold spell in ‘Banna that anyone here can remember. For over a week we’ve been having night time temperatures of 10 Centigrade or less, with two or three nights getting down to 5 or 6 in Jinghong. Daytime temperatures have been getting up to 20. In the mountains it has been colder, with heavy frosts and ice in Bulang Shan and snow in Lincang.

There were a few days in 1999 that were cold, but according to local people, it was not that extreme and didn’t last more than 3 or 4 days.

The general perception is that early spring tea will not be pretty, but the flavour should be good.

bang wei tea in the snow

Another image from Bang Wai – Not sure why anyone would be picking tea in December!

There and Here – more on puer storage

After comparing two Bulang Peak teas whilst I was in the UK, I thought it might be interesting to bring some of the 2010, UK stored tea back to ‘Banna to compare with some of the same tea that has been stored here in Jinghong.

This therefore, is more an ‘apples with apples’ comparison than the one in the UK which was comparing a 2010 tea stored in the UK for 18 months with a 2011 tea that had been in Jinghong. This time we have the same tea, same batch.

bulang peak 2010 cakes

UK cake on left, 'Banna on the right

The first thing is that the difference between the teas is not that obvious. Looking at the colour of the cakes, the broth colour and the dregs, there is some difference to be detected, but it’s not that pronounced.

bulang peak 2010 uk stored cake detailbulang peak 2010 cake stored in JinghongThere is a slight difference in colour between the two cakes – most visible in the tips which are a little darker in the ‘Banna stored tea and in the slightly ‘greener’ hue to the UK stored cake. The top photo (right) is the UK stored cake, the lower one the ‘Banna stored tea. It’s not obvious in the photos here but the ‘Banna tea also looks a little richer, more moist than the UK stored cake, but perhaps I’m just imagining that.

The broth also produces marked difference – at least of the kind that I might have anticipated.

The broth from the first steepings of both teas looks pretty similar in tone.

I started using these two cups – the UK stored tea is on the left – but then realised my mistake as the shape of the cups and their translucency was affecting the appearance of the broth.

bulang peak spring 2010 broth

So I switched to two identical cups to see how the appearance of the broth was altered. I tried to steep the teas as close to simultaneously as I could in order to minimise any differences caused by oxidation of the broth and steeped the UK stored tea first, so that oxidation would not exaggerate any difference.

bulang zhi dian broth comparison

As can be seen in the photo above, there is no very obvious difference. Possibly the broth on the left (UK) is a mite lighter than the ‘Banna broth. Both are the third steeping.

Here is the broth from both teas after steeping for 5 minutes. This time the broth on the right (‘Banna) is more noticeably darker, but it’s still not much.

bulang peaks broth after five minutes steeping

The difference is most clear in the flavour – perhaps as one might have expected. The UK stored cake has kept more of its youthful floral/fruity notes and is very sweet. At the same time it is very slightly more astringent than the ‘Banna stored tea.

The ‘Banna stored tea has lost most of those fruit/floral notes and has started to show hints of something deeper, though as yet, no obvious chen wei. Both teas, when pushed, show a decent kuwei and both resolve quickly to produce a good huigan.

So is there a conclusion?

Of sorts, there is an interim one. It could be that the astringence in the UK stored cake is due to the fact that it has aged more slowly than the ‘Banna tea (and we have forgotten how it was when young) and that with further storage it will diminish. The other possibility, it seems, is that it has been influenced by the dryness of the UK conditions and this has produced the astringence. Only further storage time will tell.

bulang peak broth and dregs

 

 

Here and There – on Storage

I was recently in England for a few weeks and had gone with a little of last year’s spring tea tucked under my arm.

The previous time I had been in the UK was nearly 2 years earlier, and on that occasion I had also taken some tea which was spring tea from that year – 2010.

I had left a couple of cakes with a friend who had stored them in no particular way in his bedroom. I feared the tea would be nigh on ruined, so was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was actually quite decent.

I decided it would be interesting to compare a couple of cakes – a Bulang Peak from 2010 that had been in England since September 2010 (i.e. a 2 year old tea that has been in England for 20 months +) and a 2011 Bulang Peak that had been in Jinghong for a year. True, it wasn’t comparing like with like, but I thought it might prove interesting nonetheless.
bulang peak raw puer cskes - 2010 and 2011
I borrowed a camera to take a few photos -They don’t bear too much scrutiny, but give a reasonable impression as it was the comparison that I was interested in.
zhi zheng bulang peak 2010 spring puer cake
The first thing that was obvious was that the 2010 cake had aged quite well. It is clear from the photo that the leaves are darker.
zhi zheng tea shop bulang peak 2011 spring puer cake
The UK stored cake is slightly drier, which is not so easy to detect in the picture, but it has not dried out as much as I thought it might and the tea has a little chen wei. It has lost some astringence, has a nice fragrance and huigan. The wet leaves have some fruity-tobacco scents and the broth was an amber-orange.
bulang peak 2010 broth
I pushed the 4th steeping which produced a pleasant kuwei, but this was soon followed by a sweetness in the throat and mouth, and some fragrance floating up into the nose accompanied by a lingering bitterness on the upper palate.
bulang peak 2010 and 2011raw puer tea broth and leaves
The 2011 cake was somewhat similar as one might expect, but with more kuse, a lighter, more amber orange broth colour as well as a less distinct chenwei than the older cake.
bulang peak 2011 broth
So what seems interesting in this is that England, at least in the last couple of years, in my friends house, was not a bad environment for storing Puer. Of course, a longer storage time might bring out problems that are not so obvious now – the tea may dry out too much – but for now the result is not bad.

I’m quite sure that the tea kept in Jinghong has aged more quickly than the tea in England, that would be normal, but the UK stored tea compared well and highlights that the ‘Holy Grail’ of an ideal Puer aging environment might be worth striving for, of course, but may not be absolutely necessary. If one accepts that your tea is going to age more slowly, as the Bard of Oxford maintains, a cooler climate may work fine.