Category Archives: Meng Song


The old Menghai road looks like they once thought about repairing it, but then gave up on the idea. There’s not much traffic, but there is some mining up there, so there’s quite a few trucks on the road. Fortunately they’re not big, but they’re probably mostly overladen, which has taken its toll on the road. Mengsong is some kilometers off to the north of this road. Further into Menghai there are many tea factories along the road – witness to the fact that until the end of the last century, this was still the only route from Jinghong to Menghai.

liu sha he river xishuangbanna from old menghai road

Liu Sha He had much more water in it than the last time I was here back in the early summer. Being in the mountains at this time of year is pleasing: the air is redolent with tree blossom – jiang hua line the sides of the roads, providing a dense fragrance that counters the slightly sour pungence of latex tapped from rubber trees that is pervasive at lower altitudes. There is also the smell of damp forest mixed with the alcoholic aroma of fruits that have fallen and lie on the ground untouched.

Besides tea, Autumn is a time to harvest rice and maize. Rice is usually not sold and the maize is typically dried and used for pig fodder.

not only tea - maize harvested in Autumn

Bamboo is cut in the autumn after the zhu chong – bamboo grub – has hatched. If bamboo is harvested at other times of year, the grubs, which have not hatched out, will eat the bamboo, then eat their way out of it.

Long zhu, or Dragon Bamboo, is known for its thick base which is substantial enough for kitchen implements to be fashioned out of it: mugs,jugs,etc.

jug made from base of dragon bamboo

dragon bamboo on horticultural tractor

Meng Song Ku Cha – Bitter Tea

Sinensis assamica var. Kucha – or in plain English, bitter tea, is a sub-variety of sinensis assamica that grows in the Meng Song area. For reasons which are doubtless obvious, it’s not the most sought after of Puer tea, but with a light touch when brewing it can be rather pleasant, with a distinct, lingering, but not overwhelming bitterness.

A friend just dropped by with a few handfuls. We plopped some in the gaiwan. It’s not the prettiest maocha you’ll ever see, but it’s totally honest, unadulterated.

Meng Song sinensis assamica var. kucha

With maybe 5-6 grams in the gaiwan and very quick steeping times, the bitterness does not become overpowering and there’s some decent flavour and fragrance.

Meng Song Bitter Tea leaves after three steepings

The soup is clean – when sampling it’s good to use a gaiwan – not a pot – and no strainer. The broth has a pleasing colour with a hint of pale, almost pinky, gold.

Meng Song Bitter Tea broth

See here for an earlier post about Meng Song: