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Pu-erh raw tea has more than 1000 years of long history and China is the only country that produces Pu-erh tea. It was originated from Yunnan province in southwest China. In Yunnan, the locals drink this tea on a daily basis. In making Pu-erh raw tea, the quality of raw material has a critical impact on the quality of finished tea.
What are the quality criteria of good Pu-erh raw tea? We noticed that many people thought that Pu-erh tea is very special and different from other teas. However, Pu-erh tea is also one type of tea. There is no difference in its character from other types of tea. No exceptional taken just because it is Pu-erh tea.
The quality of Pu-erh consists of 2 elements.
In China tea market, Lao Ban Zhang (老班章) is famously referred as the King of Raw Pu-erh tea. Its flavor is uniquely strong with bold, complex taste. In Kunming, tea connoisseurs often describe the taste of Lao Ban Zhang as “霸” (superiorly dominant). This is why they crowned Lao Ban Zhang as “The King”.
Lao Ban Zhang is named after the village that produces this tea. Lao Ban Zhang Village is located in Bu Lang Mountain (布朗山) at Meng Hai (勐海) county, Xishuang Banna (西双版纳，South West Yunnan). The earliest record on the village’s tea production can be traced back to 1476. Lao Ban Zhang Village is resided by minorities known as The Bu Lang tribe. For generations, the Bu Lang people planted tea trees and produced tea in the mountains. Today, there are 117 Bu Lang families residing in Lao Ban Zhang Village.
The village is situated at 1700-1900m high mountain area. Such high altitude is rare in tropical part of South Yunnan. The average temperature yearly is 18.7 degree Celsius. For almost half of the entire year, this mountainous area of Lao Ban Zhang village is covered in thick fog.
Lao Ban Zhang’s tea plantation is located close to the borders of Myanmar. It covers 310 hectares of land. According to the official record, it is estimated that there are 78,555 tea trees aged more than 100 years old, 70,866 tea trees that is more than 200 years old, 37,076 tea trees aged more than 500 years old and 9,412 tea trees more than 800 years old.
The tea trees grow in the jungle, they co-exist with other wild plants in jungle, and therefore they are not polluted by any pesticide or chemical fertilizer. The Bu Lang farmers manage and take care of these trees with their own original method. Until today, they still produce Lao Ban Zhang tea following the traditional processing method passed down from their ancestors.
In 1950s, this tea was selected as the tribute tea to Chairman Mao Zedong, who was known as a tea maniac.
In the past, Lao Ban Zhang was a secluded, peaceful village, and very few visitors go there. But from 2000 onwards, especially since 2004 during the Pu-erh boom in China, many tea merchants and collectors often visited Lao Ban Zhang village. They competed to buy this tea because of its genuine good quality and fame. Most of these tea merchants let the Bu Lang people produce the raw material and the tea merchants will then buy over the loose tealeaves and bring back to their factory located in city. They will then compress the tea into the shape of “cake” and pack it under their own label. As a result, nowadays we often came across a lot of Lao Ban Zhang tea exist in the market with various kinds of label and packaging.
In 2007, Chen Sheng Tea Factory （陈升茶厂） seized an opportunity to dominate the tea supply in Lao Ban Zhang village so that they could control the supply and market price of Lao Ban Zhang tea. They signed a contract with the villagers, from then onwards this factory became the major buyer of Lao Ban Zhang tea raw material. Since then, most of Lao Ban Zhang tea, whether compressed into cake size or bricks, were manufactured and branded by “陈升茶厂” (Chen Sheng Tea Factory). However, out of 117 families that produce tea in Lao Ban Zhang village, there are still 28 families who did not sign the monopoly contract with Chen Sheng Tea Factory. These few families can still sell their own raw materials to other tea merchants.
Due to the domination by Chen Sheng Tea Factory, nowadays genuine Lao Ban Zhang tea is sold at a very high price in the market.
In general, the following factors cause the price of Lao Ban Zhang tea become very high:
1) Historically famous. This tea was once selected as the tribute tea to the top leaders in China.
2) Good quality, sweet lingering taste and strong aftertaste, with bold and rich flavor.
3) Limited supply and production quantity.
4) Supply of raw materials is partly monopolized by one tea factory.
This tea is produced by Bu Lan races. They were historically originated from Thai. Generally, they prefer to live a more relaxing lifestyle. Most of their tea trees existed ever since long ago. Today, these tea trees adapted into the surrounding natural environment and grew just like wild plants. The environment of the mountain where these tea trees grow is just like any ordinary mountain area. Needless to say, no fertilizer or pesticide is applied. Thanks to the fact that tea trees were left to grow like wild trees and no chemicals were applied, their natural habitat has a very efficient ecological system. The pests co-exist with their natural enemies. Thanks to no pesticide, these natural enemies of pest can survive in adequate numbers to keep the pest population under control.
Go to further information about suitable water for brewing tea >>
For brewing Mi, it is recommended to use a red clay or Shigaraki clay tea pot. It is important to pour boiling water into the teapot and leave it for about 10 seconds. Without this rinsing process, the temperature of boiling water decrease about 20 degree C when it is pour into the teapot.
Place tea leaves in teapot and pour boiling water again. Leave it for less than a second and discard the water, and immediately pour boiling water one more time and repeat the same procedure. Without this step, the temperature of tea will reduce nearly 30 degree C.
If (4) and (5) is not carried out, your brewing temperature will be 50-60 degree C. This is too low to extract sufficient flavor and taste. Please repeat rinsing process one more time. Please do not soak tea for more than a second.
You can brew up to even 8-10 brewing using the same tea leaves. From 2nd brewing onwards, it is very important to keep brewing time as short as you can. As tea leaf is wet and hot, definitely it is not necessary to brew more than a few seconds.
Note: Please remove the lid while you are waiting for subsequent brewing. If the lid is not removes, tea leaves will be over steamed and get oxidized.
Firstly, warm up the Gaiwan with boiling water, and then place tea leaves up to 60-70% of the capacity of Gaiwan. We use 1g of tea leaves for 10ml of water. So if the capacity of Gaiwan is 100ml, we need about 5g of tea leaves. Please remember to place tea leaves gently and not to compress it into the Gaiwan. Pour boiling water up to the level of tea leaves, and then place the lid and immediately pour out the water from Gaiwan. Repeat this action once more. It means you need to rinse the tea leaves twice with boiling water. This action is to warm up tea leaves and also to open up the leaves. These actions must be carried out swiftly so as not to lose the precious flavor and taste of tea.
For the actual brewing, it does not require long infusion like making other teas. Instead, you have to brew it the "touch and go" style. As soon as you pour the boiling water up to the level of tea leaves, place the lid to Gaiwan and then immediately pour out the tea without letting it soak. It is recommended to accumulate the 1st and 2nd brewing into a pitcher in order to even out the flavor and taste. For each subsequent brewing, you just need to brew less than a second. By brewing this "touch and go" style, you can continue brew up to nearly 20 times.
Note: Please remove the lid while you are waiting for subsequent brewing. Tea leaf will be over steamed and get oxidized if the lid is not removed.
Traditionally, Pu-erh tea is compressed to remove oxygen from the leaves and kept it intact. It was the wisdom of ancient people to keep tea without oxygen and let it matured very well.
From scientific point of view, oxidation does not only refer to receiving oxygen. The oxidation also takes place when it releases hydrogen and receives electron. Even if tea is kept without oxygen, it will still undergo oxidation.
In 1960's, generally Pu-erh tea was compressed tightly and shaped like a bing (flat and thin round cake). It was called “iron bing”. The tea leaf was compressed extremely tight until it became like a piece of stone; we can hardly pry it even if we use the proper tool that designed for prying the Pu-erh cake. This style of compression succeeded the elimination of oxygen from the tea leaves. If you have ever tried this kind of Pu-erh iron bing, you would know that it was very well-matured. It gives flavour like honey with fruity note and gives no earthy flavour at all. The only problem is that it is so difficult to loosen the leaves from the iron bing and the leaves are often damaged during the process.
On the other hand, nowadays most of Pu-erh cakes are loosely compressed. Some of the Pu-erh cakes can be easily break apart by fingers. Obviously there is oxygen remained in between the leaves. If we keep loosely-compressed Pu-erh in ambient environment, tea will expose to not only oxygen but also moisture and develop unwanted oxidation that usually generates earthy flavour. To achieve the same maturation effect like the iron bing, we encourage customer to keep Pu-erh tea without oxygen. With modern technology, we are able to apply the same theory. Some people in Taiwan intentionally keep high mountain oolong in the vacuum bag for a few years. In the beginning, high mountain oolong is green in colour and it gives a delightful fresh flowery flavour. After a few years of maturation, the leaves turn into yellow colour and it gives the flavour like ripen peach or apricot. This is exactly the same effect as what we are looking for in Pu-erh tea. Based on our experience, well-matured Pu-erh tea gives a very fruity flavour and no earthy or mouldy flavour at all.
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Only if customer prefer other option of payment, we suggest "Bank Transfer".
Various choice of shipping method
EMS, SAL, Small Packet, Small Packet (SAL) Yamato Express and Surface
For shipping tea, we usually suggest small air parcel, the estimated shipping cost of tea in 100g (with wrapping material ) is
USA JPY 600, EU JPY600 and Asia JPY470
Small Packet (SAL)
USA JPY380, EU JPY380 and Asia JPY320
The shipping fee to oversea by small air parcel happens to be even cheaper than domestic shipping fee in Japan.
For your information, some countries, EU in particular imposes custom duty. We need buyer to bare the duty. We are sorry, but we cannot change the amount on the invoice, and we do not mark any packages as gifts. We will strictly follow the custom regulation.
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