On the outskirts of Pu’er City grow many tea plantations. They were established about 30 years ago and are made of a diversity of varietals. You can find Oolong cultivars, black tea clones. This tea, however, does not come from a clonal varietal, the plantations were established with seeds, we call it the ‘old varietal’. These plantations grow at an altitude of 1300-1600m.
The area is known for its affordable black tea. The tea trees are heavily pruned in order to get a higher yield. The trees sprout from mid-February to the end of November. In the past, they were conducted with pesticides and fertilizers in order to get a high volume and satisfy the demand for cheap Yunnan tea. Three years ago, the local government decided to restrict the use of agrochemicals on the old varietal, in order to increase the quality of the tea and lower the impact of the plantations on the environment. These tea trees are in the process of being converted to organic agriculture, which requires five years without pesticide use. While the producers haven’t received the organic certification yet, these teas offer a great price for value. The yield has decreased but the price remains almost the same as before.
These plantations usually produce tea for the mass market, but the very first flush of the year is of great quality and is highly sought after. It is one of the rare good deals we can get in the world of high quality tea. This flush sprouts within less than ten days. This year, we managed to secure one of those special batches.
The tea was picked at the one bud/two leaves stage, it was withered on ventilated mats for 24 hours, rolled tightly for one hour, oxidized for six hours and dried with hot air at medium temperature. The parameters of each of these steps influences the final result. This tea was made by one of the most skilled producer in the area.
The tea has a powerful fragrance and a medium thickness. The most interesting point is the endurance of the fragrance. While the mouthfeel gets thinner after a couple of brews, that complex high pitched honey fragrance remains in the cup and in the back of the mouth. A great daily drinker that will remain enjoyable for about two years.