Thank you for travelling and savouring our world with us.
We aim to bring tea drinkers into the world of very fine and exclusive teas. These teas used to be inaccessible to commoners in time gone by, but today we are able to bring it to you via our network of sourcing direct from the farms and our friendship with the producers.
The three teas on feature are a green tea, white tea and wulong tea, namely:
- 2019 Ba Nuo Rattan Cane raw puer (坝糯藤条生普尔), 6 gm
- 2023 Spring Pre-Qingming Fan Jing Shan Mao Feng (明前梵净山毛峰), 6 gm
- 2023 First Flush Okayti FTGFOP 1 Organic/RFA, 6 gm
Mengku town (勐库) in Yunnan is famous for its well preserved ancient trees. It is a town built inside the forested mountain ranges. Its terrain is defined by two mountains and a river - Bang Ma Mountain (邦马山) on its west and Ma An Mountain (马鞍山) on its east, and the Nan Meng River (南勐河) that runs through it. It is also the home of the Mengku Daye Tea (勐库大叶茶种), a wild variety in Mengku county. In November 1985, Yunnan Tea Research Institute (云南省农科院茶叶研究所) recognised that this variety is an authentic Yunnan Daye Tea variety (云南大叶种茶的正宗). In coffee terms, it can be called a landrace and a heirloom tea. Mengku locals customarily refer to the mountain region on the eastern side of the county as Eastern Half, and vis versa for the western half. Accordingly, the mountain on the eastern side is referred to as Eastern Half Mountain (东半山), and that essentially means Ma An Mountain. As such, Western Half Mountain is Bang Ma Mountain.
There are 18 villages in this town and each have an abundance of ancient tea trees with 120 years of age or more. Located at 1,900 m, Ba Nuo is the largest village in the eastern side. The majority is Han Chinese, with the rest being the local Lahu tribe. The fame of Ba Nuo comes from the abundant and well preserved "rattan cane teas" (藤条茶), which are tea trees with long veins looking like rattan canes stretching out from the main stems and branches. Growing up to 3-4m long, the entangled veins look like well woven rattan nets.
This growing style comes from the pruning technique brought by the Han Chinese. Unfortunately, the tea growing areas have shrunk, driving the price of tea upward.
We are brewing this tea in our Parchmen Zisha Tea Pot "Authority" (秦权壶). The dry tea leaves hint of dried flowers and sour plum, and is long and tippy - some white and some already turning golden from the aging. The brewed leaves again reminds of sour plum, transiting into a liquor which is pale yellow, thick in mouthfeel and forward on fruity sweetness and flowers like chrysanthemum, overlaid with minerality (read: "feels salty"). We are brewing 3g to 120 ml of distilled water, at 90°C for 20-30 sec, with the shorter time resulting in smoother mouthfeel and more brews of up to 4 times. You can choose to brew all 6g of tea to allow more brews of up to 10 times. A longer brewing time presents more sweetness and aromas, but at the expense of a drier mouthfeel and shorter numbers of brews. A heirloom tea is non-nonsense and authoritative.
The next tea is a tea from our July green tea box. Fan Jing Shan mao feng is a famous tea from Guizhou, but a relatively unknown tea in Singapore. Fan Jing is the abbreviation of two terms in Chinese, respectively Fan for Fan Tian (梵天, the Indian creator god of Brahma) and Jing for Jing Tu (净土, the Buddhist pureland). It is so named because of Buddhist influence reaching it since the Tang dynasty, and drawing inspiration from its relatively isolated and pristine landscape. This land is indeed pure, earning it the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2018.
Our tea is cultivated at Fan Jing Mountain north spur of Da Sheng Dun (大圣墩), at an elevation of 1,200 m. This elevation is remarkable considering the average height of tea cultivation is usually around 300-800m. The humid, foggy and cool climate brings ample rain to nourish the tea cultivation. The tea was harvested before Qing Ming festival (5th April 2023), with early picking showing in its dark green tone outlined by a white border from the tender downy hairs. It is picked 1 bud 1 leaf, and is curly and shaped like hooks.
We are brewing this tea in our Parchmen Glass Gaiwan, using 3g of tea to 120ml of 75°C distilled water for 30 seconds. The dry leaves already exude impressions of dried berries and hawthorns. The brew aroma is forward on minerality, sweet umami, roasted chestnuts and almonds, and small temperate fruits like dark cherries, grapes and cranberries. The flavour integrates these aromas on a sugar cane juiciness, trailing to a smooth quenching aftertaste of yellow flowers and a curious note of pineapple.
This tea can be brewed twice. For the second brew, use more water at 150ml for the same brewing time and temperature.
The last tea this month is a 2023 Darjeeling first flush Okayti FTGFOP 1. From the 'Land of the Thunderbolt', Darjeeling teas are sought after the world over for its first and second flushes. The concept of the flush is that noticeable change in colour tone in the tea gardens as the new buds gives a lighter coat of green against the original dark background of old leaves which braved the cold winter.
Located in the scenic Mirik Valley of Darjeeling, Okayti Tea Estate was established in 1870 by British planters and holds a long legacy of being one of the oldest tea estate and factory in Darjeeling. Surrounded by tall pine trees with a remarkable view of the Himalayas, the estate rises from 1,200m to 1,900m, making it one of the highest tea estates in Darjeeling. When you are the first few estates in the area, you get to choose the best piece of land, as well as the best scenery the hills have to offer.
Okayti has one of the most picturesque estates in Darjeeling. Standing against the test of time, it was named Rangdoo Tea Estate when it was established 150 years ago. The home of the first owner still stands proudly within the estate’s vicinity flaunting its Victorian beauty. Not all tea estates had good teas then, and Rangdoo was one which produced decent and okay tea, giving it a new name since then. It has a glorious history of being served at Buckingham Palace and other royal courts. Today, it is certified organic (India and Japan) and Rainforest Alliance.
First flush teas of the highest grade usually come with a string of designations. FTGFOP 1 means Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekeo Grade 1. For Okayti Tea Estate, this is their highest grade. It is harvested 1 bud 2 leaves.
We are brewing this Indian tea in our Chinese gaiwan, at 3g to 120ml of 80°C water for 45 sec. The brewed leaves are forward on sugar browning notes in the form of caramels and gingerbread, turning into dried berries when colder. The liquor is sweet and medium thick, almost juicy. It is a straight forward and masculine first flush, emitting an aura of boldness, with the light enzymatic tone of flowers and fruits coming behind accompanied by a peppery end. The tea can be brew twice. It is a refreshing cold brew, showing its gentler side with more perfumy floral notes with a hint of pineapple. This tea can be brewed twice, followed by cold brew.
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