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Finding Mei Lan raw pu-erh tea at 2000m high

[2014.06.05] Posted By

梅蘭、プーアル生茶
One of the most popular pu-erh tea in our existing line-ups is Mei Lan raw pu-erh tea. This tea gives a very distinctive flavour that reminds us of a pomelo, grapefruit skin and some other citrus fruit. Since the flavour is very unique and attractive, we were introducing Mei Lan in mao-cha form.

The village located nearby the Golden Triangle

We went to look for Mei Lan raw pu-erh tea again this year. This tea is produced in Lin Cang. The town is located near to the border of Myanmar. Looking from the map, it is situated right next to the so-called Golden Triangle where it is known as the major production area of drugs in Asia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Triangle_(Southeast_Asia)
Therefore, there are many military checkpoints along the road heading to the town near the border. Their checking is actually much tighter than I have ever imagined. We often been asked to get down from the car and answer the questions given by the officers.

雲南省、プーアル茶の産地の村

100% Natural Garden: No fertilizer, no pesticide and no pruning

The distinctive flavour of Mei Lan is developed thanks to the natural farming method. Natural farming means that tea was not pruned, and no fertilizer or pesticide is used. This tea trees are not planted in column by column as what we commonly see in a modern tea garden. Instead, the tea trees are grown one by one, like an independent bush. In modern tea garden, the number of tea trees per square feet is maximized and highly congested. The tea trees also often pruned so that the tea trees are kept at a manageable size for ground-level harvest. Besides, the frequent pruning also allows higher yield through a more compact arrangement of bushes. As a result, the sunshine does not reach the ground. If the number of tea trees is less congested, it allows the sunshine to reach the ground, and then naturally the number of weeds will increase. In the theory of natural farming, the existence of weeds is essential. Some weeds co-exist with a specific type of bacteria that usually lives on the roots of plants. The specific type of bacteria has an ability of intaking nitrogen from the air. The tea trees will not be depend on the fertilizers that applied by human as the source of nitrogen; the weeds will intake the necessary amount of nitrogen from the air and then supply for the surrounding ecology.

Very few number of leaves on the naturally farmed tea

As compared to modern garden tea, the tea grown with the natural farming method has very less number of tea leaves. In addition, the tea trees grow very slowly. Due to the slow growing speed, the tea leaf does not have to produce carbohydrate as it contains a very minimum number of chlorophylls. As a result, the tea leaf turns very yellowish, like the colour of ripen banana. Each tea leaf tends to contain a higher concentration of minerals, in particular the iron. Consequently, the naturally-grown tea gives extraordinarily strong aftertaste.

プーアル茶の茶園

プーアル茶のお茶の木

The flavour of Mei Lan is produced by the collaboration with the green fly

The farmer produces Mei Lan without using any pesticide or fertilizer. As I mentioned above, the tea garden is covered with weeds. These weeds provide homes for various kinds of insect. In particular, this environment is the utopia of the green flies from Homoptera group. This particular insect is of very small size, at about 1-2mm, and it loves to suck the juice from the young leaves. Once the tea leaf is being attacked, it turns more yellowish. When the leaf is attacked by the insect, it produces a substance called phytoalexin that may act like the human antibody. Interestingly, the tea leaf that is attacked by the insect will develop a very sweet flavour that is sometimes called muscatel or honey flavour. As the Mei Lan raw pu-erh tea is not highly fermented, it does not produce the flavour like honey or muscat. However, the distinctive flavour of Mei Lan is definitely related to the leaf attacked by the insect in some way, since I could smell the identical flavour on the fresh leaf.

プーアル生茶の茶園

プーアル生茶の茶園

The fresh leaf itself was so tasty

This year I particularly selected the tea that is harvested from the area at a higher altitude, at around 2000-2300m a.s.l. The tea was harvested during 20-25th of March. One thing that I was very impressed about the Mei Lan was that its leaves gave less bitter taste. When I chewed the fresh leaf, it almost has no astringency. It is a very rare experience for me. The leaf of Mei Lan was rather sweet and the sweetish sensation lingers for a long time in the throat. I was so impressed with its flavour, and when I was at the tea garden I kept eating many tea leaves. In overall, I am satisfied with the quality of Mei Lan that we bought this year.

プーアル生茶

The tea factory was located at 1940m as my watch is indicating

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