The Phantom Valley



April 2020

Jinggu, Yunnan

Within the already rare varietal of pu’erh called Dabai “Big White” there is an even lesser seen tree, Yellow Bud. It is a revered and seldom seen varietal, the leaves of which were traditionally reserved as Tribute Teas for emperors.

Mr. Tang, who crafted this incredible pu’erh, did so with the intention of honouring the thousands year old tradition of pu’erh making. It is appropriate that he used this ancient, yellow leaf varietal in this gesture – some believe that Yellow Bud was the first tree to be used to make pu’erh. And that he has crafted this tea using the traditional shai qing  晒青 process, in which the leaves are dried by the sun rather than being roasted or oven-dried.

The cake itself is something to behold. Its soft, mottled surface is notably different from other pu’erh cakes; the thick, long leaves are textured by yellow fur and in the light their colour looks like variegated gold.  Even pressed into a cake the leaves still look wild and alive, an indication of the structure and vitality of the trees from which they come from.

We would drink this tea to awaken ourselves to the ancient tradition of pu’erh making, or when we might want to experience some “otherness” in this category of tea. This tea satisfies an interest in time travel: it has the power to draw you into an altered state, and a place of deep contemplation and expanded awareness.

There is less funk and ferment than we normally find in old tree pu’erh here. The depth of flavour, like caramel mixed with cigar, grounds the perspective-expanding and stimulating energy it transfers.  

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Brewing guide

Tea 4 g
Water 120 ml
Steep time 10 - 60 sec
No. of infusions 10

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