International Tea Day – Lao Banzhang Mentor

Thought I’d be remiss if I didn’t bow the head to a quiet mentor of mine in the tea world during this International Tea Day. Master pan-fryer, mentor and creator of teas that are sold a year in advance of their production, Mr. Gao from Lao Banzhang uses his gentle genius to fry…and he alone can fry his coveted harvests.

One of the coveted harvests with the master.

A vital stage that should be coaxed and handled by magic hands, the panning of leaves remains one of the key stages in establishing the flavour of a tea. In his quiet way he educated in the vital nature of the pan fry, and urged an understanding of the lesser known aspects of tea production. “The leaves always need the hands close”, he said.

Great raw materials won’t be anything if they are not fried delicately with consistent heat, churning, and a low temperature.

At work with bamboo tongs ensuring that the leaves never rest too long upon the pan’s hot surface. Lao Banzhang is but one village in the Bulang Mountains where the frying season is worshipped.

Mr. Gao quietly sweats his way through the busy harvest seasons and isn’t caught up with the ‘hype’ and terminology that accompanies the increasingly busy tea world. He, his hands, and his ancestors have long known tea from the roots to the shoots and he creates masterpieces.

The symphony of hands and green creating a Lao Banzhang Spring offering

About JeffFuchs

Bio Having lived for most of the past decade in Asia, Fuchs’ work has centered on indigenous mountain cultures, oral histories with an obsessive interest in tea. His photos and stories have appeared on three continents in award-winning publications Kyoto Journal, TRVL, and Outpost Magazine, as well as The Spanish Expedition Society, The Earth, Silkroad Foundation, The China Post Newspaper, The Toronto Star, The South China Morning Post and Traveler amongst others. Various pieces of his work are part of private collections in Europe, North America and Asia and he serves as the Asian Editor at Large for Canada’s award-winning Outpost magazine. Fuchs is the Wild China Explorer of the Year for 2011 for sustainable exploration of the Himalayan Trade Routes. He recently completed a month long expedition a previously undocumented ancient nomadic salt route at 4,000 metres becoming the first westerner to travel the Tsa’lam ‘salt road’ through Qinghai. Fuchs has written on indigenous perspectives for UNESCO, and has having consulted for National Geographic. Fuchs is a member of the fabled Explorers Club, which supports sustainable exploration and research. Jeff has worked with schools and universities, giving talks on both the importance of oral traditions, tea and mountain cultures. He has spoken to the prestigious Spanish Geographic Society in Madrid on culture and trade through the Himalayas and his sold out talk at the Museum of Nature in Canada focused on the enduring importance of oral narratives and the Himalayan trade routes. His recently released book ‘The Ancient Tea Horse Road’ (Penguin-Viking Publishers) details his 8-month groundbreaking journey traveling and chronicling one of the world’s great trade routes, The Tea Horse Road. Fuchs is the first westerner to have completed the entire route stretching almost six thousand kilometers through the Himalayas a dozen cultures. He makes his home in ‘Shangrila’, northwestern Yunnan upon the eastern extension of the Himalayan range where tea and mountains abound; and where he leads expeditions the award winning ‘Tea Horse Road Journey’ with Wild China along portions of the Ancient Tea Horse Road. To keep fueled up for life Fuchs co-founded JalamTeas which keeps him deep in the green while high in the hills.
This entry was posted in JalamTeas, Media, Tea and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to International Tea Day – Lao Banzhang Mentor

  1. Robert Siciliano says:

    I enjoy reading what you post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *