Puerh – A Sheng Takes the Palates

Snow has that wonderful natural ability to paint big swaths white, and slow everything down to a trickle. “Cooperate or perish” say many Himalayan inhabitants of the natural elements and their forces. Snow and Puerh seem an ideal way to begin!

The little tea that did from one of our favourite mountains, Bulang Mountain Sheng Puerh.

And so, things slowed in Toronto for this most edition of the Toronto Tea Festival, amidst snow that came in delicious diagonal chunks from above.

No better way to offer up sustenance at a tea fest than to do it with leaves that carry clean, powerful vegetal stimulants into the blood system. Tea was roaring into the cups and bloodstreams throughout the two day festival…exactly the way it should be. For us of course we had our line up of Puerh on offer.

The Jalamteas’ team. From left: Aurelien, Allen, and myself before the doors open….Photo courtesy of Debra Tan.

During the Puerh tea tasting competition our very own Jalamteas’ Bulang Mountain Autumnal harvest ‘raw’ (Sheng) gently took first place while another Bulang Mountain offering from us, a Lao Ma E Shou took third place.

Raw Puerhs have been our mainstay and our ‘push’ for all of the years we’ve been sourcing and it is pleasing that this tea, which for years was considered a rough hewn caravan tea full of chicken feathers and dust, has come to be regarded and appreciated for some of its power and vegetal bite.

Puerh Pouring

Celebrating nothing in particular with leaves and friends. It needs little else. The leaves on offer included an old bush white, some cracking Oolongs, and a ripping Naka Puerh.

Another aspect that pleases as well is that it isn’t just the hype and deliberate mystification of the so called ‘aged’ Puerhs that is getting attention. The Bulang winner wasn’t even a Spring harvest but rather a late autumn. It was an entry level Puerh from younger bushes, made by hands with exceptional care and carrying with them very specific flavours of the soil that won. It was, like many teas, one that has been curated to remain simple and reflect that hands and terroir. No flashy names, wraps, titles, ages, purported qualities….nada!! Taste will always be subjective but when a tea is sampled shorn of its titles and wrappers and name, it does come down to something quite visceral and simple.

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.
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2 Responses to Puerh – A Sheng Takes the Palates

  1. Lynne Gerard says:

    Just putting the last of my cake of Bulang Mountain Sheng into my kyusu for today (and tomorrow’s) infusions in the studio.
    I am delighted with the offerings of Jalam Teas that come to me through the Tea Club. That two of them have received awards at the 2018 Toronto Tea Festival is and unexpected bonus! Even so, I do prefer to meditate on the less glitzy origins and careful processing of the leaves than the sparkle and pomp of a Toronto Tea Festival – easy to do when drinking the infusions, so wonderfully elemental and transportive.
    Kudos to you Jeff and to the Jalam Teas crew!

    • JeffFuchs says:

      Many thanks Lynne. We’re just happy that a modest little Sheng with little fanfare is now getting palates to understand and enjoy it. A few short years’ ago it was difficult to introduce a mid-level, young bush sheng and have it enjoyed for what it was. Be well and greetings to the busy kyusu of yours.

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