A brand new territory to our catalog, and a long time in the making, announcing this Jingmai Mountain tea is a triumph.
One of Dá É's close friends, 布朗 Bùlǎng ethnicity woman Yù Bǐng lives in 芒景 Mángjǐng village and is the steward to these trees, as well as a producer of the teas derived from these gardens. Whereas the rest of the Jingmai comprises of Dai ethnic people, Mangjing is one of the handful of bastions of Bulang folk in all of southern Yunnan, aboriginals with arguably the longest history as tea people living their lives inextricable from the Camellia; true natives to the southern mountain jungles of Yunnan. Garden deeds dating back an astounding 1800 years can be traced back to Bulang folk in Mangjing, and their cosmology and lore detail an intricate and inseparable history with the tea trees.
This tea has proven to be one of the most elusive teas to describe that we've come across, though not out of a deficit of character, as it's actually quite distinct and dynamic. These tea leaves durably yield a distinctly alkaline-like, coumarin-esque, smooth vegetal musk, later in the session giving way to a wine-like texture suggestive of stone fruit. It unrelentingly hangs low and lazy on the palate, seemingly wanting to lay down into the jowls, pleasantly haunting. And it's as though this unique character + gentleness can't be infused out; it mysteriously seems to lasts as long as one desires to revisit it.
It seems best understood after one gives up naming it, activating a more imaginal non-verbal perception.
This tea comes from Yù Bǐng's old arbors near the famous 蜂王树 fēngwáng shù or Queen Bee Tree in the 哎冷 Āi lěng growing area at about 1500 meters in elevation. Delve deeper into this mythic tea epicenter, its ecology and its people, by exploring some of the layers of mystery tucked into these leaves.
An extensive Bulang ethnobotany, the study of their ancient relations with the plants, and in extension the natural world around them, would be a fascinating dive. Below are images of their Queen Bee Tree, an ancient 50 meter high Banyan tree hosting around 70 beehives. Annual rituals are held in observance and worship to this sacred tree, and its natural processes are witnessed to serve as a harbinger for correlating seasonal events; a dynamic timekeeper and indicator for the Bulang people and their interactions with the natural world.
Observations of timeless symbiosis such as when a specific number of bees have returned to their spring hives only then will the tea spirit return and the ancient tea trees begin to sprout their vernal growth.
The celebrated Bulang ancestor 哎冷 Āi lěng:
“If I left you cattle and horses, I’m worried because they would die;
Or leave you gold and silver, I’d be worried that you would spend it;
So I’ll only leave you tea trees because they will last us forever.”