We are excited and proud to be able to share these teas from Nannuo Mountain with you and the tea community. Nannuo mountain is a classic and favorite terroir in the world of pu'erh tea, and for many it needs no introduction. The mountain features an average elevation of 1400 meters (about 4600') and produces teas that have an enlivening flavor, texture, and aroma that is unmistakably "Meng Hai" (in reference to the county Nannuo Mountain is in) in character. Unless otherwise noted, these teas predominantly originate from our friend's gardens in Shitouzhai 石头寨, a village with surrounding natural areas resting at around 1700 meters. Read more about the producer of these teas below, and look forward to blog articles detailing our adventures there.
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Rivers & Lakes Tea: 我們第一個想問你的問題是「你怎麼開始對茶業感興趣呢」
The first question we would like to ask you is, how did you start to become interested in making pu'er tea?
Dá É: 我出生在普洱茶的原产地，从小跟着父辈们接触采茶，制茶等！感兴趣，应该是我长大成家后吧！我2002年成家，2003年开始自己手工制茶一点点！当然，首先也是为了生活，我们的经济收入也就只有靠茶叶了！
Just being born into a place where tea is grown and produced. Since I was young I have been picking tea and making tea with my grandfather. But, I didn't really start to have a big interest in it until I got older. In 2002, I got married and had children. Then in 2003 I started making small amounts of my own tea. Of course, in the beginning making tea was how I supported myself financially because all of our financial resources come from tea.
R&L: 你可以解釋一下你的家人怎麼開始做茶呢，他們原來的工作是做茶嗎？ 還是茶流行了之後才開始做茶？
Could you tell us a little bit about how your family started making tea? Was their original job to make tea or did they start making pu'er tea after it became popular?
Dá É: 我记忆当中的家人们不止做茶，还种水稻，玉米等等的农作物！茶叶在我们这里是祖祖辈辈留下的古树茶，历史悠久，有1000多年的历史了，是一代代相传下来的！解放后，70～80年代为了更好的生活，为了更多的经济收入，在国际政府的支持带领下也开始种植小树茶园了，也就是今天的生态茶园，灌木茶园等！
As I recall, my family not only made tea but also planted rice, corn, and all other types of agricultural crops. Tea has passed down generation to generation here and the history is long. There is more than 1000 years of tea history where I live which has all been passed down. After the foundation of China, during the 70’s and 80’s, in order to have a better life and a more sustainable source of income, some international governments started encouraging us to plant small tea trees. These tea trees are now part of our ecological tea garden!
What ethnic minority group are you part of?
Dá É: 阿卡族
the Akha people
Do you feel like there are any concepts that are hard to express in standardized chinese that you could easily express in the Akha language?
Dá É: 會有的，特别是民族的风俗有些时候很难用语言来表达，只是说我们会努力的想办法表达完美
Yes there are. Especially involving some cultural elements of minority people. Sometimes it is really hard to use language to express these concepts, but we try hard to express the concepts as perfectly as possible.
In what ways does your heritage’s relationship to tea differ from other people’s?
Dá É: 这个不同的关系，怎么说呢，古斯，每个人对茶的理解，分析，爱戴，呵护都不一样，所以就产生了每一个人不一样的传统关系！总之，达娥对制茶就像对待自己的孩子一样想要呵护，想要爱戴！
Everyone has a different relationship to tea, hmmmmm how do I explain this? Gus, every person’s understanding, interpretation, love, and fondness for tea is different, so this produces every minority group’s cultural relationship to tea being different as well. In short, I have a fondness for producing tea just like the fondness I have for my own children. I want to give it love and affection.
Do you have any spiritual or religious beliefs involving tea?
Dá É: 我们哈尼族不可以对任何教派有信仰，不过达娥自己有三个信仰：1，信仰山神，2，信仰共产党，3，信仰普洱茶！
Hani minority people are not allowed to have faith in any sort of religion. However, I have faith in three things, 1. The God of the mountain 2. The chinese communist party 3. Puer tea
In your opinion what are the most important elements in producing good tea?
Dá É: 首先是原料，其次是制作工藝
Most importantly it is the quality of the actual leaves, secondly it is the way you process them.
What do you think is the most important step in tea processing?
Dá É: 杀青
Pan frying or kill the green. (Shāqīng 杀青 is the step in which the recently plucked and withered tea leaves undergo a temperature-specific pan searing to deactivate enzymes present in the tea leaves that would oxidize the leaves. Almost stop-frame, this process fixes and halts the early enzymatic breakdown state while lending characteristic flavor. While green tea most famously undergoes this process, pu'er tea experiences a modified version of shāqīng in which some oxidation-causing enzymes are allowed to stay viable).
When you are pan frying tea, is there anything you are especially paying attention to?
Dá É: 这个要怎么说呢，比如，火温，锅温，鲜叶的数量，还有炒茶叶过程中每一个小细节，不过，这些细节需要现场体验，要不然我也说的不太清楚！
Hmmmm, for example, the temperature of the wok, the fire under the wok, how much fresh leaf material is in the wok as well as some minute details when you are actually working the tea in the wok. However, these small details must be experienced, otherwise you won't understand what I am talking about.
When you are frying the tea how hot should the wok be?
Dá É: 280℃到330℃左右, 我们一般都凭经验，感觉，手感来杀青的
Around 280-330 degrees celsius. We usually rely on our experience, feelings, and the way the tea feels in our hands to do the pay frying correctly.
What do you think the special characteristic taste of Nannuo tea is?
Dá É: 南糯山茶的特点是：苦涩味重，但是化开的快，不会挂舌，回甘来的快，香气浓郁，汤色透亮, 不苦不涩就不是南糯山茶
Nannuo mountain tea’s specialty is bitterness and astringency, but the bitterness goes away quickly and doesn't stick to your tongue. The Huigan comes really quickly, the fragrance is thick and pungent, and the tea soup is clear. If it’s not bitter and astringent then it is not Nannuo tea. (Huí gān 回甘 means 'returning sweetness', and refers to a favorably sweet and cooling residual effect on the throat and mouth as the tea drinker breathes after their sips).
Do you feel like the soil and the environment of Nannuo Mountain give the tea these qualities?
Dá É: 是的，不管哪一座山的茶叶，它的特点都跟它的土壤，环境有很大的关系！
Yes! No matter which tea mountain, the tea that comes from those mountains and the soil environment which it was grown in have a huge impact on the taste of the tea!
How big is your family's tea garden? Also, besides the tea garden y’all have in Nannuo Mountain, do y’all have tea gardens in any other places?
Dá É: 我们家的茶园有200多亩左右, 别的地方只有合作的朋友的茶园
Our tea garden is 200 mu (33 acres), all the other teas we offer are from people we partner with.
Thank you for this interview. We look forward to continuing business relations with you in the future, in addition to visiting Nannuo Mountain again soon.
Dá É: 谢谢, 古斯
Thank you Gus