景迈山 Jingmai Shan 景迈山
Written by William le 12 august 2011
Jingmai is located in the south west of Pu Er county (22°12N 100°01E), near the border of Xishuangbanna and Myanmar. This range of mountain hosts one of the largest ancient tea tree forests in China. The closest city is Lancang, which is 70 km away. Due to its relative high development, the roads are good and there are two buses a day. This is a very accessible mountain and this is why tourists enjoy it as much as tea amateurs. Jingmai area approximately forms a wedge of 80 km²
People and culture:
The main village, called Jingmai, is inhabited by the Dai ethny, along with all the northern part of the mountain. Bulang live in the southern part whose main village is Mangjing. It is believed that the Bulang settled first in Jingmai, 1300 years ago, and started to grow tea.
Over 1800 acres of ancient tea trees slowly grow in a natural environment. A big part of them lay on a plateau at the top of the main mountain, at 1600m high. Others grow on mild slopes between 1100m and 1700m. The ancient tea trees grow in protected forests, among huge trees and low vegetation. The forest is teeming with life, from spiders to buffaloes. Moss and lichen live in harmony on the tree trunks. Tea trees reproduce naturally, though nature tends to be helped by human when tea becomes a pricey product. Old witness of the 1300 years of tea history can be found in Jingmai, some tea trees are said to be over a thousand years old. At Bannacha, we produce tea from the ancient tea gardens of Jingmai
Jingmai also hosts large plantations: 2200 acres of small trees have been established over a period of 60 years. The plantations were so densely populated that it represented a threat for the soil. The tea bushes roots are not strong enough to prevent mudslides. Hence the locals, supported by several experts, decided to convert most of the traditional plantations in ecological gardens. Which means they would remove 80% of the tea bushes to give room to the remaining ones. They would also plant trees and try to rebuild a natural forest. While the yields will be considerably depleted, the ecological leaves will be much more valuable. After 60 to 80 years, the ecological gardens are supposed to equal ancient tea trees in terms of quality. You can get leaves from these natural tea gardens on Bannacha
Jingmai tea has a very characteristic ''orchid fragrance'' according to the chinese amateurs. In terms of taste, we can distinguish two areas: Jingmai and Mangjing.
Jingmai tea is sweet and fragrant, it is not very bitter nor astringent. Old-growth tea is said to have a ''fast huigan'', which means the drinker can feel a sweet and comfortable aftertaste developing in the throat right after having swallowed the tea liquor. This sweetness can linger for a long time.
Mangjing tea, produced in the southern part of the mountain range is more pungent, it develops more bitterness and astringency than jingmai tea. Bitterness should not be seen as a negative aspect, it is not the bitterness that one can find in cheap green tea. The mangjing bitterness transforms rapidly into sweetness.
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