南糯山 Nannuo Shan 南糯山

Written by William le 18 february 2012





This tiny mountain lies between Jinghong (the capital of Xishuangbanna) and Menghai (the main tea city of the county).

Jinghong seen from Nannuo


It is arguably the most accessible of the tea mountains. Tourists visit it every day; even full coaches dare to climb the narrow concrete road. The welcoming Hani population has been making tea on this mountain for 800 years.



This bunch of hills packs a lot of tea trees, young and old. On the northern slope, mostly ancient and natural tea gardens. Old trees can be seen along the tracks connecting the villages, especially between Banpo Laozhai and Yakou Zhai, on the eastern part of the mountain.


The plantations have extended on the sides and south slopes of the mountain, in the east of Yakou Zhai, the West of Shitou Zhai, and the South of Duoyi Zhai. Some of them reach a high altitude (Nannuo peaks at 1900m), the top of the mountain is almost all plantation tea. This kind of tea is of superior quality. The old tea trees have small to medium leaves, this is a characteristic of Nannuo.


The highest point on Nannuo


Tea on Nannuo Shan used to be cheap, but due to the increasing number of tea tourists in the area, the locals know well that they can sell their tea directly to visitors. The price is now equal to more remote areas like Bulang Shan. Banpo Laozhai is especially famous because it has many ancient trees near the village and hosts the oldest tea tree of Nannuo. There is a debate about which tree is the oldest, every tea amateur claims to know where the oldest tree is on Nannuo Shan, some say its location is secret. From a taste perspective, it's hard to make the difference between a 200 years old tea tree and a 500 years old one, and there are plenty of both kinds on Nannuo Shan.


Another famous village is Bama, this one is not proper Nannuo, it is a Lahu settlement half way between Nannuo and Menghai. The Lahu minority has a reputation to be very conservative, and this is quite 
beneficial to the old gardens.

Natural tea gardens inter-cropped with corn


As one can expect, Nannuo is a very developed area, people often go to the city and the road are very well maintained. Tea is well processed on this mountain. Yet, it is quite common to find a slight sourness in Nannuo tea, is it a natural characteristic?


Nannuo tea is quite easy to identify, it is very flowery and its fragrance is quite specific (a bit like Jingmai tea). It is quite sweet, may have some good bitterness but nothing in the  extent of Bulang tea. Nannuo plantation tea is often used in big factories blends while ancient tea is more sold as single estate.  

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