Bulang shan is located in the south west of Xishuangbanna, at the border with Burma. It's a large area, much bigger than a single mountain. When talking about tea, the limits of Bulang shan are not clear, it comprises all the territory south west of Menghai, including Hekai, Banzhang, the small city named Bulang shan and Xiao Mengsong (the small one, not to be mistaken with Da Mengsong which is in the north of Menghai).
The landscape ranges from paddy fields to primitive tropical forest, there are fewer rubber trees in this part than in the east of banna, around the town of Bulang shan, the landscape is dominated by tea plantations
People and culture:
Bulang mountain is named after the eponymous ethnic group. Indeed, most of the people living there are Bulang, they have a similar culture to the Dai and are well known to be tea farmers by essence. They are said to be the first tribe to have grown tea in Xishuangbanna. Other minorities are found in the northern part of Bulang Shan: the Lahu (e.g. Hekai) and the Hani (e.g. Banzhang).
Bulang Shan is a border place, quite isolated from the rest of Banna, hence many exchange with Burma is going on there. Even Pu Er tea is brought from the neighbouring Burmese villages to be processed and/or sold in China.
Bulang Shan hosts some of the most prestigious villages of Banna: Lao Banzhang, Xin Banzhang, Lao Man E, Ban Pen, Man Xin Long, Man Nuo...
Large ancient tea gardens can be found in the north of Bulang town, from Lao Man E to Hekai. Some of those gardens have been created 1300 years ago and their altitude can be as high as 1900m. Smaller ancient fields are scattered all around Bulang shan.
In the southern part, all along the Burmese border, huge tea plantations define the landscape. This area is one of the cornerstone in the big factory blends. The older plantations produce very decent tea.
Since Bulang shan is a very large area, the taste of its tea can be very different. Actually, a lot of the tea is referred by the name of the village they come from.
Bulang tea is popular for its bitterness and pungency, this is very true of the old-growth tea from Lao Man E, Mengsong and Man Xin Long. Though, the bitterness of a good tea should not linger, nor be puckery. It should transform quickly into sweetness.
Banzhang tea is normally not as bitter as the ones mentioned above. Its main characteristics are a very deep Huigan, a pungent feeling and a good overall balance. Hekai tea shares the same characteristics with somewhat less complexity.
Plantation tea is not as bitter as ancient tree tea, in Bulang Shan, it is called Tian Cha (sweet tea), as opposed to Ku Cha (bitter tea). South Bulang tea shares this distinct, very deep aroma, it's not a fancy one but it makes you feel good! It is particularly pungent and should give an intense feeling in the mouth and throat.