2019 Yunnan Sourcing "Ai Lao Secret Garden" Old Arbor Raw Pu-erh Tea Cake
Entirely first flush of Spring 2019 material from high altitude Ai Lao mountain. The Ai Lao mountains peak out at about 3200 meters, making them second only to Wu Liang Shan as the highest mountains in Simao prefecture. The Ai Lao mountain range is in the county of Jingdong which borders Chu Xiong prefecture. This tea comes from old arbor tea trees growing in an undisclosed location (Secret Garden) in the Ai Lao mountain area at 2100 meters, making this some of the highest altitude pu-erh in existance. Due to the high altitude most of the tea trees in this area are a naturally occurring hybrid of large and small leaf (sinensis and var. assamica). The trees are healthy old trees growing naturally just below the peak of one of Ai Lao's many mountains. Ai Lao tea gardens are arguably some of the remotest tea gardens in all of Yunnan. Lack of roads and access has kept the environment of this area in pristine condition.
The tea itself is aromatic with hints of orchid aroma (兰香), and a strong mouth-feel. The leaves are fatter and more burly than the Wu Liang tea. It features lots of hairy buds that make it somewhat resemble its close neighbor Jinggu mountain teas. Honey and grass essences are present in this thick soupy tea! Very sweet and full bodied tea that remains flavorful and complex for 10+ steeps. "Secret Garden" is the most premium Ai Lao area tea that we have ever had the privilege to enjoy (or offer for sale)!
This tea was compressed in a small tea factory near Kunming where stone presses were used. Low temperature “baking” was used to dry these cakes after the compression process thus preserving their integrity! The cakes are wrapped and then bundled into bamboo leaf "tongs" with seven cakes per tong.
250 grams per cake (7 cakes per bamboo leaf tong)
38kg in total produced
Wrapper Illustration by Giovanni Crispino
This tea has been tested in a certified laboratory for 191 pesticides, and is within the EU MRL limits set for those 191 pesticide residues. For a full list of the 191 pesticides we tested for and more information about MRL testing and the EU Food and Safety commission click on this link.
We drink the Spring 2018 Yunnan Sourcing "Ai Lao Secret Garden" in this video: