Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Nan Nuo Pa Sa unfermented puer

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  • Nan Nuo (Pa Sa) Unfermented Puerh 
  • Region: Menghai County, southwestern Yunnan
  • Type: Mid Altitude Puerh (1200 metres)
  • Harvest: Spring 2014
  • Harvesters: The Hani people
Last week, I had the pleasure of coming home from work to find a 100g disc of Nannuo Pa Sa non-fermented puer waiting in the mailbox, from Jalam Teas.

Usually, a fresh puer is samples as a basis for comparison as the tea ages and changes. This particular puer, however, is meant to be consumed without aging/fermenting. Normally, you'd expect a tea like this to be quite bitter and astringent, but the area where this tea is grown is known for producing leaves that are sweeter than normal. Something else to consider about this tea is that in the area that it's produced, it is preferred to be consumed without ageing or fermenting. Though it may age well, it is not meant to be.

Unwrapping the paper revealed a very nice looking cake with a pleasant range of colours, from dark and rusty to bright green and nearly white. For my first tasting, I like to push a tea to its limit and see its full potential. I decided to use a small pot and stuff it full of leaves and give it a good, long steep. The result was a bright, honey-golden brew. The taste was much like what you'd expect with any young puer, but even pushed as hard as it was, it remained remarkably smooth. There was an expected bitterness, considering the concentration of the steep, but it was not the slightest bit astringent, which was a great surprise. I've brewed eight-year-old puers in a similar way that were like a boot to the mouth upon tasting them (I'm thinking of you, wild Yiwu puer!). The cha-qi was strong and energizing. Inspecting the leaves, they seemed to be mostly young, tender leaves and buds. The colour was a uniform, slightly olive green without and noticeable blotches or any other sign of oxidization or fermentation.

In following sessions, I tested the leaves with a more standard gong-fu approach, still using a small pot, but with about half the ratio of leaves. The result was a lovely brew, still with a gorgeous honey-like broth, but brighter, maintaining the distinctive character of young  puer but with a subtlety I'd not encountered before. It had just enough of an edge to keep it interesting without crossing the boundary into bitterness.

Though my personal tastes lie mostly with oolongs and vintage puer, it would not be fair to compared this tea to any of those. Taking it exactly for what it is, a green, non-fermented puer, it has a relatively gentle character and is uncommon for a fresh puer. I've had young puer that could compare in smoothness but not in subtlety and they were also valued for their potential to age.

Overall, I'm very positive about this tea. If I had to nitpick, I would say it was lacking that lingering aftertaste that often defines a great Chinese tea but perhaps this is a trade off for its subtlety. By no means is it a deal breaker. This Nannuo Pa Sa confidently exclaims, "This is what I am, take it or leave it." And I don't mind taking!


  1. On your recommendation I got a Chinese friend to get me some from Pa Sa mountain. He says it needs letting settle for four days in a twist of paper having been cut from the block prior to brewing. I've got a day to go!

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