The Jingmai region is famous for its old trees and the high quality tea leaves they produce. Raw material from these old growth trees have made Jingmai amongst the most recognizable and sought after regions in Yunnan Province for producing puerh tea. The name “Millennial Old Tree” is a reference to Jingmai’s natural treasure of 1000 year old majestic trees that grows in the region. The raw material that make up the mini teacakes by the Kunming Fengling Tea Factory more realistically I believe come from centuries old trees that are more abundantly found on Jingmai’s natural landscape. Having drunk my way through several of the mini teacakes I am impressed by their quality and feel that the distinctive character and high quality of Jingmai’s old growth tea is well represented by these teacakes.
The beautiful leaves that appear on the mini teacake shows the special care and attention given to the selection of the raw material. An assessment of the leaves reveal a high percentage of buds mixed with top tender leaves. Flushing the dry leaves with hot water release an intensely sweet and candied aroma that possesses depth and a complexity of underlying notes. The intense sweetness in the aroma carries over to become prominent in the brew and merges well with the Jingmai character of woody forest, natural cane sugar and other dark notes. The brew provides good mouth feel, a noticeable cooling sensation at the back of the throat and a subsequent warming in the chest. The influence of age means that the darkened characteristics of the tea have begun to emerge. The astringency of the tea has faded but some still lingers. It is a reminder that this semi age Jingmai still has room for further development as it transition towards maturity.
Additional Note: Jingmai’s popularity as a source for high quality raw material started around the early 2000s propelled by puerh tea’s popularity in China. During this time the tea market had come to recognize the intrinsic quality of old growth tea pushing up demand for raw materials. As a result producers increasingly sought out old tea gardens and wild tea in the form of big trees that possess deep taste and Cha Qi. Mr He Shihua, Honorary Director, Tea Association of Yunnan Province was a great advocate for Jingmai old growth tea helping to supervise the production of certain batches of tea in addition to spreading knowledge and promoting Jingmai as a valuable resource for puerh tea.
The 2001 Millennial Old Tree teacake is regarded as being the most famous production under Mr He Shihua. This early batch of teacakes would help generate fame and recognition for Jingmai old growth tea.
Source: Puerh Tea of Yunnan, CCTV documentary