The Hai Lang Hao label is seen on some of the finest pu-erhs available. Awhile back we showed you some of them in this article on our blog. We want to show you a bit more about the places where these teas come from.
Ji Hai (the “Hai” in Hai Lang Hao – some sites say his name is “Hai Lang”) is a tea master who selects the best teas from growers and takes them to the Zheng Si Long tea factory in Yiwu Town (Yiwuxiang) on Yiwu Mountain, one of the famous tea mountains of China that was called “Man Sha Shan” previously. He’s been doing this for years now but also has some cakes pressed elsewhere.
|Yiwu Town in Xishuangbanna. Photo from a China Travel site.|
A little history: The height of pu-erh tea production and trade was about 250 years ago during the Qing Dynasty and was centered in the town of Pu’er which used to be the administrative capital of the southern part of Yunnan Province. The tea from the six tea mountains became the most famous and well-known and were used as tribute teas until that punitive system was abolished. Today, Yiwu mountain, the biggest of the six, is one still growing tea. The trees there are old and survived the clearing that some areas underwent when tea prices were very low and people opted to cut down tea trees to plant rice. The fall in price was attributed to the rise in tea production in India. Most tea is now grown around Menghai which has become the new capital of pu-erh tea. Yiwu tea is in general considered the best and the most pricey, and the tea trees are short, not tall, making harvesting easier. Handmade teas using these leaves by masters like Ji Hai are even more in demand, having a great “cha qi” (a potency that is yet calming on the nerves).
|Yiwu Town is a tiny speck in southern China but generates big tasting teas.|
More about the label: Not all of the teas bearing the Hai Lang Hao label are made of leaves from Yiwu Mountain nor even from the six famous tea mountains. But they are the best he can find and are processed using skill acquired through many years of pu-erh making. Some cakes are made from ancient wild arbor tea trees from the neighboring villages of Lao Ban Zhang village and Lao Man’E which are in the Bu Lang mountain range in the far southwest corner of Menghai county in Yunnan province. Other cakes are made from a blend of about 70% wild arbor material and 30% plantation material – both from Jing Mai mountain (one of the other famous tea mountains) and grown at an altitude of about 1600-1800 meters.
The Hai Lang Hao label for cakes from 2008 or earlier are sure winners. Later cakes may have been made in a more hurried way as the prices were climbing and demand was growing. We know that in 2011 Ji Hai was still visiting the Zheng Si Long factory and in 2012 he was asked to appear at a special presentation in the U.S. about pu-erh tea.
We have several of the older cakes (they are usually done in small batches with a limited number of cakes pressed from the maocha) and have sampled them with very satisfying results.