First Chapter, first season
Nannuo Mountain 南糯山
One mountain, a thousand variations
NEW: Club community
Join the conversation with Vivian and with fellow tea drinkers who joined our club!
Publish tasting notes, questions and feelings on this page, reserved to everyone who joined our club.
Nannuo is the mountain we first fell in love with, and is the mountain that first saw the cultivation of the tea tree; it has a gentle and sweet name all deserved since the antique times, and it is with its soft slopes blessed by clouds and multicoloured skies that we decided to start our year of tea-club.
Nannuo 南糯 recalls the Dai minority word for 笋酱, "Sauce of bamboo shoots", that is a traditional pickle-food prepared by the local Hani people. The name is ancient: it is said that many century ago a Dai chieftain joined to a banquet of a local Hani leader, and loved so much this sauce to ask Nannuo people to pay their tribute to the Dai court in bamboo shoot sauce. From that moment on, the word spread and it became a name for the whole area.
The history of tea cultivation on Nannuo mountain dates at least back to the Nanzhao period, in the VII century AD, when the Bulang ethnic people inhabited the area. Natural evidences precede the new left by organised human societies, and cultivated tea trees probably existed in the area since the earlier ancient age of the Three Kingdoms.
During the IX century, during regional wars and unrest, the Bulang people moved south to the Bulang area and their trees were inherited by the Hani tribe, who kept them and further extended their land.
The Hani has since followed a father-son naming system that makes it possible to date back their history for fifty-eight generations, unveiling many time-stones in the mountain history with relative certainty.
In spite of its thick, wild forestal vegetation, and the difficulties to climb its summit, its geographical position has always been an advantage: mid way from the city of Menghai and Jinghong, on the western bank of the Mekong river.
This position, together with a great richness of tea trees, made it a perfect location for Mr. Bai Mengyu who in 1938 decided to build the first tea factory in south-Yunnan: he imported the best machines from the British India, starting the production of one of the finest red teas (红茶) available in the market: the Dianhong.
It was a great achivement for the then Japanese-occupied China, and a substantial help for the resistance.
This technological inheritance benefited the Hani people until nowadays, since many, during the New China time, had the possibility to grow up working in tea, forming solid skills.
The Hani people cultivated tea trees in Nannuo for fifty-seven generation, over one thousand of years. According to historical records, during the Qing Dynasty the Nannuoshan tea garden covered an area of 21,000 mu, with an annual output of more than 300 tons of dry tea. It was shipped mainly to the cities of Pu'er city and Mengha, to be sold for various domestic and international markets.
The King of the mountain
The undisputed king of Nannuo mountain is an 800 years old tea tree: it is over 12 meters high and 1 meters wide, and its trunk circumference is 2.4 meters.
It is a living evidence of the ancient relationship between Nannuo inhabitants and the cultivation of tea trees.
It is currently owned by the 才娘 Cainiang family, that takes care of its precious leaves and auction the tea each year.
In 2021 and 2022 it was sold to a South Korean client, while in 2023 it produces 2.4Kg of dry tea sold in China to an anonymous client for 300.000 Chinese Yuan.
Nannuo mountain is located between 100° 31'~100° 39' east longitude and 21°~22° 01' north latitude, with an average altitude of 1400 meters, annual precipitation between 1500~1750 mm, and an average annual temperature of 16-18°C, which is very suitable for the growth of tea trees.
It has an average of 150 days of fog per year, that guarantee plenty of light changing for an even richer bouquet of flavors.
There are more than 30 villages producing pu'er tea in Nannuo Mountain, and the taste of each village is different.
The total area of Nannuo Mountain Tea Garden is more than 21,600 acres, including 12,000 acres of ancient tea gardens. Ancient tea trees are mainly distributed in 10 natural villages: Banpo Laozhai, Shitou Laozhai, Bama Laozhai, Shixinzhai, Duoyizhai, Guniangzhai, Yakou Laozhai, Xiangyangzhai, Shuishuizhai and Balazhai.
"Nannuo ancient tree pu'er tea, compared with other mountains, is not as bitter as Bulan Mountain; it has the fragrance of Meng Song, and the sweetness of Yiwu."
Nannuo is a wide mountain with a variable conformation, that creates a great variety of micro-environment with unique tasting profiles.
In each tea from Nannuo though, look for a golden and bright liquor, a quick, long lasting sweet aftertaste, an elegant aroma of wild mountain flowers, dirt types of honey, orchid and sometimes lotus flower.
Shuǐhé village 水河寨, ecological tea trees
Gūniáng village 姑娘寨, ancient tea trees
Shítou new village 石头新寨, ancient tea trees
Shítou old village 石头老寨, ecological tea trees
Bámǎ village 扳玛寨, forest tea trees
Bànpō old village 半坡老寨, ancient tea trees
Duōyī village 多依寨, big tea trees
Yākǒu new village 丫口新寨, ancient tea trees
An ecological tea plantation is a former intensive plantation that was recovered in 5-8 years toward a forest environment; a forest plantation is a semi-wild tea garden where the tea trees grow freely in the under-forest; an ancient tree is an older tea tree aged 200-500 years (officially is 100 years of age) that grows in the under-forest.
How to brew
We suggest to brew these pu'er shengpu teas in gaiwan or Yixing teapot, with a ratio of 1 gr. of tea every 20 ml of water.
Use quick infusions with boiling water starting from 10-15 seconds, increasing with each successive brew as needed.
Each tea can be brewed 10-12 times.
We remind that gong brewing is purely subjective, and the parameters should be adapted to your vessels and personal taste.
A mesmerising travel
We invite everyone of you to taste the teas at your own pace, creating your own maps of flavour for this wonderful mountain, whose cultural history has been twined with its tea trees for so many centuries.
In the middle of the trimester we will invite you to a webinar with our Vivian, talking about our story with the mountain, the reasons beyond the choice of these teas, and some more stories that accompany these leaves.
In the meanwhile feel free to contact us anytime for further information, or for just a tea chat.