Sky Lake - Jing Mai Mountain Old-Growth Red Tea 2016 - 2 oz.
We discovered Sky Lake during our unforgettable August 2019 trip to Jing Mai, Yunnan. We had the honor of meeting and sipping tea for a week with the family who oversees the old-growth forest and processing of this sublime Yunnanese red tea. Herbaceously malty with hints of currant and cinnamon, Sky Lake is full bodied yet refined. We particularly enjoy the slight cherry aroma that rises out of balanced bitter-sweet brew. A strong hui tian accompanies many cups and this tea leaves the drinker feeling uplifted, joyful, open-hearted.
Sky Lake is particularly nice as a warming, sweet winter tea when you wish for the depth of old-growth Jing Mai trees without the earthy astringency of Puerh from the region. We find this tea uplifting but not overly stimulating to the nervous system like other red teas.
The Jingmai tea growing area covers the Lancang County villages of Jingmai and Mangjing. This stretch of 10,000 mu cultivated ancient tea gardens has upwards of a thousand years of history. Scholars believe the Jingmai tea mountain was first cultivated over 1200 years ago in 696 C.E. by the ancestors of the Bulang people. The next several dynasties saw a succession of tea planting, leading to the current scale of cultivation. The Jingmai Old-Growth Tea Garden is one of the largest conservatories for old tea trees in the world. It is, furthermore, completely protected and one-hundred percent organic, living tea.
In all of our travels in Yunnan, we have never visited a place with a greater concentration of tea trees. Unlike the tall trees in Ai Lao, which are very unique due to the altitude and deciduous nature of the forest, the trees in Jingmai are the more typical jungle and rainforest kind of tea tree, with twisted fairy-tale trunks and branches covered in mold, fungus, vines and other species like Crab’s Claw, which we had the fortune to add to a bowl or two. In fact, the crab’s claw that Living Tea carries is from Jingmai. The forest here sings of tea, and we hope you love this extraordinary tea.
We like this tea both sidehandle for big bowls on cold mornings. It's also wonderful brewed gongfu in small pots with small cups. The robust leaves can withstand high temperature just shy of a rolling boil.