Continued from Pu’er-Like Teas From Southeast Asia – Part 2
Kokang, Myanmar “pu’er”: I just met this producer at a Bangkok expo, and reviewed the sheng and shu. It’s quite good. The first two blog posts that turn up from searching that location are about a version a tea expert contact passed on (Olivier Schneider), and a 2006 version I bought this year from Chawang Shop. The 2017 shu and 2018 sheng I just tried are clearly well-processed teas made from good material, distinctive for expressing local character, but not quite as bitter as prior sheng versions have seemed.
Kinnari Tea, Laos: I love Laos teas. This producer is a friend, and another friend and tea enthusiast travels in Laos passing on interesting versions that he turns up (Somnuc). As with Vietnamese versions, styles and quality levels vary a lot but also common to there the best examples can be distinctive and very pleasant – giving up nothing to Yunnan teas. Kinnari isn’t selling direct retail at this point (except for a new kombucha RTD venture) but reaching out to her online might work, instead of taking a flight to Vientiane to pressure her to sell some directly. I just met Anna a few days ago; this first post is a start on reviewing some very interesting Laos versions from them in the next couple of weeks.
I mentioned three other sources in those discussion comments, about buying a nice sheng from a Hanoi shop online, Hein Minh (old-tree slightly aged versions), about Farmerleaf (as I’d just mentioned), and about Moychay, a Russian vendor, selling really good Myanmar shu. Options are around. In an odd twist I tried Laos tea from another Russian producer in a tasting in Moscow once, but Laos Tea isn’t so broadly available that it would be likely to turn up.
Black and green tea are produced in those countries too, and oolongs, even white teas; sheng and shu are just the page I’ve been on for around two years now. It might seem like I would have SE Asian options somewhat sorted out but I’m not so sure; quite likely sources and types completely new to me will keep coming up. I’ve heard of local Taiwanese sheng recently, and bamboo pu’er coming out of Laos (a version of falap, which is also produced in Yunnan), and sheng cakes from Assam (just outside the edge of SE Asia, really).
It’s a shame that very few Thais know these teas are out there, or appreciate better quality teas of any type, but I’m working on that.
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