Kinnari’s ‘Bolaven Plateau Green’ – green arbor tea from south Laos
Bolaven Plateau Green is a green arbor tea from the region of Paksong, Bolaven Plateau, south Laos. Just like our Vietnamese “Ancient Snow Shan Green”, also this tea refutes the widespread assumption that large-leaved tea trees are not suitable for producing fine green tea. In fact, the wealth on active and taste-relevant substances in the leaves of such tea trees bears great potential also – and maybe especially – for green tea. On the other hand, this potential appears to be still widely unexploited. What makes the difference is deep know-how and a high level of manual picking and processing excellence. And these are exactly the strengths of Kinnari Tea, our partner in Laos.
Like some other countries bordering Yunnan, among them Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand, Laos is a genuine “cradle country” of the tea tree. However, the history of the tea trees growing on Bolaven Plateau today is more recent. There, the tea plant has been introduced by the french colonial power only by the end of the 20th century. Since then, its leaves serve to produce black tea, green tea (see our ‘Bolaven Plateau Green’) and white tea.
Picking and Processing – natural growth in biodiverse environment and traditional
Accordingly, our Bolaven Silver Cloud is a white tea with “pure Buds” picking standard, namely a white silver needle tea. This means, only the young fluffy buds are picked for this tea, causing its natural rareness. The seed-raised, partially over 70 years old tea bushes grow in a semi-wild tea garden, whose soil benefits from volcanic origin. There, they thrive among coffee plants in-midst a biodiverse flora and fauna. Their roots, reaching meters into the soil, bring the terroir’s whole wealth to bear in the tea leaf – and in the resulting tea! At this, a nearby waterfall’s spray provides for natural irrigation.
Teabushes on Bolaven Plateau, Laos – seed-raised and biodiverse cultivated (click picture to enlarge)
For another part, Bolaven Plateau Arbor Green Tea owes its artisan character to its manual type of processing. As a true artisan tea doesn’t come without a great share of hand work in processing. And the the artisan principle is one of the cornerstones of the Kinnari philosophy. After the picking and a short phase of withering, the tea leaves are manually rolled, while feeding heat at the same time. At this, particular attention is put on the tea leaves as such remaining intact. Finally, a short roast on wood fire gives the tea its subtle, slightly smoky taste “finish”.
The Tea – Color, Aroma and Taste
Bolaven Plateau Arbor Green Tea reflects its environment in a truly masterful way. The landscape on Bolaven Plateau is characterized by the cultivation of corn, peppler and ginger. Accordingly, the taste of this tea shows deep umami and spicy vegetable notes: babycorn, young asparagus and seaweed are comparisons imposing themselves when trying. As typical for green arbor teas, also this tea carries its taste way beyond the acutal drinking.
Just like most green teas, Bolaven Plateau Arbor Green Tea also perfers infuson temperatures around 70°C. Steeped in such way, the large, beautifully shaped tea leaves unfold their finely sweet, lightly smoky and extremely compley taste best. As dosaging, we recommend an amount of 3-5 g tea leaves on 200-250ml water. For those with a fancy for the somewhat rougher tastes and preferring a certain bite, infuse this tea a little hotter.
First, spread tea leaves across the bottom of your infusion vessel (teapot, gaiwan or shiboridashi). Then pour over with hot water and let infuse for 2 minutes. Subsequent steeps with significantly shorter infusion period will show different individual taste profiles through a long series of steeps.
(click picture to enlarge)
Kinnari Tea – Ecological and Social Responsibility
Tea is the greatest passion of Anna and Thun, the German/Laotian operators of Kinnari Tea in Laos. This is why quality for Kinnari Tea means more than just a good leaf grade, even a lot more. Beyond the obvious properties of the tea leaf, acting responsible regarding our natural and social environment is a cornerstone of Kinnari’s quality concept. At this, goal is the highest achievable level of harmony between the company’s economic activities and all stakeholders’ interests, including nature.
Bolaven Plateau Arbor Green Tea – Biodiversity in the tea garden (click picture to enlarge)
Hence, paying fair prices to the actual producers in Xinghkhouang and Bolaven is only ONE manifestation of Kinnari’s quality philosophy. Beyond this, Kinnari teas come only from tea trees raised from from the seed and grown naturally. Further, Kinnari emphasizes that these tea trees grow in their natural, biodiverse environment. With this, a no-pesticides, no artificial fertilizers and no hazardous substances policy is just a mattter of course.
For detailed information about the history, background and philosphy of Kinnari Tea, please read my pertaining article in Siam Tea Blog:
Bolaven-Plateau – young reservoir of wild tea trees in southern Laos
Bolaven-Plateau is a plain at 1200 meters altitude in south Laos, stretching across an areal of 10.000 km². The region is home to several different ethnic groups belonging to the Mon-Khmer language family. At this, the largest of these “mountain tribes”, the “Laven”, have inspired the region’s name: Bolaven = home of the Laven.
(click picture to enlarge)
On Bolaven Plateau, the turn of the 19th to the 20th century is coined by the French colonialization. Back then, besides a number of other agricultural crops and pertaining cultivation techniques, the French also brought the tea plant here. Since that time, tea has been cultivated on Bolaven Plateau – mostly in community with coffee. Also the tea gardens in Paksong, where our Bolaven Plateau Arbor Green Tea is picked and processed, go back to that time.