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  • Jeff Fuchs

International Tea Day – Lao Banzhang Mentor

Thought I’d be remiss if I didn’t bow the head to a quiet mentor of mine in the tea world during this International Tea Day. Master pan-fryer, mentor and creator of teas that are sold a year in advance of their production, Mr. Gao from Lao Banzhang uses his gentle genius to fry…and he alone can fry his coveted harvests.

One of the coveted harvests with the master.

A vital stage that should be coaxed and handled by magic hands, the panning of leaves remains one of the key stages in establishing the flavour of a tea. In his quiet way he educated in the vital nature of the pan fry, and urged an understanding of the lesser known aspects of tea production. “The leaves always need the hands close”, he said.

Great raw materials won’t be anything if they are not fried delicately with consistent heat, churning, and a low temperature.

At work with bamboo tongs ensuring that the leaves never rest too long upon the pan’s hot surface. Lao Banzhang is but one village in the Bulang Mountains where the frying season is worshipped.

Mr. Gao quietly sweats his way through the busy harvest seasons and isn’t caught up with the ‘hype’ and terminology that accompanies the increasingly busy tea world. He, his hands, and his ancestors have long known tea from the roots to the shoots and he creates masterpieces.

The symphony of hands and green creating a Lao Banzhang Spring offering


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