In China tea market, Lao Ban Zhang (老班章) is famously referred as the King of Raw Pu-erh tea. Its flavor is uniquely strong with bold, complex taste. In Kunming, tea connoisseurs often describe the taste of Lao Ban Zhang as “霸” (superiorly dominant). This is why they crowned Lao Ban Zhang as “The King”.
Lao Ban Zhang is named after the village that produces this tea. Lao Ban Zhang Village is located in Bu Lang Mountain (布朗山) at Meng Hai (勐海) county, Xishuang Banna (西双版纳，South West Yunnan). The earliest record on the village’s tea production can be traced back to 1476. Lao Ban Zhang Village is resided by minorities known as The Bu Lang tribe. For generations, the Bu Lang people planted tea trees and produced tea in the mountains. Today, there are 117 Bu Lang families residing in Lao Ban Zhang Village.
The village is situated at 1700-1900m high mountain area. Such high altitude is rare in tropical part of South Yunnan. The average temperature yearly is 18.7 degree Celsius. For almost half of the entire year, this mountainous area of Lao Ban Zhang village is covered in thick fog.
Lao Ban Zhang’s tea plantation is located close to the borders of Myanmar. It covers 310 hectares of land. According to the official record, it is estimated that there are 78,555 tea trees aged more than 100 years old, 70,866 tea trees that is more than 200 years old, 37,076 tea trees aged more than 500 years old and 9,412 tea trees more than 800 years old.
The tea trees grow in the jungle, they co-exist with other wild plants in jungle, and therefore they are not polluted by any pesticide or chemical fertilizer. The Bu Lang farmers manage and take care of these trees with their own original method. Until today, they still produce Lao Ban Zhang tea following the traditional processing method passed down from their ancestors.