This article frequently references and links to babelcarp. Babelcarp is a Chinese Tea Lexicon that is an essential resource for tea nerds that want to dive in further and don’t understand Chinese! This article also sources many maps from a TeaChat thread, original sources vary.
Regarded as the northern pu’erh region Lincang Prefecture is one of the largest and most tea regions that produces pu’erh tea. While there is some pu’erh production north of Lincang (Dehong) it is sparser and not nearly as common as Lincang or Xishuangbanna. To the west, Lincang borders Burma and to the south is Pu’er Prefecture. Despite lagging behind Xishuangbanna in fame and hype, Lincang is home to a few of the most famed and expensive areas in all of pu’erh. The most notable of these are Bingdao and Xigui. There are also several Lincang-based factories, including Shuangjiang Mengku, and Fengqing (the iconic Xiaguan is located nearby in Dali).
A Brief History
Despite lacking the breadth of history that Yiwu or Menghai County has there is a historical precedent of aged Lincang tea. Most of these come in the form of older Xiaguan productions. Based in Dali, further north than Dayi (Menghai County), many of the older Xiaguan productions are blends whose exact base material is difficult to pin down. Still, it is usually thought that Lincang leaves form the base of many of the Xiaguan products.
Other teas have long been produced in Lincang, traditionally green or black teas. Notably Dianhong (Yunnan Black Tea) was popularized and is still a primary product of Fengqing Tea Factory.
Characteristic Taste [Raw Pu’erh]
Single-origin Lincang cakes are generally thought of as being green and bitter in their youth. Critics of Lincang regard Lincang raw pu’erh as cold and harsh some arguing that it is also slower to age.
Xiaguan is also known for their house taste that deviates from the single-origin taste. Their productions tend to be comprised of chopped and blended maocha, tightly compressed into tuos or cakes. The tight compression is traditionally done for storage in hot and humid climates. Xiaguan productions are known for their strong, potent, smoky taste.
There is also a fair amount of ripe pu’erh produced in Lincang, which also tends to have a distinctive taste from southern ripe pu’erh.
Note #1: There are also alot of wild and purple trees in Lincang. The purple teas skew towards a bitter taste.
Note #2: The pu’erh craze hit Lincang slower than Banna. As a result, buying Lincang tea tends to be cheaper and can be a way to avoid paying hype costs.
Note #3: Some argue that the ancient groves in Lincang are far smaller than their Xishuangbanna counterparts.
Mengku is one of the larger pu’erh areas in Lincang with a whole host of villages and peaks. The name Mengku stands for both a township and factory within Shuangjiang County and is home to some of the most hyped northern areas. Mengku is home to one of the Lincang Daxueshans (there is another Daxueshan in Yongde) and most famously Bingdao. Bingdao stands for Ice Island and is a high-elevation area famous for its strong, cooling effect. Similar to Lao Banzhang, Bingdao didn’t really have much hype until ~2005 when Mengku Rongshi (a branch of Shuangjiang Mengku) produced cakes from the village and highlighted the area. Since then, its fame has grew exponentially. A name also closely associated with Bingdao is Mushu, meaning trees created from the cuttings of the original gene pool (in this case Bingdao). Mushu productions will usually be composed of nearby villages material to create their tea. Teas around this general region will also sometimes be referred to as Bangma.
Note #1: Anyone interested in Daxueshan or Mengku should read this extremely informative article on puerh.fr.
Note #2: Mengku still produces “Bingdao” cakes, but they are undoubtedly cut with lower-grade material than the original production.
Yongde County is located northwest of Mengku, against the Burma border. The leaves are generally very dark. Yongde is home to another Daxueshan (a big source of confusion), which also has some older groves of pu’erh. To add to the confusion, this Daxueshan extends into Fengqing county. A few other famous locations in Yongde include Mangfei (close to Burma) and Wujiazhai. Mengku factory has a separate branch that specializes in Yongde productions, Muyechun.
A county and village in eastern Lincang north of the Mengku area. Most famously, Bangdong is home to Xigui village, one of the most-hyped & expensive areas for new school pu’erh. Elsewhere in Bangdong are Nahan, an area nearby Xigui that also supposedly has ancient groves.
The name of a county and a factory. Fengqing is most well-known for it’s red tea production and the advent of dianhong. Despite production being split between dianhong and green tea, there is still plenty pu’erh produced here. It shares a piece of Daxueshan with Yongde.