Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Kun Lu Shan Mountain- The Royal Tea Garden During The Qing Dynasty

Kun Lu Shan ( Kun Lu Shan Mountain, Shan literally mean mountain in Chinese), a part of the extension of Wuliangshan Mountains, ministratively belonging to Kuanhong village, Lin'er township, Lin'er Hanni and Yizhu autonomous county, Pu'erh city, Yunnan province, lies 31 kilometers to the north of the urban area of Pu'erh county. At an elevation between 1410 and 2271 meters above sea level, the main body of Kun Lu Shan Mountain extends for more than 10 kilometers from the north to the south and several kilometers from the east to the west. Kun Lu Shan Mountain covered with thick trees has nice scenery. The ancient tea gardens are mainly located at the two villages: Fengyang village and Baxiang village. There is an area of 10122 mu (about 675 hectares) in total, among which 1939 mu (129 hectares) categorized as semi cultivated type exist in the primeval forest of Kuanhong village, Lin'er township. 

It is recorded that the Kun Lu Shan tea garden was set as royal tea garden in the  7th Yongzheng of Qing Dynasty (A.D.1729). During the spring harvesting time every year, the imperial court would send troops to guard the gates and supervise the harvesting and production all the time. It was said that the production was extremely sophisticated, requiring more than 72 production steps and taking more than 36 days to complete a batch of pu erh tea. The locals would only be allowed to make teas for their own consumption or sale when the tea made for royal families was done and shipped. All such activities were kept secret, so we are unable to know exactly how such teas were made today.

Kun Lu Shan boasting about its more than 10000 mu ancient tea garden and believed to be one of the royal tea gardens during the Qing Dynasty is now praised as"the museum of tea tree". The recorded NO 3 ancient tea tree growing here, about 25 meters in height and 2.53 meters in diameter is the biggest human cultivated tea tree ever found. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Jing Mai Shan- A Place A Pu Erh Tea Lover Shouldn't Miss

According to what we know, most of Pu Erh Tea lovers would wish to visit Yunnan province and have a look at the ancient tea trees. For most of foreign tea lovers, it seems rather difficult unless you follow a local tourist guide or join a tea tour. For most of the places in Yunnan province, it is not easy to access without the help of a local tourist guide while there is an exception. This place is called Jing Mai Shan (Jing Mai Shan Mountain or just Jing Mai, Shan literally mean mountain in Chinese). It has vast area of ancient tea gardens. If you love pu erh tea, you would not get bored even staying there for quite a few days. Going there during the tea harvesting season, you may also see tea plucking carried out by the local minority ethnics. If you are lucky, they may allow you to pluck the fresh tea leaves and learn the way of making tea.
Jing Mai Shan (Jing Mai Shan Mountain), one of the historical Six Tea Mountains, is located in Huiming Township, Lang Cang Luhu Minority Autonomous County, Yunnan Province. The history of growing tea there can date back to more than 2000 years ago. There are nine villages formed by local Bulang, Dai and Haini Minorities named Jingmai, Mangjing, Manghong and etc in Jing Mai Shan. At an elevation between 1100 and 1662 meters above sea level, the ancient tea gardens there total 16173 mu (1078 hectares), the biggest area among the historical Six Tea Mountains.
Several years ago, due to the road condition, the access to Jing Mai Shan was very tough. However, the road condition was dramatically improved during the recent years. Now, Jing Mai Shan is one of the places nearest to the airport. In Jing Mai Shan, hotel is not common yet. You may need to stay in Meng Hai County and then take a taxi to Jing Mai Shan. As far as what we know, Jing Mai Shan is one of such best place where whether tourists or professional tea businessmen can enjoy a pleasant tour.

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

What Is Special About Man Zhuan Shan Pu Erh?

Man Zhuan Shan Mountain is one of the historical “Six Tea Mountains” – these are the original ones that are located north of Lancang River in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan province, China. This mountain and its five companions (You Le, Ge Deng, Yi Bang, Mang Zhi, and Man Sa) were key areas for growing tea since the mid-1700s. Now Man Zhuan Shan Mountain ministratively belongs to Manzhuan, Manlin two villages, Xiangming township, Mengla county, Yunnan province. The area has perfect natural environment for growing leaves necessary to make good pu-erh. (Over time as populations shifted and the market for Pu Erh teas changed, tea growing and production shifted to another six tea mountains south of Lancang River: Nannuo, Menghai, Bada, and Nanqiao near Menghai town, Jingmai in Hui Min County, and Mengsong.) Man Zhuan Mountain is beside Ye Xiang Mountain and the Mo Zhe River. At its peak, the mountain produced more than  500 metric tons of tea per year.

Now it is estimated that there is still about 2930 Mu (195 hectares) ancient tea gardens existing in Man Zhuan Shan Mountain. Ancient tea trees are mostly scattered among thick forests with different cultivars mixed  at an elevation between 565 and 1540 meters above sea level. Yunnan Large Leaf Camellia sinensis var assamica dominats here  while about 25% tea trees are categorized as small leaf cultivars which is called by locals as "Liu Ye Cha"(willow leaf tea).

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Top Four Wuyi Yancha (Rock Oolong)- Have you ever tried them?

Wuyishan Mountain is an amazing Kingdom of tea trees. It produces countless tea cultivars. For hundreds of years, among them, some ones are considered  having supreme character.  Tea lovers usually call them "Ming Cong"(Famous Bushes名枞). Yancha made of Ming Cong  features rock charm and tastes mellow, thick, sweet and brisk, mixed with a flavor of wild tea. Its soup is orange yellow and bright. Mingcong tea tree requires an ideal environment, so most of them grow up in Mingyan producing area. There are four Ming Cong which are seen best and called "Si Da Ming Cong"(Top Four, 四大名枞). They are Da Hong Pao(大红袍), Tie Luo Han(铁罗汉), Bai Ji Guan(白鸡冠)and Shui Jin Gui(水金龟).

TOP 1 Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe, 大红袍)

It is of course the most famous Wuyi Yancha (Wuyi Rock Oolong) but it is also most difficult to be found of satisfactory quality. In fact, most of Dahongpao you can find in the market are blended ones. Some made of in fact Shuixian or other tea cultivars can be very cheap. Purebred Dahongpao has only a small market share partly due to its small production. Blended Dahongpao has market share of more than 80%. In Chinese tea industry, which one is the genuine Dahongpao is still debated. Some consider it is Qidan while some think it is Beidou. Anyway, the two are of course the ones most suitable to be called as pure Dahongpao.

According to the legend, QiDan, the original name for Dahongpao, refers to tea from the six trees that look red from far away because of their purple-red gender shoots in early spring in Jiulongchao, Mount Wuyi.

Since 2007, Dahongpao tea trees in Mount Wuyi have been specially protected. It is forbidden to pluck their tea leaves to make sure they grow well; tea specialists look after them in a scientific way and detailed record of management is established; the nearby environment is strictly protected. Many years ago Chinese tea specialists started to cultivate Dahongpao trees by stem cutting propagation (asexual propagation). 

TOP 2 Tie Luo Han(Iron Warrior Monk 铁罗汉)

Tie Luo Han is one of the Top Four Wuyi Yancha,  and also believed to be the earliest Wu Yi tea; with history records dating back to Song Dynasty. The tea bush was first found in a cave (Gui Dong or Ghost Cave) in Hui Yuan Yan, one of the ninety-nine cliffs of Mount Wu Yi. Legend tells that this tea was created by a powerful warrior monk with golden-bronze skin, hence the name Tie Luo Han, which means "Iron Warrior Monk". It has been planted in many areas of Wuyishan Mountain now.

Tie Luo Han produced in core Zhengyan area is very limited in quantities every year and almost unavailable in markets. Tie Luo Han is pursued by Yancha fans because of its supreme quality. 

TOP 3 Bai Ji Guan (White Cockscomb 白鸡冠)

Bai Ji Guan, also called White Cockscomb in English, is a member of Si Da Ming Cong (the four famous Wuyi Oolong tea bushes). It is also regarded as one of the most famous Chinese oolong teas. Legend goes that one day a monk saw a rooster sacrifice its life while protecting its child from an eagle. He was moved by the rooster’s courage and then buried its dead body in the ground. However, after a few days, a tea bush grew from the spot where the rooster was buried. In the memory of the rooster, the monk gave the name of White Cockscomb to the tea bush.

Bai Ji Guan is undoubtedly one of the most unique Wuyi Yancha. You can easily tell it apart not only by its appearance but also its taste and flavor.  The fresh leaves of the Bai Ji Guan Rock Oolong are yellowish dark. The brewed tea has a bright pale yellow color. It is sweet and uniquely fruity with a lingering mellow fruit and honey note aftertaste, much more delicate than other kinds of Wuyi Yancha in taste.

TOP 4 Shui Jin Gui (Water Golden Turtle 水金龟)

One of Wuyi top four teas, Shui Jin Gui, which means "Golden Turtle" is strong and rich tea with a very slight hint of fruity aroma. According to Chinese legends, Shui Jin Gui tea plant is a transmigration of a turtle god. Despite achieving godhood after a thousand years of meditation, the turtle god soon felt discontented as his hard effort as the Heaven's Tea Gardener often went unnoticed. One morning, he awoke to the noise of tea farmers celebrating their harvest of first flush tea leaves happily. Upon seeing this, the turtle god realised that he would be better appreciated as a tea plant and thus he gave up his immortality to become the Shui Jin Gui tea plant.

Shui Jin Gui is known for its soft texture and unusually gentle nature. The cup is peachy red with notes of chocolate and toasted nuts. There is also a pleasant reminder of its flowery note, lingering after each sip.

You would be probably interested in:

Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea | Wuyi Yancha FAQ: 
Photo Gallery of Wuyi Rock Oolong Core Producing Areas