Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Zhengyan, Zhengshan and Bohea

Bohea is the name used by people in the West for tea produced in the Wuyi Mountain during the ancient time. Wuyi Mountain is amazing. It produces two kinds of famous teas: Wuyi Rock Tea (Wuyi Yancha) and Lapsang Souchong. Questions about them are often raised. Are they produced in the same area in Wuyi Mountains? Are they made from the same raw material? Are they different just because of the production methods?

When tea professionals talk about Wuyi Yancha and Lapsang Souchong, they often ask whether they are produced in the core producing areas. Teas from the core producing areas are called Zhengshan or Neishan teas in Chinese, otherwise called Waishan (not from core areas) teas. For Yancha, they say Zhengyan instead of Zhengshan while Zhengyan has the same meaning as Zhengshan. Yan means rock in Chinese. The word Zhengyan makes it more prominent as for the character of Yancha than Zhengshan.

The Zhengyan Yancha and the Zhengshan Lapsang Souchong both grow in Wuyi Mountain but they are not from the same place. Quite a lot of people arent clear about their relations even for Chinese. Here I give you the following drawing and explanations. 

The Zhengyan of Wuyi Yancha often called Mingyan is the scenic spots of the Wuyishan City covering an area of about 70 square kilometers with the east to Chongyang Stream, south to Nanxing Road, west to Gaoxing Road and north to Huangbai Stream. The most famous areas of Zhengyan are the "Three Pits and Two Gullies, namely Huiyuan Pit, Niulan Pit, Daoshui Pit, Liuxiang Gully and Wuyuan Gully, which are symbolic places of Zhengyan areas.

The Zhengshan of Lapsang Souchong with the Tong Mu Guan at the center, is a part of the national nature reserve covering an area of about 50 square kilometers with the east to Mashu, south to Pikeng, west to Guadun and north to Tongmuguan. The most famous places of the Zhengshan is Mashu, Guadun, Miaowan.

Zhengyan and Zhengshan are both located in Wuyi Mountains with a distance about 50 kilometers between them. It takes 1.5 to 2 hours from the Zhengyan area to the Tong Mu Guan by car.

As the areas of Zhengyan and Zhengshan are both quite limited, the prices of Zhengyan Yancha and the authentic Lapsang Souchong become very high. The teas produced in the areas between Zhengyan and Zhengshan can only be called Danyan Yancha or Waishan Souchong black tea.

The environment of Zhengyan and Zhengshan is different. The scenic spot (Zhengyan area of Yancha) has characteristics of Danxia landform at an altitude of about 350 meters. These places feature steep cliffs, bare rocks, low temperature difference between summer and winter. The soil of Zhengyan is highly permeable, rich in potassium and manganese, and proper in PH value. However, Zhengshan (of Lapsang Souchong for example Tongmuguan) doesn't has the characteristics of Danxia Landform, with high mountains covered by primitive forests, Tongmuguan has great amount of rainfall, lower temperature of 18C on average each year, high humidity and up to 100 foggy days each year. At an altitude of 1200 to 1500 meters, there is a huge temperature difference between day and night. The soil in Tongmuguan is soft, rich in minerals and abundant in water with high level of organic substances. 

The photos of the Wuyi Zhengyan:

The photos of the Miaowan, Tong Mu Guan:


  1. Thank you . I very much enjoyed your article. Good information and some things I did not know.