Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tong Mu - the Core Producing Area of Lapsang Souchong

After we published our blogs about Lapsang Souchong in April this year, we received a lot of emails and messages wishing that we would introduce more about Lapsang Souchong and Tong Mu, the core producing area of Lapsang Souchong. Today, we will let you know more about them. The photos we used were collected from the ones we took during our last three visits to there, mainly September, 2011 to the Guadun village of Tong Mu and March, 2012 to the Miaowan, Tong Mu. There are quite a few small villages scattered in Tong Mu. Among them, Guadun is probably the most well-known one, followed with Jiangwan, Mali and Miaowan.

Tong Mu (桐木), a village named after Tong Mu Guan (桐木关), at the center of the Wuyi nature reserve with an average altitude 1100 meters and the highest altitude of 2158 meters is at the north of Fujian province, bordering Jiangxi province. It is the fractured zone of Wuyi mountain largely covered with primeval forests. Wuyi nature reserve which is 565 square Kilometers in area is famous for the biodiversity. Set up as the national nature reserve as early as 1979, the ecological environment is well preserved here.  It is now praised as" the paradise of birds", "the kingdom of snake" and "the world of insects".

By the way, in 1848, Englishman Botanist Robert Fortune came to Tong Mu and succeeded in collecting the seeds of tea trees and obtaining the secrets of the tea production. Before that time, people in the West even didn't know that the black tea and green tea were made of the same tealeaves from the same plants and with the help of Robert Fortune, British East India Company began to grow and make tea in India.

The monument in the photo was set up around 2009 in memory of the birth of LapsangSouchong, the first black tea in the world in Jiangwan, Tong Mu.  It was unveiled by the 97 years old Zhang Tianfu, the famous and highly respected person of tea industry in China in 2009. The characters inscribed on it were" Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong Fa Yuan Di"(the place of origin of Lapsang Souchong in Chinese):

The panoramic view of Guadun village of Tong Mu:

The tea gardens in Guadun of Tong Mu:

The garden in Miaowan of Tong Mu:

Tea harvesting in Guadun of Tong Mu:

Only single buds picked for making Jin Jun Mei:

One bud with two or three leaves used for making Chi Gan black tea:

Tea gardens in Tong Mu have begun to be developed since several hundreds of years ago. Now with quite a large number of people moving from here to the outside urban areas during recent years, many of them were abandoned without human care. The tea trees in the photos were all more than 100 years and you can see it is taller even than one man. Black tea made of the tealeaves picked from such ancient tea trees is called as Lapsang Laozong which is quite good with a typical flavor people called as " Lao Zong Wei"(Ancient Tea Tree Flavor).

Some tea leaves of the ancient tea trees turn to be purple. Purple tealeaves were seen as the best by Lu Yu, the ancient Chinese sage of tea.

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