Monday, March 25, 2013

A pilgrimage to Yiwu(1)

-By Richard Zhang 

If you are a Pu Erh fan, Yiwu must be a name you frequently heard about. Yiwu Pu Erh is known for its gentle and mild character, in stark contrast with strong and pungent Ban Zhang Pu Erh and they are both seen as the best Pu Erh teas and sought after by Pu Erh lovers. For years, Ban Zhang Pu Erh is likened to the King and Yi Wu, to the Queen by people. I have dreamt about Yiwu for many times and wondered what an amazing place it was!  In March, 2013, we finally embarked on a pilgrimage to Yiwu.

On 17th, March, we set out for Yiwu from Mengla County(
勐腊县).  It was a nice day. Flowers bloomed on the mountains on both sides of the road. We enjoyed the scenery and felt excited. About 11:00, we arrived in Mahei village(麻黑村),  a place you must know if you are a Pu Erh fan. Our guide told us that it was about two kilometers away from Yiwu town. It seems undebatable that Mahei Pu Erh is representative of Yiwu Pu Erh. It is estimated there were 160 hectare ancient tea gardens and more than 340 hectare new tea gardens existing in Mahei.

We drove from Mahei and reached a place called as Zheng Jia Liang zi(
郑家梁子). Some people called it as Zheng Shan(郑山), one of the main producing area of Yiwu Pu Erh. It is said during the history, the famous tea businesses such as Tong Qing Hao(同庆号)Tong Xing Hao(同兴号) and Che Shun Hao(车顺号)all sourced their tea in Zheng Jia Liang Zi. As Pu Erh produced in Zheng Jia Liang Zi was very good in quality, it won great popularity and became more and more famous. Some dishonest tea dealers even sold Pu Eh of other places in the name of Zheng Shan(郑山). In Chinese, the two name(郑山,正山) share the same pronunciation and some people mistakenly thought Zhengshan meant" 正山" as such word was usually used by people to describe tea produced from the most prestigious core producing area in China. For years, such misunderstanding was widespread and deep-seated. In fact, there is no such concept of Yiwu tea existing in history and you aren't able to find a place thought by people as Zhengshan(正山)in Yiwu as you can do for such as Lapsang Souchong.

Mr. Liang lives in Zheng Jia Liang Zi. When we came, his wife and he walked out and warmly welcomed us. We got to know Mr. Liang at a Pu Erh Tea Exhibition held in Kunming in 2009. From then on, each year, he would send us a lot of Pu Erh Tea samples. Mr. Liang is passionate and knowledgeable about Pu Erh Tea. We see him as one of our good friends and we are excited to meet him here.

Mr. Liang can't wait and led us to his ancient tea garden right now after we had a little rest in his home. The ancient tea garden wasn't far away from Zheng Jia Liang Zi. We walked and arrived in about ten minutes. Between Zheng Jia Liang Zi and the ancient tea garden, there was a little stone arch bridge named as Wu Gong Bridge (Centipede Bridge). Legend told that caravan of horses carrying Pu Erh Tea  just set out and passed from the bridge, beginning their long, dangerous and arduous journey to Tibet, Mongolia or South East Asia during the ancient time. Big and tall trees are around the ancient tea garden of Mr. Liang. We crossed the tea garden and walked into a forest, finding there are many tea trees scattered around in it. Mr. Liang told us in fact, the ancient tea garden was much bigger but many of the tea trees were cut down, with the part of it remaining now. The tea trees look not thick but if you looked closely, you wound find they all grew again from the thick and bulky stumps left by the cut-down ancient tea trees. We found a very old tea tree about 30centimeters in diameter and 15 meters in height in the forest. I thought it could tell how ancient the tea garden was.

Mahei, Yiwu:

Wu Gong Bridge (Centipede Bridge):

The Ancient Tea Garden of Mr. Liang:

Zheng Jia Liang Zi | Zheng Shan:

To be continued

No comments:

Post a Comment