Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Story About Mansong Pu Erh Of Yibang Tea Mountain (1)

During Chenghua Years of Ming Dynasty, an unnamable local official selected the famous tea of “Six Big Tea Mountains” in order to get promoted. At last, he chose the  Pu Erh Tea produced at Mansong of Yibang Mountain due to its preferable favor and its magical upright spirit after being immersed into the hot water. He purchased a batch of this magical tea and divided into two portions: one was presented to the bigwig in the royal court, one was to the Xianzong Emperor by the bigwig. Xianzong Emperor spoke highly of this Mansong tea and appointed it as the tribute tea for the royal court.   

Yibang Tea Mountain became famous since then and Mansong Village became widely known as the “5,000 KG Tribute tea per year”. Qing Government built a bridleway from Kunming, Puer to Yibang and Yiwu Tea Mountain in 1845. Deep and shallow horseshoes imprinted in the bridleway can still be seen. Although the bridleway is now overgrown with weeds, it can still reflect the glory at that time. Some remarkable people and wonders have been passed down, contributing the mystery to the tribute Pu Erh Tea.

Mansong trubute tea in Ming Dynasty couldn’t meet the demand of royal court. In order to nearby manage the tea industry, Family Ye, one local Yibang people, was appointed as the official to be in charge of the production of Mansong tribute tea. Family Ye then ordered Family Li, one Mansong people, to be responsible for this job. Through years of hard work, Family Li developed the tea field to a large scale. The fined tribute tea was presented to the court. Xianzong Emperor was obsessed with tea. He was excited about this tea and wrote “The King Of Tribute Tea” for Family Li and awarded Li a horizontal board inscribed with four Chinese characters “瑞贡天朝” (Rui Gong Tian Chao). It’s rare for an emperor giving a plaque to a tea producer, while it’s rarer that eight pack mules died when they bore the plaque from the capital to Mansong. 
It’s for certain the Yibang Tea Mountain enjoyed the popularity for a time. The tea garden was defined as the royal tea garden during the late Qing Dynasty and early Ming Dynasty. When tea-leaves being picked, all the businessmen were forbidden to the mountain. And Monsong people were ordered to harvest tea-leaves. Royal tea-leaves were divided into bud tea, Theopsis and her tea. There were three tea-picking places: Wangzishan Mountain (Wangzi literally means Prince), Mansongshan Mountain and Beiyingshan Mountain, all belonging to the same mountain chain, among which the highest was Wangzishan Mountain (Prince Mountain), followed by Mansongshan Mountaian and then Beiyingshan Mountain. 

A overlook of the Prince Mountain, the highest one among Yibang Mountains

Climbing up the Prince Mountain

The Prince Mountain

The Prince Mountain

The top of the Prince Mountain

The tree covered in blossom

To Be Continued


  1. Interesting piece. But I wonder if the tea they made in the Ming Dynasty was a pu-erh. Do you have info on this?

  2. Hi Terry. It think it was raw Pu Erh, probably a little different from raw Pu Erh of modern time because it is believed that today's green tea and black tea must also have first appeared in the Ming dynasty and there are only two main difference between raw pu erh and green tea, one is that it is made of local big leaf species and the other is that it is sun-drying instead of pan frying or baking.

    You can learn more about Chinese tea drinking in the Ming Dynasty here: http://www.viconyteas.com/directory/tea-encyclopedia/ming-tea-drinking.html

    By the way, ripe Pu Erh doesn't exist until it was invented in 1970s. Thanks!

  3. I really love reading stories like this. And I love the scenery!

  4. Excellent. Always good to know the stories behind the teas we're drinking!