Last month, we were fortunate enough to visit the Yunnan Province of China to witness the tea making process firsthand. In this blog series, we’re excited to share some of what we learned and experienced on our short adventure to Yunnan.
Some of the best Pu-erh tea comes from the Xishuangbanna region of Yunnan Province, so that’s where we spent most of our time. On the first day of our trip, we visited the gorgeous Nannuo Mountain. Our exquisite 2012 Nannuo Raw First Spring Harvest Pu-erh Tea comes from this very mountain, so we were very excited to visit the source of this tea.
Hiking up the mountain, we were struck by the awesome natural beauty surrounding us. Even before we reached the tea trees, the mountain was covered with lush foliage that made the mountain feel like a little piece of paradise.
Once we reached the ancient tea trees, we had the immense privilege of getting to watch women from an indigenous tribe pick the Pu-erh tea leaves, as the people of their tribe have done for generations. They showed remarkable grace and dexterity as they examined each branch of each tree, plucking only the finest leaves to bring down the mountain with us.
After watching these skilled women fill their wicker baskets with leaves, we hiked back down the mountain to their village. Here, we got to see the initial steps of Pu-erh tea production. After letting the fresh leaves air out indoors, they empty a basket of leaves into a large stone wok to “stir-fry” the tea.
After this, the withered leaves are further shaken and stirred, and then placed on enormous wicker plates to be prepared for the sun-drying process.
We’d see more of that later, but in the meantime, our hosts brought us into their home for an incredibly unique experience; to try some of the tea we had watched them pick earlier in the day. They admitted to us that Pu-erh tea is not generally meant to be consumed so quickly after having been picked, and the resulting tea was quite bitter, especially compared to the delicate flavors of fully processed and aged Pu-erh tea. Still, it was truly remarkable to have the opportunity to drink the maocha that we had watched them pick just hours earlier.
To hear more about our Yunnan adventures, and to learn more about Pu-erh tea production, be sure to stay tuned for our next entry in this blog series.
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