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. If you missed Part One, click here to check it out!
After experiencing the stunning beauty of the ancient tea trees on Nannuo Mountain and meeting the lovely people who live in the village there, we drove to the other side of the mountain to another small community, where they processed huge amounts of Pu-erh tea leaves. This community is one of many such facilities that provide the materials for Denong Tea’s Pu-erh tea products.
As we got out of the car, our eyes were immediately drawn to massive pile of maocha, surrounded by several young men. We were told that they were sorting through the wilted, sun-dried tea to look for any possible imperfections. Because of the freshness of the leaves they were dealing with, they didn’t seem to find many such imperfections, but we were told that this quality assurance was still an essential part of Pu-erh production. We watched as they filled basket after basket with flawless Pu-erh tea.
Before the tea can be picked through and sorted like that, the tea of course has to be sun-dried. While we saw the tea being prepared for this process earlier in the day, it was exciting to see it for ourselves. As we watched the sun beat down on this fragrant tea, we were struck by the realization that as much as technology may change, sometimes the oldest, simplest methods remain the most effective.
Going even further backward through the steps of the production, we headed inside to see quite the heavenly sight: large amounts of Pu-erh tea leaves spread out on bamboo mats. Like we had seen earlier, this tea was being laid to wither before being stir-fried. Laying the tea out in this shaded but open area prevents the tea from gathering any stale or musty odors, while still protecting it from the harshest of the sun’s rays.
Seeing these large quantities of our tea laid out and handled by tea masters was quite a treat for us, and of course the whole facility was pleasantly saturated with the wonderful smell of tea.
Finally, we were once again fortunate enough to experience the incredible fruits of all this labor. In their tea house, we sat and relaxed as they brewed delicious our tea for us, both ripe and raw Pu-erh.
We were also quite intrigued to see that they had placed on their table an orange skin filled with loose tea. Besides its unique aesthetic qualities, this technique is meant to keep the tea fresh, while also giving it a slight orange scent. If you have some loose tea lying around, feel free to give this a try!
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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