Did you know that you could drink tea harvested on thousand year old trees?
Thousands years old ancient trees still grow in the primordial forest of Yunnan and some of them are harvested for tea (The hundred years old ones usually). Actually the smaller leaves from the top of the snow mountain are used, the wild tea trees aren’t always drinkable. When you see some of the leaves of these hundreds years old trees, the size of their leaves is twice the size of your hand.
Actually it was a friend of mine, Vicky, who introduced me to the Ancient Tea Trees and the ancient teas of Yunnan.
Yunnan, also know as “the land of tea” is home to the primeval forest with the most amazing, oldest and wildest tea trees there is. I didn’t know much about Yunnan until I tried Puerh for the first time many years ago when I was still in middleschool and I completely fell in love with the flavor, and started to truly appreciate tea for more than just black tea and lemon, Russian style.
Yunnan’s tea species are known as the “Yunnan large-leaved variety”,which along with Assam tea of India and Kenya tea are included into the superb tea species in the world.
According to historic records,Yunnan has a 2,100-year-long history of domesticating aboriginal tea (known as the ‘wild tea’). In Yunnan province, the 800-year-old tea tree is still growing in the Nannou Mountain of Menghai County,the 1,700-year-old one in Bada of Menghai County and the 1,000-year-old one in Bangwei of Lincang Prefecture which indicates the transition between the wild and cultivation types. They are believed to be the ‘Three Ancient Tea-trees’ of the world. Those ancient tea trees are regarded as the ‘living fossils’ of Yunnan’s aboriginal tea plants.*
Yunnan isn’t only known for Puerh, but also for the most well known Black tea in China, called Golden Tip Dian Hong. (High quality leaves uniformly covered in golden-orange bud hairs.)
Vicky, also imports these high quality teas to North America. Actually, she purchases a high grade of the Ancient Tree Golden Needle Black tea from the same family every year. These families live from the tea production, in poor and remote Yunnan. It takes 5 hours of driving on mountain roads to reach some of these families of tea farmers.
You can purchase these ancient tea trees teas here: TanLong Premium Tea Collection (Based in Canada but they ship worldwide). These productions are very limited, but I think it’s worth trying for every tea lover out there.
Some local tea farmers pluck wild tea leaves from the deep mountain forests. They take hours to hike into the deep mountain forest, then climb on the wild tea trees to pluck the younger leaves. They will usually spend a whole day in the forest to harvest these ancient tea leaves. This job doesn’t come without danger, especially when it’s the raining season in spring. Landslides happen very frequently and they can be deadly.
These trees are quite tall and grow in high altitudes which is ideal for an optimal cultivation and natural drainage. It just isn’t possible to spray pesticides on these trees.