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Discovering Legendary Teas

Step Back in Time...and Appreciate Tea As You Never Have Before...

The Early Teas of Yunnan are the Genesis of the Teas that Captivate Us Today...

You might go as far as to say this place Xishuangbana in south Yunnan is in the epicenter of the region science tells us where tea, Camellia sinensis the tea plant, formed on Mother Nature's Primeval Tea Garden...long before the forming of boundaries and countries...

The 14 Famous Mountains of Xishuangbana

It's here that the generations of ethnic minority mountain people learned to manipulate the leaves of ancient trees to access the powerful benefits of tea. First as a medicinal plant eaten raw then in soups, eventually ground into powders, made into cakes with plum juice...parched over hardwood fires, then ground and whisked into a steamy broth, sometimes with salt and vegetables.

Villagers would gather leaves from the ancient trees, sun-dry them and bring them to the market in Pu Er City to trade for goods they needed for every day life. Over time the teas from the 14 Famous Mountains of Xishuangbana that shared their genetics and early beginning millennia ago acquired the namesake of Pu'erh tea.

See Raw Pu'er Teas Here

See Ripe Pu'er Teas Here

See All Pu'er Teas Here

Harvesting from Arbor Style Tea Trees

The Origins of Tea Culture...

The word of tea's virtues spread within China thanks to the help of monks, artists, writers and scholars who were early adopters of tea's cognitive and vitality attributes.

By the Tang Dynasty (618-906) tea consumption had increasingly spread into the general population and had become culturally sublime, a sophisticated cultural pastime. It was a time of great cultural significance and development in China society, and tea was a growing and important feature of Chinese life.

Lu Yu writes the first book of tea in the Tang Dynasty

This Golden Age of China signifies the wide-spread acceptance of tea into daily Chinese life leading to the innovations of tea to come. This period set the stage for the spread of tea to even more growing regions where tea began to adapt to the unique terroirs it was introduced to providing opportunity for local craftsmen to advance tea to a new level.

The Song Dynasty (960-1279) marked the initial use of loose-leaf teas as a steeped beverage, and the Yuan & Ming Dynasties (1279-1368 & 1368-1644) advanced to pan-firing the teas to arrest the oxidation preventing the tea from browning...what we know of today as black tea.

A New Realm of Tea Creation...And Appreciation...

These pan-fired teas opened a new realm of tea creation to innovative tea masters and an undeclared competition developed leading to what would become the renowned Ten Famous Teas of China. Pride and market share drove creation and created competition for royal recognition and a coveted position on the increasingly important list of Ten Famous Teas of China.

Pan Firing to stop oxidation

After 1391 the emperor decided that tributes of tea to the court should be changed from brick to loose-leaf. This transformed the tea drinking habits of the people, changing from whisked teas to steeped teas and the art of different tea pots & other vessels flourished.

Marco Polo made his way to China via land in 1279 and Jorge Alvares of Portugal was the first to reach China via sea in 1513. These events led to the initial opening of China to the west and the initial spread of tea awareness beyond China and Japan.

The teas of today have their ancestral roots in what is now the renowned famous tea mountains of south China's Xishuangbana.

Genetic Uniqueness

We can still experience teas as they were produced during the those that man first began steeping as whole leaf teas, the pre-cursor of today's refined artisan and other specialty teas.

The simple process of harvesting and sun-drying of this unique leaf material sets in motion a symbiotic relationship development between the DNA of the leaf material and micro-organisms of the cloudy temperate terroir to catalyze a gradual natural fermentation that develops over time.

Sun-drying Raw Pu'er Tea

With time, the tea matures in character yielding enhanced silky mouth-feel and a developed mellow earthy aroma profile.

Of the long list of health advantages of these unique leaves the renowned cardiovascular benefits have taken the top billing with these primeval garden teas. It was discovered in far-away lands of Tibet and Mongolia where grasslands produced meat-rich diets that there were digestive advantages of enjoying the tea after heavy meals.

The tea would travel on the The Tea Horse Road, a network of tea routes from Pu'erh and Dark Tea growing regions to reach these far-distant locations sometimes taking 6-12 months to reach their destination. 

Transporting Tea on The Tea Horse Toad

Over time the digestive results in the regions with meat-rich diets led to the realization of the cardiovascular advantages the tea offered, and its popularity & value grew

Outstanding Character...Plus Great Health Advantages...

The combination of reputed health advantages and the character enhancements of aging led to increased demand and value. Between rising prices of the tea and increasing popularity the aged teas, it became increasingly desirable to find a way to make the tea age faster.

There was an awareness by the tea producers of a remarkable change in the teas that traveled on the Tea Horse Road from the time their journey began to the time they arrived. Due to the changes in weather conditions during the journey, there was an accelerated aging of the tea. Could this phenomena of accelerated aging be reproduced in a tea processing factory?

Wo Dui...Wet-Pile Fermentation

A technique was developed in the 1970's  that was intended to speed-up the natural aging of the Raw Pu'erh tea which failed to achieve the desired identical character of the aged raw, however the technique yielded a new outstanding version of Pu'erh Tea, we now call "Ripe". 

Incredibly, I find Raw Pu'er that is less than 10 years old can be steeped and enjoyed a great deal when steeped utilizing reduced steeping temperatures as you would a green tea, however it is not until an aged threshold of 30 years is reached that one can expect to experience what is considered the ultimate aged range of Raw Pu'er tea.

The Ripe version however created a delightfully drinkable tea immediately after processing without any  required aging time to mellow character yet maintained the ability to age after what we refer to is Scientific or Artificial Aging...

The Tea World Then Had Two Glorious Versions of Pu'er Tea...

To add more intrigue and complexity to this category of classic Chinese tea is that the tea is available as other teas are in a loose-leaf form, but also is softened then pressed into solid shapes. Originally done to improve ease of transportation and prevent theft during long journeys on the Tea Horse Road, innovative producers developed a variety of shapes that facilitate storage and create intriguing product extensions.

12 Year-old Raw Pu'er Broth

3 Year-old Ripe Pu'er Broth

Why leave your tea comfort zone and step back in time to try these teas?

To increase your Tea Awareness and bring another delightful segment of tea into your life. One that will add perspective to the teas you already enjoy by deepening your appreciation for and understanding of tea and how it has developed over centuries to become the amazing teas we enjoy today..

Indulge me tea people...If you are new to this exceptional category of Pu'er teas, you simply must experience what they are all about...and if you are already in, have one for me, and savor it while you reflect back in time to the Genesis of Teas That Captivate Us Today...

See Raw Pu'er Teas Here

See Ripe Pu'er Teas Here

See All Pu'er Teas Here

See The Ten Famous Teas of China Here

See Tips for Steeping Perfection Here

Pu'er Teas come as Loose Leaves or pressed into Shapes