After the long haul flight from Amsterdam to Shanghai and visiting families, we embarked on the adventure of visiting our tea suppliers in Yunnan. A visit to Pu'er offers a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the century-old traditions. As we arrived, we were greeted by a sense of vibrant prosperity. Pu'er, known as the birthplace of Pu'er tea, exudes authenticity and a rich tea culture, with tea and coffee shops adorning every corner, serving as vibrant hubs of social interaction, and reflects the region's commitment to preserving its authentic heritage. Our arrival was made even more special by the warm welcome from our tea friend, Miss Yuan, who arrived in her distinctive red Audi, with a beaming smile, who is also our host for this whole trip.
Our tea supplier's organic high mountain tea farm, where we would witness the magic of tea production, was just a 40-minute drive from the bustling city center of Pu'er. We ascended the hill of up to 1200m to the verdant tea gardens, a sanctuary of natural beauty and tranquility. The climate in Pu'er is perfectly tailored for tea cultivation - sunny, temperate days and cool nights, a stark contrast that nurtures the rich flavors and aromas of the tea leaves. A consistent Spring-like climate ensures a steady growth cycle, allowing the leaves to mature in a natural rhythm.
Our journey truly began as we stepped foot into the tea factory, where every corner emanated a distinct aroma, hinting at the depth and variety of the tea being crafted. From the moment we entered, we sensed notable orchid scent filled the air of the fresh Spring harvest, a testament to the pristine environment in which they were cultivated. We experienced the joy of pressing tea cakes ourselves. Laughter filled the air as we delicately shaped the leaves, appreciating the artistry that goes into each meticulously crafted tea cake.
Moving deeper into the factory, depending on the type of tea being crafted - whether it's our beloved Moonlight White or the aromatic Dianhong - the leaves undergo different production processes like fermentation, fixation, drying, and rolling. Half of these processes are automated, ensuring consistency and precision, while the other half is supervised by experienced workers and tea masters, who infuse their knowledge and love for tea into every step.
We encountered a storage room filled with neatly arranged boxes, containing the finished tea products ready to be shipped to clients worldwide. The room emanated a delightful blend of fullness and cleanliness, a promise of the exquisite teas that would soon grace teacups far and wide, including ours.
Leaving the factory behind, we ventured out into the tea fields. Bathed in the warm embrace of the sun, we embarked on a gentle ascent up the hill. The altitude gradually shifted, revealing breathtaking views and a renewed connection to nature. We were particularly fortunate to visit during the Spring tea hand-picking season. We watched in admiration as the tea farmers, in perfect harmony with their surroundings, gently plucked the new buds and leaves. The rhythm of their movements, fast yet deliberate, encapsulated their dedication and expertise, honed over years of working in these fields.
The freshly plucked leaves were then taken to the trading point around lunch time, where they were carefully assessed and traded in. This was followed by a meticulously monitored process of withering, which prepped the leaves for the various production stages.
Our first day in Pu'er was nothing short of magical. From the prosperous city center to the tranquil tea gardens, each moment infused us with a deeper appreciation for the art of tea. Stay tuned for our next blog post, where we'll delve into the delightful experience of savoring the freshly brewed treasures that Pu'er has to offer.
Coming up in the next blog post: Quality control, Organic and Fair Trade practice explored in Pu'er.