Post header. Image from Mr Chen's book

As we may have mentioned before, Marc was in Yiwu Mountain, Xishuangbanna, (Yunnan Proivince, China, The World etc…) earlier in the year; one of the 6 famous Pu’er tea producing mountains, and one of famed quality, and also price. Yiwu tea is not cheap.

It is known for cradling a complex, sweet flavour, excellent mouthfeel and sweet lingering aftertaste, with phenomenal hui gan.

However, Yiwu as a tea producing region was nearly a thing of the past.

A Hero Story

With the introduction of machine processing and bigger factories in Menghai town, a couple of hours drive away, most of the production of Pu’er Tea shifted there and Menghai has since become a very well respected name in Pu’er tea.

In the 1980’s though, an enthusiastic Taiwanese photographer named Mr Chen was introduced to Pu’er teas by his boss of the time, and developed a great love for the tea. Interested in the teas Mr Chen travelled to Yiwu and was disheartened to find that now, rather than being a tea producing area now, it was mostly just a tea growing region, sending most of it’s harvest to Menghai factories to be turned into Menghai pu’er.

With the help of Mr Chen, local farmers and tea producers began to reintroduce the artisan tea producing methods previously employed and began to process Yiwu Pu’er tea once again. And now it has been so successful that it is once again in its rightful place among the most prized of all teas in China, with associated high prices to boot.

We had the pleasure of meeting Mr Chen and his son, Tim, on numerous occasions. They both spend the harvest and production time of the year in Yiwu, overseeing the processes and packaging of their tea company, before returning to Taiwan (in the case of Mr Chen), or onto Wuyishan (in the case of son, Tim) to oversee another Wuyi Rock Tea business.

 

Another Level of Tea

Not only did we meet them, but we spent an evening enjoying their Yiwu Sheng (raw) Pu’er. And it was spellbinding.

Following our first brew, a 2019 sheng mao cha, I have to admit that I declared that this would have won the competition today (see previous post), to be informed by Mr Chen that this was one of his lower grade teas that he was starting us on so that we could see the quality of his finest teas.

We then followed with a 2018 sheng moa cha from reportedly 1,000 year old trees, which was a whole other story. Fresh and green yet woody, exquisite tobacco notes and cooked light stonefruit such as peach, sweet with delicious full mouthfeel and lingering aftertaste.

We saw what he meant about the difference in grades.

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Working through 5 of his teas in total, from trees of various ages, in a combination of 2019, 2016 and 2013 teas, and we finished with a 2010 aged sheng from the 1,000 year old tree tea – the same tea as #2, but 10 years old.

And it. Was. To. Die. For.

Delicate yet full with intense warming dark stonefruit sweetness, prunes and plums, a hint of blackcurrant, dried tobacco and fresh peach. The longest lasting sweet aftertaste of all time!

 

An Honour

All in all it was an honour to spend the evening drinking tea with the man who is in no small part responsible for the reviving of one of the world’s most famous, and precious, tea producing regions, but it was also an honour to try some of these wonderful teas. I was also lucky enough to receive a signed copy of his book about the history of Yiwu mountain tea. A work of great beauty.

If you’re interested in purchasing the teas mentioned above, please get in touch as we have an exclusive agreement with Mr Chen and can purchase any of them for you.

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