A journey to Yongde, LinCang
by owner of WanGanYuan Tea Forum, translated by Tracy Gu
I set off to Yongde on Jan. 28th and came back to XiaMen on Feb. 16th. I stayed in Yunnan province for nearly 20 days. I spent most days of my journey in Yongde, LinCang. When I told my friends that I was going to Yongde. I was always asked , " Where is Yongde? Why are you going?
Yongde is a very small county. Few people have heard of it or been to. But this small county has the most resources of ancient tea trees in China. This is why I decided to go. I wonder if all of you have watched a TV programme in which many people are searching for ancient tea trees in Yongde snow mountain.
In Yongde snow mountain national nature reserve, large areas of wild ancient tea trees were discovered, There are nearly 10,500 Mu ( 1 mu=0.0667 hectares ). There are 250,000 to 300,000 tea trees which measure more than 40cm round. There are 50,000 to 100,000 tea trees which measure between 80cm and 200cm round. There are more than 1000 tea trees which can be more than 1000 years old. It's amazing to discover so large areas of wild tea tree, so primitive ecosystem in China. This is the biggest area of wild tea trees that has been discovered up to now in China.
But what I mentioned above is not the main reason for this journey. I decided to go because Yongde is the land that grows the Mangfei large-leaf tea trees and Mingfeng large-leaf tea trees. Yongde is a county in LinCang. I had been to LinCang twice before I went to Yongde. I was very impressed with the tea from Bangdong, LinCang and Nanmei, LinCang. Especially Xigui tea of Bangdong, I think no any other tea can be better than this one. Elegant aroma and thick taste make the Xigui tea the best. Because of Xigui tea, I began to love tea in LinCang. And then I knew tea in Yongde. The first variety of Yongde tea I know is Mangfei large-leaf tea.
There are not only large areas of wild tea trees, but also two famous varieties of tea trees in Yongde.
They are Mangfei large-leaf tea and Mingfeng large-leaf tea.They have been evaluated by tea experts. The quality is prominent in Yunnan large-leaf varieties of tea.
The tea friend Songji did me a big favour for this journey. He went to Yongde twice. Sent me a lot of tea from many tea factory in Yongde. I tasted one by one. In the end, I found I was keen on Mangfei tea and Mingfeng tea. They are all from the tea factory named 'ZiYu'. The owner of ZiYu tea factory is Zhu YongChang who is famous in Yongde. I decided to travel to Yongde visiting tea trees and tea producers there.
I arrived in Kunming on 28th. I took a night long distance bus and arrived in LinCang the next morning.
I stayed one night in LinCang. Some tea friends and I drove for 5.5 hours, and then we arrived in Yongde. Mr. Zhu had waited for us for some time. When we met, we drove a jeep to Mangfei village.
Mr. Zhu drove to himself. What a tough road. There are a lot of bends, stone roads, mud roads. It took us more than one hour to arrive. Mangfei village is in Yongde. Sea level is between 1,500 and 1,600 meters.
This is Mangfei tea garden.
Plants on the way:
I was a little disppointed when we arrived. I have been to many tea mountains in Xishuangbannan, such as Banzhang, Yiwu. The ecosystem there is better than here. There're many tall trees around. But it's different here. There is no forest around. But one thing is still good. There are no signs to show these tea trees are managed by people. It seems that these tea trees are grown wildly. People here are poor. They are not likely to afford the pesticide and chemical fertilizer. So even though the ecosystem is not great here, but I can't doubt they are organic.
Take a look. This is Mangfei large-leaf tea tree.
I guess the age of this tree is more than 100 years.
The local people brew tea with kettle.
Although the ecosystem is not great, but I can sill say the quaility is superior due to famous species, very old tea tree, pure organic. When we entered into the branch of Mangfei, Ziyu tea factory, the workers served us tea water brewed with Mangfei large-leaf tea. The tea friend said,' great tea'. I asked, 'What tea is it?'. They said, 'Mangfei'. 'What season?' 'Autumn'. Even it is the Autumn tea, but it still has good aroma and taste. Each one drank several big cups.
Mr. Zhu, The boss of Ziyu tea factory (left) and I sat at Mangfei tea mountain.
According to simple measurement, Mangfei old tea garden is more than 3,000 Mu( 1 mu=0.0667 hectares ). The tender degree of this tea is pretty good. In spring, we can pick one bud with 4 leaves from the tree.s After dinner, we went down the mountain. When we came to the mountain foot, it began to rain. When we arrived at drinking house of Ziyu tea factory in County town, we met another tea friend Songji. We drank six samples out of 12 old tea mountains in Yongde in the evening.
It was rainning the second day. We couldn't go to any tea mountains. But drinking different tea in drinking house of Ziyu tea factory is a good choice to kill time. The third day, the tea friend Shunningyx returned. And then, the coming two days, the tea friend Songji alse went back to Dehong for business. I was alone to drink all tea in Ziyu tea factory.
After a drive of good road, we turned onto a muddy road.
Abandoned tea trees are along the two sides of road.
We left the jeep. After a while, we were in a forest.
Mingfeng ancient tea garden is larger than Mangfen in size. About 6,000 mu( ( 1 mu=0.0667 hectares ).
Older than Mangfei and better ecosystem than Mangfei. And sea level is 100-200 metres higher than Mangfie, full of cloud and fog in the early morning all years.
Mr. Zhu explained the species of these tea trees while walking. I was lucky to have a trip to Yongde in Mr. Zhu's company. Mr. Zhu loves drinking tea, producing tea and welcome friends from far place. I learned a lot from him. That's why I stayed in Yongde for 20 days.
The following pictures are taken in Mingfeng ancient tea garden.
Take a look at this fresh large tea leaf.
Mingfeng ancient tea garden is better than Mangfei in ecosystem. Tea trees here grow with other kinds of trees just like that of I saw in XiShuanBanNa.
There are a lot of parasitic plants in the tea tree.
We walked around for more than one hour though only one fourth of tea garden area. We looked a bit tired. Mr. Zhu suggested we can have a rest at the farmer's home. The farmer's house is surrounded by many trees.
The last name of this family is Wu, Han nationality. He said he couldn't tell when their ancestor came here. His mother said these old tea trees were already there when she was a child. After so many years, these tea trees seemed to be the same. The family is glad to take our visit. They took walnuts, sunflower seeds, and other foods to serve us. And then they took out tea of year 2005 as the gift to give us a pack.
The family is not rich. The pu-erh tea seemed not to promote their income. But they warmly welcomed our visit. They invited us to stay for a dinner. But we were worrying the coming rain and we still wanted to take a loko at other tea garden. So we left the family with the tea they gave.
In Yongde, it's not difficult to find some ancient or abandoned tea trees. Or so to speak, you could find everywhere. To make a example, we stayed in county hotel(Yongde hotel). Looked over from the window in the room. You can see long mountains. Yongde is a small county. Mountains surround the county. It takes only more than 10 minutes to be in the mountain from the county. Then you can see ancient tea trees.
On the contrary, it's a tough thing to find a tea garden which is being managed by people. There is 200 thousand mu (1 mu=0.0667 hectares) tea garden in Yongde. According to the survey, only 5% of tea trees are managed by people.
In Yongde , I could drink tea without disturbance. Sometimes I drinked to myself. Sometimes Mr. Zhu came to join me. I got a lot of tea from Mr. Zhu. Now I was drinking Bingdao large-leaf tea. I also took my Fujian tea, such as YanCha and Dancong to share with tea friends. I liked the atmosphere of drinking tea there.
When I stayed in Yongde, Mr. Zhu needed to go for a wedding of his ralative. I was a bit boring. So I went with Mr. Zhu. Mr. Zhu's birthplace is in Wumulong. We went there for a wedding. Wumulong belongs to Yongde. It still grows tea trees. The sea level is about 2000 metres. There's fog all years. It took us 2 hours to arrive Wumulong from county town.
Have you seen that? We use pork skin as our snack for drinking tea.
People here eat pork skin first when they kill a pig. They think pork skin as good food. People like to kill pigs at the end of year to serve friends. Sometimes they also kill cattle to serve more friends.
When I stayed in Wumulong, I went to Xiaobangui to visit many ancient tea trees. Xiaobangui is one of 12 famous tea mountaions in Yongde.
We stayed in Wumulong for a night. Next morning, we drove to Xiaobangui tea mountain. It's not a easy road. After half an hour, we entered into the village of Limi ethinic minority. These Limi people are very friendly. Mr. Zhu is known well here. So there was no trouble to enter the area. We looked around and took back some orchids. Mr. A lot of orchids grow in the mountaion. Zhu is very keen on orchids.
This is Xiaobangui village.
On the way back, we saw a group of Limi women. They were doing the needle work and looking after the livestock.
The two women know Mr. Zhu well.
People here follow the tradional method to produce pu-erh tea. The difference is people here produce tea for drinking themself. Tea is not the goods to buy and sell here. The tea they produce is not elegant. But it's standard and traditional sun-dryed large-leaf loose tea.
The next day, I got my tea from Ziyu factory shipped to Xiamen by air. Then I boarded the plane , left this secret place where I stayed for 20 days and head to Kunming. When I was boarding, the rainbow came out in the sky with drizzle. I took out the camera, took a picture. I heard the rainbow stands for good luck. I wanted the good luck to every friend I met in Yunnan.