Who is Mr Tian?

Wen Rong Tian has had two lives: the first as a physical education teacher; the second, which began 27 years ago, as a tea producer. From the first he has kept his love of a healthy life, and follows a daily programme of vigorous exercise and a strict diet. The second came from his father, who managed a tea factory for 20 years. However, son has surpassed father: today, Wen Rong Tian is one of the main, if not the leading, producer of black tea in Yunnan. He makes excellent teas and even claims to have created the famous Yunnan Golden Buds and Golden Needle teas produced in the province. I visited him near Baoshan, where he lives. His passion lies not so much with walking though tea fields as spending all his time tasting his teas and improving production processes. He lives, sleeps, eats and breathes just a few metres from his factory. What gives him the most pride is to make some of the most amazing teas in the world, just from simple leaves. And unlike many Chinese producers, he prefers black teas to green teas, for their generous aromas and smooth presence.

Posted in Country : China by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , ,

Some Pu Er teas ferment under cover

This is not a particularly attractive photo, but it will interest fans of Pu Er. It is quite a rare image, in that until recently it wasn’t easy to get inside Pu Er factories, and it was even more difficult to take pictures of them. The manufacturing of Pu Er was supposed to be a secret, or at least it was one of those things that are not revealed to outsiders. Why is this? I don’t know, although I suspect it is due to the fact that there is little visual interest in a tea gradually going mouldy.

Pu Er is the name for fermented tea. As a reminder, black teas are oxidised, and dark teas (Pu Ers) are fermented. While we are on the subject, the difference between oxidisation and fermentation is that the former is a process that requires exposure to air, whereas the latter takes place in an environment deprived of oxygen. Now you understand better why these leaves have been deliberately damped down and covered: to allow the tea to ferment for around 45 days. A thermometer, which you can see in the foreground, is stuck through the canvas to check the temperature, which can rapidly reach 50 to 60 degrees centigrade.

This is the fast method. Another time I will tell you about the other method used to make Pu Er, the slow method…

Posted in Country : China by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , , , , ,

Yunnan also produces green teas

Yunnan’s black teas are well known (Yunnan Tips, Yunnan d’Or, Grand Yunnan Imperial), as are its dark teas (Pu Er). But did you know that this Chinese province also produces green teas?

They may not be as prestigious as the green teas from Anhui, Fujian, Zhejiang or Jiangsu, but they are honest, sometimes a little astringent.

The tea plants you see here belong to the Meng Non Shan Tea Factory owned by Mr He Qi Chuan. This is a high-altitude plantation. One of the teas it produces is Jade Needles. I was curious to taste this tea, and did so in the company of the owner, who was very hospitable. I didn’t buy anything but it was a pleasure to spend time with him and see his beautiful fields of tea.

Posted in Country : China by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , , , , , , , , , ,

The author

François-Xavier Delmas is a passionate globetrotter. He’s been touring the world’s tea plantations for more than 20 years in search of the finest teas. As the founder of Le Palais des Thés, he believes that travelling is all about discovering world cultures. From Darjeeling to Shizuoka, from Taiwan to the Golden Triangle, he invites you to follow his trips as well as share his experiences and emotions.

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