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 : , ,

Camellia : a shrub with a tough foliage

In many countries, the men and women who pluck tea leaves wear a type of sleeve made from a light canvas, which covers part of the arm.

Camellia is quite a tough shrub, and at the end of the day, without this protection, which can be worn directly on bare skin or over the top of a garment, the pluckers’ arms would be covered in scratches.

I expect this young woman from Yunnan, who looks rather stylish beneath her straw hat, would agree.

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

In China, people boil water before drinking it

In many of the countries I travel in, the water is not safe to drink unless it is boiled first. So people always have water on the boil, day and night, at home, at work, in the shops, and even on the road, like here, al fresco.

Just after arriving in Sudianlisuzuxiang in Yunnan, while some of our party went off to pluck the birds and others cut fine sticks of bamboo on which to grill the meat, I lit the fire to make tea. On this high and peaceful plateau, once we had eaten our fill and drunk our Pu Er, we stretched out on the grass for a nap. Except for one, who took a stroll with his water pipe.

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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.

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The Lisus climb giant tea plants

Many ethnic groups live alongside one another in the province of Yunnan (China). The Hans are there of course, as is the case across China, but at least 20 minority groups live there too, including the Dais, Miaos, Nus, Huis, Was and Yis. Here, on the border between China and Myanmar (Burma), we are with the Lisus.

These people live from farming in the remote mountainous regions. They also grow tea, or rather, they harvest the leaves that grow on giant tea plants. It is an incredible sight to see them in their traditional costumes climbing to the tops of trees 10 or 20 metres high, wicker baskets on their backs, working away. It makes you hold your breath.

Here, I have caught two Lisus women closely examining the Théophile Guide. They are looking at the list of stores on the back cover with quite serious expressions that contrast with the strings of brightly coloured fluffy balls that swing gently on either side of their faces.

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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