pátek 4. května 2012

Bada Shan - visiting the tea king - "Cha Shu Wang"

When travelling over the tea mountains of Yunnan in the February of 2012, we have visited the mountains of Bada. We wanted to map the old tea trees in the area and to find the tea king. The tea king is not unknown to the czech tea lovers, the expedition of Milcové čaje has visited it in 1997 and in forthcoming years. I bow before them for that! The place is even these days rather forgotten, even though locals are used to seeing foreign tourists. The are is on the border with Myanmar (Burma).

Tea trees were densely planted on Bada shan in the 80s of 20th century by Menghai TF, but e.g. Langhe TF owns some tea gardens there too.

The history of tea in the area is much deeper...

Our "guide" shows us Ye sheng cha - wild sort of tea trees.

The tea king is to be found several kilometers from the village of Hesong. The Hesong village is an old traditional village, inhabited by Hani people (as well as the Bada village). When trying to figure out how to get to the old tea tree, we find out that we need a permit from the head of the village. They want 150 yuans (450 CZK) for the permit, offering a guide with it, but it is some kind of strange fee, without getting any receipt, so we go to the tree on our own.

In the half of our journey through the lovely scenery, we have met several plantation workers, after a difficult talk with one of them (most of the locals knows only the Hani language, not even closely similar to mandarin chinese), we agree on giving him 30 yuans if he accompanies us to the tea king. The tree itself is hidden in the jungle and only a small path leads to it. 

Here it is!

The trunk is massive indeed...

The tea king has astonished us by its size, but I was slightly disappointed by it being fenced. The tree is high 33-34 meters and about 1700 years old, that is really something. It is a wild tree, not planted by people. According to some chinese informations, 4-5 smaller tea trees should be nearby, but our guide does not know about them. According to him, the tree is still being harvested (being cut slightly because of it, some time ago).

We say goodbye to our guide, returning to Hesong and back to Bada.

The village of Hesong:

Traditional Hani houses.

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