neděle 24. června 2012

Yiwu Zhangjiawan - a visit in the spring of 2012

We chose the material of Zhanghiawan village this year to produce our gushu Yiwu. Zhangjiawan is historically a part of Manla (曼腊), one of Six famous tea mountains. In Manla, there are the vvillages Dingjiazhai (丁家寨), Gaojiachong (高家冲), Xujialiangzi (徐家梁子) and Zhangjiawan (张家湾). In the time of Qing dynasty, these areas formed a single large tea garden large 5-6000 mou. The area of old tea trees Zhangjiawan Lao Zhai (Lao Zhai = old village) is an abandoned place, the people moved to Zhangjiawan Xin Zhai (Xin Zhai = new village). Xinzhai is near the road connecting Yiwu and Jiangcheng. The village is some 13 km far from Lao Zhai. The migration happened in 80s of the 2éth century. During the migration, old tea trees did not have much of a value and there was a general opinion that they are, quality-wise, about equal to new terrace taidicha. The inhabitants of Xin Zhai have planted new tea gardens about their village and started farming tea too. At that time, the ancient tea trees were 90% shortened to 1 meter, but often cut down entirely. Now, the shortened trees are 2m high, sometimes a bit more. The old trunks are clearly visible (see photos).

A recently shortened tree:

Most trees there looks like this:

One of few uncut trees, harvested as single bush:

Paradoxically, most people rides their motocycles from the new to the old Zhangiawan in the time of harvest. Gushu trees are the most important trees now. The Laozhai area is high in the mountains, close to the Laos border - approximately a hour of walking in mountains. In today's Laos, there are gushu tea trees in two places too - in Mengwu (孟乌) a Wude (乌德).

The path to Laozhai is scenic indeed!

Zhangjiawan Lao Zhai used to be an important resting place for tea caravans, travelling from Six famous tea mountains to Vietnam where a part of the teas ended, further caravans travelled through Vietnam to Canton and Hongkong.

In the years 1900 to 1933, the most famous tea merchant in the Zhangjiawan village was mr. Chenshi Yun (陈石云), the owner of tea house Chenyunhao (陈云号). His tea was sold mostly to Vietnam. According to available literature, his tea used to be very good, but more expensive too than what the rest of merchants in the village had.

Our maocha is a similar story. It comes from a family who produces tea very well - selection of the material, work with wok - everything is top notch. Their production is reserved for a long time and the family is bound by an agreement with a certain merchant. That is why could buy only a limited quantity. During the several days we spent in the village, we could try maocha from probably all the families there and therefore we thought we did well paying more money (about 30% compared to normal) for absolute contentment.

You may find some more photographs and information on the site of our shop: