Jing Mai Mountain’s Ancient Tea Forest
In Yunnan, likely the most culturally diverse province of China, Jing Mai Mountain and its’ wild forest of ancient tea trees is located at the southern tip of the province, equidistant from Laos, Burma and Vietnam. This forest is a national treasure made of trees 1,000 years old. The Bulang and Dai hill tribes have enjoyed the area’s teas for more than 1,300 years.
This is one of the world’s tea treasures as it is one of the most well preserved large wild organic tea plantations. The forest is situated at about 5,000 feet above sea level and contains ancient tea trees spanning heights of up to 50 feet. Enshrouded in mist through the year, the Ancient Organic Tea Plantation has continued to flourish from the time of the beginning of the Chinese Sung Dynasty or European Middle Ages to the present due in part to the area’s fertile soil, good climate, lack of pollutants and remoteness from modern cities. Although the plantation contains an area of about 32,000 acres, the actual area that is harvested for tea amounts to roughly 10,000 acres.
The leaves from the tea trees bud early in the year. The particular jat of these tea trees is called Yunnan Da Yeh or Yunnan Broad Leaf and, being wild, it is unspoiled by machine or chemical cultivation. The leaves are soft and thick, revealing a special white hair-like tip. There are well over one hundred varieties of teas produced from the trees of this plantation, hand cultivated in small lots to ensure sustainability.
Preservation of this tea forest is a priority and continues to be funded through eco-tourism and Fair Trade support. Additionally all of the teas are OCIA, NOP, JAS and EU Organic certified. The Jing Mai Manling Ancient Tea Association is made up of members of the various tribes, growers and producers of the area, and is certified FLO/Fair Trade by TransFair USA.