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Chinese Yunnan Tea Culture, Yunnan Local Tea Culture

Yunnan, Located in the Southwest frontiers of China. Yunnan is the Province has abundant rainfall, mild climate and fertile land, all of which prepare ideal conditions for tea cultivation, and Yunnan is the homeland of tea trees. 
According to historic records, Yunnan has a history of 2,100 year since it domesticated the aboriginal tea (known as the 'wild tea'). In Yunnan province, the 800-year-old cultivation type ancient tea tree is still growing in the Nannou Mountain of Menghai County, the 1,700-year-old ancient wild tea tree now growing in Bada of Menghai County and the 1,000-year-old ancient tea tree now growing in Bangwei of Lincang Prefecture which indicates the transition between the wild and cultivation types. They are praised as the 'Three Ancient Tea-tree King' of the world. Those ancient tea trees are regarded as the 'living fossils' of Yunnan's aboriginal tea plants.
According to historic records of China, the ethnic Pu people in Yunnan began to grow tea and served it as tribute to the emperors as early as in the Chinese Shang and Zhou Dynasties. In the west and East Han Dynasties, tea was grown in river valleys and by the mountain trails of Yizhou. In the Three Kingdoms Period, The Nanzhong tea-seed was widely popularized. In the Tang Dynasty, tea produced in Xishuanbanna was marketed to Dali area and became the favorite drink of the noblemen of the Nanzhao Kingdom. In the Song Dynasty, Pu-erh County became a famous market for trading tea and horses. In the Yunnan Dynasty, tea had become the most important commodity in the transactions undertaken by people of all ethnic groups. In the former part of the Qing Dynasty, reputation of the Pu-erh tea reached its climax. The years starting in 1926 and ending in 1936 which were on the eve of the War of Resistance Against Japan marked the most prosperous period of production and sales of Yunnan tea, during which more than 5,000 tons of tea were yearly sold to Sichuan and Tibet, while over 500 tons were exported to foreign countries.
Yunnan's tea export to foreign countries started more than 200 year ago. According to annals recorded during Emperor Qianlong's reign in the Qing Dynasty, Yunnan's tea export was stared as early as in 1763. Tea processing in Yunnan Province began in the early 20th century in hand-operated workshop, and modernized tea processing in Yunnan did not begin after the establishment of China Tea Trade Company (Yunnan) Ltd. 
Yunnan is a treasure land of China for developing the tea industry. All the tea-producing areas of the province are located at elevations from 1,200 to 2,000 meters. The annual mean temperature ranges from 12°C to 23°C, effective annual heat cumulation is between 4,500°C and 7,000°C, and annual rainfall is 1,000-1,900mm. The monsoon season is concentrated in May through October, during which the rainfall constitutes about 85% of that of the whole year. The monsoon coincides with the hottest months, and there is a very high value of effective rainfall. In the dry season which starts in November and ends in April, There are sufficient sunny day. There is adequate sunshine, and the tea trees have a long growth period. Under normal conditions, the tea-leaf plucking period may last for 8 to 9 months. The tea-growing areas are generally covered with red, yellow of brick-red soils with the pH value ranging between 4 to 6. Comparing with other major tea producing countries, the climate of Yunnan is more suitable for growing tea trees. Therefore, Yunnan has rich varieties of tea trees and excellent tea species. 
 Up to the present, Yunnan has registered a total number of 199 species of local tea trees, the good ones among which are 46 asexual-propagation species and 153 sexual-propagation species. Overall, Yunnan's tea species are known as the "Yunnan large-leaf tea", which, just like the ideal Assam tea of India and the Kenya tea, belongs to superb tea species of the world, and is the ideal raw material for producing the black tea and Pu-erh tea. Comparing with the small-leaf species, Yunnan tea has higher polyphenol by 5-7% than the average value, catechin by 30-60% higher than the average value, and water-soluble substances by 3-5% higher than the average value.
According to the different method used in tea processing, Yunngn tea is made into over 100 kinds of products. Yunnan Tuocha Tea is famous for its medicinal properties, it was proved to be an efficacious beverage with the functions of eliminating fat, reducing weight, strengthening body and lengthening longevity, stimulating metabolism, and balancing and regulating the level of cholesterol. Yunnan Tuocha Tea is also highly reputed as 'slimming tea', 'beauty tea' and 'healthy tea' in more than twenty countries and regions including France, Spain, Japan, Hong Kong and so on.

Yunnan tea culture 

All the natural world, nobody participation, it is impossible to become a culture. Tea culture is the practice of human society in the tea-based yuan to all and continued development of the material and the excellent spirit of the thinking process and to create results.

     Yunnan beautiful scenery, unique and diverse natural landscape, Yunnan is rich in resources, there are 26 kinds of ethnic, tea production has a long history, social and human resources are very rich, deep culture is a fertile soil for tea, but also tea cultural background and brilliant foreshadowing, Yunnan is Tea the birthplace, is the use of the First Tea Cultivation in  the long river of history, in the tea plant cultivation, tea processing, distribution and consumption of social practice, a wealth of material deposited with the spirit of the intron, and more nation”s social and human integration within the Folkways, epitaxial poetry, painting, sound, the United States, child care situation  justice, rational distillation derivative, derivative, chimeric, grafting, developed a unique and glorious tea culture and tea cultural resources.


Yunnan tea culture as compared with other provinces, but also has the following features

1. Primitive: Tea with the Yunnan tea culture and tea agronomic origin and the origin and diversification of Tea Distribution Information Center, a tea and tea culture is the culture of the First-derived features;

2. Diversity: Yunnan natural landscape diversity, ethnic, multi coffin, the ritual practices of life of the nation advocating diversity, species diversity Tea, Tea diversity, the diversity of natural and cultural diversity combined, constitute an unmatched tea culture diversity;

3. Nationality: Yunnan 25 kinds of ethnic groups, with their tea in the economic, social and cultural fields in the focus on the links, each process are different, with all the inherent characteristics of the ethnic and information, with the independence and relative stability sexual. They give various tea cultural connotation, and created a beautifully statements tea dance, music, tea Extension opened the philosophical argumentation, these things have excellent continuity, as the eternal existence, and this is the national character;

4. Harmony between man and nature: the tea from Yunnan, Yunnan and the use of the development of civilization from the beginning companions, how long human history, and the history is linked tea long, and the long-term harmony tea, and even until the end of the Qing dynasty In that tea tree is planted in the forest, forest Tea with the asylum and nourishment, growth and development, Tea from direct sunlight, no tea garden soil erosion, fertilizer application, no-tillage cultivation, tea quality special-kai. Not free to meet forest felling, in turn, protect the forests, create and protect the people in production and daily life of superior ecological environment, removed from the disaster of floods, droughts and floods, which Agroforestry ecosystems and land management style, embodied the people harmony with nature, embodies the concept of ecological minorities, and values, and the pursuit of the people today is the ecological agriculture, sustainable development, a high-level continuation of the ancient ecological culture, science is simple, the science shows that ethnic minority areas Simple;

5. International: Yunnan and Burma, Laos and Vietnam are neighbors with the border of 3,207 km with Thailand and neighboring Cambodia, Myanmar branch of Sino-Tibetan language family, and South Asia Mon-Khmer language niche, the mutual exchanges, the same nation, the convergence of customs, Buddhist culture , common ancestry and veins, Yunnan”s tea culture will be able to welcome their identity, thus Yunnan”s tea culture in the Indo-China peninsula is international, Yunnan is the Chinese tea culture go out of the country a convenient channel.

Development of Yunnan tea culture, the culture of Yunnan completed the first large, the people of all ethnic groups in Yunnan is the common ideal, according to Yunnan natural and human landscape resources and the cultural background of tea and contain, and taking into account the tea culture in a scientific, modern, combining tourism, priority development and construction of bases following the tea culture
1 Lijiang ancient origin of ecological research Tea Tea-Horse Road and tea culture base;
2 Dali Bai three demonstration bases tea culture;
3 Three thousand FORMATION Origin of Tea Ailaoshan Nature Reserve Base;
4 Fengqing tea culture base;
5 Banna Pu”er tea production traceability and integrated modern tea culture base;
6 State of Wei Tea Tea and domesticated, Origin of tea agronomic base;
7 Simao tea business were  culture and fine base;
8 Kunming tea culture studies, popular science education, tea culture comprehensive resource development base;
Culture is the superstructure, the economy is the basis, what kind of productivity, there is what kind of culture, promote tea culture, first of all, we must vigorously develop the productivity of tea, tea revitalization of the economy, using the advanced productive forces, produced a variety of tea material basis before may create the rich flavor of the times reflected tea culture and the orientation of the new century tea culture.
Since reform and opening up, Yunnan tea sector on the tea culture was to explore, develop, extraction, upgrading, research exchanges, fruitful work.

In 1989, our province six units took part in the Beijing "tea with the Chinese Cultural Exhibition Week," "Cloud  " tea art performances by the Yunnan national team development refined tea drinking customs "Bai three tea," "Kunming nine tea", in Beijing the performance sparked strong social repercussions.

In 1990, the Asian Games organizing committee arrangements, "Cloud??art group" 17 people in the Asian Games Village, Lao She Teahouse, a National Culture Palace performances, a total of 35 games, "Bai three tea," "9 Kunming Road Tea, "" tea ", by the 21 countries and areas of sports, diplomacy, trade officials celebrities more than 4,000 spectators cheered, a sensation in Beijing, renowned at home and abroad, more than 30 news media were smart reports.

In December 1990, the state government and the provincial Xishuangbanna Tea Society held in Menghai Tea Wang protection feasibility studies, attracted domestic tea industry and the concern of Japanese friends, enhanced the Chinese people”s awareness of protecting cultural heritage of tea.

In September 1991, the Sino-Japanese cultural exchanges 800 anniversary of the "Cloud " to the Tokyo show four days 20 by Japanese friends, the high praise.

In April 1992, to celebrate the Chinese and Moroccan trade 32 anniversary, "Cloud " to Morocco Kasabulan performances.

In May 1993, "Cloud " Korean exchanges to show 12 games, by the Han people greatly welcome.
In April 1993, China held the first in Simao Festival Pu”er tea leaves, 1995,1997,1999, and held three consecutive. First flexor Tea Festival, Simao region known to everyone involved in, from nine countries and regions overseas, and 13 provinces and municipalities guests and the people of all nationalities Simao common tea District spent seven days grand festival is the biggest in Chinese history the festive celebrations, a variety of tea cultural exchanges, which have greatly increased the visibility of Pu”er tea, promoted Simao municipal building and the development of tea production.
On April 14, 1993, following the end Simao Tea Festival, held in Banna Jinghong of China”s first "tea Wang Festival." Pu”er tea festival to the two townships boiling up, and promote the tea industry in Yunnan, the rapid development.
The China International Tea Culture Research Association and the Yunnan provincial government on August 12, 1994 -15, the third held in Kunming China International Tea Culture Seminar, Yunnan tea is the history of the highest specifications event in the cultural exchanges, overseas-7 countries and regions representatives of 115 people, domestic 11 provinces, municipalities, representatives of 150 people attended the meeting, the connotation of tea culture, characteristics, classification, philosophical argumentation, tea and national, tea and health, and socio-economic tea, silk road of tea, tea ceremony and promote tea culture. the content and method, and other topics have been exchanged, Chinese and foreign tea tea ceremony performance, Yunnan tea throughout the nation Exhibition , gives people a high enjoyment of arts, people”s booths, the General Assembly received papers 45, Yunnan deputy Zhang Shun - Feng Yan Pei, , Wang Shuwen, Huangguishu,  -hua, Wang , Xu Rong, Yang Kai, Liu West, Wei Mou City, Dian Chi-yu, Huang submitted papers, etc. 12, eager to speak exchanges, have higher academic value.

1995 International Labor Day, successor to commemorate  founder achievements in Fengqing tea factory held? Qiu statue unveiling ceremony of the older generation to carry forward the noble people of tea patriotism and the spirit of sacrifice.
Hosted by the state government in Xishuangbanna, photographers Zheng significant static photographic editing, famous calligrapher Zhao Puchu, wrote the book "Chinese Tea Tea" by the state and around Yunnan, Zheng was static photography editor, wrote a preface to the governor Li Jiating " China Yunnan famous tea spectinomycin "two large color album in 1996, 1998 has published the Yunnan tea and the various Yunnan famous tea income Baodianpian, printed in the annals of history, this book become Yunnan”s cultural publications gifts Inheritance future generations will.

In 1998, the Kunming Jin Hui confluence with the Kunming city FM radio host "air tea houses" regular broadcasting  head. In 1999 Jin Hui Yunnan radio traffic with Taiwan held "Yun-ling  HEAD launch tea on the dissemination of knowledge, universal tea culture, it is as far-reaching significance.

On June 18, 1999, to promote the revitalization of Yunnan national drink tea from Yunnan Province, Shaanxi host, Kunming Jin Hui making tea pools, and other units of Yunnan Province, in association with the first tea Grand Prix, in Kunming Oasis Hotel, the event opened tea pioneer of tea in the country is a cultural creation, more than 40 groups and individuals participate in the competition, all over the state sent people to watch, Guangzhou, Guizhou, South Korea to send representatives to watch, vice governor Huang Bingqiu or presentation to the winners of the Yunnan tea culture a great push. Since then, Kunming tea houses mushroomed, drama, Fengqing tea houses, 1,000 FORMATION Simao Taiwan tea - and Menghai tea ceremony Archive have emerged one after another, has become an elegant tea culture.

Famous Tea tea culture is an important form of expression vector and, if arsenal of the tea performances, poetry, book, audio, the United States, singing and dancing is the concentrated expression of tea culture, and all kinds of superior quality, taste and elegant style, a style unique function tea, from the fresh leaves produce, process design, process and the final product, they have to carry a lot of cultural information, which is the basis of tea culture, a famous tea by famous tea programs, and music, poetry, books, paintings, dance  will produce good tea culture, the development of famous tea tea culture is the basis for carrying forward the work. In 1992, 1996,1999, Yunnan tea Kam consecutive three-famous commentary, thus effectively promoting the Yunnan tea innovation and improvement process, and promote production of the famous tea and tea culture prosperity. Famous tea mushroomed, and has produced consecutive famous tea to more than 100 species of the title, such as South waxy , sea of clouds , the , extension Palace Puer, seven of the pie, Class A Tuocha, Yuhuan, jade pendant, Tsui Ming-sheng , -song, the Green Sea , aroma Rui are all representatives, they not only have higher technology Couplers, there are very good arts and cultural quality modeling for a more prosperous tea culture provide a material basis.


The Ancient Tea-horse Trade Road

Tea Road was the "Silk Road" of the south for material communication and trade since the Tang dynasty and being glorious during the Qing dynasty and the Republic of China period which leads Puer to Kunming, Tibet, Lancang, Daluo, Burma, etc. The ancient Tea Road which promoted the brilliant tea business in Puer area is kept very well in three places. One of them is in Nakeli village, Tongxin county.
Another one is the Tea Road in Democracy Village , Fengyang county which is a stone path of 2 km long winding up the mountain in half primitive forest. The deep footprints of the horses in the path showed the hard days when people changing tea for horses and other needs. Walking up along the path, people will experience the danger and hardships of the Horse Group, groups of people who transported tea with horses.
The third one is the site in Peacock Patio, Mo Black Town which is about 10km with some horse stops alongside and the clear horse footprints, showing the prosperity of the Tea Road. The image of the scenery "bells ringing as the horse groups passing" was the real life before 1950s which can only be seen in the films now.
No bells, no horses, the road is so quite. However, the melodious bells and the beautiful songs are still vivid. Nowadays, the Puer people travel over the mountain, carrying the best tea by strong horses and go far away for trade in March every year.
The Ancient Tea-Horse Road
For thousands of years, there was an ancient road treaded by human feet and horse hoofs in the mountains of Southwest China, bridging the Chinese hinterland and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Along the unpaved and often rugged road, tea, salt and sugar flowed into Tibet, while horses, cows, furs, musk and other local products came out. The ancient commercial passage, dubbed the "Ancient Tea-Horse Road", first appeared during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and lasted until the 1960s when Tibetan highways were constructed. Meanwhile, the road also promoted exchanges in culture, religion and ethnic migration, resembling the refulgence of the Silk Road.
The road stretched across more than 4,000 kilometers mainly in Southwest China's Sichuan and Yunnan provinces and the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Just as the Silk Road, the Ancient Tea-Horse Road disappeared with the dawn of modern civilization, but both routes have played very important roles in the development of China. Different Chinese ethnic cultures, such as the Dai, Yi, Han, Bai, Naxi and Tibetans, have met, fused and developed along the historic road.
The road ran across the Hengduan Mountains and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau -- an area of the most complicated geological conditions and most diversified organisms. Besides its cultural and historic value, the road was also highly appreciated by adventurers and scientists.
Tea and horses blazed the way
According to Tibetan classics, people of the Tibetan ethnic group in western Sichuan Province and northwestern Yunnan Province had access to famous types of tea from the Central Plains during the Tang Dynasty. In the Song Dynasty (960-1279), people of Yunnan and Sichuan provinces exchanged tea for Tibetan horses.
On one hand, the effects of tea in promoting digestion and eliminating grease from eating too much meat lured many Tibetans. Not only the nobles, but also the general populace took delight in drinking tea. On the other hand, horses were also very important for the Han people. The result was the flourishing of the tea-horse trade.
Pu-erh tea is most favored by the Tibetan people. Since the butter tea made of Pu-erh tea is highly esteemed both in taste and color, it was named after its producing area -- Pu-erh County in Yunnan Province, which is one of the cradles of China's "tea culture". During the Tang Dynasty, Pu-erh tea was grown in areas flanking the Lancang River. It was described as having a bitter taste at first, then sweet.
In order to preserve Pu-erh tea and to facilitate its trade with merchants travelling the Ancient Tea-Horse Road, a method was developed which led to the steaming of Pu-erh Tea and then compressing it into various shapes - usually a type of bowl shape or a "brick". This type of tea is known as Tuocha Tea. The word Tuocha sometimes spelled "Tuo Cha", or "Tuo Tea", the meaning is block of tea. Tuocha Tea can also be known by different names such as "beeng cha" (or "bing cha" or "ping cha"), and "fang cha". These names simply refer to the type of shape into which the Tuocha Tea is pressed - eg bing cha is "biscuit shaped" and fang cha is "square shaped".
During the World War II, when Myanmar fell into the hands of the Japanese, the Yunnan-Myanmar Highway -- then China's only international thoroughfare -- was cut off. The Ancient Tea-Horse Road, extending from Lijiang in Yunnan, to Kangding in Xikang, and then to Tibet and even further into India, was revived and became a major trade route. With the opening of the Yunnan-Tibetan and Sichuan-Tibetan highways in the 1960s, the road declined. Some sections of the famous road, however, are still used for transport purposes. Today, the road comes to the fore again with the development of tourism in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, as well as in the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
The road passes through subtropical forests and picturesque lakes and turbulent rivers, such as Lancang, Nujiang, Minjiang and Yarlung Zangbo. Heading west from the Hengduan Mountains, one has to cross many peaks -- each towering 4,000-5,000 meters above sea level. But tea and horses have blazed a trail despite the challenges posed by mountains and forests. Roads devoted to the tea-horse trade linked ethnic groups living in areas near the roads, making them members of the great Chinese nation.
Six major routes
A Chinese expert researching the Ancient Tea-Horse Road recently found a complete map of the road drawn more than 150 years ago by a French missionary. The map reveals that the road traversed a series of towering mountains, with rivers flowing in between from the south to the north. Roughly speaking, there were six main routes:
Route One:
Begins in Xishuangbanna and Simao, home of Pu-erh tea via Kunming to other Province in China into Beijing.
Route Two:
Begins in Pu-erh (via Simao, Jinhong, Menghai to Daluo) in Yunnan Province into Burma, then from Burma into Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Hongkong.
Route Three:
Begins in Pu-erh via Xiaguan, Lijiang, Zhongdian into Tibet, then from Lhasa into Nepal and India.
Route Four:
Begins in Pu-erh via Jiangcheng in Yunnan into Vietman, then from Vietman into Tibet and Europe.
Route Five:
Begins in Pu-erh via Simao, Lanchang, Menglian in Yunnan into Burma.
Route Six:
Begins in Pu-erh via Mengla in Yunnan into Burma.
Tens of thousands of traveling horses and yaks created a definite path with their hoofs on the once-indiscernible road. Today, although even such traces of the ancient road are fading away, its cultural and historic values remain.