Today, YM asked for my thinking that someone she came across from Chinese social media claims her family owns 60,000km2 tea plantation as ‘family farm’ in Wuyi, Fujian and yearly tea production is about 5 ton. Is it true or false? Is this claim a little bit too exaggerate?
Let’s see what the actual information from the Wuyi government:
- WuYi Mountains have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for cultural, scenic, and biodiversity values since 1999; the whole of world heritage site has a total area of 99,975 hectares, the altitude is from 200 meters to 2158 meters. The bedrock lithology at Wuyi Shan is dominated by tuff, rhyolite and granite in the western part and red sandstone is common farther in the East.
- The tea plantation areas are basically divided by two parts – ZhenShan正山 (inside the protected area in the Natural Park, surrounded by a river) about 50Km2 and Tong Mou Guan is the center; outside of the river is called Wai Shan 外山. There are some differences in flavor and taste, but the most difference factor will be the price.
- The size of tea plantation in Wuyi is counted for about 82,67km2 in 2009 and the yearly Mao Cha output increased from 6,600tons in 2009 to 9,770tons in 2010.
- There are 22,000 tea farmers spreaded in Wuyi, Xing Cun, and Xing Tien in the region; there are 635 related with tea manufacture processing, number of tea shops is over 4000 in Wuyi and more than 50,000 people involve with the tea production.
Wuyi Cai Cha (the literately translation is Vegetable tea) is a very unique and good small- to medium sized leaf bush type tea tree cultivar from China, the natural hybridization through pollen with other sort of tea tree cultivars, in Wuyi has created very diverse tea trees, i.e. Da Hong Pao, Bai Ji Guan, Tie Lou Han, Shui Jin Qui, Ban Tian Yao, etc. and on top of it, there are still many traditional tea tree cultivars, such as Shui Xien, Mei Zhan and Huang Yan, etc. these tea tree diversities allow us to enjoy very diverse flavour and taste. So Rock Tea is like Oolong not the name of tea, but only family of teas, but it is unique from Wuyi mountain region because of the growing environment.
The black tea (known as Lapsang Souchong but in Chinese is ZhenShan XiaoZhong 正山小種) from Wuyi has once championed in the tea export from China to the Europe in Qing Dynasty suffered from the competition from India, but the traditional Rock Tea survived. Thanks to early Chinese migrants to the South East Asia who love the traditional flavour and taste. Even though in the past 20 years there are many traditional oolong adapted the light fermentation process in order to satisfy the green tea lovers or it is because the plantations are moving more higher on mountains, but when increasing the flavor to charm the nose, some actually have weakened the rhythm in the taste. Luckily the South East Asian market steadily acceptance the support the sustainability of traditional processed Oolong, including Wuyi Rock Tea are growing gradually in Europe and America in recent years and there are more and more professional tea sommeliers (Chinese or non-Chinese) appreciate the traditional flavor and taste more these days.
With the continues growing from the domestic consumer market and the new development of Jin Jun Mei in 2005, actually both tea farmers and tea process manufacturers realize the benefits of creating tea that has better value in the market. During my visit to Tong Mou Guan in Wuyi last year (2015), the tea farmer also told me that they realized the mistake they made in the past to sell the left over quality from the tea production to foreign traders that eventually hurt the market value for better quality black tea from WuYi. While I am happy that the local people start to realize how to protect the traditional inherit age and the importance of quality, on the other hand, I also realize the price of Wuyi Rock Tea is going to soar and worth for collection.
So based on the above information we can easily evaluate the claim from that Chinese sales girl, it could be possible that ‘her family farm’ owns 60km2 but unlikely 60,000km2. The question from YM is about tea but again it is more than tea. Because tea is not just about business, but it is about honesty and respect. If we could not even honest with tea then how can we expect honesty in the world of tea. But again the principle is not just about tea, it is about how we face ourselves and live our life.