For some reasons, there are quite few real old tree shu pu-erh in the market. First is that the pile fermentation (Wodui) of shu pu-erh change the tea a lot. Thus it is generally practiced that shu pu-erh doesn’t use high quality material to process. Reflected on the price of tea, we see that usually the price of shu pu-er is lower than sheng pu-erh despite that the processing of shu pu-erh is a lot more complicated than sheng pu-erh. A lot of shu pu-erh are made by the material blended from a few sources, and no matter how bad the quality it is. In our experience, we did encounter quite a few so called ‘old tree’ shu pu-erh carry pesticdes or high in the content of Anthraquinone, which can usually be considered as an index of overfrying or even burning of maocha (the raw material to process shu pu-erh), if it is higher than EU limit (0.02ppm).
The second reason is that the manufacturing of shu pu-erh requires big quantity. Because the pile fermentation needs big quantity to be done well. Usually it needs a few tons to start. It is not easy to collect enough pure old tree maocha for it.
We started to produce a batch of real old tree shu pu-erh this year. It will be 2.5tons of the raw material. And it is split in two halves. One half is from the harvest of end of Spring (Chun Wei Cha), the other half will be from the harvest in the beginning of Autumn (Gu Hua Cha). The reason why we arranged it in this way is that both of these two crops are excellent in quality and the cost is relatively not so high. (As mentioned above, usually the market price of shu pu-erh is not so high. So we have to control the cost well).
The tea garden is in Ming Feng Shan of Yongde County in Southwest Yunnan. The reason why we selected the material from here is that this garden grows old tea trees age ranging from 150-400 years. The old tea tree is even in the garden. NO new small tea trees were planted as some other tea gardens did. And the altitude of this old tree tea garden is very high. It reaches 2050-2100m. We can say not many Yunnan tea gardens can reach this height. The natural growing of old tea trees and very high altitude ensures very deep taste of the tea from this garden, and the flavor is pure clean with kind of plum flavor. Somehow the good taste of raw material will be reflected on the outcome quality of shu pu-erh, even big change will happen in the pile fermentation (Wo Dui).
The last reason why we selected the material from Ming Feng Shan tea garden is that the farmer cooperative here has been working with us for nearly ten years. They are very skilled and reliable in both harvesting and processing of old tree mao cha!
Now around two thirds of the raw material are made. They will be ready in the next two weeks when all the Gu Hua Cha (Autumun crop) are produced. Then they will be sent to the shu pu-erh plant for pile fermentation. The mid-Autumn season is the best timing of the year to make Shu Pu-erh. Because it is the time when the air of Yunnan become dry. The pile fermnetation can be better done in the dry climate of Yunnan.
Ming Feng Shan old tree tea garden is located in Yongde County of Southwest Yunnan. The altitude of the garden is 2050-2100m.
The harvesting of old tree material for shu pu-erh.
The farmers brought back the harvesting in the evening.
All the old tea tree fresh leaves are so excellent!
The fresh tea leaves are put on the withering tunnel for withering of a few hours.
The tea is hand fried in the wok next morning.
The iron wok is heated by burning wood.
The stove is well designed. No any smoke will go into the frying work area.
After frying the tea is rolled by rolling machine.
After rolling, the tea is put on the bamboo mats on the roof for drying by sunlight.
Usually the tea can be dried whithin 1.5 or two days.
The dry tea is collected.
This is Mao Cha. It is the raw material for shu pu-erh. And also it is already ready for drinking as sheng pu-erh, or compressed as sheng pu-erh cake.
The mao cha is subject to hand sorting.
This is the mao cha after hand sorting, a standard sheng pu-erh product.
The raw material is packed in the PP bag.
The raw material is stored in the PP bag, and waiting for all of them being ready, then sent to the shu pu-erh processing plant for pile fermentation and other final stage processing.
The raw material is stored in the PP bag, and waiting for all of them being ready, then sent to the shu pu-erh processing plant for pile fermentation and other final stage processing. It will be around half a month later.