Yunnan is the home of Pu-erh tea and the birthplace of the ancient tea horse road. It is located near the Tropic of Cancer and has year-round clouds, abundant rainfall, a suitable climate, large temperature differences, and fertile soil，which provides a unique growing environment for tea trees
A place of water can raise a party of people, and it can also raise a party of tea trees. “One mountain, one flavor” refers to the differences in aroma, taste of Pu-erh teas from different mountains.
Bing Dao tea tastes sweet, pure, full and smooth; the aroma is rich; the sweet aftertaste is noticeable and lasting; and it has the distinct ice sugar sensation. Lao Ban Zhang tea is thick, the taste is full, the bitterness and astringency are the heaviest, and the sweet aftertaste lingers the longest.
What causes tea to taste differently when grown on the opposite side of a river, a mountain, or even on another side of the same mountain?
Tea trees typically prefer acidic soils for growth. The majority of the tea mountains in Yunnan have acidic soil, little human activity, and nutrient buildup. Tea tree roots are rich in organic acids, and they are symbiotic with many fungal mycelium or mycorrhizae, which can aid in the breakdown of organic matter in the soil. Only acidic environments are suitable for mycorrhizal growth. According to this, tea trees grown in areas with acidic soil are frequently thicker and taller than tea trees grown in areas with poor soil, and the tea leaves have more substance, thicker, have a richer flavor, and are resistant to brewing.
The sun’s rays provide the Pu-erh tea trees with the nutrients they require to grow, just like all other plants in nature. The ancient tea trees are mostly grown in the deep mountains and dense forests, this allows the tea trees to produce high quality tea leaves with rich inclusions when grown under diffused light.
Tea trees’ vitality is impacted by temperature. The tea trees prefer a warm environment, 20~25℃, which is most suitable for the tea trees to grow, while different Pu-erh tea tree varieties have different temperature preferences. Generally, the small-leafed tea trees are more resistant to cold and drought than large-leafed tea trees.
Moreover, soil temperature is also closely related to the growth and development of tea trees. Soil with a temperature of 10~25℃ is the most favorable for the development of the tea trees’ root system, creating a good environment for tea trees to absorb nutrients.
Water is an indispensable condition for the growth of tea trees. The younger and more tender the part of the tea tree, the higher the water content. Water is the most important factor influencing tea yield after temperature and nutrients are met. Tea trees are suitable for an environment with annual rainfall of 1500mm and monthly rainfall of 100mm or more during the growing season.
In general, 80% water content is ideal for the soil where tea trees grow, while air humidity of more than 80% can significantly enhance the quality of tea leaves. This explains why the three main Pu-erh tea-producing regions are all located near the Lancang River, and many areas in Yunnan are cloudy mountains all year round.
Varieties of Tea Tree
Yunnan, the birthplace of tea trees, not only has an abundance of tea tree resources, but also the most wild tea trees.
The aroma and taste of the finished tea products will differ even if the same method is used to make the tea because the fresh leaves of tea trees contain different amounts of aromatic substances, amino acids, tea polyphenols, and sugar substances.
Before becoming finished tea and being served on the tea table, freshly picked tea leaves go through a series of processing steps. The nuances of each procedure can lead to many differences in quality, and the method used to make tea also affects its potential for future transformation.
The topography of Yunnan is undulating, rising in the west and falling in the east, with an overall average elevation of about 2,000 meters, a general southern elevation of about 1,500 to 2,200 meters, and a northern elevation of about 3,000 to 4,000 meters.
In the same soil, at high altitude, tea plants exposed to more UV will form more aromatics with higher boiling points, and the aroma of teas made from them will last longer when brewed. Low boiling point aromatic components are formed at lower altitudes, and their content and variety are not as good as those found at higher altitudes.
The phrase “one mountain, one flavor” applies to Pu-erh tea, and the specific factors that influence its quality include environment, altitude, climate, soil, tea tree varieties, and so on.
Because of the combined effect of these factors, the aroma and taste of Pu-erh tea vary from mountain to mountain, and because Pu-erh tea has the allure of “one mountain, one flavor,” more and more tea lovers are falling in love with it.
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