We have 1 hectare (2.5 acres) of ancient tea gardens and 2.7 hectares (6.6 acres) of natural tea gardens in Jingmai mountain. We harvest these gardens to make our tea and buy fresh leaves from other farmers as well.
Jingmai mountain, located in Puer County, not far from Burma and Xishuangbanna, is famous for hosting the largest ancient tea gardens in Yunnan, tea has been cultivated there for 1800 years. It is on the tentative list to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mountain is home to five ethnic minorities.
The tea variety present in Jingmai mountain is called Zhong Xiao Ye Zhong 中小叶种 (medium-small leaf varietal). It is different from the more typical Da Ye Zhong 大叶种 (big leaf varietal) found in most tea mountains in Yunnan. These tea trees give very aromatic leaves which are quite versatile: they are mostly used to make Pu-erh tea, but can also give good results for black, oolong and white. The typical Jingmai fragrance reminds of orchids and honey. Another characteristic of Jingmai Pu-erh tea is its fast Huigan 回甘(mint-like freshness and sweetness felt in the throat), it is especially noticeable in the leaves that come from ancient tea gardens. It can also have a bitterness that changes quickly into sweetness. Finally, Jingmai tea brings out more astringency than average.
Our ancient tea gardens are located on Da Ping Zhang: a vast plateau on top of Jingmai mountain, at an altitude comprised between 1500m and 1600m. The ancient tea gardens are shaded by large trees and host a rich biodiversity. The soil has a large part of organic matter, which gives it a good structure and allows the soil life to thrive. During summer, spiders weave their nets between the tall tea trees, which limits pest attacks and disease spread. The ancient tea gardens are fertilized by the cows walking through them and by the falling leaves from the big trees.
Our natural tea gardens are 5 to 70 years old, 40 years old on average. Most of them are located near Da Ping Zhang, at a similar altitude. Since 2010, they have been managed in an eco-friendly way: insecticides and fungicides are prohibited, herbicide application is limited to once a year in summer, the gardens are fertilized only once every two years. Shade trees have been planted in 2010, they regulate temperature and sunlight, increase biodiversity, improve soil organic matter and are a source of fuelwood.