During the clipper age, basically from 1840 to about 1870, the Great China Tea Run was one of the most anticipated and talked about events of the year. Great fortunes were wagered on the winner and the quality of the tea it would deliver. Back then, just like today, there was much debate about the medicinal qualities of tea.
The tea used for yak butter tea most probably comes from the mountains just west of Yunnan and Sichuan. What I have seen is a dark, formidable leaf with an intense flavor bordering on bitterness and smoke. Every Tibetan I have ever met, drinks it continuously and urges onto everyone whom he might meet.
As the name makes clear, tea and horses were the major commodities traded along this route from the Tang to the late Qing Dynasties, from around 600 AD to the 20th century. Trade and travel definitely took place along this route for several thousands of years before the Tang, as archaeological sites in Tibet and in the city of Chengdu demonstrate, but for us, this period is the most significant.
Tea is medicine for the new age, just as it was medicine for the ancient humans of ages long past. In the last 50 years, we moved away from that type of medicine – the lifestyle elixir. Scientifically speaking, green tea and white tea are medically the most beneficial
When it comes to tea, only recently has the common man gained access to fresh greens and whites, aromatic oolongs and delicate yellows. For centuries, the best teas went to the rich and powerful and the common man drank what he could, when he could. So what did he drink? He drank brick tea.
I must say I was very proud of the little Kuding leaf and glad that my friends could appreciate it as much as I do. Kuding tea (bitter tea) is grown all over China, in two distinct varieties. The Sichuan variety, which I know very well, is called Qing Shan Lui Shui (Jade Mountain Green Water) and the Hainan variety is just straight Kuding (bitter nail).
As with all good teas, oolongs are a work of art and truly good varieties require a master craftsman at every stage: cultivation, picking, fermenting/oxidizing, and the final stage, which is roasting. Each stage has its own special secrets and techniques, thus we have a diverse range of oolongs.
Ah oolong! The perfect anytime tea with a rich, versatile flavor that is a great compliment to just about any meal or as a stand-alone beverage. Most people have tried oolong tea once or twice in their lives because it is commonly served in Chinese restaurants. But oolong, like so many other teas, has a long and rich history.
Yellow tea might be a good tea for Westerners, because some do not like the grassy flavor of green teas, but they want the same health benefits that green tea provides. Yellows might just be the “in-between tea” that people here in the US could enjoy for both taste and health benefits.
Pu’erh tea hails from the Yunnan province in China where it has been cultivated for over 1700 years—that’s some serious history. Pu’erh is made from fermented tea leaves and comes in three basic varieties: black, green, and white. Pu’erh teas are known to have some pretty amazing effects on the human body.