Tong Qing River Pu-erh tea is named after the Tong Qing River, as it is from the unknown forest off the beaten path far away from the village to which it belongs, which is part of the Yiwu area in Xishuangbanna prefecture. It was unknown to the Pu-erh tea world until 2012 when a few discovered the secret forest. To get to this place, the villagers must go upstream, cross the river at some point, and climb up the hills and mountains by foot. Along the way, there are many wild plants, trees, flowers, fruits, mushrooms, snakes, leeches, and of course, jumping fish. The water is very cold, the stones are very slippery, and the hills and rocks are dangerous. It is a breathtaking but very difficult journey, 5-6 hours by foot. Our local partner Ms. Wang, who once made the journey to secure the tea leaves, told Victoria that her journey was like a jungle adventure, and she would not want to travel back again as she was scared to death when she found several leeches attached to her legs on the way back.
This is the perfect example of the greatest teas coming from the best pristine ecosystem, producing the most ecologically grown tea that Mother Nature has to offer: the high mountains and misty forest, a naturally fertile wonderland. Because it is very difficult to get to, even villagers are reluctant to make the tough trip. It has become the new upstart Pu-erh tea in recent years, with many hotly chasing after it, for its superior quality and taste.
Given the reputation of quality that Tong Qing He has garnered and given the difficult journey to harvest the fresh leaves and the associated low yields from the ancient jungle trees, Tong Qing He tea fresh leaves usually sell at a higher price. During the harvest season in early April, you will see some tea merchants waiting by the roadway for the fresh leaves to be carried out from the forest and they pay a high cash price on the spot. As a merchant, you need to be ready to seize the fresh harvest loads. Without having acquaintances or relationships with some villagers, it is very unlikely that one could obtain fresh leaves, even if you are willing to pay a little higher price than the other bidders. The lucky ones need to snatch the fresh leaves fast, load them into their vehicles, and deliver them to the processing facility quickly.
Yes, this tea is very difficult to get, but the quality of this tea is outstanding. It has several great attributes, the most noteworthy being the wild aroma of Yun that is unique to this micro-lot pu'erh tea. Yun (韵) is the unique sensory experience and/or taste that is associated with a particular high-quality tea. Also, the tea is very juicy and smooth, thick-textured, full-bodied, with complex flavors that make you ponder. The quality is also evident by its sensation in your throat, with a strong sweet aftertaste, or Hui Gan in Chinese. Its purity is clearly tasted in your cup, and the warming effect of Cha Qi is delivered to your body after just a couple sips. It is a daily luxury and a delicacy that true Pu-erh tea lovers want to own.
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