As noted in this recent article on The Teas Of Fujian (one of China’s many provinces), all the tea in China covers quite a bit of territory, especially given that China is the number one tea-producing country in the world. And while it might not be sporting to play favorites, it wouldn’t be too farfetched to suggest that of all of China’s tea-producing regions it’s the output of Yunnan that might be the most noteworthy.
Yunnan province is located in the southern part of China, where it butts up against Tibet, Myanmar (Burma), Laos, and Vietnam. Yunnan is a largely mountainous and rugged region that is home to about 45 million people.
There are two well-known tea varieties that hail from this part of the world, including one that takes its name from the province itself. Less than 15 percent of China’s tea output is black tea (which the Chinese often refer to as red tea), but Yunnan, or Dian hong, is probably one of the best-known of these varieties – with the possible exception of Keemun.
Most Yunnan teas tend to have a larger number of the buds and golden tips that are indicative of better grades of black tea and it has a full-bodied, mellow flavor that typically lacks much in the way of bitterness and astringency.
The other popular type of tea that originates in Yunnan is the variety known as Pu-erh (which, like many types of tea, is subject to a number of variations in spelling). As one tea expert put it, Pu-erh is “perhaps the most exotic tea in China’s vast repertoire of astonishing tea.” Increasingly the favorite of tea connoisseurs inside China and more recently in other parts of the world, some of the rarer aged varieties of this tea have become valuable as an investment as well as a beverage.
It would be impossible to touch on the basics of Pu-erh in the limited space available here. For a good overview of this topic, check out this recent post, The Mysterious World of Aged Pu-erh.
Don’t forget to check out William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks!