I never gave much thought to the concept of wild tea until recently. When I ran across Wild Tea Hunter, a book about wild tea. Which I haven’t actually read yet. But one of the interesting claims the author makes for the book is this one, “Discover how wild and ancient tea trees contain a multiple of the nutrients of standard farmed tea and be introduced to the unique energetic qualities found only in the tea trees in the wild.”
Which is an interesting notion and not one that I’ve given much thought to before. I’m not particularly knowledgeable when it comes to the finer points of tea cultivation, but I’d gather that, if tea plants grew wild prior to the time that they began to be cultivated, then they must still be growing in the wild in some places today.
If you go to the Internet to search for wild tea, you’re likely to find something that’s not Camellia sinensis, the plant that produces “real” tea. There are plenty of other plant-based beverages that are given this designation, largely due to the fact that they’re made from various plants collected in the wild. I’d venture to say that “real” wild tea is a relatively rare commodity. Which makes sense, give that tea plants that are grown in the wild and accessible must surely be vastly outnumbered by the domesticated ones.
Some research on the matter turned up a few examples of retailers selling what is apparently “real” tea from plants growing in the wild. One of these is described as a Wild Mountain Black Tea, from Taiwan, a place that’s much better known for its output of oolong than black tea. Another merchant offers three wild varieties, of different types, all of which seem to hail from China.
As for this notion that wild tea has a more pronounced effect on the body’s chi or qi, it’s a concept that turns up in more than one place. Which doesn’t necessarily make it true, of course, but makes it worth considering. Here’s a rather in-depth article from a few years back that tackles this exact topic. It’s worth a look, but to summarize very briefly, wild tea is thought to grow more “in harmony” with nature and thus absorbs more “natural energy.”
It’s a concept that’s also mentioned in this brief article from the International Tea Masters Association. Which also notes that numerous wild tea trees, some of them quite old and large, are still found growing in remote regions of China’s Yunnan province. One of these was analyzed some time ago by Chinese scientists and was found to be 112 feet tall and more than 1,800 years old.
See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.
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