In my hunt for new teas I am always on the lookout exotic new finds. And so, when I found this Wild Schisandra berry, I knew I found something special.
At this stage of my sourcing career, I’ve developed a bit of a reputation for finding the humble farmer who just so happens to turn out to be a master artisan. It is often these unknown farmers or wild crafters that have a true gift to offer.
In this case, Dong Chang Cai is one such artisan. Little known to the outside world, Dong and his family have been living peacefully in the mountains of northern China picking Wild Schisandra for many generations. Dong says that there is a particular time of the year and time day to pick the Schisandra that make it just right. He says that this knowledge has been passed down in his family, and that few other people (if any) actually know it.
I have long known about this magic berry’s immense health benefits, as Daoists I know use it to enhance their training, and I drink it daily as a tonic to enhance my Qigong and martial arts training. Schisandra has more recently become popular after it was featured on the Dr. Oz show as a berry that contains antioxidant and immune-boosting propertie, in addition to it’s ability to help protect the kidneys and liver while undergoing chemotherapy. There are actually a huge number of other benefits of this incredible berry, which Amanda wrote about on another blog here.
“It is an art of when to pick the Schisandra. In order to get the right flavor and maximize the benefits from this sacred berry you have to wait for the right time of the month, time of day and even the right temperature and humidity,” Dong explains of his picking methods. “It has to have just the right color and feel in order to pick it. We don’t pick it if it is too soft or too hard. We also are very careful not to over-pick the tree, as this could harm it.”
Dong takes his daughter with him on his Schisandra hunting expeditions because he wants to pass on this special knowledge of how to pick Schisandra to the next generation.
As Dong only picks around 500g per day, available market quantity of this special Wild Schisandra is incredibly limited. No doubt, Schisandra is easy to find in the marketplace, but to find good Schisandra berry is difficult and to find Wild Schisandra is really exciting!
We are honored and privileged to be able to work with Dong and his family to support them in their family’s heritage and art of working with the sacred berry of Schisandra.
Check out the beautiful video above to see Dong wild-crafting this amazing berry.
Until Next Time,
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