Once again I bring you more stories from my tea hunting adventures. This time it’s my hunt for the Ultimate Ancient Tea Tree Purple Leaf Puer.
When I was first on my hunt in my travels around China, I came across a very expensive puer called Purple Puer. It was the most expensive tea that this factory had for sale.
The cake was a tiny 200-gram cake selling for over 10,000 RMB ($1585USD). I asked them to brew me a taste and they refused unless I guaranteed that I was going to buy it. After many efforts in attempt to get them to brew me a taste of this most intriguing tea, they wouldn’t budge.
I am not that wealthy that I can afford such a luxury, but I am up for the challenge of trying to find this mysterious and extremely expensive tea elsewhere at a price I could afford.
Thus, the hunt for this exotic tea began.
Puer comes from Yunnan, which is the southern central part neighboring to Sichuan, Tibet, Burma, Vietnam and Laos making it quite an exotic place with many cultures.
Yunnan is quite a big place, so I had to try to get some leads before I went on my journey.
I already had a number of contacts in the tea biz, especially in Puers that could help me make my journey easier. In addition, I didn’t want to fork out the cash for a translator so I had to make sure my Mandarin was up to snuff to be able to negotiate a deal with a farmer or factory if I found the right tea.
I could already speak fluent daily Mandarin, but business negotiation would add a new level of depth to my skill. So I hired a teacher to teach me 3 times per week and hammered at it for months preparing for my big adventure.
Finally after months of successfully speaking and reading on business negotiation in Mandarin with my teacher I was ready to set off.
I had heard that the Bai Tribe in southwest Yunnan was a very spiritual tribe that revered tea trees as sacred guardian spirits of the tribe. Not only that, but they had a wild purple bud that they sold.
This Ancient Purple Leaf Puer was no ordinary tea, I was told. They believed this ancient and wild tea tree had protected them for hundreds of years through drought, famine and war. This story fascinated me to the point I was eager to get my hands on this tea and learn more.
So I went deep into the mountains of Yunnan near the border of Burma. I went down a dangerous dirt road for over 3 hours fearing for my life as there were some steep cliffs with nothing holding us back from going over the mountain.
When we first entered the road there was a tiny village of people with houses that looked like tin huts. After 3 hours of grueling, bumpy roads that made my whole body sore we finally arrive to one of the tea plantations. What first struck me were the Bai's houses, which looked like a very traditional with a unique pointed roof of old grasses and other natural fibers. I remember my friend who was driving told me the village had only one light bulb.
What an amazing contrast of our lives!
The Bai themselves were a deep brown, much more tanned and much more round eyes than the Han of China. They looked like an earthy, healthy, and peaceful people.
While they said nothing to us, they also showed no harm or annoyance at us being there.
Instinctively I did not want to take pictures of them, as many of the tribal peoples I have met can be offended or bothered by this. As a foreigner in Asia, I totally empathize – who likes being an attraction?
The Bai had a variety of puer teas, but what really caught my attention was their Ancient Purple Leaf Puer. The farmers had picked this tea at over 6,000 feet high in the virgin forests of Yunnan, and the buds and branches were – amazingly – three different colors of purple, green and yellow.
When we brewed it, the leaves turned bright beautiful colors and the buds ballooned. The brew is a pale, light Yellow green golden color with a floral honey like aroma and taste. I had never tried a puer like this. I was able to brew it up to 20 times! And, shockingly, I was told if I aged it I could brew it more and more times!
This was a special treat. I could feel the power that this tea represented and imagined as I sipped this special spirit the story of how it protected the Bai Tribe through the toughest of times. I began to wonder if it could aid me through mine. I began to ponder how Purple was considered in many spiritual traditions as the most spiritual color. In some Native American Indian tribes it, is considered a color of protection. I can see the many threads across the earth that connects these ancient peoples together.
Tomorrow I am off to see some ancient tea tree plantations!
Join me next time as I go on the hunt for Ancient Purple Leaf Ball Raw Puer!
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