After the “Puer” tea is ready, the journey begins.
For the Pu’erh that I buy, Emperor’s Pu’erh, it leaves Yunnan, reaches China’s coast and then crosses the Pacific to end on a shelf at a Whole Foods Market. However, before that, for centuries, Puer tea traveled to Tibet and China’s capital for the Emperor.
CCTV 9 Travelogue – Tea and Horse Road – Part 1 1/2
Most people have heard of or read about the Silk Road from China to Europe. I’m sure that few have heard of the Ancient Tea Horse Road, which I discovered in the May 2010 issue of National Geographic magazine.
CCTV 9 Travelogue – Tea and Horse Road – Part 1 2/2
Legend says that tea from China arrived in Tibet as early as the Tang Dynasty (618- 906 A.D.). After that, the Chinese traded tea for horses, as many as 25,000 horses annually.
CCTV 9 Travelogue – Tea and Horse Road – Part 2 1/2
But that isn’t what struck me the most about the piece. It’s the example that demonstrated why the peasants loved and possibly worshiped Mao Tse-Tung.
CCTV 9 Travelogue – Tea and Horse Road – Part 2 2/2
For more than a thousand years, men fed their families by carrying hundreds of pounds of tea on their backs across rugged mountains into Lhasa. Some froze to death in blizzards. Others fell to their deaths from the narrow switchbacks that climbed into the clouds.
CCTV 9 Travelogue – Tea and Horse Road – Part 3 1/2
This all ended in 1949 when Mao had a road built to Tibet and farmland was redistributed from the wealthy to the poor. “It was the happiest day of my life,” said Luo Yong Fu, a 92-year-old dressed in a black beret and a blue Mao jacket, whom the author of the National Geographic piece met in the village of Changheba.
CCTV 9 Travelogue – Tea and Horse Road – Part 3 2/2
Before ending the four posts on Puer [Pu'erh] tea and moving on to Kombucha Fermented Tea in Post 5, Numi Organic tea, Emperor’s Pu’erh, the one I buy at Whole Foods, says, “These old-growth rare Pu’erh trees are communally owned by the local villagers who pick them for their livelihood, ensuring that they continue to grow for generations to come… Pu’erh is an ancient healing tea picked from 500-year-old organic wild tea trees in Yunnan, China. Pu’erh has more antioxidant than most green teas.”
Continued on January 21, 2012 in Tea for Emperors and Tibet – Kombucha Fermented Tea – Part 5 or return to Part 3
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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