Day 6 our Yunnan Tea Tour packed up our little bus and took off for Jinggu. The Jinggu area is the largest forested area in Yunnan, and rich with many unknown mountains peaks with older trees. I have spent a lot of time in Jinggu and it always seems like I could stay there year round and never get to visit all of the great gardens up in the mountains of Jinggu County. It is also the main factory for Yunnan Cha Ma Shi. They are the company that I have bought most of our puer from over the years. They have 9 small tradition factories around Yunnan and their Jinggu factory is the largest.
Our time in Jinggu included a visit to a garden famous for a tea tree called Da Bai Cha (big white tea). I had been up this road with another group in 2007 and there were many scared people, but the road had been paved almost to the top since. The views going up the mountain were worth the whole trip just to see. Green mountains stretching into the horizon covered with ancient forests, and equally as ancient villages dotting the rich valleys surrounded by small farms. We did eventually run out of pavement and got stuck in the mud so bad we walked the rest of the way.The garden was populated by numerous ancient trees, many of which had been given a number, and each of the numbered trees were part of a longitudinal study.
We wondered around the with Wang Xiqun, Hu Haoming, Chen Keke, my teachers and friends discussing the trees. Wang Xiqun is the founder of Cha Ma Shi, Hu Haoming, his brother in law and partner, and Chen Keke is a botanist and professor at Kunming University. After exploring for a little while we sat down and had some tea made in the traditional way. Tea is roasted in a large earthen pitcher on the fire until just right, and then boiling water is poured over the tea. The water continues to bubble as it is poured into the hot pitcher with the tea until there is almost an eruption of fragrant steam from the pot. The tea is strong and bitter, complicated and sweet. Wonderful with a punch.
We had a bit of a wild ride down the mountain and back to Jinggu. We had yet another feast of dinner and finished the evening with a traditional Japanese tea ceremony performed by Sirn Bisgaard. Sirn has lived in Japan for the last thirty five years in Kyoto and studied tea ceremony for all of that time. As he performed he gave us a interesting lesson in the art. Sirn has students all around the world and is a true scholar of Japanese tea and tea culture. We all learned a lot from having him along as a very last minute addition to our tour. Truly fate acted in our behalf.
The next morning we returned to the factory and made some more cakes, which we given in the pressing sock, to add another level of specialness. We said good bye and headed of to Old Puer City for lunch. We visited some old friends with a small factory and picked up some hard to find purple puer cakes. They were sold out but we managed to beg some from their personal stash. Another example of the value of having a thick face. (being shameless)
We spent the rest of the afternoon driving back to Jinghong where we ended the day with dinner along the river walk. What a great time we had all had in Southern Yunnan. Wow.