This educational tasting set offers an opportunity to experience the differences between each of the “6 famous tea mountains”. Using high quality 2014 fall ancient tree material, these teas are not just ideal for comparison, but for enjoyment as well.
Perhaps the most well known of the 6 famous tea mountains, Yiwu refers to both the township in Mengla county, but also to a larger tea growing region that spans much of the southern border of Yunnan with Laos. As the starting point of the ancient tea horse road, Yiwu is rich in history and folklore, and home to many famous villages. To some up what Yiwu tea is in only a few short words is impossible. It’s typically known for a soft, sweet fragrance, yet is still pronounced, with good ageing potential.
To the East of Yiwu is Manzhuan. It shares many similar characteristics of neighboring Yiwu region teas, but is also often described as having a thick aroma and fragrance. This is likely due to the amount of natural forest that surrounds many of the tea gardens.
North of Manzhuan and Yiwu lies Yibang. The most famous village, Mansong, was also the source of Ming Dynasty tribute tea. While Yibang tends to live in the shadow of Yiwu in terms of popularity, Mansong tea has capitalized on its history and become increasingly popular in recent years, especially domestically. However, this has made obtaining true tea from the region more unlikely. Yibang is also host to several species of tea tree, including large, medium and small leaf varieties.
Moving west, Gedeng tea mountain is situated just Southwest of Yibang. Tragically, Gedeng is one of the areas in Yunnan that has faced a massive loss of tea trees in favour of crops like rubber in its history. Needless to say only a limited number of old trees remain and is considered a relatively small tea producing region. Teas from Gedeng tend to be a mix of large and small leaf varietal tea trees, giving it a unique and smooth character.
Moving Southwest again (bit still north of Yiwu village), we get to Mangzhi. Again, Mangzhi teas tend to be from medium and smaller leaf material, which provide a nice boost of fragrance. Similar to Gedeng, the tea producing area of Mangzhi is not particularly large and was grown over, but has increased over the last 30 years.
The furthest west of the 6 Ancient/Famous tea mountains is Youle, also known as “Jinuo” mountain, as it is primarily inhabited by the Jinuo people. Tea from Youle represents a middle ground between Yiwu and Menghai region character, with a pleasant balance of floral, fragrant and bitter. Geographically, this makes sense as this mountain falls between the two regions.