How family-style tea farming looks like in China?
Six thousand feet elevation above sea-level, there is a remote village inside the national conservation area of Wuyi Mountain in Fujian province. The village has only 40 families and has restricted access for the general public.
Among them, there are a few tea growing families using the most traditional method. We were fortunate enough to be introduced to one of these artisans called Shengyi Zhang. Grandpa Zhang lives in a four-story house in the mountain with his lovely wife. They both look very fit, healthy and happy. The nature provides them with fresh water, clean air and rich soil. They return the favor by sharing that with all the wildlife. This is perhaps the only bittersweet part of their lives. The residents cannot raise enough livestock to be self-sustained because eagles and wolfs prey on those animals at night. In order to get enough food and supplies, he takes a two-hour trip to the nearest town for shopping each time. Grandpa Zhang will make 2-3 trips like that in a month.
Making and crafting tea is Grandpa Zhang’s passion and main source of income. He is a well-known artisan for his authentic Wuyi black and wild white tea. His tea gardens are about 35 min hike from his house.
Black and white teas can be harvested twice a year (Spring & Fall). Each harvest requires about a month of heavily laborious work. Around that time, he calls his children, grandchildren and extended family members to take time-off from their work and come to the mountain. Collectively they hand-pluck the tea leaves, share meals together and enjoy each other’s company. As needed, Zhang creates seasonal job opportunities for workers. He accommodates them with free lodging and meals in addition to financial compensations. In fact, Grandpa Zhang build his house having this idea in mind.
He uses traditional method of tea farming. His tea trees grow in the most untouched part of the mountain. When we visited his gardens, we could see various herbs and grass growing underneath the trees. The biodiversity of his tea garden works its magic on pest control instead of synthetic pesticides.
The environment is so clean, that we drank freshwater from the creek passing through his tea gardens. It felt like a heaven on earth. That’s when we immediately decided to make Zhang as one of our partners for his Black and Wild white tea. We purchased his inventory and promised to come back for more.
Partnering with artisans like him is part of HER-CHA’s identity. Shengyi Zhang, his family and his love for tea is part of HER-CHA’s story. Every time we share our tea with our customers, we share these stories in that cup of tea. In this value chain, our customers get to enjoy the most premium Chinese tea while supporting socially, environmentally, and ethically responsible business practice.
You can find the quality testing results of Shengyi’s black and wild white tea here