Indiana Morrison

China is a vast expanse of the earth and I’ve managed to visit a small part of it; Hong Kong, Macau, Kunming, Xiamen, Beijing, Shanghai and Bashoan/Lincang in Yunnan Province where I was searching, not unlike Indiana Jones, for wild tea trees in the mountains close to the Burmese border.
In this mountain range trees, not bushes, grow randomly at 7,500ft above sea level and it is from these broad tea leaves that Puerh tea is created. 

All tea is created from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. It is just a question of processing. Puerh tea is fermented from broad tea leaves in tea beds and then usually pressed into tea cakes. The tea matures, just like wine and is commonly labelled and dated. Some old tea cakes (50 years) trade in Beijing for thousands of US$. 
Grading leaves by hand

The Puerh tea sold at Tea Cargo www.teacargo.co.uk is not only organic but aged from 2008. It is mean tea too that my friend Dai Hu tells me Chinese people drink it after eating fatty food and drinking alcohol!
Dai Hu

I met Dai, who is a practising medical doctor in China (western, not traditional) in Scotland. He was studying occupational therapy at Edinburgh university courtesy of a scholarship provided by the Chinese government as they don’t practise this in China. Today, Dai lectures on occupational therapy at Kunming University.

Dai introduced me to broad tea leaves. 

I like him a lot and we keep in regular contact but one day in 2012 he emailed me to say that his marriage was over. He was close to distraught, as close to distraught as you can be in an email but last month his email included the following: ‘Found a new woman for me, but life is not same anymore, I think some things will haunt me for a long, long time.’ I hope it works for Dai.

Tea tasting

 Note the hand carved yew table


Arriving in Kunming from Manchester – Helsinki – Bangkok – Hong Kong – Xiamen – Beijing I was in serious need of a back massage and after establishing what kind of ‘massage’ Dai arranged it for me. The best back and body massage was performed on me by a blind man who was trained in the art of massage by monks. A good way of providing employment for a blind person. It cost around £3 and Dai forbade me to give him a tip. 


And China was the first time I ate chicken’s feet, together with a local speciality of slimy black mushrooms and duck jelly. 
Tea tree up close

Each tea bed contains 5 tonnes of fermenting tea leaves