The Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew London) provides the following on the origins of the tea plant:
"The origin of tea is not clear. Camellia sinensis var. sinensis is probably native to western Yunnan, while C. sinensis var. assamica is native to the warmer parts of Assam (India), Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and southern China. 'Wild' tea plants can be found growing in forests, but these may be relics of past cultivation."
As far as Vietnam is concerned it is the mountainous area in the north of the the country that forms the border with China and Laos where tea has its origins. It is this area and the wild tea trees that we focus on in our quest to bring you the best and most interesting teas. Many of the trees are classified as ancient and in some cases said to be over 800 years old. Unlike the farmed bushes the wild leaves are left to grow naturally and may reach 4 or 5 metres in height.
Growing wild at altitude and often shrouded by mists and clouds the leaves grow very slowly on trees - adding character and taste to the final leaves. Trees grow in mixed forests spread over many kilometres and are never subjected to fertiliser or pesticide use. In some cases you can sense the pine forests in the finished tea.
The tea leaves are usually harvested by members of the many minorty hill peoples (such as H'Mong and Dao) that inhabit the upland areas of Vietnam. Families will look after a designated area of trees and during the season will set out. often travelling great distance, to climb trees and pick leaves. The families will then either process the teas themsleves, work in a co-operative or sell the harvested leaves to a nearby factory.
We have visited many areas and met and eaten with many families to select the great teas that we now offer. Each is naturally grown and processed using traditional techniques and minimal technology - a wood fired oven and a rolling machine - to craft some unique and wonderful teas.
Click to find out more about our natural wild crafted teas.