Updated: Jan 30, 2019
We’ve discussed how a valley can regulate the optimum amount of sunlight for tea plants in our "about" page. Today, let’s talk about the important of a coexisting environment of tea plants and other plants.
Good quality teas often come from tea farms that look disorganized. You might have seen pictures of tea mountains before, and mountains in pictures look very organized. Most of these pictures are taken from the mountain top, and they look quite magnificent: all tea trees are arranged in a terrace-field pattern that goes along with the shape of the mountain. Miles of mountains have nothing but trimmed tea trees facing the open sky. While it does look good on pictures, this type of tea growing environment doesn’t produce the best quality teas.
To illustrate, I’d like to use our tea mountain in Yellow Village as the example (you can find pictures below). It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to walk into our tea valley from the main road. The valley isn’t that far, but it takes a bit effort to reach there. The trail is often narrowed or blocked by branches and leaves of all kinds of trees, trees that are only common in the Wu-Yi area. Our tea master Mr. Xue, a native of Yellow Village, can always identify the names and the uses of these trees. Being a tea farmer himself, Mr. Xue doesn’t drop educated binomial names like “Punica granatum” (pomegranate). In stead, he often recognizes trees by what he can use them for. “You can use these leaves as salt”, he would point to a tree and say. “And those leaves over there, you can use them as pepper.” Deeper we go into the valley, more different kinds of trees appear. When we reach the core tea-producing ground, the number of tea plants seems to be insignificant compared to the number of all other trees surrounding them. Tea plants here grow in small groups, and they appear to be scattered all over the ground. The valley and its natural environment dictate how tea plants are organized. If there is a rock, we leave it and plant tea tree somewhere else; if there is a water flow, we leave it be.
If you think this would reduce our production, you are right. However, we consider the tea growing environment as a fixed precondition, and it should not be changed for the purpose of planting more. An organized, industrial-looking tea mountain generally faces problems like soil degradation, soil erosion and plant malnutrition. In practice, we often find our tea plants benefiting from healthy soil with the help of other plants’ roots, fallen leaves and fruits. A diversified environment also protects our tea plants from frostbites in the spring.
After all, tea-making is a delicate agricultural activity that depends on the blessing of the nature. We are truly grateful for what we are allowed to get. Hopefully by reading this blog, you can have a better understanding of what a hard and amazing journey it is to bring you a perfect serving of tea.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment, tweet us @valleybrooktea, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.