Updated: Oct 19, 2018
Before we begin, I’d like to do a short introduction of Tong-Mu. The village of Tong-Mu is the birthplace of black tea and produces some of the highest quality black tea. Situated in the core area of the Wu-Yi Mountains national natural preservation, the village of Tong-Mu and its broader environment are celebrated as the heaven of birds, the kingdom of snakes, the world of insects and the key to the gene pool of species. To protect its environment, the access to Tong-Mu is extremely limited and guarded. There are two forest police checkpoints on the only road in and out of Tong-Mu(one in Pi-Keng, one in Tong-Mu Guan. These are the furthest places visitors can reach). Only residents and their families, approved researchers and few granted personnels are allowed in. No tourists or visitors can gain access without approvals. This is why there are few pictures and articles about Tong-Mu.
Once we pass the police checkpoint, everything becomes insular. Human activities are reduced to the minimum amount possible. Our sense of vision no longer dominates how we perceive the environment. It is the sound in the background that keeps reminding us that we are in the realm of nature. The most significant of all is the endless sound of water flowing.
Yes, Tong-Mu has a seemingly unlimited water supply. There is even an unofficial rule that during spring every household must turn water on 24×7 or Tong-Mu might get flooded. Mountains in Tong-Mu are tall enough to cut through the clouds. Clouds hit the mountains and create numerous random small waterfalls (if you remember our previous blog, this actually contributes to the high quality of Tong-Mu water). It’s not surprising that most of the rocks in Tong-Mu are damp. Abundant water supply and humid environment nourish all lives. Our tea plants are just one of the many beneficiaries in Tong-Mu. Without the interference of the human activities, you can hear every tiny bit of sound such as birds singing, insects humming, monkeys jumping between trees and wind gently brushing through branches and leaves. These sounds join the never ending sound of water. Together they create the most impressive symphony of the nature.
P.S. I realized that by just describing the natural environment of Tong-Mu, my readers can unintentionally develop the impression that Tong-Mu is a poor, inaccessible and uncultured village. The truth is, residents in Tong-Mu are quite wealthy. Black tea from Tong-Mu is the best-seller on the market. In Tong-Mu, you can find all kinds of brand new luxury SUVs such as Range Rover, Mercedes and BMW. Our tea master Mr. Fu and his wife often joke about how they spent more than $100,000 US dollars on a new Audi but still have the least expensive car in the village. Despite human activities are limited, Tong-Mu still has full cellphone coverage, cable TV, fast internet and modern roads. Of course, this doesn’t mean Tong-Mu is as modern and sophisticated as San Francisco or Singapore. Tong-Mu still need to improve its primary education and healthcare. However, I hope my readers understand that Tong-Mu is certainly not an economically underdeveloped or socially isolated place.