I am a big fan of tea. The most famous variety from this region in Pu’er tea, a fermented dark tea which, when prepared well, is very nice but I’ve not mastered this yet. There are also numerous types of green tea which I am enjoying in my daily cup. It was a great pleasure to join a field trip to a very old tea plantation a few weeks ago.
The aim of the field trip was to test a new method of cultivating valuable orchids. Epiphytic orchids grown on the tea could potentially provide additional sources of income for the plantation owners. After success in the lab, Prof Gao from XTBG is now running trials to calculate germination and survival rates in plantations. If successful, plantation owners will have to wait 3 years until they can harvest. But the orchids can fetch a high price on in the medicinal plants market so will be worth waiting for.
Most of the tea I have seen in the past was pruned into short bushes, making it easier for picking the leaves. Here they were impressive trees. This proved to be no problem for the agile pickers climbing up and down, to quickly pluck the youngest leaves.