The history of Pu’er tea is a process. Someone dare not face it; someone dare not admit it; and someone be blind to the history of Pu’er. Whatever point of view we stand, I think we should keep the moral standard when talk about Pu’er. Otherwise we maybe considered ignorant to mislead others who are not familiar with Pu’er tea, or we may annoy those who are familiar with Pu’er tea, even increasing their rhetoric against us.
Common misleading information is: (1) Previous Pu’er tea was old-plant-tea, so current tea was not as good as old tea. (2) Only old-plant-tea has high quality, while table-and-tea is inferior. (3) All the types of Pu’er tea made by popular brands are tableland-tea, which is not good as old-plant-tea.
We can sum up the above terrible speech in these words: Detract from others, be excessive in commanding. I think it is ignorant when communicate on such opinions. It is unfair to those who contribute to the history of Pu’er tea, to the Pu’er tea industry, even to the Pu’er tea products themselves. I cannot imagine how the moral standard will be lowered, if the number of people with low level of moral standard in the Pu’er industry is increasing.
Such as the first point above: “Previous Pu’er tea was old-plant-tea, so current tea was not as good as old tea.” You may consider it is correct at the first glance, but if we think about it thoroughly, we may find several flaws.
When was “previous”?
What is the old-plant-tea? How to prove? (Use tea products’ backward industry to prove the raw material is old-plant-tea)
Why is current tea not as good?
We may set “previous” as from 2002 to 2004, or from the republican-period to 2000, even from the Qing Dynasty to the republican-period. During the period of the Qing Dynasty to the republican-period, tea plantations in Yunnan experienced a lot of disasters. So we can hardly convince anyone that all the previous tea is better than the current tea. If we only focus on the tea making craft, then the current craft is extremely better than previous one. People did not take tea as serious as we currently do, for we can know it only from the level of sanitation.
For the second point above: “Only old-plant-tea has high quality, while tableland-tea is inferior.” The concept is totally messed up. Old-plant-tea is made of the tealeaves gathered from old tea trees, whereas tableland-tea is planted in such a type of tea producing areas. So old-plant-tea should be corresponding to big-plant-tea or small-plant-tea. There are different kinds of tea producing areas, such as tableland, which is the improved hillside land. We also have sloping fields, wasteland, flat ground and so on. We can classify different types of tea from different plant space. For example, “hedgerow”, which is condensed planting in the tableland, you can see them on the roadside when entering Pu’er city. “Ecology”, which is the thin planting of early age tea trees in the tableland, is an area behind Jingmai Dazhai. “Cultivated old tree”, which is thin planting of old age trees in the tableland, can be found in various villages.
The third point: “All the types of Pu’er tea made by popular brands are tableland-tea, which is not good as old-plant-tea.” If you read this article carefully, you should know that there is a type of old-plant-tea among types of tableland-tea. So it does not make sense to say like that. Many small tea merchants take offence that popular brands sell the same tea as theirs but double or triple the price with famous brand labels. If we slip back into the history of Pu’er tea from 2000, we may find the popular brands during that period had begun to go downhill, even closed down over several years. From 2004, newly established private tea factories began to spend much more money on promoting Pu’er tea. I estimate the total advertising expense to promote Pu’er tea is added up to over one billion. The effect of promotion is Pu’er tea has been cognized and been understood by more people. If without the money expense and promotion by popular brands, I think Pu’er tea would not be this popular recently. There may not emerge the concept of old-plant-tea, and at least it will take more years to greet the Pu’er tea boom. There will not be variety kinds of Pu’er consumers. Then there will not be a big number of Pu’er merchants. Those popular brands contribute to the Pu’er industry. They persist in the area for several years, so it is reasonable for their relatively higher selling price.