Contrary to popular belief, Taiwan does produce Puerh Tea, albeit in limited quantities. Puerh Tea trees are not native to Taiwan, but a small number of farmers imported tee trees from Yunnan, China to the island before 2008 when Puerh tea tree exports were banned.
Most of the Puerh tea trees imported to Taiwan come from the Gaoligong Mountains, located in western Yunnan within the Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture. The area is bordered by Baoshan, Yunnan to the east and Myanmar to the west. Tea farmers in Taiwan chose this area’s Puerh tea trees due to their unique capability to adapt to elevation, soil, plant diversity and climate.
Some Taiwanese also imported Puerh tea trees from more popular areas in China that are further south and east toward Vietnam and Laos, but most withered over time. Gaoligong Mountains’ northwestern location in Yunnan produces plants more adaptable to Taiwan’s higher mountain tea growing areas. The soil in this area is also more similar to Taiwan’s large leaf tea areas.
Taiwan Puerh Tea Varieties
Over the years, Taiwanese farmers have used Puerh tea tree buds and leaves to produce the following teas:
- White Tea
- Large Leaf Black Tea varieties
- Puerh White Tea blends
- Puerh Oriental Beauty
Rarely, is Taiwan Puerh solely produced for standalone ripe or raw varieties. It is said Puerh tea making is too complex in Taiwan due to volatile climate conditions such as typhoons. What is left from crops typically does not meet Puerh tea making standards. If so, the tea usually needs time to store so the taste can mature. Most farmers prefer to get their products into the market as soon as possible, making Taiwan Puerh tea making unsustainable.
Where Can You Buy Taiwanese Puerh Tea?
Taiwan Puerh tree selections are available at Qiful Life. We are one of the few importers to the western world of this variety. This is due to our fortunate relationship with our resident tea master who explored Yunnan Puerh tea trees in the early 2000s and hand selected healthy trees for bringing to Taiwan. This resident tea master also oversees production for most of our teas.
Our selections include our Signature Peony White Tea, made of Puerh tea buds and leaves hand rolled. Occasionally, we receive small batches of deep black varieties from these trees as well.
The Future of Puerh Tea Making in Taiwan
Since Puerh tea tree exports were banned in 2008, Taiwan’s ability to grow Puerh tea has been extremely limited. China has shown no sign it will allow Puerh tea exports to open in the future. This means any areas outside of Yunnan looking to produce Puerh, including Taiwan, Vietnam and Laos, will not be able to compete in the Puerh market aside from highly limited specialty products.
Although Taiwanese farmers are highly competent in tea production, it has been said they lack the skills in the art of Puerh tea making, specifically in the piling process. Many farmers have attempted but the industry has failed at large. There are inadequate facilities for producing ripe Puerh as well. Overall, Puerh tea looks like it will remain solely in Yunnan, China for the foreseeable future.