At time of King Bhumbol Adulyadej's (also Rama IX.) accession to the throne on June 9, 1946, large parts of North Thailand and North East Thailand were widely isolated from Bangkok at the surrounding Central Thailand through geographic, infrastructural and cultural barriers... At the beginning of the 1950's, king Bhumibol started an intensive program, in whose context he traveled the country tirelessly for decades to its remotest corners to assess the situation and problems of the people on site by himself, consider possible options for remedy and improvement, and then initiate and accompany the identified measures... the Royal Development Projects... Until well into the 1960s, the cultivation of the opium poppy the use of the derived opium for medical purposes as well as a everyday means of leisure and recreation, were more or less an integral part of the daily life of many of the Northern Thai mountain people... The Golden Triangle... The Doi Tung development project maintains divisions in the fields of food, forestry, gardening and landscaping, tourism and artisan craftwork... Up to the Royal Development Project's initiative, tea was a common beverage in North Thailand only with the Shan and some of the hill tribes originating from China. They harvested tea leaves from wild growing tea trees... the cultivation of tea plants imported from Taiwan spread very quick in and around the above mentioned Chinese settlements, with the former opium stronghold Doi Mae Salong as the new tea capital of the north... Meanwhile, North Thailand has earned itself a name especially for its fine Oolong teas, but also green teas, and most recently, a rich and mild black tea from North Thailand have conquered many tea lovers' hearts worldwide and established their place of origin on the world map of tea. READ MORE
The following video shows "the becoming" of our Oolong No.12 Jin Xuan, together with the Oolong No.17 Ruan Zhi the major trademark of tea cultivation and production in Northern Thailand. Both hybrids originate from Taiwan's Lishan Highlands, from where they were brought to the mountains of North Thailand for cultivation in 1994. The effort has definitely been worth it, as our little film clearly demonstrates.
Principally, three main categories of tea processing can be differentiated: the processing to
• Green tea (not fermented)
• Oolong tea (part-fermented)
• Black tea (fully fermented)
Two more (sub-) categories can be added to the above-mentioned classification
• White tea (very light fermented)
• Pu Errh tea (post-fermented)
In the following description, we take orientation on the conditions at our producer partners in Doi Mae Salong, North Thailand. READ MORE...
There are numerous ways of preparing tea... The following video illustrates the preparation of Oolong tea (here the Oolong Nr. 17) in a variant of the Chinese tea ceremony as it is practiced by our Northern Thai suppliers... The tea ceremony has its origins in China, the country that is quite the cradle of all tea culture... One could say, the Chinese tea ceremony is a mixture of ritual framework, situational cirumstances and individual arrangement/personal discretion... Purpose of the tea ceremony is to achieve the best possible taste of the tea, the realization of the highest possible degree of beauty in the ritual's arrangement, and a social or individual situation of utmost harmony, in other words: the perfect moment in space and time... Besides the Taoist ones, Confucian and Buddhist influences, references and analogies can be found in the Chinese tea ceremony... Tools and Accessories of the Tea Ceremony... The "Tea Boat" (Tea Table)... The Teapot... The Teacup... Degustation Cup/Smelling Cup... The Gaiwan... The Tea Bowl... Tea "Cutlery"... Glass Pots... READ MORE...
While the world map of tea cultivation generally offers a rather stable appearance with little changes over the past centuries, a new spot had to be added to it just recently: Northern Thailand. Where opium fields dominated the mountainous terrain’s altitudes beyond 1000 m until about 20 years ago, making it an integral part of the infamous Golden Triangle, today a highly diversified variety of cash crops covers the slopes, among them fruit, nuts, vegetables , coffee, and, last but not least, tea. How Opium Fields turned Tea Gardens... Two factors played a key role in the initiation and development of the commercial cultivation and processing of high quality teas in Northern Thailand:
1. Thai Royal Projects 2. Ethnic Chinese Communities Especially Doi Mae Salong soon developed a broad spectrum portfolio of tea products, ranging from high quality Green Teas via Chinese and Taiwanese classic Oolong teas such as “4-Seasons Tea”, “Dong Ding Tea” and “Oriental Beauty” Tea and a range of scented or flavored teas, for which Jasmine Tea, Osmanthus Tea or Rice Tea, a particular Northern Thai/Shan areas specialty, might serve examples, to some herbal teas made from local herbs such as the Chinese “immortality herb” Jiaogulan and Safflower Tea. Just recently, Doi Mae Salong has even started producing a Black Tea that is often compared to a high quality Darjeeling by tea connoisseurs. READ MORE...
Venue Doi Mae Salong, Northern Thailand, in the heart of the Golden Triangle: it is 6 a.m., when Mrs. Sumalee lifts the roller shutters of her tea-shop, located at the main street of the town in the Northern Thai mountains that is populated exclusively by ethnic Chinese… Just little more than 20 years ago, the hills of Doi Mae Salong, whose slopes today show a picture of one tea garden besides the other, were still covered with opium fields. The inhabitants of the Chinese mountain enclaves in Northern Thailand, Doi Mae Salong and Doi Wawee, deprived of their main source of income made a virtue of necessity and bethought themselves of another, millennium-old Chinese tradition, the knowledge of the cultivation and processing of tea. READ MORE...
Doi Wawee is a very remote village in the mountains of Northern Thailand, located about 45 km west of Doi Mae Salong at an altitude of about 1500m above sea level. I had repeatedly received hints from private and Internet sources that maintained that, just like Doi Mae Salong, the resident community of the Chinese Kuomintang village of Doi Wawee grows tea on a larger scale... The town’s only accommodation option is the Laolee Hill Resort, run by a Chinese family that, as we learn later, does not only own most of the surrounding tea plantations, but also played a crucial role in the idea and realization of importing tea plants from Taiwan, and the subsequent years of development of Doi Wawee’s tea cultivation and distribution... The conversation soon turns to tea, and we hear a brief history of the tea cultivation at Doi Wawee, where, amongst other things, we learn that Doi Mae Salong, Doi Wawee’s larger Chinese “sister city” in Northern Thailand, was initially inspired to the cultivation and processing of tea by the Doi Wawee community... Visit of Doi Wawee’s tea plantations
For a while, we climb about the tea slopes, where photographic tea plantation motifs and perspectives open up in abundance... Visit at the tea factory
In front of the factory, large amounts of tea leaves are spread out for drying in the sun. Further piles of tea leaves are just about being evenly distributed on the ground... Teas from Doi Wawee... ...a branch of the tea-processing in Doi Wawee, which is unique for Northern Thailand: the production of Pu’er tea. Pu’er tea is a Green Tea, post-fermented over a longer period, non-oxidized and usually pressed... READ MORE...