Sichuan province, one of the first frontiers Camellia sinensis flourished in as it expanded out from its origin point of Yunnan, likely under the care of humankind. The tale goes that over two thousand years ago, the daoist Wu Lizhen settled on the misty climes of Mount Meng Ding and began documenting his efforts at tea propagation, giving provenance to tea cultivation.
Culminating in green and yellow tea styles that won over the hearts of China’s imperial court, what follows is an illustrious history of tea cultivation and processing technique innovation as the dynasties of the times rose and fell. Sichuan served as the historic gateway to Tibet along the Ancient Tea Horse Road, a portion of the Southern Silk Road that allowed for the commodification and proliferation of tea throughout and beyond the Himalayas. A small industry specifically for tea for Tibetans emerged in Ya’an, and a type of post-fermented tea 黑茶 hēi chá “black tea” was developed called 藏茶 zàng chá “Tibetan Tea.” Nowadays, Sichuan retains a soft-spoken yet timeless charm over the tea world as a handful of unique styles and growing regions continue to yield truly precious and inimitable teas.
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