Monday, November 10, 2014

Puerh Video Junkout

I spent all Sunday morning in bed watching the video footage which accompanies Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic by Jinghong Zhang.

In case you are in a hurry, I'm embedding my favorite section here:

It's available on youtube(better streaming):

The footage was originally posted on(in case youtube copy gets taken down):

In lo-res low-budget glory, the author takes us from Hong Kong to Yiwu showing us the entire food chain from tea farmers/middle men/more middle men/producers/vendors/tea houses/drinkers.  You will never trust anything anybody says about the quality of your tea again.  I've had my suspicions but the video footage made me think it was even worse than I had imagined.

The most intriguing character is Mr. Zhun(?), a producer who is serious about the taste of tea. I like how he serves the tea back to all those who come to sell him tea even to the kid who's peddling a puny bag of forest tea.  If Mr. Zhun kept a tea blog, I'd be all over it. Actually I'd buy his tea.

Many puerh tea farmers and middle men know little about the taste of tea.  When Mr. Zhun brews up for a middle man the best plantation tea to contrast against the rubbish he had brought, the clueless middleman said it all tasted bitter to him and he couldn't tell the difference.  Mr Zhun really crams his gaiwan full of maocha and I wonder how strong his brew is. The middlemen were heavy  chain smokers and really- you cannot detect Yiwu delicacy with a cigarette dangling out of your mouth.

When another producer goes to gather maocha in Yiwu - he admonishes the farmer and his wife for mixing their tea with some other low quality taidicha they had bought.  It's evident most farmers just want to make money and could care less.  I also see so many hands shoveling maocha around in the tea sacks that you definitely want to rinse that tea at least twice.

I came home today to this happy scene. I was trying to snap a photo but then my husband appeared out of nowhere to pose uninvited as a hand model.  He also grilled delicious aji-Spanish mackerel for our supper so I really could not expose my new beengs to such abuse.  Thwarted! 


  1. I really enjoyed this book and the videos that went along with it, especially the one with the old lady who complains about her lazy daughter in law :P

  2. Dear Nicole,

    The scenes of the overworked underappreciated farmer's wife made me a bit sad. Puerh tends to be a product divorced from the human story. You see how many countless hands go into the final product. We do not like to think the tea one drinks is a source of unhappiness to another human being.


  3. Two tea packages awaiting? You are indeed one lucky girl :)

  4. Ira- I actually received yet another package yesterday but my desk is impossible now.


  5. Anonymous6:56 AM

    A deep bow to Hster for sharing these wonderful videos.

    Surely the unhappiness of the farmer's wife must adversely affect the qualities of the final product!

    Re extraneous objects in my tea (feathers, bugs, etc.), I flinched when I saw men with cigarettes dangling from their mouths while packing tea into large sacks. Now have to consider cigarette ash as one of the many possible unwanted substances in tea.

  6. Dear Dialogicmediation,

    The bow should really go to the wonderful Ms. Jinghong Zhang and to Peter Stanik for uploading it to youtube so I could find it.

    I had meant to read her book all year- I had put in on my Amazon wishlist in case (ahem) friends wanted to give me something easy for my birthday... I finally sprung for a Kindle copy last week and it's informative. However the videos are much more revealing.