[[EDITOR'S NOTE: Many readers are curious about the peculiar nature of pu'er tea -- particularly the area where it is produced in Yunnan province. I have asked Danny Samarkand to translate a page or so from the Encyclopedia of Yunnan Tea about pu'er in the Simao region. The entry, found on page 61 of the Encyclopedia, is entitled 'Simao Tea Region: Pu'er Tea Area,' and offers western readers -- many for the first time -- some interesting technical data about the tea gardens in that area. Our hearty thanks to Danny for his help with this document.]]
云南茶典 (Yunnan Cha Dian -- An Encyclopedia of Yunnan Tea)
谭亚原, 杨泽军 主编 (Editors: Tan Yayuan, Yang Zejun, et al.)
中国轻工业出版社 (China Light Industry Publications, 2006)
page 61, sub uoc. 'Simao Tea Region: Pu'er Tea Area'
The Pu'er tea region is now a part of the Hani Yi minority tribe's autonomous-rule county, in the Simao district; in the past it was under the govern of Pu'er county. Large fields of half-cultivated and cultivated tea gardens were discovered in this region, indicating a long history of tea cultivation here. These gardens were later abandoned due to disasters, famines, and wars: by 1949, there were only 260 mu (1 mu = approximately 0.0667 hectares) left of cultivated garden in Pu'er, mostly in the Fengyang (凤阳), Guantong (关通), and Mohei (磨 黑) areas.
In 1963, the local government began actively promoting tea cultivation in this region, and by 1985, there were a total of 15,640 mu of tea gardens, spread out in the eight county towns and 83 villages. Of these, the following areas consisted of 500 mu of tea garden each:
Between 1986 and 1990, high-production gardens and maocha processing plants were added in Banshan, Baicaodi, and Longtangba. Today, a total area of 27,576 mu of tea gardens are established in the Pu'er tea region. Five tea gardens are of 1,000 mu and above; thirteen are of 500 mu and above; and eight are of 20 mu and above. These are now spread over eleven county towns, with an annual production of more than 209 tons of tea.
[[Danny adds: This is not to say that there are no "wild-grown" tea trees, but more likely it's a matter of half-cultivated, abandoned tea gardens. We have to bear in mind that "wild grown" to the Chinese is a very loose term: anything that is no longer tended to is "wild grown"; the call for stringent regulations is still a cry in the wilderness ...]]