If there is an universal language, that must be tea. No matter where are you from, we can sit down and share some sweet tea time. On April 19th, we gathered together in Kunming Alliance Francaise, accompanied by romantic wine and aromatic tea, listened to beautiful the western and Chinese traditional tutti, spent a wonderful and pleasant evening, we all astonished that how interesting and romantic to enjoy pu-erh tea this way!
Through the series of conferences monthly hosted by Discovercha together with Kunming Alliance Francais, Hekai Ancient Tea Estate, JieXi French Wine and Pu-erh Magazine, we aim to popularize French wine culture, and most importantly to seek for some solutions or standards which will work on Pu-erh industry.
Imagine how wine was invented? When some wild fruits fell off onto the ground, and got fermented, that became the initial wine. The earliest winery can be dated back to 6000 years ago in ancient Armenia, then gradually, wine was invented. In ancient Egypt era, because of the risen of Pharaoh, wine was used as the important sacrament due to its resemblance to blood. Such customs were inherited through ancient Greek, used in Judaism as well. However, wine was mainly spread along Mediterranean sea until during the Ancient Rome time, with the expansion and colony of Rome Empire, wine reached everywhere in Europe, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, etc. During the dark Middle Ages, wine making was perfected as well because of development and expansion of church. In 1492, Columbus discovered the New World, therefore, wine landed in other new continent. With European further colony and conquest, wine reached further south America, north America, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, almost reached each corner of the world, conquered the whole earth.
Does it sound similar? If wine played the role of conqueror, then tea played the role of peace messenger. Tea was found and used as medicine initially, then used in sacrifice later too. It fluctuated with the development of Buddhism and Zen. Until Tang dynasty, the birth of tea saint Luyu achieved the great Tea Classics, widely spread even now. The prosperous and stable economy in Tang had bloomed the tea culture, gave birth to lots of tea literature and poets, tea was brought to border minorities along the Ancient Tea Horse Road at that time, changed their life. After that, tea culture in Song dynasty reached its heyday, whisked tea and tea drama were the most popular tea among royals and nobles classes. Meanwhile, Eisai came to China twice, brought tea and tea seeds to Japan, started Japanese tea and promoted Song whisked tea. During the Maritime Navigation Era, tea was imported by Portugal and Holland into Europe, explored its new land. Since Princess Catherine married CharlieⅡ, had popularized the afternoon tea in whole Britain. The British East Indian company earned immense amount of fortune by trading tea and other eastern goods, assisted in building the Empire of United Kingdom. Tea is tender and gentle, but it can cause evil and ambition. In order to fight again UK’s high tax and manipulation, the Boston Tea Party throw the Britain’s tea away into the bay, fueling the American Revolution. On the other side, Britain became addicted to tea, spent vast money on Chinese tea, in order to balance the finance deficit, they successfully dumped opium into China. In decades of years, finally, China said no, and burnt the opium, therefore caused the first Opium War(1840 - 1842), China entered modern history. It’s no hard to see , tea magically changed the world.
Coincidently, both wine and tea carry the cultures, arts and philosophies, a cup of tea is the essence of nature, and a glass of wine is the wisdom of the west. They are the best gifts, granted by nature, through mankind, turn into the best liquid for us. Philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Voltaire are wine lovers, I drink therefore I am: A Philosopher's Guide to Wine wrote by Roger Scruton, is a great book inspires many drinkers. Wine indeed gives birth to abundant of philosophy thoughts, so does tea. In China, tea can be elegant as guqin, chess, calligraphy, painting, poetry, music; tea can be ordinary as firewood, rice, oil, salt, sauce, vinegar, it plays the most important part to us, carries the eastern wisdom of Confucianism, Zen and Buddhism. It is necessary that we keep humble, so we are able to enjoy the life and accept more, just like that when we take 1/4 to 1/3 glass of wine to enjoy it better. It is necessary that we know how to accept some imperfection and let it go. Enjoy the moment is the wise choice.
In 1855, Napoleon III, emperor of France, decided to throw a Universal Exposition in Paris, and wanted to represent French fine wine. He required Bordeaux's Chamber of Commerce to arrange an exhibit. The members of the chamber knew a hornet's nest when they saw one, so they passed the buck. They agreed, according to their records, to present "all our crus classés, up to the fifth-growths," but asked the Syndicat of Courtiers, an organization of wine merchants, to draw up "an exact and complete list of all the red wines of the Gironde that specifies in which class they belong." Curiously, all of the courtiers' selections came from the Médoc, with the single exception of Haut-Brion (they also ranked the sweet white wines of Sauternes and Barsac). However, 1855 classification has leaded French wine world widely famous and popular.
In south-west China, pu-erh tea had gained its fame even 100 earlier than that, established the center of economy and culture. In 1729(the 7th year of Yongzheng throne), because of the successful reform, the establishment of Pu’er government(in current Ning’Er county), later on the prosperity of Yibang and Yiwu(Old name is Mansha), pu-erh tea was taken along the Ancient Tea Horse Road, transported abroad already. Dian Hai Yu Hen Zhi(Yunnan chorography wrote by Tancui in 1798, the 4th year of JiaQing emperor), recorded that pu’erh tea was famous, therefore Yunnan businessmen made lots of fortune. There were six mountains produced pu’erh tea, which were Youle, Gedeng, Yibang, Mangzhi, Mansha, and ten thousand of people flooded into mountain from the surrounding 800 miles. They purchased tea, and sold in other cities, as a result, earned big money.
However, over 200 hundreds of years passed, French wine has definitely conquered the whole world, been granted the crown of best wine, pu-erh tea is nationally popular although, however its industrialized development just started. It is an agreeable truth that pu-erh tea is valuable, worthwhile for collection and investment, but how do we know it is a good cake of tea since the labels are not informative, fake branded teas like ancient tea tree, pure material, single tree, old tea, Bingdao, Laobanzhang, are filled in the market. Due to the lack of concrete standards and efficient supervise, the regulations of Geographic Indication Products do not guarantee anything currently, and that ruins the whole pu-erh industry.
We love pu-erh tea, we are ready to devote the whole life to it. Back to the initial question of what are the standards of good pu-erh tea, we listed the following subjects.Through monthly conference-dialogue wine and tea, including one conference in France in September, both Chinese and French tea companies and organizations participation, and all the individuals and tea companies in common interests take each active role, we believe that, we are able to provide better standards for pu-erh tea and Yunnan tea.
“普洱茶对话葡萄酒”论坛起航了，本系列论坛由杰曦法国葡萄酒引进的来自AOC原产地教皇新堡魅梦干红葡萄酒和六山贺开古茶庄园有机普洱茶全程赞助。伴着书香、茶香和酒香，看似小小的舞台，因为有热爱普洱茶、热爱葡萄酒、热爱中法文化的你们的参与，我们将共筑一个大大的梦想。下一站，5月3日, 易武分会场, 在贡茶之乡，我们将举办易武贡茶邂逅波尔多葡萄酒主题对话，能期待见到你吗？
The Series of Conference are sponsored by les Mementes AOC Chateauneuf du Pape and Hekai Ancient Tea Estate Organic Tea. It might be a small stage, it might be a small dream, with your supporting and attending, together, the dream will be ambitious and come true. On May 3nd, we’ve prepared aged wine and pu-reh tea, shall we expect you?