MARIMO tea - Manufacture, Import & Wholesale

CHINA: ENSHI TEA PROJECT IN THE SOUTHWEST OF HUBEI PROVINCE

photo: Landscape around the tea garden in Enshi 2012 (c) MARIMO

The autonomous prefecture Enshi is located in the southwest of the central Chinese province Hubei. The whole prefecture is characterized by a mountainous landscape. In the valleys there are many farm villages close to various rivers. The hilltops are lined with beautiful tea gardens. Thanks to the long distance to overcrowded and industrial areas of China the air in Enshi is clear and fresh. The frequent rainfalls in early spring cause mist from morning till noon. The humid climate is the ideal condition for the production of exceptionally fresh and sweet spring green teas.

Since the Song Dynasty (916-1279), Enshi is famous as a region where tea for the emperor is produced.

photo: organic tea project in Enshi, April 2012 (c) MARIMO

In China companies are usually not allowed to own agricultural land. That is why small holders are organized in cooperatives to process the tea, which they harvest together, or they deliver the raw leaves to a tea factory nearby.

The MARIMO tea project in Enshi is located in the countryside of Enshi, far away from bigger cities, around 15km away from the next village. One hilltop of about 46ha is entirely covered by tea bushes. Hedges and small forests have been planted in between the tea gardens by the organizers of the organic tea project. This is good for biodiversity in the agricultural land. Between the new planted tea bushe,s there are higher trees to protect the soil from erosion. Furthermore, the trees are slightly shading the tea bushes.

In 1999 some tea farmers started to produce organic tea, with the help of a very dedicated tea-scientist. Together they developed agricultural methods to make the plantation suitable for organic production. Since they came to an internal agreement between the small holder farmers about the preferred production method, they also applied for the organic certification by an external certification body. Since 2004 the project is certified for organic tea production.

ORGANIC TEAS FROM ENSHI

EN SHI CHUN YA (organic)

[spring buds]

This high end green tea, harvested in early April in the highlands, has a remarkable elegance in sweetness and freshness. It is composed of hand-picked leaf buds, not of common leaves. Its infusion is translucent and pale green. (fair cultivation)

Tea of this quality is very rare, since high end teas are usually not produced for export to foreign countries, because of the very high demand in China.

EN SHI CUI LÜ (organic)

[jade-cloud]

Starting mid-April fine leaves and leaf buds are harvested for this especially sweet green tea. After letting them wilt under air circulation they are dry heated. This process was used in China since the beginning of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and prevents oxidation of polyphenols in the plant cells. Following this, the vibrant green leaves are rolled and dried in several steps. Through this gentle processing, one is able to obtain intact leaves. (fair cultivation)

EN SHI QI LAN (organic)


[Shu Cha Tie Guan Yin from Qi Lan variety]

The leaves for this Oolong speciality are harvested in fall only from Qi Lan tea bushes. “Qi Lan” denotes “extraordinary orchid“. According to legends, the Qi Lan bushes were called this way after an Oolong tea with orchid-like fragrance was produced for the first time by using the Qi Lan leaves. The tea type “Tie Guan Yin”, which is produced from bushes of the same name, is also famous for this fragrance.

Even though the En Shi Qi Lan is not produced by using Tie Guan Yin leaves, it was rated as “Shu Cha Tie Guan Yin“. Shu Cha Tie Guan Yin teas are known for their – compared to Sheng Cha Tie Guan Yin teas – more complex fruit notes and their longer lasting fine flowery shades. Accordingly, the complex fruit notes also show themselves through the minimal roasting in this En Shi Qi Lan (= Qi Lan Tie Guan Yin) and the fine flowery shades are also enjoyably long lasting.

QI MEN HONG CHA (organic)

Fine leaves and regrown leaf buds from the early May harvest are the basis for this noble black tea. Since the same trees are used in the manufacturing of the Qi Men Hong Cha as in the production of green tea in early spring, an especially mild and balanced flavour arises. (fair cultivation)