Tea Knowledge

Wild Tea and Tea Farming: Everything You Need to Know

People always hope for tea of better taste and quality, which is one of the driving forces behind the thriving tea industry.

This is also why there are many well-known Chinese tea varieties, as well as some niche loose leaf tea, such as Chinese wild tea. Although wild tea is produced in small quantities, it has always existed and is loved by many for its unique flavor.

How Do Wild Tea Trees Grow?

The tea trees we commonly see are those grown in tea gardens, which take the form of shrubs. These tea trees are planted and pruned neatly.

However, wild tea trees exhibit a more diverse array of forms for this species:
  •  Some tea trees were once part of tea gardens, but were later abandoned by humans and have grown naturally in the wild. Such tea trees often grow into large clusters, surpassing human height.
  •  There are also wild tea trees scattered under large trees in forests, taking the form of wild shrubs.
  •  Some wild tea trees grow in forests and have been growing for many years, evolving from shrub form into tall trees, reaching heights of over ten meters.

wild tea trees exhibit a more diverse array of forms
  •  Additionally, there are ancient tea tree communities in the primeval forests of Yunnan. These tea trees have a long history, with some being over a thousand years old.

ancient tea tree with some being over a thousand years old

Special Growing Environment of Wild Tea Trees

Wild tea trees generally grow in remote, seldom-visited places. These areas often have excellent natural environments:

  •  Warm and humid climate: wild tea trees typically grow in southern China and tend to be near water sources.
  •  Biodiverse ecosystems: wild tea trees grow alongside other animals and plants, becoming part of the ecosystem.
  •  High-quality soil conditions: The areas where wild tea trees grow often have humus soil, soil mixed with rocks, and other high-quality soil types.
Special Growing Environment of Wild Tea Trees

The excellent growing environment of wild tea makes it exceptionally delicious and healthier. Therefore, wild tea is very suitable as tea gift sets for family and friends. If you are unsure which flavor of wild tea to choose, it is recommended to start with a loose leaf tea sampler, which is more economical and convenient.

The Significance of Wild Tea Trees for Tea Varieties

Most tea trees in tea gardens are propagated through cuttings, ensuring the uniformity and stability of the tea varieties in the gardens.

Wild tea trees, on the other hand, reproduce through seeds and exhibit a richer variety of species. For example, the wild tea trees on a single mountain might all be different in terms of leaf morphology and the taste of the tea they produce.

This multi-variety coexistence of wild tea trees has many advantages. On one hand, this population mode allows wild tea to better resist natural disasters and pests. Additionally, wild tea trees preserve a rich genetic pool for tea varieties.

pests from wild tea

Management of Wild Tea Trees

Wild tea trees are generally unmanaged. Occasionally, farmers may clear the weeds around wild tea trees.

clear the weeds around wild tea trees

Can wild tea trees completely avoid the application of pesticides and fertilizers? This is not certain. Currently, farmers who harvest and process wild tea not only sell it but also consume it themselves. Therefore, it is uncommon for farmers to deliberately apply pesticides and fertilizers to wild tea trees.

Before purchasing wild tea, it is recommended to check for organic testing and certification by professional organizations to ensure that you are buying qualified organic loose leaf tea.

Harvesting of Wild Tea

Currently, wild tea can only be harvested by hand.

Harvesting of Wild Tea by Hand

If you want to make wild oolong tea, you can purchase more mature fresh leaves from farmers. However, it is not yet feasible to harvest wild tea with strict specifications, such as picking only buds or one bud with one leaf.

The quality of fresh leaves from wild tea trees varies depending on their specific location within the same region. Generally, fresh leaves from wild tea trees growing in more remote areas with better natural environments fetch higher prices. When locals make wild tea for their own consumption, they also go to more remote areas to harvest. According to the locals, the wild tea from those places does taste better.

Due to the difficulty and labor intensity of harvesting wild tea, it is often only picked once in the spring in many areas.

Tea Farmers in Wild Tea Regions

Areas where wild tea trees grow usually have beautiful landscapes and good environments. At the same time, these regions are often very poor and economically underdeveloped.

Tea Farmers in Wild Tea Regions

From the wild tea-producing areas we have visited, the local farmers are generally quite poor. Most farmers who harvest wild tea hope to increase their income through this method.

Currently, wild tea has not yet developed into large-scale production and sales. In many regions, the reality is that local small-scale farmers harvest and process the tea themselves. Due to the exceptionally high quality of fresh leaves from wild tea, the resulting tea stands out in aroma and taste. For example, wild black tea tends to be richer, and wild green tea has a fresher and more uplifting aroma. Therefore, wild tea also has a relatively stable group of buyers.

a tea farmer sun-drying tea leaves

Although wild tea is relatively niche, it fills in several gaps that tea garden tea might lack, such as a richer variety of tea tree species and exceptionally superior growing environments.

In fact, the number of tea gardens with excellent growing environments is very limited. Some of China's best loose leaf tea is also limited in production and expensive. For example, the tea gardens in the “Three Pits and Two Gullies" area of Wuyi Mountain produce what is probably the best oolong tea in China. These tea gardens produce a limited amount of fresh leaves each year, and the high-quality tea made from them sells out quickly at high prices. When it comes to wild tea, however, if you seek tea trees with equally excellent growing environments, you will find many more options. This might be one of the significances of the existence of wild tea.

sun-drying tea

The above is what we know about wild tea. If there are any other aspects you would like to learn about, feel free to discuss them with us.

Читать далее

Chinese Tea - wild tea | iTeaworld

iTeaworld & Sustainability

Sustainability: A Prior Core Of iTeaworld

While maintaining exceptional taste and quality, we've consistently sought ways to drive change and offer sustainable solutions.

Know More