July 9th: Pressing Puer Cakes
Today we got the chance to make our own puer tea cakes at a small Cha Ma Shi factory in Youle, another of of the 6 famous puer tea mountains. After steaming, pressing and wrapping 2 cakes each we really got to experience how naturally simple the whole process is compared to other types of tea which are fried, rolled and processed substantially more. The only downside I see to puer cakes is the lengthy aging process which is necessary for the deep rich taste to develop.
From this small tea factory we traveled DaDuGang, the owner of the largest tea plantation in Asia. Terraced fields of 30yr old tea bushes could be seen in all directions and the view was breathtaking. In stark contrast to the small factory we’d seen earlier in the day, the DaDuGang factory was filled with massive processing equipment, primarily for green though they make 107 different varieties, which had a very industrial feeling to it. We had some tea with the owners of DaDuGang while Austin had a long discussion about policies and international tea trade.
After dinner near the factory we tried to stay in the guest quarters but the conditions were too rough and we took a 2-3hr bus ride to the new Puer City, arriving around midnight.