Renowned for their great resistance and slow growth, our tea trees, the Camellia Sinensis Assamica, are growing at altitudes of a 1000 to 1500 meters, protecting them from all pests, insects or fungi.
As a result, the leaves of our Snow Mountain Tea are exceptionally large, and give our Tea its unique flavour.
The snowy mountain tea is picked from Camellia sinensis Assamica trees growing in the wild. The trees grow in an altitude between 1000 to 1500 meter. At that altitude, the condition are a big difficult, which means the trees will grow slower, and make especially big leaves. The positive side is that no parasite can survive at this altitude, meaning the trees can not be affected by any mushrooms, insects,…
This name of Snow Mountain Tea – Tra Shanh Tuyet in vietnamese – comes from the presence of white hair on the leaves.
During processing, every part of the plant is preserved, colouring our tea with distinguished touches of snowy white, conferring it a taste of wood and spices, with a hint of astringency.
Some small white hair can be found on the leaves. During processing, those white hair will be preserved, giving a white snowy aspect to the tea. This and the high altitude have given the name to this tea, Tra shanh Tuyet (snowy mountain tea).
The snowy mountain tea have a very natural taste, with touch of wood and spices and a little of astringency.
The Snowy Mountain Tea grows in the lush mountains of Meo Vac, in the northern region of Ha Giang, not far from Chinese Yunnan.
There, no human activity or industry disturbs the wild peace of the mountains, with the nearest city being more than 250 km away.
It is in an environment of steep karst mountains that the Camelia Sinensis Assamica grows naturally, without being ever trimmed, cut, or treated.
These trees, which sometimes reach a hundred years old, deliver their treasure only to local pickers brave enough to face the heat, the rain and the heights, making this tea a rarity, with an annual production of between 1000 and 2500 kilos of dried tea only.
The snowy mountain tea (thé des neige) grows in the northern of Vietnam. In the Meo vac area, Ha giang district, (on the border with the Chinese region of Yunnan) the mountains are still very wild, full of jungles untainted by humans. There are no industries in that region, and the closest city is more than 250 km away. That area is the native region of tea tree, Camelia Sinensis Assamica. Many of those tea tree can be found growing naturally in the middle of the forest.
The area is composed of karst mountain, which are very steep. These mountains are quite steep, and difficult to climb for unaccustomed people. But the locales are able to climb them under the strong heat without breaking a sweat. The forest can be dangerous, especially when or after raining. So it is not possible to go pick up the tea every day. Sometime, if the weather is not good, it is not possible to go pick the tea for a couple of weeks. Meaning the yearly production can vary a lot between 1 000 kg to 2500 kg of dryed tea.
The trees grows naturally in the forest. They have never been trimmed, cut or treated. The pickers pick the tea only from trees 100 years old and older. Those trees can be really high, and the leaves difficult to pick. The picker often have to climb into the trees to pick the tea leaves.
Thinh, an Hanoian girl, does all that she can to create an activity in this poor and remote region of Vietnam.
To do this, Thinh has created a cooperative with local villages, to harvest and produce tea according to ancestral techniques, with each village getting assigned a part of the forest.
The tea is picked from march to august, when the trees are not in hibernation. During this time, locals from each village go whenever they can to pick tea.
This way, villagers can plan their time according to their own needs. It enables them to continue working in their fields and homes without having to comply to any mandatory schedule. Being 100% independent, they are the one who decide when the trees are ready to be picked.
On harvest days, workers leave their house at dawn to avoid the heat of the jungle. If some trees are fairly close to the village, the oldest ones reside in the deepest parts of the forest, and are only accessible after a 4 hours walk.
A girl from Hanoi, Thinh, is trying to develop some economic activity in that poor and remote area. In order to do so, she created a cooperative with the local ethnic village to harvest the tea from those trees and produce some green tea using the same technic which have been used by local for centuries.
She is working with multiple villages, each village being assigned an area of the forest. The picking period is from Marsh to august, when the trees are not in hibernation. During this period, the pickers from each villages can go whenever they have time in the forest to pick tea. This working Schedule system allows the villager to still work in their field and/or house whenever they have some urgent task to do. They do not have any mandatory work schedule, and can plan their work time according to their own needs. They are also in charge of defining when the trees are ready to be picked or not.
In a typical day, workers would depart for the mountain between 4am and 7am. The departure time depend on the distance to reach the tea trees. Some trees are fairly closed to the village (15-20 minutes walks in the jungle), while other are very deep into the forest (up to 4h walk). The oldest trees (over 200 years old) are only found deep into the forest.
Only the newest sprouts with the 2 last formed leaves are picked.
The trees are not all found at the same place, and only the locals know their exact location. They are usually found in a group of 5 to 20 trees.
Workers pick all the fresh leaves found in one place and then move to a new part of the jungle.
At the end of a the day, the workers bring back from 20 to 100kg of fresh tea leaves to Thinh’s uncle’s house Tua, the “factory”.
There, the tea sits for 1 or 2 hours on a tarp.
The tea is processed overnight by Tuan, from 8pm to early morning.
It is heated and rolled multiple times in drums, using wood fire, until desired texture is achieved.
Finally, the tea dries in the drum before being packed in 50kg bags, with zero additives.