Laos is a land of diverse cultures, exquisite cuisine, and rich traditions. While many tourists visit the country for these attractions, few know about the hidden treasure that lies in the mountains – Laos tea. As a tropical country with a steaming climate, Laos provides the perfect environment for planting and producing tea. Not only is Laotian tea healthy and non-alcoholic, but it also boasts a rich history that dates back over 4000 years.
The Origin of Laos Tea: A 4000-Year-Old Legacy
According to research, the Yunnan region of northern Laos and Myanmar is believed to be the source of the tea strain. The ancient people discovered this tea tree and realized its medicinal properties. In the 16th century, when northern Laos was part of the Kingdom of Xishuangbanna, a vassal state of the Ming Empire, the tea boom had even reached this rural area, leading to the establishment of many tea gardens. Although most of them no longer exist, Ban Komaen Tea has the unique opportunity to make tea from 400-year-old tea trees.
A Unique Taste and Legacy
The plant name for Laos tea is Camellia sinensis var. These trees thrive in northern Laos due to the warm summers and cool winters that the region offers. The true essence of these long-tasting teas has a deep flavor and long-lasting complexity, not to mention the enticing aroma that comes after brewing. It is completely organic and naturally grown, containing the best that tea can provide.
Harvesting Laos Tea: A Demanding Art
Harvesting tea leaves in Laos requires high concentration and patience. This is a skill that not many people in the modern world possess. A day of plucking can result in just three or four kilograms of tea leaves, which reduces to only one-third of the weight after drying. Harvesting tea requires people with years of experience, and in most cases, the elderly in the village adapt to this work.
Ban Komaen Tea Gardens: A Rare Example of True Value and Quality
Fortunately, the Ban Komaen tea gardens are still untouched, allowing us to make tea from the old tea trees. This is a legacy that brings the heart of a unique tea, created by Aboriginal and natural agriculture, then brewed and shared among people worldwide. The Ban Komaen tea gardens serve as a rare example of true value and quality, demonstrating how a simple leaf can hold so much history and cultural significance.
Phongsaly Province: A Famous Tea Region in Laos
Phongsaly Province is a well-known destination for tourists visiting Laos. The area is rich in ethnic minorities, and traditional practices are still prevalent, making it a unique experience for visitors. One of the main products produced in the region is tea, which is grown and harvested by locals.
The province is home to two villages with primitive tea trees, and other nearby villages have ancient trees, especially near the border with the Yiwu and Jiangchen areas. These old trees are similar to those found in Yunnan. However, young trees and tea gardens around most of the villages are from Yunnan and Guangxi. Although the production process is similar, tea made from young plants here is technically not a puerh sheng.
Finding a tea producer that specializes in Laos tea can be difficult, as most local workers do not know what Sheng Puerh is or what the flavor of tea should be. The second village with ancient tea is the Payasi board. However, the process of making tea at Ban Payasi is not as well-established as at Bankomaen, although it is cheaper.
Laos Shengcha: One of the Most Famous Laos Tea
Shengcha Pu’er is a type of white tea that is very similar to Laos tea. Both are sun-exposed and light, but are mildly oxidized. Any differences in taste quality between the two types are a result of plant variety and growing environment, rather than the production process.
Where to Buy Laos Tea
Laos tea is widely available in the country and can be bought at any local store. For tourists visiting Phongsaly Province, buying Laos tea is a must-try experience. The tea is inexpensive, making it an affordable and delicious souvenir to bring home to loved ones.