The China Pu'er Tea Expo Garden in the town of Simao in Yunnan Province. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com]
If I tell you that when a hundred year old grandmother climbs trees faster than a monkey you would probably not believe me. However, in southwest China's Yunnan Province this is true and people often call the miracle one of the 8 Wonders of Yunnan Province.
I was told the story by our guide, a friendly young Yi ethnic minority man on our tour to the Pu'er Tea Expo Garden in the town of Simao in Yunnan Province. He said the swift old lady is still alive and she even has her own tea garden that she takes care of every day. We were all curious about her and how she could do this at such a senior age!
The guide explained that in recent years the health benefits of Pu'er tea have being proved through medical analyses and led it to be known as a "Medicinal Tea" or "Wonder Tonic". Long standing consumers of Pu'er tea believe it also has anti-aging properties and can prolong one's life.
The effect is truly astonishing. Accounts of the health benefits and medical use of Pu'er tea have been documented in various ancient scripts and famous books throughout Chinese history. This tea is strongly believed to have wide ranging health benefits including diabetic control, prevention of heart disease, aiding digestion and losing weight.
We also learned that Pu'er tea has been popular in China for over 1,700 years. For centuries it was given as a tribute to the Emperor and high ranking officials within the imperial courts of China and the frequency of the tributes gave it the title "Tribute Tea". Tea is one of three most popular drinks in the world, along with coffee and cocoa. And Pu'er tea has of course been considered the king of teas.
The Tea Expo Garden in Simao brings the world of Pu'er tea to life. You can spend a whole day at the Garden, learn how to pick tea leaves - in the old days you had to be a maiden and get to the plantation before sunrise - process it by hand, make different shapes of Pu'er teas, such as cakes, bricks or loose-leaf, and finally engrave a tea pack with your own name or the name of the person you want to gift it to. The process of tea production has turned the garden into a giant tea amusement park.
The experience is not complete without a tour of the tea museum and a visit to a mock home where a dozen ethnic Lahu youths will serve you tea the way it has been done for hundreds of years.
There's one final tip: Charge your camera batteries - you'll want to take loads of photos in and around the garden.