Phase 3: Interpreting Information

Updated 8 years 2 months ago


1. Mr. Lee (tea expert), interview on March 30, 2012 in Dali Old Town

2. Vendor at Tea Shop, interview on April 8, 2012 in Dali Old Town 

3. Appreciating Chinese Tea- Pu'er Tea book Bibliography: December, 2009 by World Culture Books, China Light Industry Press available at Linden Centre library

4. Yan Zi, tea expert at the Linden Centre


Types of Tea-( Sources: 1&3)

There are 6 different types of tea and one additional type. It consists of green tea, white tea, yellow tea, cyan tea, black tea, and dark tea. They are classified by the level of their fermentation.

Green Tea

-non-fermented tea

-clear tea liquid

-tender sprouts are used

White Tea

-slightly fermented with apricot

-yellow tea liquid

Yellow Tea

- Slightly fermented

-yellow leaves and tea liquid

Cyan Tea

- Half-fermented 

-golden to red/orange tea liquid

-fragrance of green tea, mellowness of black tea

Black Tea

-Fermented tea

-Sweet red tea liquor

-Red brewed leaf

-Dry tea is dark red/black

Dark Tea

-Post-fermented tea (leaving the tea for 3-4 months after fermentation to make it taste like it is 20 years old)

-orange or reddish-brown tea liquid

-black or brown tea leaves

Artificial/Reprocessed Tea

-Flower Tea (ex: jasmine tea)

-Drinks that don't include tea in them but are still called tea (Lemon tea, 橘花茶 , etc)


The information below is relevant to my questions because they are the answers to my questions. I asked the tea experts in Dali Old Town.

It moves me closer to a specific answer because now I know what area to look into on the internet or more specific questions I need to ask.

I already know some information from my 3-5 minute interview with the Linden Centre tea expert Yan Zi. The expert basically said the same thing that Yan Zi said about the process of making the two different types of pu'er tea.

I already knew that there were many different types of tea but I didn't know that they could be classified into 6 different categories.

1. What types of pu'er tea are there?

There are two types of Pu'er tea fermented and unfermented.

Fermenting tea is when the tea leaves go through a process to oxidate the leaves and for most tea leaves, their color turns darker.

Unfermented tea is when the tea isn't fermented and doesn't go through the process of oxidation which makes the tea leaves turn out lighter in color.

2. Out of the different kinds of tea, how many how many of those are grown in Yunnan?

Green tea, black tea, and pu'er tea because it is the perfect climate for them.

3.  How many types of ways can pu'er tea be packaged?

Loose tea or pressed tea in brick, mushroom, cake, and pumpkin shape

4. How long does it take to make pu'er tea?

Fermented- 1-2 months (depends on the level of fermentation)

Unfermented- 1-2 days

5. Which type of tea is the most popular in Xizhou between the locals?

-Despite the popular theory of pu'er tea being the most popular, it is actually green tea. It is green tea because it has many health benefits. 

6. How long does it take for a pu'er tea tree to grow before it is ready to be picked?

3-4 years for a tea bush. 10-20 years for a young tree and up to 50 years for a mature big tree.

7. What kinds of dishes include pu'er tea in them?

Pu'er tea infused rice, chicken, meat, because it helps reduce the oil in food.

8. For pu'er tea, what are the believed effects it has when you drink it?

-Pu'er tea can lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol. It can also help people lose weight, keep your teeth healthy, lift "sprits", and kill germs. It can also help reduce the amount of oil you take in from your meals. 

9. What is pu'er tea's taste and aroma?

- For unfermented tea, the color is green and light while the taste and aroma is sweet and mild.

-For fermented tea, the color is dark red much like black tea and the taste and aroma is strong and bitter.

10. What do they trade on the Tea Horse Road?

According to tea expert Yanzi, China brings tea, salt, and horses and when they travel to Tibet, they exchange their resources for some food and Tibet also has rare, expensive mushrooms and medical herbs. In Nepal they trade tea for incense, books, and sauces. In India, they trade their tea for spices and pieces of embroidery. Not only do they trade items but they also have a cultural exchange where they exchange cultures and religions such as buddhism and cultural values.

11. How do you make pu'er tea?


1. Picking tea leaves

2. Sha Qing 

-Sha qing is the process to kill the cells inside the tea leaves in order to stop them from eating all the nutrition from the tea leaf through the process of stir-frying the tea leaves to high temperature. 

3. Roll them into ball form

4. Dry them under the sun


1. Picking tea leaves 

2. Sha Qing  

3. Roll them into ball form

4. Dry them under the sun

5. In a factory, they pile about 10 tons of tea leaves on top of each other 

Step 6. Sprinkle some water on top of them so the humidity of the tea leaves will rise.

Step 7. After about 1-2 months when the tea is fermented, they get dried again and packaged into cake form.


New Questions

1. Where does the Tea Horse Road start and end?

It stars in Xi Shuang Ban Na in Yiwu town and it ends in Tibet, Nepal, India, and Myanmar (Burma).

2. What is the Tea Horse Road?

The Tea Horse Road can also be referred as the Southern Silk Road and the Ancient Tea Route. The Tea Horse Road was a trade link from Yunnan, one of the first tea-producing regions: to India via Burma; to Tibet; and to central China via Sichuan Province. Mules were used to carry items that were being traded. In addition to tea, the mule caravans carried salt. Both people and horses carried heavy loads. The tea people sometimes carried tea weighing in at about 60-90 kg which is more than their body weight.


Tea ceremonies

Do the local inhabitants having any specific tea ceremonies to go along with their tea production? Is it a family trade? How long does it take to become a master tea producer, if any such thing exists?  I like the questions that you have put forward for your investigation.

Tea ceremonies- reply

I am focusing more on the production of tea but for the tea ceremonies you can check out Sabrina's project:

It is not a family trade but on the tea horse trail, people travel from one place to another to trade tea for other things because of business reasons. There isn't really a "master tea producer" but you can become and expert at it if you do it for a long time. 

Hey there! I haven't updated this description in an embarrassingly long time. I'm currently a high school junior in Shanghai American School. I was in the Alpha Pilots Microcampus group and the experience that I had was something that I'll always remember. I decided that my project was going to be on the topic of tea and how it plays into the local Bai community once I saw the surrounding environment. Note to future groups: Enjoy the moment, take in the surrounding environment, and make friends with the locals. Also, don't procrastinate, that'll stop you from doing the things you want to do (I can say that with first-hand experience).