Yaan's dark tea: Ancient yet unknown to many

By Jiang Wanjuan ( ) Updated: 2015-08-06 07:10:06

Yaan's dark tea: Ancient yet unknown to many

An artwork on display in the Yaan Museum shows the traditional way of making Tibetan dark tea, Aug 4, 2015. [Photo by Jiang Wanjuan/]

The dark tea drunk by Tibetans, also known as Tibetan tea, is a unique dark tea that comes from Sichuan's Yaan. The place was the first stop over the Ancient Tea-Horse Road, to carry Yaan’s tea to Lijiang in Yunnan, Kangding in Xikang, and even further to India.

Wrapped in cloth sack and kept in bamboo holders, the compressed tea bricks were once used as currency to trade horses and other things.

The tea was made by the government in the past as a material reserve to support the Tibetans. However, the trip to the plateau was never easy at a time when tea bricks had to be carried by men on their back and trudged slowly along the mountainous roads to the plateau.

The ancient technique of making Tibetan tea is still kept alive in a number of time-honored tea factories in Yaan as a national-level intangible cultural heritage. However, the tea made in Yaan is still made and enjoyed particularly among Tibetan people, although the local government and the technique inheritors are thinking on a bigger map.

Compared with Yunan's Pu'er tea, Tibetan dark tea is much less known to the rest of China, let alone the international market. However, Gan Yuxiang, the national-level inheritor of the Tibetan tea's traditional technique, believes their tea will have a bigger market at home and abroad.

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