We need to go back a bit in time to talk about TQH and other forest teas. The recent history of TQH actually starts in 1994, when a group of Taiwanese tea merchants, came to Yunnan. They visited Jinghong, the Xishuangbanna capital. They were looking for Puerh tea and asked their local guide to visit Yiwu. To their great surprise, the guide was unaware of a place called Yiwu and recommend them not to visit it for tea. They insisted. Although the production of tea in large scale in Yiwu had been halted for half a century, the Taiwanese knew many famous brands from the past like Tongqinghao and Songpinhao originated in Yiwu. Yiwu teas are great when they’re young, they also have a proven track record of ageing really well. These were famous aged teas in Taiwan.

It was a poor and unremarkable place prior to this visit. People were still processing puerh tea in Yiwu but as loose tea instead of cakes. One of local Yiwu government officials, Mr. Zhao later described the encounter. The taiwanese brewed a Tongqing Hao tea, an Yiwu brand that had since stopped operating, and asked the Yiwu delegation for their opinion and also to price it. Mr. Zhao, from the local government said it was great and smooth and estimated it should be worth 400 or 500 yuan per cake, actually thinking he had said too much. To their astonishment, they were told the price in Taiwan for such tea was actually 15.000 yuan. As you can image, this visit was crucial to revitalizing the tea industry in Yiwu and one of the consequences was the quest to search the Yiwu forest for lost trees and old tea plantations that had been abandoned by time.

One of the places discovered was TQH where tea grows in a remote forest area about 5km/3 miles south directly from the Chawangshu tea growing area. The altitude is around 1500 meters and the tea there is managed by the Yao people.

Tongqinghe is a tea that became famous in the last years. Especially from 2010 on. It grows within the Yiwu Guoyoulin area which is the Yiwu protected forest. This is where the best Yiwu teas grow. In the middle of the dense forest. Forest tea is considered the very best in Yiwu. In order to reach the TQH tea growing area one needs to go through dense forest cover and streams. One of these streams is called Tongqinghe. This tea got the name from the stream next to where it grows.

In terms of flavour profile TQH has a lovely sweet aftertaste and it said that with time it will develop an Osmanthus fragrance. Osmanthus has an amazing and unique fragrance. You will find Osmanthus trees in many places in China. If you walk past one you will never forget it. You will also find many wonderful pastries in Yunnan made of Osmanthus. Do try them if you ever visit Yunnan. We strongly recommend it.

TQH is a very elegant tea, it is said that it tastes like steel and has a wild energy/flavour. The texture can be described as rough and hard but it is also a thick tea. The fragrance is really strong. It is considered to be the strongest tea in Yiwu. It can easily be brewed 20+ times. If you are sensitive to Qi and body feelings from tea then Tongqinghe is considered the tea with strongest Qi in Yiwu and it’s often compared in that respect with Laobangzhang. The Laobangzhang from Yiwu. Laobangzhang is of course one of the most famous teas and strongest teas in Yunnan.

We pressed small trees twice already from this area. In 2021 and 2023. The Xiaoshu version is a really pleasant and refreshing tea with an apricot/mango aftertaste. The small trees of Tongqinghe have a really refreshing feeling. Whereas Chawangshu small trees have a more nourishing and forest flavour profile, Tongqinghe small trees have a more refreshing energy. This in terms of Xiaoshu.

Lastly, TQH has become so popular and precious in the last few years that the farmers from this area block the only road that leads to TQH and police it themselves during the harvest season in order to protect their tea.

Do check our Tongqinghe. We pressed this tea in 2021 and 2023. You can find it in our Portugal Puerh website and also in our UK based one.