tea review: vanilla mint fair trade pu-erh from rishi tea

vanilla mint pu-erh

Vanilla Mint, Organic Fair Trade Pu-erh

To be honest, I’m a bit of a pu-erh novice, I’ve had pu-erhs before, and liked them but I’m much better versed in the worlds of greens and oolongs.  Perhaps because this tea has familiar tastes in it, like cinnamon, vanilla and mint, or perhaps it’s because I could brew it chai-style, all milky and sweet with honey, whatever the reason I thoroughly enjoyed this tea.  For me it’s more of a dessert tea rather than an everyday-drink-three-pots tea, it’s a sweet treat, something special.  Perhaps not one for you if you’re a pu-erh purist but if you like the chai-style cacophony of flavors; or if you’re just looking for a semi-familiar stepping stone into the complex world of pu-erh then this is totally for you.

In terms of origin, the pu-erh in this tea is part of a Fair Trade collective, the Mannong Fair Trade Project.  The Mannong and Manmai Villages are located in one of the oldest tea cultivation zones in the world, the Hekai Tea Mountain. This mountain is divided into three different, but neighboring villages; these villages are among the oldest tea-producing areas in the entire world, and they contain Xishuangbanna’s best preserved, largest range of ancient tea gardens.

Villager during spring harvest

Although Mannong and Manmai Villages are rich in ancient tea culture and traditions, the area itself is very underdeveloped and poor.  The Mannong Manmai Ancient Tea Association has used the funds generated by the sales of Fair Trade tea in a few different ways:

  • Water: Since 2008, 16 miles of main pipeline were developed to link a local water spring to the villagers in Mannong and Manmai.
  • Education: The Mannong Manmai Ancient Tea Association supports those families that want to send their kids to school with funds that cover tuition, room, and, board, and uniforms for elementary schools.
  • Life and entertainment: Villagers voted to use fair trade funds to build two new temples and a basketball court.
  • Roads: Since 2008, many roads have been hardened and improved to make transport of tea and goods easier for the villagers.
  • Community: A central meeting center was built, including an announcement PA system, so the village heads can communicate weekly reports deep into the villages.
2 Responses to “tea review: vanilla mint fair trade pu-erh from rishi tea”
  1. zorach says:

    Have you tried much sheng Pu-erh yet? I also found that it was hard for me to get into Pu-erh, but then I discovered sheng (raw or green) Pu-erh. In a sense, the ripened or cooked (Shu) pu-erh is an “artificially aged” type — it’s been processed in such a way to imitate the qualities of aged sheng Pu-erh, without having to actually age it.

    This particular tea, however, is another story. I received it as a free sample from Rishi, and I was initially skeptical, mainly because the name didn’t make it sound like an appealing combination of ingredients. But I was pleasantly surprised.

    I also found this tea to be rather dessert-like, even when unsweetened. To me, it really seemed to resemble cocoa or hot chocolate more than a masala chai or spiced tea. You can read my review if interested.

    I have read a number of bloggers’ reviews of this tea, and I must say, it seems to consistently surprise people who are not expecting to like it! My parents loved it as well, and they normally prefer strong, straight black teas.

    • travel&tea says:

      Thanks so much for your (always thoughtful!) comment Alex, I really like your point about trying raw/green pu-erh, that is something I really want to explore. I think it’s really neat that teas that can initally come off as a bit ‘strange’ actually end up being really interesting and suprising, it’s part of what makes tea so fun for me.

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