If you read part 5 of our deliberately naive little mystery, you know that the gift of tea most likely was produced by the Menghai Shun Hing Tea Co (勐海顺兴茶厂, měng hǎi shùn xìng chá chǎng) in Meng Town (勐满镇, měng mǎn zhèn), Menghai County, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan. The tea factory is the production component of the RuiRong trading company whose logo is seen at the start of this post.
There is probably much to more to be learned about RuiRong in Foshan City, Guangdong, the apparent distribution center for the factory but let’s leave that for later.
Even cursory web searching suggests that Xishuangbanna (西双版纳傣族自治州) is a fascinating place. Xishuangbanna is a prefecture in Yunnan Province, China. The straight line distance from Guangzhou (where we left the International Tea Salt Road) to Xishuangbanna is about 850 miles ( A person could very easily spend hours reading about the history, demographics, economy, and climate of the place and only scratch the surface. But we are trying to find one specific tea factory so that will have to wait for some future ocean or continent crossing travel. I’ll just quote www.teavivre.com (TeaVivre is a group of tea lovers and aficionados from China, Canada and France, who all share a passion for drinking great tea) and move on:
“The beauteous area near the Lancang River has a very pleasant climate which is considered a monsoon climate, which is ideal for growing teas due to the heavy rainfall and humid warm climate. Tea farmers take advantage of this rich landscape and precipitation to grow exceptional tea trees which have been harvested in the region for many hundreds of years”
From part 5 of this story, we have several references for the company address and post code (Menghai County Meng Town and 666209). Using the address (untranslated in Chinese, 勐混镇曼赛村委会曼扁村小组) and post code for a quick baidu map search takes us to Menghai County in Xishuangbanna as expected. There is even a map marker for for the tea factory.
Unfortunately the resolution of the overhead imagery in baidu map for this location is not sufficient to see anything that might be a tea factory.
This is a case where the Google maps imagery is actually more useful, and sure enough there is a blue roofed building that is a likely candidate for a tea factory. A few minutes of image searching using the Chinese text for the name of the factory produces a photograph that certainly looks like it could come from the same compound. The curved blue roof even looks the same.
This is probably as far as we can get without extensive cross-referencing and it looks like we’ve found the factory. But that’s just a building. Luckily I found a great article about the founder and chairman of the board of the Menghai Shun Xing Tea Co, Mr. Lin Xiuyuan (林修源).
We have apparently come across a comparatively great persona in the world of pu-erh tea. Lin Xiuyuan has been a tea trader since 1992 and founded the Menghai Shun Xing Tea Co in 2001. Since then both its founder and the company have received many awards and accolades. Here’s another. The pu-erh tea from Menghai that was given to me over a year ago, and that I made in a stainless steel vacuum bottle in the hotel business center this morning was head and shoulders above the so-called loose leaf tea that I had later the same day in a boutique tea and coffee shop in Portland, Oregon, a city that rightfully prides itself on its culinary standards. There was just no comparison. I discovered today that I am ruined for the purpose of drinking what often passes for tea. Enough self-pity, time to return to the quest.
In addition to building a large tea production and distribution business that trades all over China and other neighboring countries, Lin Xiuyuan is an active leader in various tea industry organizations. It seems that we’ve found the producer of the gift of tea but we can’t leave it at just probably. We need to confirm that this tea came from the Menghai Shun Xing Tea Co and thank Lin Xiuyuan on behalf of everyone at the Menghai Shun Xing Tea Co for producing the gift of tea.
The web searches have produced contact information so it only remains to try different methods to get our question and message of thanks to its destination. If you already know Lin Xiuyuan or anyone at Menghai Shun Xing Tea Co leave a comment below. Also if you happen to be in or traveling to Xishuangbanna in the near future let me know in the comments section. Something tells me that a trip to Yunnan is in my future.
Next Post: Calling Mr Lin Xiuyuan…
If you are just joining this story, I recommend you go to the beginning, It started with a gift of tea from a friend