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Our Story - 易武高山友益茶坊 Yiwu Mountain Puer Tea

Our Mission: provide authentic premium-quality Yiwu Mountain Tea and support the families of Yiwu

We started as local Yiwu tea farmers and grew from there.

Pictured: Li Jia Cai, processing a very small batch of Mansong tea)

This business started with Li Jia Cai, my father-in-law and a local of Yiwu, who has been tending to the family tea plantations ever since he was a young boy. As the eldest son of his immediate family, he took responsibility for selling the family tea planted by his ancestors and this helped to build his reputation for sourcing organic, high-quality tea. This reputation spread and, at the same time, Puer tea gew in popularity, so companies and traders would seek him to help source teas from the extended the Yiwu Mountain range and our contacts built up this way. To this day, most of our teas are still sourced by his local knowledge and immaculate ability to find great Yiwu tea.

Our teas are sourced from old arbor trees and ancient trees, and hand-crafted with care.

Pictured: Li Guo Hua & friends climbing and picking leaves from an ancient tea tree in Yiwu

With the rising demand of Puer tea and the price rises that came with it, it was clear that the tradition of naturally sourced tea and art of hand-crafted tea would need to compete with modern methods of mass planting of young tree bushes and machine processing for mass production. A visit around Yiwu will show you that the mountainscape has changed a lot over recent years. We only source teas that use traditional hand-crafting methods as we believe that this produces the highest quality tea. Mass production uses machines that do not treat the tea leaves with proper care and damaged leaves during processing leaves an inferior end product.

Why focus on high-quality, low-quantity Yiwu teas?

Yiwu teas are highly sought after due to the high concentration of gushu (ancient tea trees) and high-quality soil in the plantations where they grew naturally. These teas have great depth and longevity but the popularity has meant that blended and fake products have flooded the marketplace. The growing population of Chinese middle-class is creating this market due to their lack of tea knowledge and the fact that blended or even faked Yiwu teas are still comparatively much higher quality than the average tea, especially high-street and supermarket brands. This often leaves the end consumer with no idea of their product source and what the quality should be. For example, the quantity of tea leaves from 'Gushu' or Ancient trees are limited despite numerous brands using 'Gushu' in their labelling resulting in mass inaccurate labelling of teas. We also compete with large companies that use trading strategies that monopolize the market such as signing exclusive-rights contracts with families or villages and their teas never make it to the end consumer without being reprocessed. Our products help educate consumers about authentic high-quality Yiwu tea.

We support traditional tea families to keep their plantations producing the highest quality.

Pictured: the local (lady)bugs love to visit our pesticide-free tea gardens

The increase in overall demand and has in no doubt brought wealth to Yiwu. However, the farmers that grow less earn less, so basically the gushu and arbor tree plantations are in danger of earning less money than more productive plantation management methods such as taidi or bush plantations. In this market, farmers are encouraged to blend their teas with lower quality product to increase the overall quantity of 'gushu' that they can sell and the whole supply chain is affected. We only pay premium market prices for only the premium quality organic tea to ensure that these families are not persuaded by shrewd businessmen to sell their land or change the way they produce tea. We focus a lot of our time and energy on old plantations and support the families that have been working with the trees for many decades or centuries(!). By doing so, we help these families continue picking the best tea trees sustainably, keep their trees organic and in great condition without over-picking and not change the landscape towards the arguably more profitable, lower-quality tea bushes. Many of these families have little or no formal education and often lack awareness of the market or the science behind their traditional practices. We also support them by providing information about the market changes and traditional production methods that work well and those that do not. Unfortunately, we can't control nature because that would be an even better way to support the families.

Our products and services

  1. We have our own plantations in Yiwu Gaoshanzhai and process our own maocha.

  2. We source the highest quality teas that Yiwu (and neighbouring areas) has to offer.

  3. We process maocha in Yiwu using traditional hand-crafted processing

  4. We wholesale maocha and compressed Puer to companies that specialize in Puer

  5. We retail internationally to consumers online through

  6. We educate about Yiwu through guided tastings at our physical location in Guangzhou or travel through Gaoshan and Yiwu.

For further information about us or any of our products or services, contact us directly using the Contact Us page and we will reply to you directly as soon as possible.

Philip Lee and Li Guo Fen

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