Pu'er Old Tea Forest Listed As World Heritage

A wisp delicate tea fragrance lingering from the southwestern border of China, has traveled through thousands of years of history and drifted onto the world stage.

On September 17th, at the 45th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the "Cultural Landscape of Old Tea Forests of Jingmai Mountain in Pu'er" was successfully inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, making it China's 57th World Heritage site and the 6th in Yunnan Province.

How did the "Cultural Landscape of Old Tea Forests of Jingmai Mountain in Pu'er" become the world's first tea-themed world cultural heritage? Nine keywords unveil the vast ancient tea forests spanning thousands of acres.

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Keyword 1: Cultural Landscape of Old Tea Forests

On Jingmai Mountain, the intertwining scenery of ancient tea trees and pristine forests creates a vibrant cultural landscape, which has been protected and developed for centuries, and formed harmonious coexistences between forest and tea, human and nature. The heritage elements in the application consist of five large-scale, well-preserved old tea forests, nine traditional villages within them, and three protective-partition forests between them.

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Keyword 2: Vast Old Tea Forests

As one gazes upon Jingmai Mountain, the expanse of ancient tea trees stretches endlessly. The forest has over 3.2 million ancient tea trees and covers 28,000 mu, making it the world's largest cultivated tea forest.

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Keyword 3: Under-story Growing Technique of Tea

The indigenous peoples of Jingmai Mountain have developed the technique of "under-story growing tea" within the primal forest system. That is to create ideal light conditions for the growing of tea trees through limited under-story cultivation while preventing insect hazards through the well-preserved forest ecosystem, so as to produce high-quality organic tea leaves without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

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Keyword 4: Traditional Ancient Villages

The indigenous ancestors of Jingmai Mountain discovered wild tea trees during their migration and settled in the area. Within the declared heritage and buffer zones, there are a total of 15 villages primarily inhabited by the Dai and Blang ethnic groups. The rich and diverse ethnic cultures harmonize with the old tea forests, giving rise to a unique path of development.

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Keyword 5: Protection, Inheritance and Development

The traditional practice of tea plantation under-story growing technique effectively protects biodiversity. The residents here steadfastly adhere to a principle of protection alongside development. Regulations have been implemented to prohibit excessive tea leaf harvesting. The practice of tea harvesting has transitioned from all seasons to the spring and autumn only, encouraging the development of tea farmer cooperatives. Through the preservation and development efforts, this ancient tea mountain is being safeguarded while ensuring its legacy is passed down to future generations.

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Keyword 6: Tea Culture

Jingmai Mountain lives up to its reputation as the "World Museum of Tea Culture, History, and Nature." The indigenous people of Jingmai Mountain collectively create and inherit tea culture. There's a strong bond between people, tea, and nature due to local tea culture, ecological village regulations, and customs of mutual respect and appreciation.

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Keyword 7: Welcoming Tea

In the "Millennial Blang Village" of Wengji, there is a saying: no matter which household you enter, you can freely savor the local tea. In Nuogang Village, while preserving the traditional art of handcrafted tea, there has also been a quiet emergence of large-scale tea production. This serves as a microcosm of how Jingmai Mountain is defined by tea, with almost every household having their own tea workshop. Cultivating, harvesting, and processing tea have become a part of the villagers' daily lives.

Keyword 8: Prosperous "Golden Leaves"

The people living on Jingmai Mountain thrive on tea, sing songs alongside tea, and dance because of tea. For generations, tea cultivation has been the primary industry for the Blang and Dai ethnic groups in this region. Nowadays, the tea industry has become their "golden key" to prosperity. Guiding the development of the tea industry is of utmost importance in protecting the heritage value of Jingmai Mountain.


Keyword 9: Distant Mountains, Close Dwellings, Rising Smoke from Kitchens, and Tea Aroma

The successful inscription of the "Cultural Landscape of Old Tea Forests of Jingmai Mountain in Pu'er" fills the void in the world heritage that lacks cultural heritages centered around tea. Amidst the mountains, the traditional villages of ethnic minorities nestled beside the tea mountains. Distant mountains, close dwellings, rising smoke from kitchens, and tea aroma all tell the story of this ancient and vast tea forest spanning thousands of acres.

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The Chinese character for tea, "茶," vividly illustrates ancestors' understanding of the relationship between humans, tea and nature. The refreshing aroma of tea on Jingmai Mountain speaks of the deep respect and love for nature among the Chinese people, confirming the unwavering pursuit of harmony between humans and nature by the Chinese nation.

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(Editors: Amy, Rachel)

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