Qianjiazhai is a region within the protected Mt. Ailao National Forest Preserve, home to some of the oldest tea trees in the world, and one of the most biodiverse forests of China.
Only families that can trace back their presence in Qianjiazhai for generations have the right to sustainably wild-forage in the National Forest, and the Dongsa Cooperative was formed in large part to coordinate sustainability efforts to protect this special place.
The mountains of Qianjiazhai soar to well over 2000 meters above sea level, creating a cooler climate that’s well-suited for tea. The environment here is so perfect that Qianjiazhai may be one of the ancestral origin points for all tea today; the forests are still some of the most biodiverse for tea in the world, including many close tea-relatives like Camellia crassicolumna.
One of the most powerful protections for the region is it's remote location.
We are almost 20 hours by bus from the nearest airport in Kunming, and then another long day's drive into the mountains. Most of the tea trees we forage require a half days' hike off road. This keeps away development and pollution, and protects us from being taken over by big brands and investors.
Our isolation protects our wild trees, and our self-reliance gives us the will to hand pick and hand finish every batch of precious leaves.