To reserve the spirit of the plants and the soil
Is Moc Thanh tea? Yes, but not enough. It is beyond tea, beyond a woman, beyond a natural farmer. Moc Thanh expresses an essence of primitive living – a healthy and plentiful ecosystem in which humans are a part of and get along with the nature, then enjoy the presents of the land and create the products from the plants.
Giving up a job with a stable income, giving up meretricious things in a big city, a thin girl returned to her hometown to pursue a burning desire: natural farming and creating the finest Vietnamese tea. Moc Thanh not only tells about organic tea but also a story of the soil, the plants, the insects and the natural ecosystem that have been oblivious after decades of agricultural industrialization.
Growing up with tea plantations in rural village
Duong Anh was born in Cao Khan village, Dai Tu district, Thai Nguyen province, the most well-known region for tea plantations and green tea products over a hundred years. She, her brothers and sisters were often asked to help husking tea seeds and harvesting tea buds. The kids grew up with everything related to tea, thanks to tea fields and thanks to the hard-working of their parents – the poor farmers.
Duong Anh witnessed and was involved in chemical farming. Targeting high productivity and good-looking products, farmers applied all kinds of chemicals such as fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and growth stimulants on tea trees. It was terribly poisonous and costly. Spending much effort, even suffering health issues from toxic, but the miserable farmers did not earn equivalent payback.
The difficult beginning with the family tea garden
2012, by an uncanny chance as fate, Duong Anh met tea specialists who have deep and wide knowledge about various kinds of tea in the world as well as in Vietnam, included her home region’s. Her chilhood, her thinking of tea and concern about chemical farming returned fully and clearly. It was a special time that made a turning point in her life. She wished a new way for tea plant cultivation without any fertilizer or chemical, for producing safety and healthy tea products. She decided to make a change.
Duong Anh expressed the desire to her parents, asking to work on the family’s tea garden. Unfortunately, her father shouted at her, since her job in Hanoi was much better than farming. He spent his whole life with the garden and the rice field. He knew it well that farming is so strenuous, but little earnings. She didn’t give up. After years of convincing, she won an agreement to hire the tea garden in 5 years.
2015, Duong Anh started with a tea garden of 3000 square meters while keeping the job in the capital city to cover expenses. The tea bushes were old and stunned, full of pests and diseases. The field was dried, exhausted and impoverished. Not cutting down old bushes for new planting, no pesticides, neither fertilizer nor any chemical. The little girl paid a lot of effort to clear caterpillars and collect diseased leaves by hand, then burned them. She applied natural farming learnt from a book of Masanobu Fukuoka (a well-known Japanese philosopher and natural farmer). She used rice straw and some grass to cover the land, sowed legumes to fix nitrogen into the soil, spread lime powder on the ground to kill harmful fungi.
Duong Anh’s actions were strange and crazy under the eyes of her parents and neighbors. Her father strongly opposed and even prevented her from doing it many times but failed to make her stop.
After one year, Duong Anh could smile with her first achievement. Tea bushes became healthy with plenty of green leaves, young shoots and buds. However, she didn’t collect any yield on the tea bushes, she wanted nourish them more. Parents began to believe her new method. Neighbors came to ask her secret.
Creating special kinds of organic tea
When the tea plantation became lush, Duong Anh studied how to produce tea. Her creation started off. The first product was Bancha, made of mature tea leaves, steamed and dried. It received consumers’ satisfaction with positive responses in the first sale. Duong Anh had a solid belief that Vietnamese tea has a great quality and is a precious gift of the motherland. Then, she continued experiments for producing green, black, oolong tea and some scented tea products, resulting loss of tons of raw tea leaves. For each kind, she had to try many times with various recipes and careful procedures to create finest tea as possible. Making quintessence products is the goal that Duong Anh has been pursuing for years.
Up to now, Duong Anh created 10 kinds of tea, hand-made of raw tea leaves from natural farming tea plantations, herbals and flowers (almost hers). All those have taken a special place among tea lovers and consumers.
Tea plantations and geographic regions of Moc Thanh’s raw tea leaves:
- Mộc Thanh garden is Duong Anh’s own plantation, located in Cao Khan village, Ban Ngoai commune, Dai Tu district, Thai Nguyen province. It grows an indigenous tea cultivar originated from a wild tea variety (big leaf, tall tree) in the regional jungles. Almost tea bushes in Moc Thanh garden are over 40 years old. The garden is absolutely organic and naturally cultivated, i.e. without any chemical fertilizer and pesticide, minimizing human manipulation. Map location of the plantation: https://goo.gl/maps/kPJKFYcnKjdnRDSh9
- Ta Xua commune, Bac Yen district, Son La province, is widely famous with a special high mountain (wild) tea variety, namely Shan or Shan Tuyet (its buds are covered with white hair like snow). Thousands of Ta Xua tea trees are ancient, around 100 years old or much older. Map location: https://goo.gl/maps/1UpprY6zgT17cg4Y7. An article about Ta Xua’s Shan tea: https://vietnam.vnanet.vn/english/ta-xua-shan-tuyet-tea/361805.html
- Tua Chua district, Dien Bien province, is famous with a special high mountain (wild) tea variety, namely Shan or Shan Tuyet (its buds are covered with white hair like snow, similar but not identical to Ta Xua’s). The region has 10,000 ancient tea trees, ages ranging 100 to 300 years or more. Map location: https://goo.gl/maps/1UpprY6zgT17cg4Y7. An article about Tua Chua’s Shan tea: https://vietnam.vnanet.vn/english/shan-tuyet-tea-green-gold/101273.html
Moc Thanh tea products
From high quality raw tea buds and leaves, within 4 years, Duong Anh has created and produced special kinds of tea, all distinguished from available products in the Vietnam market. All tea products of Moc Thanh are hand-crafted, widely recognized and classified as premium artisanal tea in Vietnam.
- Moc Thanh (bancha): the first product, made of over-mature green tea leaves picking from Moc Thanh garden, steamed and dried.
- Cao Khản (black tea): made of raw buds picking from Moc Thanh garden.
- The Ginger Tea: made of (ancient) Shan green tea from Ta Xua and Tua Chua regions, then scenting ginger flavor and aging 6 months to 4 years.
- The Spring (Xuân Đán green tea): made of raw buds picking from Moc Thanh garden.
- Lotus flavored tea (green tea): made of raw buds from Moc Thanh garden, then scenting lotus flower.
- Jasmine flavored tea (green tea): made of raw buds from Moc Thanh garden, then scenting jasmine flower.
- Pomelo flavored tea (green tea): made of (ancient) Shan green tea from Ta Xua and Tua Chua regions, then scenting pomelo flower flavor.
- Hương Sói (green tea): made of raw buds from Moc Thanh garden, then scenting Chloranthus spicatus flower flavor (the flower is named Hoa Sói in Vietnamese).
- Lam Chiều (red oolong): made of raw buds picking from Moc Thanh garden, then scenting golden Osmanthus flower, aging at least 3 months.
- Mai Kao (medium oxidized oolong): made of raw buds from Moc Thanh garden.
Don’t bind yourself with Chinese tea ceremony or Japanese ritual, just drink Moc Thanh’s tea products in your own ways.
Moc Thanh is beyond organic tea, beyond specialties.
Savor tea, enjoy the present of land, listen to the stories of nature, of tea plant and know about a skinny but persevering and warm-hearted girl.