Mysterious ancient tea in Tay Yen Tu

Update: 07:27 | 02/12/2018

(BGO) – The Khe Ro Natural Reserve in An Lac commune (Son Dong district, Bac Giang province) has been seemed to be fully discovered by humans. But the natural mountains and forests always hide interesting things. If we have a chance, we will know a very small part of the secret of the high mountain and thick forest. Only from a piece of information that seems to be vague, we immediately set off, beginning a journey to find the ancient tea still existing in the Tay Yen Tu primitive forest.

Related newsBac Giang province, Mysterious ancient tea, Tay Yen Tu, Khe Ro Natural Reserve, An Lac commune,  high mountain, thick forest, primitive forest, exciting discovery journey

In a conversation with Nguyen Quang Bach, deputy head of the Education and Training Division of Son Dong district, he told me that "In An Lac commune, there are some farms of ancient tea of hundreds of years old. Teachers and students of the An Lac semi-boarding secondary school for ethnic students are surveying them to do scientific research. If you have time, please go with us". Without much thinking, I carried a backpack to join that exciting discovery journey.

Bac Giang province, Mysterious ancient tea, Tay Yen Tu, Khe Ro Natural Reserve, An Lac commune,  high mountain, thick forest, primitive forest, exciting discovery journey

Journey to find the ancient tea variety.

After lunch, the members of the group who were teachers with good health hurriedly urged me: "We must be hurry to be in time, this season in the forest, the darkness comes very fast. If we do not set off early, we fear that we will not able to get to the target place".

Gathering at the An Lac semi-boarding secondary school for ethnic students, the group welcomed a guide called the "forest god" in a funny way because he knows the Khe Ro forest thoroughly. Being thin but solid, the "forest god" is named Vi Van Tang from Tay ethnic group. This year he is nearly 60 years old. Tang's family is in Bieng village, An Lac commune, but his time in the forest is much more than at home.

The ancient tea in Khe Ro has a special taste and is more fragrant than tea elsewhere. After pouring it into a teapot together with water, it has a very beautiful color - blue yellow. The tea still keeps its taste after 6-7 servings.

We started to walk back up the Khe Ro stream to cross the forest. There were not always ways along the stream. In many sections, we had to separate from the water, climb to the middle of the mountain or cross the stream to climb over the smooth rocks to come to the place where we would set up a camp. At night, next to the flames of fire, the story of ancient tea trees gradually appeared.

No one remembers exactly how much time has passed, people only know that from the turbulent time hundreds of years ago, people from many places flocked to the Khe Ro forest to seclude themselves. They went back upstream to the area of deep forest and high mountain. We recognize this clearly through broken pieces of ancient bowls and dishes scattered along the Khe Ro stream. 

Bac Giang province, Mysterious ancient tea, Tay Yen Tu, Khe Ro Natural Reserve, An Lac commune,  high mountain, thick forest, primitive forest, exciting discovery journey

There are a few of ancient teas in Tay Yen Tu forest.

In their luggage, besides food, foodstuff and other essentials, there might be precious tea trees. The vestiges left to today are the tea farms in Po Thac, Cang Cai, Ve Cuong, and Khe Lo Me Keo ... Unlike ordinary tea varieties, some of the ancient tea trees had a diameter that is as large as two adult hugs and was tens of meters high. Later, some people went to take care of them, so the people used to call the gardens of Pan, Tinh, and Kim ... but these people and their children also died decades ago.

Generations like Tang 30-40 years ago still carried bags to pick tea leaves every spring. According to the experience of many people, the tea is considered the best as it is harvested in the period from the first to third lunar month. When going to pick tea leaves, people have to bring ropes to climb to high hills. Each tree produces dozens of kilograms of fresh buds. After that, they carry them home and dry them by hand in a cast iron pan.

The next morning, we started off for the remaining tea trees in the forest. Going for about two more hours, we saw a tea tree that Tang had "scouted" in the afternoon of the previous day. Amid a forest of trees, the tea tree appeared strong and about ten meters high, and is at its fullest. Its leaves are dark green, glossy and prominent in the forest, while its trunk is fully spread with white lichen in some locations.

Using hands to claw along the tree trunk, Tang said: "About recent a few dozen years, almost no one came to take care of and harvest tea anymore, so the precious ancient tea trees have died gradually. There were some trees with two or three adult hugs but after only a few years, I came back and saw all of them die. I feel very regrettable but I do not know how to do. "

Bac Giang province, Mysterious ancient tea, Tay Yen Tu, Khe Ro Natural Reserve, An Lac commune,  high mountain, thick forest, primitive forest, exciting discovery journey

The group of authors of the project “Conservation and propagation of ancient tea trees in Tay Yen Tu - Khe Ro Nature Reserve” and teacher Hoang Cong Thang in the garden of the school.

Recognizing a risk of losing this rare and precious plant, teachers and pupils of the An Lac semi-boarding secondary school for ethnic students have registered to implement the project "Conservation and propagation of ancient tea trees in Tay Yen Tu - Khe Ro Nature Reserve." The authors are Duong Thi Quyen from Class 9A and Nguyen Thi Thu Ha from Class 9B, with the guidance of Hoang My Hanh, teacher of literature, and Chu Van Duong, teacher of mathematics.

Teacher Hoang Cong Thang, the vice rector of the school, added: "The school has always created conditions for the group of authors and guiding teachers to successfully carry out the project. The school has reserved part of the garden of medicinal plants for the group to perform some tasks such as sowing seeds, growing cuttings, and supervising the development of tea seedlings ... Our immediate goal is to preserve the rare gene sources of Khe Ro forest and farther, we want to bring to the people of An Lac commune a new kind of tree with high value and economic efficiency, thus contributing to forming a unique agricultural product that attracts the attention of authorities at all levels and scientists, as well as further promoting Bac Giang tourism "

 

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