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The majestic scenery of Tay Con Linh mountain (Photo: Xuan Hau)

‘Bach Tra’ means white tea while ‘Shan Tuyet’ means snow on high mountains.

Vi Xuyen in the northern mountainous area is famous for its high-quality tea products made of the tea buds on Tay Con Linh Mountain. The tea was used at the reception of the Chinese Party Committee Secretary General and President Xi Jinping, according to Vi Xuyen district Chair Hoang Thanh Tinh.

The ancient tea trees have been growing naturally since ancient times in the land covered with clouds all year round.

Ancient treasure in thick forests

To reach the ancient tea forests on high mountains, one has to follow a bumpy road, departing at Vi Xuyen district Party Committee’s headquarters and reaching the hamlets of Cao Bo and Vi Xuyen communes. 

After traveling 30 kilometers of rough mountainous road, one can see a concrete road, 3 kilometers wide, with many slits which are the remains of landslides and flash floods.

“When we asked our grandparents and older people about the age of the ancient tea trees, we just heard that the trees have been living for thousands of years. No one knows exactly how old the trees are. Old people saw these trees when they were children,” said Dang Van Quang, Party Committee Secretary of Lung Tao Hamlet Dang Van Quang.

Quang, as the tour guide, shows guests ancient tea trees estimated to be 300-500 years old. There are also trees thousands of years old. He said people should walk into the tea forests instead of riding motorbikes, to enjoy the mystery and magic of the unique tea forest.

The majestic scenery of Tay Con Linh mountain and forest is blanketed with thousands of trees, with tea leaves and buds covered with a layer of snow-white velvet, which tea fields in the midland and lowland areas don’t have.

Ancient tea trees on the mountain more than 1,000 meters above sea water level, where the climate is cool. Each tea bud reflects Ha Giang's land and sky.

Thousands of Shan Tuyet tea trees have been allocated to 76 Dao ethnic minority households for management and exploitation. Each household has to take care of 200 trees, according to Quang.

Precious tea reaches world market

The majestic ancient tea trees dating back nearly a millennium are a symbol of Tay Con Linh Mountain and are a priceless treasure of the Dao people in Cao Bo commune.

Dao people usually travel tens of kilometers of forested roads to Tay Con Linh Mountain to pick tea buds to make luxurious tea. The wonderful tea leaves are the livelihood of local households, and many of them have become very well-off thanks to the tea.

The value of each tea tree cannot be fully assessed because no one has the right to buy, sell, cut down, or relocate these "treasures". Every year, Shan Tuyet tea brings  incomes of hundreds of millions of dong to the households.

Local people take pride in Shan Tuyet, which is the specialty that Party Committee Secretary General Nguyen Phu Trong served to Chinese Party Committee Secretary General Xin Jinping. 

Vi Xuyen authorities are creating a development strategy for Shan Tuyet tea brand in association with ecotourism. The local authorities want to raise people’s awareness about the value of Shan Tuyet tea and promote its value. They have issued policies encouraging tea cooperatives and tea export companies to build tea brands and increase the incomes of locals.

One business has developed a Shan Tuyet tea brand. More than 900 hectares of a tea growing area of the factory have been developed under an organic tea production model. 

The tea products have obtained certificates on organic production in accordance with EU and USDA (the US Drug Administration) standards. Shan Tuyet tea products are exported to many countries.

The total tea growing area in Ha Giang province is certified as meeting VietGAP and organic production standards. It has reached 11,600 hectares, accounting for 61 percent of the tea growing area of the entire province.

As many as 1,629 tea trees have been recognized as heritage trees, of which 1,324 trees were recognized in 2022.

V. Hau - Doan Bong