If you love to drink pu erh tea, you may hear of “fake pu erh” all over online blogs or any tea communities. But we never had good answer from them. First and the most important understanding is that the fake pu erh tea is not meaning the tea is not edible or made of something inedible. It is just regarding to the brand, the name of pu erh. Pu erh tea is normally named by its origin. So, before we differentiate the authenticity of pu erh tea, we need to basically understand the geographical locations of every type pu erh tea.
Commonly seen fake pu erh teas are some most famous brands such as Lao Ban Zhang and Bing Dao. Vendors only fake famous and expensive teas for profit. Bing Dao tea was getting popular after 2006, and the price leaped. The genuine teas of these two brands are extremely expensive, and their prices are out of your imagination.
Lao Ban Zhang is about 35 km north from Bu Lang Mountain township, and about 60km southeast from Meng Hai County. Lao Ban Zhang, Xin Ban Zhang and Lao Man E are all in the precinct of Ban Zhang Village Committee.
Lao Ban Zhang pu erh tea has reputation of “king of tea”, is particular about vigor of tea. The tea vigor of genuine Lao Ban Zhang is the most powerful one in pu erh tea category. Also, Lao Ban Zhang has stronger wild charm of nature because they are from older arbors and growing in better ecological environment. Lao Ban Zhang tea is typically belonged to “big leaf” tea family, so it has strong strips with downy and fatty bud heads that no other tea can be compared. Any Lao Ban Zhang pu erh tea sold under hundred US dollars per 357gram tea cake are obviously fake tea. Although Lao Ban Zhang old arbor tea is expensive, yet, more expensive tea has nothing to do with genuineness.The photo showing that some Lao Ban Zhang pu erh tea current prices in Chinese retail market in RMB, 1USD about exchange to 6.7RMB. Again, no one can guarantee genuineness of these high priced tea.
According to study, Lao Ban Zhang old arbor tea farm only occupies 4700 acres and produces 50 tons raw tea leaves annually. There are numerous Lao Ban Zhang pu erh enthusiasts. Genuine Lao Ban Zhang pu erh teas are mostly prior collected by these enthusiasts at higher price, only few genuine Lao Ban Zhang are reached in the market. Then, where are those countless and various priced fake Lao Ban Zhang coming from? In fact, except those few genuine Lao Ban Zhang old arbor tea on the market, the rest fake Lao Ban Zhang are roughly split into three different types.
There is a famous Bangma Big Snow Mountain in Shuang Jiang County, located in Lin Cang city, with an altitude of 3,200 meters. The top mountain is covered with snow all year round and surrounded with clouds. “Big leaf” ancient tea trees are scattered throughout this dense primeval forest in this deep mountain. On the halfway up of northern section of Bangma Mountain Range, there is an ancient Yi Village named "Bing Dao" where the Bing Dao pu erh tea is produced. Bing Dao Village is in the precinct of Meng Ku Township, about 33km north from Meng Ku, administered five tribes including Bing Dao, Nan Po, Nuo Wu, Bei Wai and Di Jie. Teas from these tribes all have similar characteristics, but only the ancient arbor tea from Bing Dao tribe is considered genuine and the best Bing Dao flavor tea. The closest taste to Bing Dao tea is the ancient arbor tea from Nan Po tribe. Ancient arbors in Bing Dao are quite old, their quality is superb, so Bing Dao tea is honored “the queen of Yunnan pu erh tea”.
Bing Dao not only produces ancient arbor tea, but also small tree tea, arbor tea, wild tea, shrub tea and new farmed tea. The ancient arbor tea (old arbor) is the most famous tea most people admired. When someone talks about Bing Dao tea, it generally indicates the old arbor tea.
It is not easy to identify what mountain the tea is coming from. We can only guess from our accumulated experiences. The Bing Dao flavor can be duplicated from other tea which means Bing Dao flavor can be made from any other Meng Ku “big leaf” teas. The fake Bing Dao tea are mostly made from these types of teas. Some better-quality fake Bing Dao teas are made from other four tribes of Bing Dao Village. More expensive tea could have possibility of genuine Bing Dao old arbor raw leaves blended. The genuine sweet flavor of Bing Dao pu erh tea is not only the sweetness from tea, but also endless sweet remaining in the palate. Sweet secretion is formed in the mouth after tea is swallowed as if it is covered with a thin layer of rock sugar.
The characteristic of genuine Bing Dao pu erh tea is its long-lasting sweet return, tastes thicker and smoother than other tea. It has downy bud heads and fatty strips, looks oily dark brown. Tea is relatively bright golden, unique rich aroma. Sweet, but less bitter taste. It lasts long for brewing. Recent years, speculation of Bing Dao tea has caused chaotic market prices. But the reputation is gained from consumers, of course it should have its own distinctive charm.
Beside these types of fake tea, some vendors fake the production year. It is commonly known that the more aged tea the more expensive and has better taste. These fake teas are stored in wet or humid condition to shorten the fermentation time so that tea would be conversed faster. That is why people like to collect new tea rather than aged tea.
We all love bargain. We love to get good quality tea at the best price. But the reality is you get what you paid for. Although genuine Lao Ban Zhang tea is the king of tea, the rareness pushes the price to the peak. We only have very small chance to have it. There are bunches of good quality tea on the market for much lower price. Fake tea sometimes isn’t bad tea, they are just not as expensive as genuine one. Why we should have to hook on genuine tea! Get another way out, find our own favor tea is what we needed to. If price isn’t matter, we should also purchase with care.